A look back at 2023
This is the year we discovered that despite all the new housing built in the town over the last ten years, the population of Amble has actually fallen. Which suggests that whoever is buying the new properties, they aren’t living here, although it’s possible that many already do. If tourism is the big employer now, then it shouldn’t be surprising if locals join everyone else in the buy-to-holiday-let market.
This year we delved deep into several issues which affect our community, and have tried to get those in power to answer our questions. Most notably was the reason why the Lord Mayor’s Field was sold by the county council’s own development company, and what they stood to gain from it. And we continued our battle to find out why the Coble Quay walkway is still closed, two years on, we have at least proved that NCC are responsible for fixing it.
It’s been a busy old year, so here’s a look back at some of the stories affecting the Friendliest Port in 2023.
The last year has seen some major plans put forward for the town, most notably plans for a new school building for JCSC, which was passed by Northumberland County Council in November. A ‘Lifetime Neighbourhood’ on Braid Hill, and a development of 166 homes next to Coquet Grange have been re-submitted; they had been withdrawn earlier in the year. Plans to build five apartment blocks at Coble Marina were refused, while most recently, NCC is mooting the idea of building affordable bungalows on the site of council garages, which has so far had a mixed reception.
The Bord Waalk sculpture trail is now finished and was opened in the summer by HRH the Duke of Gloucester. For extended information on the bords including poetry, soundscapes, birdsong and an augmented and a virtual reality experience, download the Amble Bord Waalk app on either IOS or Android.
The Dovecote Street Show took place in the summer, drawing a huge number of visitors to Amble’s biggest exhibition of contemporary art. Local artists now meet on a monthly basis, reflecting a growing arts scene in the area, and the town benefits from regular exhibitions and workshops at Dry Water Arts, and theatre productions from NTC.
The Puffin Festival, Colony music festival and Christmas Lights Procession all proved as popular as ever.
Amble’s religious communities have seen a good deal of change recently. Rev Coulthard left Trinity Methodists in 2022, leaving the manse empty, as the new minister Rev Wood Archer does not live in the town. But that proved fortunate for a Ukrainian family looking for a home, and who were warmly welcomed to the Friendliest Port. St Mark’s URC church closed its doors and the building has been sold, but the congregation still meet at Dry Water Arts. In November, Rev McDermott retired from St Cuthbert’s church, while Canon Stephen Watson is welcomed as the new parish priest for Sacred Heart RC church.
In line with communities all over the country, Amble residents celebrated the Coronation of King Charles with street parties and cake, while youngsters received a commemorative mug from the Town Council.
The impact of a second year of Avian Flu on Coquet Island was again keenly felt, and the new wardens no longer have a full time presence on the bird sanctuary. The devastation for these already highly endangered birds that live and breed on Coquet Island will only be fully understood when data is properly assessed. The RSPB has called on government to set up long term monitoring and instigate response plans.
Many people were shocked at the discovery that the Lord Mayor’s Field had been sold off in 2022. This popular open space has been used for decades by the public, and concern has been voiced as to why the land was sold, and what the future will hold for public access on the field.
We know that readers are concerned with the gradual loss of wild areas of the town, so the sudden removal of large mature shrubs in three residential areas caused anger to many. Fortunately a tree was spared at the last minute, and NCC have subsequently announced that new trees will be planted in the area.
2023 was a great year for The Ambler as we were Commended at the Newspaper of the Year Awards. Judges in the ICNN Independent Community Newspaper category praised us, describing The Ambler as a touching and very worthy community initiative, with one declaring “It’s so good, it’s collectable.”
If you value the work we do and would like to support us, we would be very grateful. You can donate via Paypal (you don’t have to have an account), and we’d appreciate any contribution.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year,
The Ambler team