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County Councillor Report (Aug 2022)

by Wendy Pattison

wendy.pattison@northumberland.gov.uk – Tel. 07779 983072

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Photo portrait of Councillor Wendy Pattison

[All text and the above portrait photo provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 23 July 2022.]

HEDGELEY PARISH

Photo of sand castles on beach

Hello everyone, just wishing you all a great summer and I look forward to catching up with you all in September.

Wendy

9 Parishes Meeting – Date for the Diary

A meeting for all nine of the Longhoughton Division Parishes has been arranged for Tuesday, September 13th at 630pm at The Old Court House, Alnwick Police Station, Prudhoe Street, Alnwick, NE66 1UJ.

Community Police Officer, PC Andy Newby 2764, will talk to everyone about their areas and issues of concern, including speeding, parking, obstruction, vandalism, speedwatch training and anything else which is problematic. Northumberland County Council Officer, Neil Easton will also be present to talk about local bus services.

Please do come along, all are welcome.

Public urged not to pick up sick or dead birds following avian flu outbreak 

Photo of flying gull

The public are being urged not to pick up or touch sick or dead birds, following an outbreak of Avian Flu in the wild bird population. Dog owners are also being asked to be extra vigilant and keep their dogs away from them. 

Over recent weeks dozens of dead sea birds have been found along the Northumberland coastline – especially on beaches around Boulmer, Longhoughton, Embleton, Newton by the Sea, Amble, Druridge, Newbiggin, Warkworth, Cresswell and Seaton Sluice. 

Testing carried out by DEFRA has confirmed that the cause of death is Avian influenza. This virus circulates naturally in wild birds and when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe over the winter, they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds. 

The disease has also struck the sea bird colony on Coquet Island – home to four tern species, gulls and eider ducks – with devastating consequences. 

Elizabeth Morgan, Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council said: 

“I want to reassure residents that the risk to public health from avian flu is very low. 

“The discovery of dead birds is always upsetting but it is really important that people do not pick up or touch any sick or dead birds to avoid spreading the virus, which can affect humans in rare cases. 

“As well as issuing an appeal for the public not to touch or move dead birds, I am also asking dog owners to keep their pets away from them.” 

While the risk to pet dogs from avian influenza is usually very low, dog walkers are also being asked to be extra cautious around wildfowl and are being advised to stick to footpaths and use leads where there are large numbers of birds in order to reduce their animal’s exposure to creatures which could be infected. 

If a member of the public comes across a dead wild bird, they are asked to report it to DEFRA on 03459 335577 (select option 7). DEFRA will investigate and decide if they need to collect samples for recording, testing and analysis. Providing good location information for a dead or diseased bird is particularly important and location apps such as ‘what3words’ can be very helpful. 

If DEFRA indicate that they do not intend to collect any dead birds, contact the council’s customer services on 0345 600 6400. The council will arrange collection from public land or where appropriate, will inform the landowner to arrange removal of birds found on private land. 

Landowners should seek advice about their obligation to arrange compliant collection and disposal of dead birds affected by Avian Influenza as animal by product category 1 waste through a licenced livestock contractor.

For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/animal-by-product-categories-site-approval-hygiene-and-disposal 

New toilet facilities include beach wheelchair storage at newton by the sea

Work is complete on a very special public toilet refurbishment at one of the county’s tourism hotspots. 

The improvements at Low Newton are part of a wider £1.35m three-year programme of works to improve the standard of all 54 public toilets in the county which the council has responsibility for. In Low Newton the facilities also include a beach wheelchair storage area funded by local donations, that will support improved accessibility to the local area.

The works are all part of a major capital investment programme to improve the standards of public toilets for residents and visitors, with facilities in the larger main towns and key tourism destinations getting a programme of full refurbishment and modernisation.

All remaining county council toilets will undergo essential refurbishment, so facilities are brought up to a decent standard of repair and are easier to keep clean and maintain.

Around £920,000 has been allocated to improving facilities in the main towns and key tourism destinations, with work including backlog maintenance, replacement of old equipment where required and in some cases new cubicles and internal walls.

A further £500,000 is being spent on backlog maintenance and essential updates on all remaining facilities, while £50,000 will go towards accessibility improvements in all toilets to make them more user friendly for dementia sufferers and people with low vision. Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet Member for Local Services, said: “It’s great to have the toilet refurbishment programme well underway and the Low Newton facilities now complete. “At a time when many councils are closing toilets we are investing in them as we recognise that they are essential for our own residents as well as visitors. “We want everyone to have access to top quality facilities, and these refurbishments will ensure people have access to modern, improved and clean toilets throughout the county.” 

County Councillor Wendy Pattison, local member for Newton by the Sea said: “I’m delighted the County Council has been able to assist during the refurbishment of the public toilets and facilitated the housing for a beach wheelchair at Newton by the Sea.
 “This wheelchair will allow local people and visitors to be able to traverse easily across sand, shells and mud in comfort and safety.” 

Cllr John Roper from Newton by the Sea Parish Council, said: “This beach wheelchair unit will be a wonderful facility for both locals and visitors alike. “I am particularly delighted how very quickly the project was completed through very close collaboration between the Parish Council, County Council, Beach Access NE (BANE) and the two amazingly generous sponsors Rob Racenis and Katie Steele.”

The chair was donated by Rob Racenis in memory of his wife Jill who loved this special coastline.

Funding for the beach store was provided by Katie Steele and her family in memory of her husband Professor Jimmy Steele who loved the wildlife of the Northumberland coast. They have also funded a hut at Bamburgh.

Have your say on shaping plans for Northumberland’s Family Hubs

Northumberland’s Children’s Centres will relaunch as Family Hubs in Autumn 2022.

But first, residents are being asked for their views to help shape the plans. 

The Centres currently provide a wide range of support services for children aged 0-5 and their families. 

As Family Hubs, this support will be rolled out to all young people extending the age range to 0-19 and to 25 for anyone with additional needs (SEND), making a difference to children, young people and their families.

The Hubs will be in the heart of their communities, with midwives, health visitors, early years and mental health professionals, youth workers, and a host of other services – including relationship, parenting, and financial advice – brought together into a vibrant one-stop-shop that meets the needs of family life for young people of all ages. 

Family Hubs will build on lessons learned during the pandemic and will offer online and virtual services too, so that support can be as accessible in the right way, and the right place, at the right time. 

We want all our young people to get the best start in life and have all the support they need to thrive. By extending the age range of our centres to create Family Hubs – our teams will be there to provide support for families with children of all ages. Please let us know what you’d like to see in the hubs – as your feedback will help us shape our plans and the services we provide.

The centres are already seeing innovative examples of partnership working.

Find out more about Family Hubs https://padlet.com/Northumberland/FamilyHubsInfo

Forests re-open as summer visitor campaign launches

Following Storm Arwen last November where around one million trees were uprooted overnight, seven forests in Northumberland are reopening in time for summer.

And the hard work to re-open many of the county’s most beautiful forests coincides with the launch of the County Council’s annual ‘Love It Like It’s Yours’ campaign – to welcome people to the county while reminding everyone to act responsibly by following the Countryside Code at all times.

Over the past eight months Forestry England crews and contractors have worked tirelessly to reopen Hepburn, Wooler Common, Wark, Fourlaws, Falstone, Slaley forests as well as many parts of Kielder Water and Forest Park in time for the school summer holidays.
Today (Wednesday, 20th July), Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust officially reopened the entire route of the Lakeside Way – a popular 27 mile long, all purpose trail.

Teams from Forestry England and Northumbrian Water have worked hard to clear thousands of tonnes of fallen timber to enable walkers, cyclists and horse riders to once again circumnavigate Kielder Water – one of the major attractions for the 400,000 people who visit the forest park every year.

Forestry England’s Recreation Public Affairs Manager in Northumberland, Alex MacLennan, said, “The reopening of Northumberland’s forests is credit to all of the ground crews carrying out a safe and measured approach to the complex and specialist recovery work. “We continue to ask that everyone stays on the main forest tracks and always adheres to all information, warning signs and barriers to stay safe and support the ongoing recovery work across the county.

“It is thanks to the public’s patience we are able to welcome them back to four of the county’s beloved forests this summer. We appreciate there’s still more work to be done but we continue to ask for their understanding.

“The great news is Northumberland’s forests are recovering and work is well underway and we are pleased to be able to start welcoming visitors to Hepburn, Wooler Common, Wark, Fourlaws, Falstone, Slaley forests as well as Kielder Water and Forest Park and we are working towards all Northumberland woodlands being reopened over the next year.” Work on tree clearance and replanting is still underway in Holystone, Simonside, Harwood Forest and Thrunton Woods. Due to the size and complexity of the damage and remote locations this work is expected to continue into 2023.

Graham Perry, Director of Kielder Water & Forest Park said, “It’s been a terrific team effort by all the partners at Kielder to get the Lakeside Way reopened in time for the school summer holidays. This is a very special place and we want people to have fun whilst also helping us protect our stunning countryside.”

Margaret Anderson, Senior Ranger at Northumberland National Park added: “If you’re planning to visit Northumberland National Park this summer, we strongly advise you check northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk before you travel. Forestry England also keeps an up-to-date list of which Forestry sites are open at forestryengland.uk.
“Simonside has always been a popular place to visit in the National Park, but the forest and Forest England car park there remain closed for now. The National Park is a living, working landscape. We ask that visitors don’t park on verges, in front of gates and entrances or anywhere on the road where you will block access for local communities and emergency vehicles.

“There are lots of beautiful places in the National Park to explore, please check information and plan before you travel to get the most from your visit.”

Andrew Fox, Chair of Visit Northumberland, added: “Following the reopening of several of the county’s forests and trails we are expecting an increase in visitor numbers over the coming summer months. “While we’re looking forward to welcoming all our visitors we’d just remind people to behave responsibly and love Northumberland like it’s your own so everyone can enjoy all it has to offer.”

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