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County Councillor Report (Dec 2020)

County Councillor Report

December 2020

by Wendy Pattison

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

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

County Councillor Wendy Pattison Northumberland
Merry Christmas banner image

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year

Warmest thoughts and Best Wishes to you all!

Hedgeley Parish

Coastal Summit

The Coastal Summit took place on November 11th and several issues were raised which are currently being looked into. Another follow up meeting to discuss these issues will be arranged in February 2021.

Grant available to kick start community led affordable housing schemes  

A fund that is available to assist community led affordable housing schemes across the county is reaping real results for local people, and there is still money left in the pot to support similar community projects. 

The money has been provided by Northumberland County Council from its Community Housing Fund, which was allocated to the council from Government to help community organisations deliver affordable housing. 

Community schemes that have benefited from the fund so far are:  

  • Haltwhistle Partnership was awarded a grant to convert the rear and final part of Hardware House, a Grade II listed building on Main Street into a one bedroomed affordable home for rent.  
  • Embleton, Newton by the Sea and Craster Parish Councils secured a grant to refurbish The Gate House, an old 2-bedroomed detached property.  The property had been vacant for a while and the local councils didn’t want it to be sold as a holiday home, as more affordable rented housing is needed for local people.  This property will be managed and rented out by Bernicia at an affordable rent. 
  • The Glendale Gateway Trust secured a grant to assist towards the acquisition and conversion of the former Barclays Bank on Wooler High Street that had been vacant for almost a year. The funding has helped to provide two affordable apartments on the first and second floors while breathing new life into this Grade ll listed, town centre building. 
  • Corbridge Parish Council secured a grant to help acquire three houses and one bungalow on the new Miller Homes development on Milkwell Lane.  These will be completed in 2022/23 and let to local people in housing need. The council secured an allocation of £1.3m from the national fund which is paying for a dedicated community housing officer to provide advice and support. Funding was also provided to set up Communities CAN (North East) Ltd. Members of CCAN provide advice and support to community groups and now cover the North of Tyne area after securing government funding.  Together, the council and Communities CAN are working to help those wishing to set up an affordable housing scheme, as well as contributing towards the delivery of affordable housing projects. 

The fund can be used for a range of activities including community development, feasibility and design work, construction costs and project management. 

Community groups who would like more information about community led housing can visit the council’s web pages and search for Community Led Housing, or contact Linda Lacy, Community Housing Officer on 01670 620497 or email linda.lacy@northumberland.gov.uk 

Broadband for Rural Communities

Rural premises may be eligible for additional funding through the Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme. 

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme advert

Business and residents in some of the hardest-to-reach places in the UK are eligible for additional funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.

These vouchers can be put toward your part of the costs of your Community Fibre Partnership. So if you have a few property owners who are interested, they could all apply for vouchers to put towards the cost. 

Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps can use vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and up to £1,500 per residential premise to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. 

For more information, contact Sylvia Pringle, sylvia.pringle@northumberland.gov.uk

Covid business support grants 

apply now banner

Further business support grant scheme launched

Businesses which remained open during late September and October this year, but were severely impacted by the Covid rules which restricted socialising, can now apply for a support grant. 

Aimed primarily at businesses in the hospitality, hotel, bed and breakfast and leisure sectors, the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) will provide up to £3,675 of support for eligible companies, depending on their rateable value. 

Applications have opened today, and can be made retrospectively back to 18 September, when restrictions were introduced in North East England which included stopping households from mixing and requiring hospitality venues to close between 10pm and 5am. 

Businesses will be able to claim up to 4 November, the day before the national lockdown. 

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) grant is specifically aimed at the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector businesses which have a rateable value. 

It does not cover businesses associated with personal care, such as hairdressers or tattooists, general retail businesses and garden centres, and businesses that operate from home, although registered bed and breakfasts will be eligible under the further scheme to be announced soon. 

For businesses which have been legally required to close during the national lockdown, from 5 November, there is a further grant scheme which is open for applications – Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum. 

Businesses such as nightclubs which had to close in March, and have not yet been able to reopen, will also be able to claim a support grant from 1 November, and the council will be launching the application process for these grants soon.   

To find out more about the grants, and to make an application go to www.northumberland.gov.uk/businesshub    

Please visit the business hub web pages or https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support for details of all of the support available for businesses. 

Enforcement activity 

NCC enforcement teams are continuing to work with businesses across the county, taking a proactive approach to provide advice and guidance, to make sure they are ready to reopen safely when the current restrictions end. The team have undertaken 600 operational visits since early November, and plan to continue this programme of work over the coming weeks. Work also continues with Northumbria Police and action will be taken is there is blatant disregard to the current restrictions. 

As previously mentioned, there is concern around the level of footfall within our towns and villages, with more businesses now able to maintain an operating position and trade in some way eg click and collect, in this second national lockdown.  

Since 2 November, the team have received over 200 enquiries on the new legislation, with around 130 seeking clarification on their interpretation of this, and some 80 complaints about those who are trading.    

The Government has extended the Furlough Scheme to the end of March 2021.

Isolation payments are also available to residents who are required to self-isolate – further information and eligibility criteria are available on the Council’s website

Archives brought to life in virtual talks

Northumberland Archives will be brought to life in a series of FREE online talks.

Staff from the archives and library teams will be hosting the talks once a month, starting on Thursday, November 26. 

The virtual sessions have been made possible through funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.  

Archives received £48,100 from the fund which is part of the Government’s £1.57 billion #HereforCulture package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of Covid-19. 

The funding was intended for initiatives such as this to allow the service to engage with new audiences who would not usually use the archives service. It will also be used to create an online shop for those using the archives to be able to download high-quality imagery, investigate the possibilities of partnerships in relation to commercial services to reach a wider audience 
 The first talk on November 26, will be an “Introduction to Northumberland Archives” by Archivist Michael Geary at 7pm. 

This will be followed by:  

  • Thursday 10 December 2020  – Stannington Sanatorium, England’s First Children’s TB Sanatorium  – Sue Wood, Head of Archives 
  • Thursday 7 January 2021 – Evidence of Women and their Lives in the Berwick Archives – Linda Bankier, Berwick Archivist   
  • Thursday 21 January 2021 – The Butler Family of Ewart Park – Sarah Littlefear, Archivist.  
  • Thursday 11 February 2021 – An Introduction to Local Studies: Northumberland’s Heritage at your Fingertips – Kate St. Clair Gibson, Local Studies Librarian   
  • Thursday 11 March 2021 – Hidden Histories: Tapping the archives for stories of Black Presence in Northumberland – Jo March, Senior Archivist 

To book a place on the talks go to www.eventbrite.co.uk and search for Northumberland Archives.  

Credits

All text and images provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison on 26 November 2020 and used with permission, with the exception of:

  1. ‘Merry Christmas’ banner by Rachealmarie from Pixabay
  2. ‘Apply Now’ image by athree23; both from Pixabay

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