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County Councillor Report (Nov 2022)

by Wendy Pattison – Tel. 07779 983072

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Photo portrait of Councillor Wendy Pattison

[All text and images provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 26 October 2022.]


Council recommends appointment of new Chief Executive

Northumberland County Council is pleased to announce a recommended appointment for a new Chief Executive of the Council.  

Dr Helen Paterson is currently at Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, where she has been Chief Executive since 2017.

Dr Helen Paterson. She has been announced as a recommended appointment for a new Chief Executive of Northumberland County Council
Dr Helen Paterson

Helen was Executive Director of Children’s Services in Sunderland for five years before becoming Strategic Director for Transformation, leading the council’s business transformation, efficiency and improvement work.  

She joined Walsall after being Chief Executive at Wrexham County Borough Council for six years.  Helen is currently Secretary of the Association of Black Country Authorities and Black Country Executive Joint Committee and Chair of West Midlands Metropolitan Chief Executives Group. 

Council leader Cllr Glen Sanderson said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming Helen as our new Chief Executive, subject to full council approval. “Helen stood out as our first choice among a very strong field of candidates. She brings with her a wealth of skills, experience and an in-depth knowledge of local government and shares our vision to take Northumberland forward over the coming years.” 
 Her formal appointment needs to be confirmed at a full council meeting in early November following an interview and selection process overseen by a cross-party group of Councillors and senior officers.  

Better broadband for rural Northumberland under government’s Project Gigabit

More than 3,750 rural premises in North Northumberland are set to access faster and more reliable broadband thanks to funding from the government’s Project Gigabit scheme. 

Borderlink Broadband, trading as GoFibre, will work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the County Council to enable thousands of hard-to-reach homes and businesses to access gigabit-capable broadband, made possible by £7.3million of DCMS investment. 
The project will cover towns, villages and hamlets across the area, subject to further survey completion. The contract has been signed and planning is now underway, with construction due to begin in Spring 2023.

Gigabit-capable networks are lightning-fast and fit for the future, allowing communities to upload and download data with none of the disruptions associated with ageing copper networks. More than 70 per cent of the UK can access gigabit connections – such as full fibre – but these are mostly in urban areas which is why the government is investing £5 billion to connect hard-to-reach areas that might otherwise miss out. 

This should enable thousands of our residents living and working in rural areas access the fastest and most reliable connection speeds available and will make accessing every-day activities – such as online banking, video calls, gaming and streaming – much more efficient.  Not only will this benefit our rural communities but will support the levelling-up of our rural businesses too, allowing for better innovation and collaboration opportunities.” 

Digital Infrastructure Minister, Julia Lopez, said: “North Northumberland will be one of the first places to benefit from this government’s multi-million-pound investments to bring people in hard-to-reach areas the broadband speeds they deserve. 

“Faster gigabit broadband will mean families no longer have to battle over bandwidth and people in rural areas will get the speed, reliability and freedom to live and work flexibly.” 

The fast, reliable networks delivered by Project Gigabit will level-up mostly rural and remote communities across the UK, as well as tackling pockets of poor connectivity in urban areas. Having the fastest connections also means the UK is fit for the future, with broadband infrastructure designed to deliver for people’s needs for decades to come. 

Sam Calvert, chief revenue officer at GoFibre, said: “At GoFibre, everything we do is guided by our mission to support the development and prosperity of local communities across Northern England and Scotland with high-quality broadband services. 

“We’re delighted to have been awarded our second contract as a trusted partner under the government’s Project Gigabit scheme with today’s announcement providing an exciting opportunity for us to extend our services to the people of North Northumberland. 

“Having already embedded ourselves within the Berwick community, we’re strengthening our ties with North Northumberland by helping locals to connect with each other and thrive, thanks to a reliable broadband connection. This opens up opportunities for economic growth, education and employment with everybody deserving access to world class connectivity which we’re looking forward to bringing to North Northumberland.” 

GoFibre is a Scottish independent broadband provider bringing full fibre broadband services to homes and businesses across Scotland and the North of England. This is the third contract that has been awarded under Project Gigabit. 

Households and businesses can register their interest in GoFibre’s full fibre broadband services by visiting

Retrofit programme accelerates Northumberland towards carbon neutral

Northumberland County Council is pioneering the installation of low carbon ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) in its non-domestic buildings to help reduce emissions in the county. 

To date, 20 GSHP projects have been undertaken by the council, including in fire stations, schools and office premises saving 1025.09 tons of CO2 emissions to date – the equivalent of a petrol car driving 2,544,484 miles around the county. 

The pumps are being supplied by British manufacturer and installation partner, Kensa and present the best value benefit against the carbon saved which will help accelerate Northumberland towards its carbon neutral goal by 2030. Especially as GSHPs have a typical lifespan of 20 years and become even more efficient as the grid continues to decarbonise. 

Ian Goodchild, Director of Non-Domestic Sales at Kensa Contracting, said: “The success of our partnership with Northumberland County Council demonstrates how ground source heat pump technology can be a mainstream heating solution for public buildings, and how forward-thinking councils and local authorities can capitalise on available funding streams to make these projects happen.” 

“Kensa has worked closely with the Council to provide bespoke ground source heat pumps solutions in each scenario, leading to better thermal comfort and drastically reducing emissions. The higher efficiencies provided by the heat pumps lead to lower running costs, which delivers savings for the council across their asset portfolio, helping them get the most value and best delivery from their properties.” 

For public sector customers wanting to install ground source heat pumps, Kensa offers a free feasibility report service that can be included within funding applications and it is advised to look at projects in advance of future funding rounds. 

Staying warm this winter

Northumberland Communities Together is here to listen, chat and support at this time of year. If you want advice on how to stay warm are worried about the cost of living and household bills. Or, you would like some pointers on positive mental health and wellbeing.  Or if everything feels a bit overwhelming and you’re feeling lonely or isolated.  Please get in touch with us.

Poster advertising Northumberland Communities Together
Northumberland Communities Together

There are lots of ways to talk to us; you can ring, email, or drop into one of community hubs or warm spaces. Phone us on 01670 620 015 9am-6pm, 7 days a week 

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