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County Councillor Report (Oct 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: 25 September 2022.]

HEDGELEY PARISH

Northumberland Line and A1 dualling acceleration welcomed

Banner graphic with the words 'Transport update'

Transport opportunities in Northumberland are being accelerated thanks to the Government’s Growth Plan. 

It was announced today, Friday 23 September by the Department for Transport that both the A1 dualling programme between Morpeth and Ellingham and the Northumberland Line will be accelerated as fast as possible. 

Council Leader, Councillor Glen Sanderson, said: “I am extremely pleased to hear this announcement from the Chancellor. I had only this week written to the Transport Secretary asking for a decision and I am pleased that government is listening and investing in our infrastructure. 

“Our residents, our businesses and our visitors need this. It will open up so many opportunities for the county and those travelling in and out of it. 

“Our young people will gain greater access to learning and employment, and it will go a long way in supporting our future generations. 

“It will provide a real incentive for potential employers to relocate to and invest in the area and create greater opportunities for those already here. 

“By investing now, we are investing in the future.”

The Northumberland Line will bring passenger trains back into service between Ashington and Newcastle – stimulating and supporting economic growth, regeneration and community development in Northumberland and the surrounding regions. 

“We are already in a great place with the Northumberland Line. Work has begun and this acceleration will mean we can push forward; providing new and improved transport links for local people and businesses and opening up new opportunities for education and travel,” Cllr Sanderson continued.

The dualling of the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham will in addition provide vital infrastructure to help deliver the region’s aspirations for population and economic growth, creating much needed additional capacity, with better connectivity for people and business, and safer journeys for all.

“The A1 has been, for too long, a dangerous road in this area, claiming too many lives and causing injury to many, so I am pleased the spotlight has come back on improving it. 

“It’s a hugely important road, not only for this county, but the whole country and will further strengthen links between England and Scotland.  

“Our beautiful county is not one to be missed, and this dualling will, without doubt, bring more people here to work, live or visit.”

Warm Hubs

Banner graphic with the words 'Warm Hub'

What is a Warm Hub?

‘Warm Hubs’ have been created by COMMUNITY ACTION NORTHUMBERLAND as places within the local community where people can be assured of finding a safe, warm and friendly environment in which to enjoy refreshments, social activity, information and advice and the company of other people’.

Why is this Project needed?

Northumberland is one of the most sparsely populated counties in England with just 63 people per square kilometre. 40.7% of Northumberland’s population – 151,885 people live in rural areas (defined as small towns & fringes, villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings). Of these more than 20% are over the age of 65, 15,075 people report themselves as having a limiting long-term illness and 17,550 people are income deprived.

There is a nationwide agenda to tackle the problems associated with fuel poverty but rural isolation presents a significant barrier to reaching many of those most in need. This project seeks to overcome this barrier.  Community Action Northumberland has a long history of working with rural communities and has a strong network of links with community anchors such as parish councils and village halls. 

They believe that village halls and other community buildings provide a natural access point through which to reach local communities.

Warm Hubs – your questions answered

CAN’s award-winning Warm Hubs project was showcased at a conference held in Newcastle on 17th October 2019. Delegates from as far afield as Surrey came to find out about Warm Hubs and to discuss how other parts of the UK might start to benefit from the Warm Hub approach.

How can a venue become a Warm Hub?

Community Action Northumberland works with village halls and other community buildings to ensure that:

  • The building is ‘fit for purpose’. CAN staff will support the management committee to undertake risk assessments, energy audits and accessibility checks.  A small grant can be made available to carry out simple upgrades as well as support to find funding for more extensive work
  • Governance and policies are in place
  • Appropriate insurances and licences have been acquired
  • Suitable volunteer recruitment processes
  • Volunteers receive ongoing support and training in Dementia Awareness, Food Safety, Equality and Diversity, First Aid and more.

How are the Warm Hubs run?

The scheme is very flexible and each Warm Hub will be run by local people for local people – ensuring that the scheme best meets the needs of their own community.

CAN staff are available to offer ongoing advice and support on a range of issues, including funding.

Who do I contact if I want to be involved?

If you are interested, please contact Christine Nicholls at christinenicholls@ca-north.org.uk or phone 07827 403837.

Northumberland’s Tourism Sector in post-COVID Rebound

Colour photo of landscape of fields along River Breamish near Powburn
Beautiful Breamish Valley

STEAM is a tourism economic impact modelling process which approaches the measurement of tourism from the bottom up, through its use of local supply side data and tourism performance and visitor survey data collection.

The annual STEAM report on the economic impact of tourism in Northumberland has been released, revealing a strong bounce back from 2020 in respect to visits, expenditure and employment.

The research commissioned for Visit Northumberland by Newcastle/Gateshead Initiative shows that the value of the visitor economy doubled to £858.95 million in 2021 compared to 2020. It also demonstrates a stronger recovery in spend than in visitor numbers, driven by an increase in spend by staying visitors. This indicates that more people stayed and spent more while here which supports findings from our 2021 campaign evaluation where length of stay increased to an average of 4.5 nights.

As expected, the results still remain below that of the records achieved in 2019 and the value of the visitor economy in 2021 was 21% lower than in 2019.

Andrew Fox, chair of Visit Northumberland, said, “It has been a difficult few years for tourism and we are delighted that the dedication and determination from everyone involved within Northumberland’s tourism industry is driving the recovery. The results show an overall increase of 22% in the size of the visitor economy over the last ten years, but we still have some way to go to return to pre-pandemic record levels.

“Compared to 2020, proportionately more visits are staying visits accounting for 19% of visits and 68% of spend. We are pleased to see the spike in day visitors which was seen in 2020 rescind with more visitors now choosing to stay in Northumberland.”

An extensive visitor survey conducted by Visit Northumberland in the summer of 2021 provides further evidence of this changing composition of visitors. Other significant findings were that overall visitor satisfaction levels were high, with 100% of visitors saying they were made to feel welcome and 99% would recommend Northumberland as a destination to visit.

Co-ordinated by Visit Northumberland, the new Destination Management Plan for Northumberland has been crafted in collaboration with industry leaders from the tourism sector. This joint working is vital to ensure that the economy continues to bounce back to 2019 levels and beyond with sustainable management so that Northumberland remains a place both residents and visitors alike can enjoy and be proud of.

During 2020 and 2021, grant funding from Northumberland County Council enabled many businesses to survive, some even taking advantage of quieter periods to develop their business further and emerge from the Covid lockdowns and restrictions thriving. Marketing campaigns from Visit Northumberland have encouraged visitors to return to Northumberland and discover the county’s endless experiences.

In addition, over the past two summers, a tactical visitor planning group headed up by Northumberland County Council, involving numerous partners throughout the county, ran a successful ‘Love it like it’s yours’ visitor management campaign, encouraging visitors to behave responsibly and respect the county.

Other key findings from the STEAM research found the number of people directly employed in tourism stands at 11,179, a 61% recovery from 2020 with the return of 4,236 jobs, however this is still 15% lower than the 13,076 supported in 2019. Our 2022 employment survey highlighted that recruitment was limiting growth of operations.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Life can sometimes feel overwhelming.                         

One in four people in the UK experienced mental health issues in the last year. This means that most people in England know someone with mental health problems or have personally experienced them.
 
But we don’t need to wait until we are struggling with our mental health; there are lots of things we can do to protect ourselves and prevent problems escalating, just as we do with our physical health.

Every mind matters has great tips on how to look after your mental health including a Mind Plan quiz that helps you feel more in control, deal with stress and anxiety, boost your mood and help you sleep. Please contact for more help and information – Dealing with life’s challenges – Every Mind Matters – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Wellbeing

There are a number of free services available through the Northumberland County Council Wellbeing team.

They can work with you on, how making some simple lifestyle choices, can improve health and finances. For example, the savings that can be made from quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, healthy cooking on a budget or exploring some of the free options around increasing your physical activity.

Visit our specialist pages about wellbeing:

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