Update from NEED Ltd
Charlotte Wilson, Finance Director from North East Equality & Diversity Ltd (NEED) updated the Council on their activities. She reminded councillors that the charity had started in 2002 becoming NEED in 2010 with the aim of offering accessible cost effective transport.
At present they had 27 minibuses around Northumberland including Alnwick which operated a number of contracts including a home to school contract for Northumberland County Council, a dialysis and patient transport for North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and secure transport for the NHS. They also operate 3 dial a ride schemes, two in Alnwick and one in Morpeth.
In addition, they offer a ‘need a car scheme’ where pool cars are used to take people to medical appointments and social events. The scheme had proved very popular with 650 people using it in 2018 and 72 in January 2019.
Charlotte reported that NEED are buying the old fire station on South Road with some of the building being used by NEED and some accommodating some 8 small business start-up units. There will also be a meeting room on site with white board and wi-fi which people can make use of.
Charlotte then told councillors about the training that NEED offer. They offer Minibus Drivers (MiDAS) courses; Emergency First Aid; Drivers Certificate in Professional Competence (CPC); Managing Violence and Aggression and Basic Risk Assessment. In addition NEED are working in a consortium with CP Training from Carlisle to offer the additional training in Alnwick that all minibus drivers now need.
Bill Grimsey’s Presentation
Tim Kirton the Project & Funding Officer gave feedback on the Bill Grimsey’s recent presentation to the Business Forum. He outlined that the event was well received and attended, with over 70 people present. Mr Kirton summarised the presentation and highlighted that amongst many likely changes ahead, Mr Grimsey warned that the smart-phone will, over the next few years, replace the car in shaping town centres and that all stakeholders need to collaborate to diversify their town centres away from traditional retail. Mr Grimsey also suggested town centres needed to become community hubs offering a unique experience to visitors and residents alike. The Town Council agreed will finalise its response to Mr Grimsey’s presentation over the next few weeks.
The Town Council agreed, subject to further consultation with individual businesses, to support the County Council proposals for a trial pedestrianisation scheme in Narrowgate. The trial could be in place for the summer and follows public consultation in November when the overwhelming choice of residents was for a pedestrianisation scheme.
Lindisfarne Sports Centre
Town Clerk Bill Batey updated councillors on the recent public meeting about the Lindisfarne Sports Centre which was organized by the Alnwick Forum, and on the current information available on the building. The Council agreed to organise and chair a working group of users to look at future use, including possible new activities.
The Council approved the draft accounts for the Mechanics Institute for 2018/19. The Accounts showed a surplus of just over £6,000 for the year. It was agreed that this surplus will be reinvested back into the building over the next 12 months, with planned works including kitchen improvements and external repairs.
2019/20 Budget Approved
Councillors approved a budget and Town Council precept of £306,585 for 2019/20. For a Band D dwelling this will equates to an annual increase of £4.62 (8.9p per week) and will be a 4.4% increase. The new Alnwick Band D town council precept is likely to be £109.91 per annum. The 2019/20 budget will include an increased budget to assist town events (increased by £4,145) and an additional £5,000 for grants to local organisations. £3,500 is also budgeted for the painting of Town Centre lighting columns and funding is provided for an additional part-time operative.
Bill Grimsey to visit Alnwick
The Town Council’s Projects and Funding Officer, Tim Kirton, informed Councillors that there would be a special meeting of the Business Forum on the afternoon of Wednesday 13th February which would be attended by the nationally renowned retail analyst Bill Grimsey, author of The Grimsey Reports of 2013 and 2018. Mr. Grimsey would tour the town and then present to the Forum on his vision for what town centres and High Streets must do to increase their viability and ensure their survival in the future.
Update from Alnwick Police
Sergeant Sharon Wilmore-Greaves from Northumbria Police gave the Town Council an update on police matters. She reported that there had been a slight increase in the number of overall offences across Northumbria from 2017/18 to 2018/19 but that in the Alnwick area overall crimes had dropped by 2%.
Sergeant Wilmore-Greaves confirmed that in Alnwick the number of burglaries and drunk and disorderly offences had increased before Christmas but anti-social behaviour offences were down. She advised that several police operations had been put in place in the run up to Christmas, one of which was a focus on theft from small businesses and shops.
When asked about the town CCTV system, which has installed by the Town Council, Sergeant Wilmore-Greaves commented “the CCTV system has been helpful providing evidence in a number of convictions including assaults”. She went on the say “the local police worked with the Town Council to ensure that the cameras were placed at the most useful locations around the town. We have been working together to adjust the locations and angles of the cameras since they were installed, to ensure that they give the best coverage”. The Town Council will shortly be adding two number plate recognition cameras to the town system, this will further help the police in their investigations.
Sergeant Wilmore-Greaves reported that, in the run up to Christmas, there had also been an evening operation run in conjunction with Trading Standards which had targeted underage drinking. She informed councillors that underage drinking had only been found in one out of the ten locations visited.
Alnwick Bike Track
Councillors received an update report on the Alnwick Bike Track and also heard from Ian McCrae from Gallery Youth about their outreach work at the facility. Councillors agreed to place £10,000 into a fund for future repairs and maintenance and then committed the Council to undertake the necessary works for the next 3 years, and then reviewing the situation. It was a requirement of the grant funding received from Sport England that a fund be established for future repairs and maintenance. The Council were granted a 20 year lease for the site by Northumberland Estates, in 2016.
Councillors held a minutes silence and paid their respects to former Town Councillor Ritchie Waddell who died recently. Ritchie was a former town Mayor who retired as a councillor in 2013 and had served Alnwick Councils for 51 years.
Civic Carol Service Success
Town Mayor, Alan Symmonds thanked everyone who attended the Civic Carol service on 12th December at St Michaels Church and in particular he highlighted the contributions by the Bailiffgate Singers, St Paul’s School Choir and the readers from North Northumberland Hospice Care. Councillor Symmonds was delighted that the collection had raised £423.42 for Hospice Care.
Vacant Town Centre Businesses Update
Councillors received a report from the Tim Kirton, Projects and Funding Officer and heard that there has been a net slight rise in town centre business premises vacancies – but that further occupancies might nullify this early in the new year.
Since the first survey of vacant town centre business properties undertaken in July, 9 premises had been vacated but 6 of those 9 had been quickly re-let whilst another building vacated two years ago is currently being converted for re-use. The net reduction in occupancy is 2 business units. However, property landlords have advised that a further two or even three units are expected to be occupied early in 2019.
Mr Kirton reported: “The turnover of town centre premises appears to be quite fluid and landlords have reported much interest in vacant units so there is a good degree of buoyancy there. The Town Council is working closely with agents to help them find occupants of vacant units as quickly as possible.
Council aim to be Carbon Neutral
A motion on the Council’s response to Climate Change was debated and it was resolved that ‘Alnwick Town Council aims to become carbon neutral by 2031′.
All the Councillors who spoke in the debate acknowledged the seriousness of the current situation and that Alnwick Town Council should play its part in decarbonising both its own activities and take a leadership role within the town to encourage and enable our community to seek ways to do likewise. The detail of how this process is to be conducted is to be worked out by Councillors in the coming months. For the Council this will most likely involve a carbon audit and the setting of interim targets for emissions for the coming years.
Councillor Martin Swinbank speaking after the meeting stated “Climate Change will affect everyone across the world and the people of Alnwick are no exception. I am pleased that the Council has adopted this ambitious statement of intent, to show the way in reducing carbon emissions down to net zero.”
“Climate Change is a huge challenge but at the same time a huge opportunity. I believe that the town council will find the way to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero in line with the timeframe of the Neighbourhood Plan. Crucially though, by raising its own ambition it can serve as a catalyst for the community to do likewise and this will improve the lives of everyone in our town. The benefits for our health, through greater physical activity by providing safer spaces to walk and cycle, less air pollution from transport and power generation and warmer homes and workplaces are obvious. More locally sourced, nutritious fresh food can help combat obesity and other medical conditions and good, local employment reduces the distance needed to travel for work giving us more family and leisure time. This also enables our young people to stay living in their home community. Planting more trees, soaks up carbon and enhances our local environment for people and wildlife alike. Local renewable power generation and food production will retain money in our local economy. The list goes on.”
Objection against charging for events
Town Councillors were unanimous in their objection to proposed new charges by the County Council for the management of events.
Councillor George Mavin commented “Northumberland has just won the title of Best UK Holiday County of the Year for the first time and the County Council’s proposed new charges would mean that they are not supporting local events which is the reason many visitors come to Northumberland”.
Alnwick Town Council’s next Business Forum will take place on Wednesday 13th February at 2.30pm and will be a presentation by the nationally renowned retail analyst Bill Grimsey, author of The Grimsey Reports (2013 and 2018).
Mr Grimsey will tour the town then present his vision for what town centres and High Streets must do to increase their viability and ensure their future survival.
Mr Grimsey started his career as a trainee retail manager and worked for Tesco and Wickes and was CEO of Iceland.
Anyone wishing to attend should contact Alnwick Town Council’s Project & Funding Officer, Tim Kirton at Timkirton@hotmail.co.uk
Sports clubs and other user groups are being invited to come and hear more about future options for the former Lindisfarne Middle School sports hall and the wider school site.
The meeting is being organised by the Alnwick Forum, a partnership between Northumberland County Council and Alnwick Town Council.
The event will take place in the main hall at Lindisfarne Adult Learning Centre, on Lindisfarne Road NE66 1AX, on Wednesday, January 23 at 6pm.
It follows the first engagement event on future plans for Alnwick and its key buildings held late last year which attracted hundreds of visitors. The Forum is committed to ensuring the future use of all council buildings is fully considered and discussed.
Forum members and Alnwick County Councillors Gordon Castle and Robbie Moore said: “We know the sports centre and playing fields are widely used by a large number of groups and The Forum is keen to find the best way forward for the site.
“This event is a good opportunity to discuss these facilities and the future of the wider site.”
Alan Symmonds, Mayor of Alnwick added “The Alnwick & Denwick Neighbourhood Plan considers the Adult Education Centre and Sports Centre as key community facilities. We are keen to look at all the options available and in doing this, it is important that we hear from users.”
Sports clubs, user groups and anyone else interested in the future of the site are welcome to come along for 6pm.
Following the Alnwick Forum event held in Northumberland Hall on Saturday November 17th, there is still time to give your comments by filling out the Forum Questionnaire form. The form invites comments on the key sites of the former Duchess High School, the Lindisfarne site and Narrowgate, of course, as well as inviting general comments.
Click on the link below to take you to the on line form:
Online comments need to be submitted by Friday 7th December 2018.
The Alnwick Forum will be holding a special drop-in session on Saturday November 17th from 10am to 4pm in the Northumberland Hall, Market Place Alnwick, NE66 1TN
So come along and have your say on key County Council sites in Alnwick including the former Lindisfarne Middle School site, the former Duchess Community High School site (Howling Lane) as well as the Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Narrowgate and an update on The Playhouse.
Refreshments will be provided.
If you need further information please contact Bill Batey 07971 810267 or email email@example.com
Alnwick Town Council is encouraging local voluntary and community organisations who are based in, or predominantly serve Alnwick and need financial assistance for 2019, to complete and return an application form by 3rd December 2018.
Mayor Alan Symmonds said “The Town Council know how important the grants are to local organisations so I am pleased that we have been able to increase our grants budget to £25,000 for distribution to local organisations. Each year we help local organisations and groups who provide very valuable services to the town and who are in need of financial support. We are especially pleased to receive applications from groups who have not applied for a grant from the Town Council before”.
The grant criteria and application forms are available to download below.
Grant Application Form 2018 - PDF version
Grant Application Form 2018 - Word version
A vacancy exists on Alnwick Town Council for a councillor in the Castle Ward and the council are looking to fill the vacancy by co-option. The position will run until May 2020.
Anyone interested in being considered for the vacancy is requested to make an application in writing setting out why they would like to be a councillor, in not more than 500 words.
Application must be submitted to Bill Batey, Chief Officer and Town Clerk, Room 5, 27 Fenkle Street, Alnwick, NE66 1HW or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org not later than noon on Wednesday 12th September 2018.
Anyone wishing to find out more about what is involved in being a councillor and how the Town Council operates is asked to contact Bill on 07971 810267 to arrange an informal discussion. A decision will be made by the Council on Thursday 13th September 2018.