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.