Agenda and draft minutes

Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council - Wednesday, 10th March, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Remotely

Contact: Kay Norris 

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillors L Rickerby and T Wilson.



MINUTES 13 JANUARY 2021 pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Minutes of the meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council held on 13 January 2021, as circulated, to be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chair.




RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Ashington & Blyth Local Area Council held on Wednesday, 13 January 2021, as circulated, be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chair.



MINUTES 10 FEBRUARY 2021 pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Minutes of the meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council held on 10 February 2021, as circulated, to be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chair.



RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Ashington & Blyth Local Area Council held on Wednesday, 10 February 2021, as circulated, be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chair.




Unless already entered in the Council’s Register of Members’ interests, members are required to disclose any personal interest (which includes any disclosable pecuniary interest) they may have in any of the items included on the agenda for the meeting in accordance with the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council on 4 July 2012, and are reminded that if they have any personal interests of a prejudicial nature (as defined under paragraph 17 of the Code Conduct) they must not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must leave the room. NB Any member needing clarification must contact Legal Services by email at Please refer to the guidance on disclosures at the rear of this agenda letter.


Councillor Simpson declared an interest in item 5(b) – consider reports on petitions previously received, petition regarding Northumberland County Council asset transfer of redundant public toilet to Newbiggin Town Council at which time she would leave the meeting and take no part in the discussion or voting thereon.


At the Chair’s request, and with the agreement of Members, the agenda was re-ordered to bring item 8 forward.




To reply to any questions received from members of the public which have been submitted in writing in advance of the meeting. Questions can be asked about issues for which the Council has a responsibility. (Public question times take place on a bimonthly basis at Local Area Council meetings: in January, March, May, July, September and November each year.)


As agreed by the County Council in February 2012, the management of local public question times is at the discretion of the chair of the committee.


Please note however that a question may possibly be rejected if it requires the disclosure of any categories of confidential or exempt information, namely information:


1.       relating to any individual;

2.       which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual;

3.       relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person

4.       relating to any labour relations matters/negotiations;

5.       restricted to legal proceedings

6.       about enforcement/enacting legal orders

7.       relating to the prevention, investigation of prosecution of crime.




?        is defamatory, frivolous or offensive;

?        it is substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of this or another County Council committee in the past six months;

?        the request repeats an identical or very similar question from the same person;

?        the cost of providing an answer is disproportionate;

?        it is being separately addressed through the Council's complaints process;

?        it is not about a matter for which the Council has a responsibility or which affects the county;

?        it relates to planning, licensing and/or other regulatory applications

?        it is a question that town/parish councils would normally be expected to raise through other channels.


If the Chair is of the opinion that a question is one which for whatever reason, cannot properly be asked in an area meeting, he/she will disallow it and inform the resident of his/her decision.


Copies of any written answers (without individuals' personal contact details) will be provided for members after the meeting and also be publicly available.


Democratic Services will confirm the status of the progress on any previously requested written answers and follow up any related actions requested by the Local Area Council.



No questions from the public had been received in advance of the meeting. 



The Neighbourhood Inspector has been invited to this meeting to give an overview and answer questions about policing and any community safety matters in the Ashington and Blyth area.


The Chair had contacted Northumbria Police Inspectors of the Ashington and Blyth areas to attend the meeting to provide an update about policing and community safety.  Inspector Patterson from the Ashington area had advised the Chair of a previous engagement but had agreed to attend on another occasion.  Acting Neighbourhood Inspector Steven Nicklin had volunteered to attend for the Blyth area as a new Inspector had been appointed and had not yet taken up his position. 


Inspector Nicklin provided an update as follows:


  • John Caisley had been appointed as the new Inspector for the Blyth area and would take up his position within the next few weeks.
  • Operational policing teams for Blyth responded from the Bedlington area but were deployed within the Blyth area for a quick time response.  In addition, there was a Blyth Neighbourhood Team which currently consisted of one inspector, two sergeants, 12 police constables, 8 PCSO’s and a number of special constables split over two operating teams.
  • Key areas of vulnerability such as domestic violence and anti-social behaviour were being addressed.
  • Operation Aurora continued with a multi-agency approach to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the Cowpen Quay area.  This was a beneficial piece of work with vast success in supporting vulnerable people and improving hotspot areas.  Some offenders had been given custodial sentences with others receiving low level intervention to deter them from becoming long term offenders.
  • During lockdown speeding had been exacerbated and in response to concerns about this the Blyth area had taken receipt of a true speed gun which was ordinarily only held by traffic departments.  This was a mobile handheld speed camera which could be operated by one officer and some of the team had been trained to use it, the benefits of which had already been seen.
  •  Enforcement was valid and crucial but there were many assets to it. Engagement and working with highways were ongoing and hopefully benefits would soon be forthcoming.
  • There were ongoing issues with off-road motorcycles which were being addressed by Operation Swift in which individuals were being proactively targeted. 
  • In terms of local initiatives, Operation Ages was looking at issues of domestic violence and identifying the most vulnerable through a multi-agency approach. This was a bespoke piece of work in addition to that done by other departments and was proving beneficial.
  • Covid had brought many issues.  Residents and members of the community in Blyth had mainly adhered to the public safety element but, as in other areas, some had been in breach of the guidelines.  Most breaches had been within a domestic setting and although these were mainly addressed through engagement and education, enforcement was used when needed.
  •  Inspector Nicklin said members should be encouraged as there were many positive things happening in Blyth.


In response to questions the following information was provided:


  • Following the traffic accident at St Wilfred’s Church, Blyth, Inspector Nicklin was not aware of any fatalities but could not comment on injuries sustained by the driver.
  • Funding for the true speed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 129.


PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 96 KB

This item is to:


(a)      Receive any new petitions: The following e-petition was received by Democratic Services and opened for signatures on 15 February 2021:


We regard the action taken by this council to impose planning enforcement procedures on over 60 residents in Lynemouth to be unfair and disproportionate.  In the midst of a global pandemic, this action disregards this council's duty of care towards the health and wellbeing of its constituents. 
Residents are already suffering financially and proceeding with this action at this time will cause not only further financial hardship for many, but also poses a threat to mental and physical wellbeing.  
Whilst the action may be governed by national legislation, we ask this Council Administration to: 
1.  Consider whether there are any discretionary powers at local level to address the problem. 
2.  Recognise the financial pressure this puts on people at this current time. 
3.  Acknowledge that it has a duty of care to residents and at the very least extend the timescales on any enforcement until such times when residents can meet with any such professional bodies as they need to in order to produce the relevant applications, plans etc.


A response will be requested for a future meeting.


(b)      Consider reports on petitions previously received:


Petition Regarding Northumberland County Council asset transfer of redundant public toilet to Newbiggin Town Council.


(c)      Receive any updates on petitions for which a report was previously considered: any updates will be verbally reported at the meeting.



(a) Receive any new petitions – details about a petition relating to planning enforcement procedures in Lynemouth had been circulated with the agenda in error as it was not under the remit of this committee. The Director of Planning had been advised accordingly and his response would be provided to a future meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council.


(b) Consider reports on petitions previously received: 


Northumberland County Council Asset Transfer of Redundant Public Toilet to Newbiggin Town Council


Councillor Simpson left the meeting for this item only taking no part in the discussion or voting thereon


A statement to introduce the petition had been received from Mr J Armstrong, local resident and petitioner, and was read out by the Democratic Services Officer as follows:


As a resident and Council Tax payer of Newbiggin by the Sea, I wish to submit my objection to and concerns with regard to Northumberland County Council transferring their derelict, redundant public toilets to the Town Council.


Financial implications for the residents.


  1. Newbiggin by the Sea residents have for the last two years paid the highest Council Tax, per equivalent band, in Northumberland. Due to double figure percentage rises in each of the two years.
  2. Newbiggin Town Council previously contributed £100,000 towards the Front Street development, enabling an additional Town Council office and a new public toilet block.

3.       The Town Council pay NCC through the service agreement to maintain the Front St public toilets.

4.       The additional public toilet being owned by NTC will be an additional financial burden to the residents, for refurbishment, maintenance and other overheads.

5.       The Town Council balances accumulated to date have been as a result of an underspending on the essential basic services in the Town over previous years. The residents now live in a neglected place as evidenced by inadequate litter bins, neglected public seats, not fit for purpose bus shelter at Woodlea and play parks falling into disrepair.


Safety, design and other concerns.


1.       The position of the toilets is at the edge of a busy turnaround for traffic and adjacent to six road junctions with no dedicated pedestrian access.

2.       The proposed entrance to the toilets opens directly onto the turnaround, posing a huge risk to those exiting with small children.

3.       No adjacent parking available for disabled people.

4.       Inadequate or dedicated facilities for the disabled. Insufficient area for two support carers or a full size changing table.

5.       Proposed use of Windfarm regeneration monies accumulated from previous years.

6.       Little signage for the new public toilets on Front Street.


The long term financial burden for the residents this asset transfer will bring, is unacceptable and will cause many families hardship. A decision made by three Town Councillors without any opportunity given for the residents to voice their concerns.


Following receipt of the officer’s report, the petitioner made the following comments:


The only thing I have to say after reading the officer’s report is, when is anyone going to listen to the residents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 130.



To receive a verbal update from the Area Managers from Technical Services and Neighbourhood Services in attendance about any key recent, ongoing and/or future planned Local Services work for the attention of members of the Local Area Council, who will also then have the opportunity to raise issues with the Area Managers.


The Area Managers have principal responsibility for highway services and environmental services, such as refuse collection, street cleansing and grounds maintenance, within the geographic boundaries of the Local Area Council.





The Head of Neighbourhood Services and Highways Delivery Area Manager were in attendance to provide verbal updates about any key recent, ongoing and/or future planned Local Services work and to respond to issues raised by members.


          Neighbourhood Services


Mr G Gavin, Head of Neighbourhood Services provided an update as follows:


  • Since the last meeting there had been some challenging weather conditions with ice and snow.  From a grounds maintenance perspective winter maintenance had continued at the expected rate despite bad weather and teams had coped very well.
  • NEAT operatives were diverted to support colleagues in highways and deployed to grit and clear footpaths in high footfall areas and to ensure access to the vaccination and testing centres was maintained to support NHS colleagues.
  • In terms of transitioning from the winter season to the summer season, when ground conditions were suitable, grass cutting would commence in either late March or early April depending on those ground conditions.
  • The Neighbourhood Services Area Manager was in the process of finalising recruitment for seasonal staff who were brought in each year to support activities.
  • The weed control programme would be undertaken in-house this year.  It had been particularly challenging last year due to people working from home and parked cars.  This year some alternatives to glyphosate weed treatment traditionally used would be trialed and although most research indicated that alternatives were more costly and slower, these would be tested throughout the summer season in local settings.
  • From a street cleansing point of view, in line with usual practice, mechanical sweepers were temporarily stood down.
  • It was anticipated there would be an increase in footfall throughout all of Northumberland’s parks, open spaces and coastal areas again this year and proposals were being pulled together for an enhanced street cleansing service with extra maintenance of public conveniences throughout the summer season.
  • In terms of waste collection, despite the snow and the ice, almost all collections in this area were complete with very few bins missed in some of the more rural areas.
  • Garden waste collections had started this week and people were reminded to renew their subscriptions.  The cost remained the same as last year at £43 per bin.
  • Despite the challenges, teams had continued to do an excellent job and managers were very proud of them.


Members expressed thanks to the teams for the excellent service they had continued to provide throughout the challenging conditions.


In response to questions the following information was provided:


  • Bowling greens would be maintained in the same way this year as they had been last year with no changes.
  • In response to a request for information about the ownership of railings which had blown over on the path between Tomlea Avenue and Waverley Avenue, Bedlington Station, Mr Gavin said officers would look into this and provide information to Councillor Gobin as requested.
  • Mr Gavin could not confirm if wet play facilities within parks would be allowed to open this summer but, as it was a possibility, funding had been commissioned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 131.



To receive a progress report.


A progress report had been circulated for information.


RESOLVED that the information be noted.  




To note the latest version of agreed items for future Local Area Council meetings (any suggestions for new agenda items will require confirmation by the Business Chair after the meeting) 



Members received the latest version of agreed items for future Local Area Council meetings.


RESOLVED that the information be noted.





It was noted that the next meeting was for planning items only and, subject to there being any planning business, would take place on Wednesday, 14 April 2021, time to be confirmed.