A busy year for town’s trust team

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A TRUST set up to support the development of Morpeth is playing an increasing role in the community, officials say.

At its annual general meeting last week, Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) Chairman Doug Phillips and Chief Executive David Lodge reported that it had been a busy 12 months for the organisation.

The trust has been involved in economic, environmental, planning and cultural work, as well as cemented ties to other local organisations, such as Morpeth Town Council, Northumberland County Council and the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade.

Mr Lodge said: “The past year has been a strong one for GMDT, which has delivered across all its interest groups, enhanced community engagement and strongly supported the economy of Morpeth.

“The current operating environment continues to be a challenging one and there is no clear respite on the horizon, but we retain our focus on income generation through investment in social enterprises, with proposals being developed for affordable housing schemes, business incubator space and events management.”

The trust has increased its economic work, with Mr Lodge chairing the Town Team partnership, which was set up to bid for funding from the Government’s Mary Portas’ initiative to breathe new life into the high streets.

The town was awarded £10,000, which has been used for various activities, such as staging a world qualifying duathlon, promoting the More In Morpeth brand and producing 20,000 copies of an events calendar for distribution around the region.

The trust has also been involved in the development of Morpeth’s Neighbourhood Plan and it was a key partner in the Emily Inspires programme in honour of Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, securing grants totalling £120,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.

It ran the monthly community cinema, supported the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering and Heritage Open Days, and commissioned a statue of Admiral Lord Collingwood, which is displayed in the Town Hall.

Members liaised with the Environment Agency over the flood scheme and worked with Natural England to carry out £60,000 of access improvements in Bluebell Woods.

Mr Phillips said: “We said last year that the time for talking was over and that partners needed to embrace the challenges facing Morpeth, the town and our community. Over the past 12 months, GMDT has worked tirelessly to achieve this and will continue to do so in the years to come.

“We thank our partners, Board members and staff for their contribution towards what has been achieved.”