Mayor reflects on busy year for authority

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PONTELAND’S Mayor is proud of the progress made by the town council over the last 12 months.

In his annual report, Peter Cowey has outlined the achievements made by the authority and set out the challenges it will face in the future as it takes on more services.

He has also explained that the calculation methods used by the county council is the reason why residents have a higher council tax increase than initially stated.

The Mayor read out a summary of his document at the annual meeting of electors last Thursday and said new groups for areas such as bus transport and bridle paths are making an important impact, for example, the county council is now putting all the bus routes in Darras Hall on its gritting route.

He has included an appendix showing what has recently been achieved by the highways committee, including improvements on Western Way, a speed survey on Middle Drive which found that there were many instances when vehicles were exceeding the speed limit and the installation of new bus shelters.

“We’re now responsible for Prestwick Cemetery, although we’ve commissioned Northumberland County Council to run it for us in 2013/14,” Coun Cowey added.

“During this year we will monitor very closely via our newly formed cemetery committee exactly how things are carried out and will decide later in the year if Ponteland Town Council will run it in the future or continue to pay the county council to run it.

“The councillors on this authority continue to do all they can to make Ponteland an even better place to live and I thank them for their support regarding the large development at Birney Hill by waiting until the actual plans arrived so that we as a council could never be accused of pre-judging an application.

“Some of you may have noticed the Ponteland precept in your council tax bill was documented as a three per cent increase. This is something I’m following up as the actual increase we require for this financial year is 0.37 per cent.

“It would appear that the county council estimates how many households may not pay their community charge and adds this calculation onto our precept after we’ve decided our figures, which makes no sense to me.”

He also logged his total commitments as a leading councillor in February and March and found that in February, he worked two weeks full-time out of four.