Residents dig deep for new allotments

Pegswood Allotments Association Treasurer Fen Rice, far right, and Secretary Bertie Sexton, second from right, along with Pegswood parish councillor Alan Fowlie, second from left, thank Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd Commercial Manager Brian Gosling, centre, and Contracts Manager Ash Dale, far left, for donating and laying down 1,000 tonnes of top soil for the Station Cottages allotments.
Pegswood Allotments Association Treasurer Fen Rice, far right, and Secretary Bertie Sexton, second from right, along with Pegswood parish councillor Alan Fowlie, second from left, thank Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd Commercial Manager Brian Gosling, centre, and Contracts Manager Ash Dale, far left, for donating and laying down 1,000 tonnes of top soil for the Station Cottages allotments.
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A GROUP of residents, organisations and businesses have all dug in to create a new community resource for Pegswood.

After issues with the land were sorted out, the village’s Allotment Association has quickly progressed a scheme to install 17 new plots on the former Station Cottages site.

An office has been set up in the same area, improved storage containers have been purchased and there will also be a shop facility where people can buy horticultural goods.

The association’s members are currently working hard to get the allotments ready for a grand opening in early August and they have been given a big helping hand from two firms.

Pegswood-based Sanders Plant and Waste Management cleared the site and Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has donated approximately 1,000 tonnes of certified top soil for the hard landscape works, as well as grading and levelling the area.

And there was further good news when the office cabin, donated by the Piramal Healthcare plant in Morpeth, received a post code from Northumberland County Council. This means the volunteer group now has an official headquarters.

Pegswood Allotments Association Secretary Bertie Sexton said: “Everyone on the committee has pulled together to get this project up and running. They’ve shown a wilco attitude to put in the man hours both on this site and our main one down the road, which holds just over 100 plots.

“Since we took over the running of the allotments on April 1, we’ve been determined to get the new plots installed because it will clear our waiting list. Once all the soil is in place, the next stage is putting up fencing and allocating the gardens to tenants.

“Things have progressed quickly since then and the support we’ve received has been amazing. McAlpine’s has been brilliant since it got involved and we’re very grateful for all the work its men are doing.

“Pegswood Parish Council has also been fantastic with us and it has provided an additional £6,000 for the final part of the project.

“The office is important because it provides a communal meeting place and residents now know where we’re based. The shop is also generating a lot of interest in the community.

“We secured funding for three new containers and they are storing things like rotavators and water pumps for anyone who wants to use them.

“While all this is going on, we’re continuing to clear pig sties and make improvements at the main site and we recently cleared three historical fly-tipping areas on the eastern boundary.”

The parish council has been trying to get ownership of the land for 12 years and six months ago it received a possessory title. Although this is not the best class to have (absolute), it still allowed the association to use the area for allotments.

Pegswood resident Brian Gosling, Contracts Manager at Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, drives past the site every day and would now and again ask long-time friend Fen Rice – Pegswood Allotments Association Treasurer – what was happening with it.

“When I recently brought it up again, Fen told me that the association was making progress but it had no top soil. I told him I’ll see what I can do and when I spoke to our directors they were totally in agreement.

“It’s fantastic to help an important community project and it has been a big team effort as other businesses, the water board and the council has chipped in to make sure it gets done.

Our workers on the ground have done a great job to get the site ready and put down the soil.”

The other firms that have donated personnel and/or equipment for the allotments, as well as the containers, office and shop scheme, are R Thornton & Co, Owen Pugh Contracts, Nixon Hire, MKM Building Supplies, Williamson Decorator Centre and Portakabin.

Funding has also been provided by the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme and UK Coal’s Potland Burn fund.

Coun Alan Fowlie, Chairman of the council’s Allotments Committee, said: “It’s tremendous that all this has come to fruition within three months.

“The association has done an excellent job in getting the project up and running and finding support from a number of businesses and organisations.”

In the coming weeks, each Pegswood resident will get an associated member card. It will include contact details and opening times for the shop.