Shaping the future

IT promises to be a busy year for a village authority as it prepares to take on more services and facilities.

Pegswood Parish Council is urging residents to come forward and help shape how it will manage them, as well as its future projects.

It is among many town and parish councils across Northumberland that are talking to the county council about what they can do in addition to their existing responsibilities.

In Pegswood’s case, it could take charge of maintaining the cemetery and managing grass cutting.

Discussions are also on-going about the council taking ownership of the new pavilion, which will officially open later this month, and land at Welfare Park.

It will be responsible for the new play area next to the pavilion when it is complete. Funding was provided by the Playbuilder scheme following a successful application from the Pegswood Community Action group.

Chairman of the authority Simon Willcox, said: “This council has improved a great deal in recent years and this was shown when we achieved Quality Status in late 2009.

“As well as councillors working very hard, this upturn is also down to the efforts of Clerk Peter Basnett and Deputy Clerk Kevin Cassie.

“In the next 12 months we are preparing to take on more services and we are confident that we will be able to cope with them. We’ve been explaining to residents that this is why we’ve increased the precept, although not by the full amount we really needed because we felt we shouldn’t go too far.

“We are in a better position than many other parish councils as we already have a range of responsibilities including bus shelters, play areas and street furniture, such as litter bins and notice boards. It’s not like we are getting lots of things at once.”

The transfers are not all one way as the council is looking to pass on the management of village allotments to a local Allotment Association.

Land is also being sought for more allotments, with more than 20 people on the waiting list, and starter plots for people to get a taste of growing plants and vegetables.

Mr Willcox is also hoping that members of the public will have their say on how the authority should spend its money in the next few years.

“Fresh input is always welcome as we want residents to tell us what they want us to do instead of us just telling them all the time,” he said.

“For example, not long after Welfare Park opened we were approached by some teenagers about including a skate park and when we organised a meeting about it, around 30 of them turned up. It was really impressive to see their passion and a skate park was included in our phase three plans for the site.”

The council has introduced a new Pegswood In Bloom gardening competition, with judging to take place in August.

Its meetings are now held on the third Monday of each month at the Union Enterprise Centre, Front Street, from 6.30pm.

For more details about its activities ring 01670 514299.