Voters will decide award champions

FOUR valuable community groups are vying for honours in the Morpeth Civic Awards — and the public will decide the winner.

The Civic Awards were launched by Morpeth Town Council last year to recognise champions in business, leisure and culture, sport and achievement, with members of the public nominating candidates and the winners decided by a panel.

But this year the public will also get the final say on who wins the Community Award, sponsored by Heighley Gate Garden Centre, in a vote.

Nominees are the Greater Morpeth Development Trust’s (GMDT) Community Cinema, Northumberland County Blind Association, the Lights Out group and the South Morpeth Coalition.

The community cinema runs monthly in the Town Hall, with the help of volunteers, funders and partners.

GMDT Chief Executive David Lodge said: “The community cinema is now an established part of the Morpeth arts and entertainment scene, but it would not have happened without the perseverance and passion of the Arts and Culture Director Frank Rescigno. It gets wonderful support from enthusiastic volunteers. The cinema gives people who may find it difficult to travel to the big Tyneside complexes the opportunity to see recent releases on their own doorstep.”

Northumberland County Blind Association provides a range of support services to vision impaired people from its Low Stanners base.

Chief Executive Lorraine Dryden said: “The team, volunteers and service users are absolutely delighted that NCBA has been nominated.

“Too often voluntary organisations do not blow their own trumpets as this is seen as secondary to the vital support work that they provide. Everyone who works at the organisation does so with good hearts, professionalism and dedication and the people supported often become friends.”

Morpeth Lights Out group is involved in an ongoing campaign to press for the removal of the Telford Bridge traffic lights and has organised a petition, protest march and survey.

Chairman David Towns said: “We are very pleased to have been nominated, it is good to be recognised.

“We were always slightly worried that we were a self-appointed group, but the way the public has responded to us has given us a mandate. If people voted for us it would be further proof that the public’s attitude to the lights hasn’t changed.”

The South Morpeth Coalition is a residents’ group that has battled to prevent housing development at Loansdean, including leading the residents’ fight at a planning inquiry when the county council pulled out.

Member David Holden said: “It is an honour to be nominated, and I am sure there are other worthy groups involved.

“When we talk to people they are grateful for the time and effort the authors of the key documents have put in and to the people who stood in front of Bellway’s lawyers and put forward our case..”

Voting is open until Wednesday, May 22 and can be done online at www.morpeth-tc.gov.uk or in person at Morpeth Town Hall.