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DEVELOPMENT: Risk merging into one area

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Amidst the return of snow and bitter winds, it’s useful to look at a calendar and remember that Easter isn’t far away, with the hope of doing things like tidying up the garden.

However, if the weather continues, eating Easter eggs and drinking tea isn’t quite the image I’ve been focussing on over the period since Christmas.

But, as always, being in the North East, predicting the weather is never straightforward.

It will be interesting to see the results of the vote on whether Morpeth should have a Business Improvement District (BID), both in terms of the percentage of those eligible to vote voting and whether they opt for yes or no, considering its implications for the future of Morpeth’s Chamber of Trade.

The chamber seems to have been quiet on the subject in comparison to how it would have been in the past if a suggestion was made to bring in a local tax to help Morpeth small businesses promote themselves.

Whatever the decision in the vote, hopefully County Hall will listen to the concerns of people who run small businesses in Morpeth as the impact of persistent traffic congestion on the town leaves you to wonder how much the decision-makers at County Hall do listen.

That is but one relevant issue.

Part of me laughed when I read of proposals to build a significant number of houses along the road from Pegswood to Ashington, given the number of ponds and historical mine workings on the route.

But part of me wasn’t surprised as, given the enthusiasm to build new houses, all sorts of land is being looked at.

However, one would hope that a leader or three would stand up for their community as it’s a nightmare to imagine a future where Morpeth to Ashington, to Bedlington to Morpeth, amounts to one built-up area.

It’s surely better for people to identify with their local neighbourhood and community, rather than one roundabout in a line of roundabouts, which the drive from Morpeth to Stobhill, past Hepscott and continuing to Bedlington, could become.

You can’t stop house-building if there is a demand, but community leaders should be standing up for greater efforts to ensure that there isn’t too great a time lag between house building and community development work.

When the county council eventually produces its revised strategy it will be interesting to see how planning applications approved since the last one was withdrawn fit in.

When a broad strategy is issued it becomes easier to see how a local planning application fits into the bigger picture.

Delays in producing a strategic plan leave people with questions as to how the council will deal with specific issues caused by a building scheme.

I agree with Coun Jack Gebhard that the county council’s Produced In Northumberland scheme sounds like a good idea, (Morpeth Herald, March 8).

I seem to recall seeing photographs some time back of Council Leader Peter Jackson handing over local produce at an event at the House of Commons.

I do hope that Coun Gebhard will mention to Coun Jackson that a council commitment to improve its buying-in of locally sourced products would be a step forward as it would show the authority’s commitment to the Produced In Northumberland scheme.

It may involve re-looking at contracts, but as the review of county council commitments goes on in other areas, why shouldn’t a clear, measurable commitment to sourcing locally be given by the authority?

Robert Pollard

Northbourne Avenue

Morpeth