Community chest grants

The Community Chest panel met this week after the embargo imposed by the Labour administration was finally lifted.

Grants, to local organisations in the West, of over £30,000 were agreed in this first funding round, ranging from storage sheds at Stamfordham First School to renovations to Gilsland Village Hall in the far west.

Local organisations are encouraged to apply for grants of up to £10,000. Application forms are available on the Council’s website by email to Locality.Development@northumberland.gov.uk, or by telephoning 0845 600 6400

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High speed Broadband finally on offer

The two events to showcase a new possible system of high speed broadband were held at the drop in sessions at Stamfordham and Matfen Village Halls and were well attended by residents wanting a better service now rather than the two to three year wait from BT – even with the government funding they have received to deliver high speed broadband to rural areas.

The service which should be on offer within the next two months will be a WiFi system.  Full details can be found by contacting the iNorthumberland Team at the County Council on 01670 528 433 or info@inorthumberland.gov.uk

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Update: Broadband Improvements to Stamfordham, Matfen and Surrounding Area

Over the past few months many people in the Stamfordham and Matfen parishes have taken the time to complete one of the iNorthumberland forms showing support for broadband improvements in the area. In Matfen,  over 80% of all properties responded putting Matfen at the top of all 150 parish areas in the county.

This has been reflected in the contract recently signed between Northumberland County Council and BT, meaning that some areas of the parish will be upgraded to fibre optic broadband. This is great news for the area as it was something we previously did not expect to happen.

Unfortunately, due to the rural nature of the area not every property will be able benefit from fibre broadband and, despite the high demand, those that will benefit are unlikely to see the improvements within the next 12 to 18 months.

Because of this, I have been working with the iNorthumberland Campaign to see how we can ensure people in the parish can benefit from high speed broadband in the immediate future and I Northumberland has been working with a wireless broadband supplier who is interested in investing in the area

There will be two drop in sessions- at Stamfordham Village Hall on Monday 29th July between 3pm and 7pm or Matfen Village Hall on Tuesday 30th July between 3pm and 7pm where you can find out more about the proposed system, see a demonstration and ask any questions you may have.

Similar systems are already operating in the county and are proving popular with users, but this would be the first system to be rolled out through the iNorthumberland programme. One of the main reasons they are looking at the area is the compelling case local people have made about the importance of high speed broadband to the area’s residents and businesses.

There will also be an opportunity to hear from Northumberland Community Development Network about some of the work underway to help people who are not currently online.

If you want to find out more and cannot attend then you can find out by getting in touch via info@inorthumberland.org.uk

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Speeding at Ingoe

Residents have contacted me with concerns the speed of the traffic in Ingoe village.  The police have now visited the area to see if it is suitable to deploy a speed monitoring device. Unfortunately, they cannot use the mobile camera as there is no speed limit in place in the village and in theory, the national speed limit applies. In addition there is no suitable stretch of clearly visible road to monitor effectively and safely without the police becoming a hazard themselves.

The community police officer has spoken to a number of residents in the village and there are a few who have raised concerns about the manner of driving of other vehicles in the village. 

As Ingoe has no through road the vast majority of users are local residents themselves.

One possibility would be road safety awareness signs at the entrance to the village and I will discuss this with police and Highways.

And although the police have no speed limit to enforce they can monitor the area and deal with any careless or inconsiderate driving.  Fingers crossed.

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Step into Spring event to be repeated

The Step into Spring Health and wellbeing event at St Mary’s Church Hall in Ponteland which proved to be a big success with residents will be repeated next year

150 older people attended the Step into Spring event which provided an opportunity for people to find out about a wide range of health, social and leisure activities happening in the Ponteland area.

Ponteland residents talked to providers about a range of local activities including , exercise classes, lunch clubs, photography, flower arranging, the rotary club, friends of Kirkley Hall, University of the Third Age (U3A) activities, health walks, Merton Hall and local community transport schemes.

Charitable and voluntary organisations, such as, Age UK, Royal Voluntary Service, Alzheimer’s Society, Valley Care, Northumberland County Blind Association and Carers Northumberland were at hand to provide advice and information for older people and their families.

The new Hopper bus was also busy transporting local older residents to the event, and entertainment was provided by the local ukulele band.

The event was organised by Ageing Well in Ponteland, a group of local people who have volunteered their time to support older people

Ageing Well is about involving older people in their community and helping to keep them active, connected and well, and the county-wide programme, has been recognised nationally. 

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Community Chest funds

Fears that the Council plans to cut funding to the Community Chest may be unfounded, councillors were told today.  Together with Richard Dodd, I attended a meeting with the Policy Board where we were told that the £90,000 grant to the West area would be secure this year and that funding overall may be increased.   This still means that any increase is likely be to the South East not to the rural areas.  Councillors were concerned when told that no Community Chest grants Panel meetings could be held until the Policy Board had made decisions on the future of the Community Chest.   However, we have been today that grants could be considered again in August.  Many voluntary organisations will be waiting for this funding to secure activities.

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Northumberland Housing Strategy ”insubstantial”.

The Council’s Draft Housing Strategy was put to councillors last week, before going to the Policy Board for agreement in September.  Although highly aspirational in content, promising over a thousand additional affordable homes, councillors branded it “insubstantial” with no details, locations, timescales or action plan.   The committee could not support the Strategy and asked that it be brought back to the next meeting with the missing information and actions.

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