Bus service to Tyneside should be retained
THE decision to withdraw the Glen Valley 710 Saturday service from Easter has been presented to the affected communities as a ‘fait accompli’.
Northumberland County Council (NCC) officers seemingly view consultation with parish councils as an unnecessary nuisance and have simply decided to go ahead with this service withdrawal, heedless of the needs of the many people who use this vital bus route.
The first that our parish council knew of this service removal was receipt of an email from Jan Chisholm, NCC Community Transport Officer, stating that “as this service is primarily used for non-essential shopping trips” the subsidy will be removed from Easter.
I would suggest that it is not up to council officials to decide what constitutes “non-essential shopping”.
Nor are the many and varied purposes of those of us who use this Saturday service – by no means invariably involving shopping – any of NCC’s business!
Many have family members living on Tyneside and this service offers perhaps the only opportunity for those who live up here to be able to visit them.
Although there is a Wednesday service (at the moment), this is not necessarily usable for those who are working during the week.
It should be remembered by NCC that an increasingly elderly rural population needs public transport. Some of us living in rural areas either don’t drive at all or are finding driving more challenging, the older we get.
Having the luxury of time, I am able to use both the Wednesday and Saturday service to Tyneside and the bus is invariably well-filled. Surely this demonstrates the continuing need for this service to run on both days.
The statement by NCC that “...all of the Northumberland communities on Service 710 also have buses to other places such as Berwick, Alnwick, Wooler, depending on the community, while Longframlington and Longhorsley have other, more frequent, services to Morpeth and Newcastle. None of the communities are left unserved, either to other destinations or to Morpeth and Newcastle...” misses the point.
While those living in Longframlington and Longhorsley may well have more frequent services to Morpeth and Newcastle, this still leaves those of us living further north without enough time to travel to these destinations, do what we need to do and still be able to catch a bus back to our nearest village in the same day.
Without the 710 service, such journeys would require at least one change of bus on both the outward and homeward legs, leaving insufficient time to connect with the last bus back to Wooler, Milfield or Cornhill.
And yes, we can travel to Berwick or Alnwick by bus – but there are occasions when we need to get to Newcastle itself – and not just for frivolous shopping jollies.
We need a regular bus service to parts further south – not, as suggested by the county spokesman, an expensive excursion arrangement.
After all, compared with south-east Northumberland, we don’t have many bus services up here. Taking this one away is plain wrong.
Surely it is not asking too much for county officials to think again and take heed of the views of the local communities who use this bus.
Old Station House
Parish church building has fascinating history
I READ N M Cowe’s letter in last week’s publication (January 3) with interest and a certain amount of incredulity.
I would like to add to his/her correction of the Rev Hughes assertion that the parish church had been built by the Coldstream Guards.
It was built on the orders of Colonel George Fenwick, then Governor of Berwick, after being petitioned by the town to replace an earlier church on that site.
A forgotten part of the story is that the stone used in the construction was from a derelict palace built by George Hume, Earl of Dunbar, on the site of Berwick Castle in 1604.
Not much is known of this structure save that it would have been an extremely well appointed building.
Hume died unexpectedly in 1611 and the unfinished palace remained neglected before being sold to the town in 1640.
However, I cannot understand how your letter writer has never heard of Castle Vale Park. Perhaps he/she knows it as Castle Dene (as used on an old directional sign at the corner of Railway Street) or the more colloquial ‘Lily Ponds’.
However, as history advisor to the Heritage Lottery Fund project, I can assure him/her that Castle Vale Park certainly does exist.
It is situated in the ravine to the east of the railway station and was formed from 1.75 acres of land given to Berwick Corporation by Mr John Cairns of Tweed House in June 1928.
The development of the park cost some £1800 and was financed by a grant from the new Government Unemployment Grants Committee and a bequest from one Charles Little.
It opened to the public soon after, though work continued through the 1930s. It was noted in the corporation minutes that Castle Vale had changed its name to Castle Dene, “but cannot find out why or when”.
The efforts of CARA and Northumberland County Council to improve the facilities in this park and the nearby Coronation Park (above Tommy the Miller’s Field to the west of the railway) are to be applauded.
It may be that this tranquil corner of Berwick has become more forgotten than was thought, but through the group’s efforts I believe that this can be rectified and the HLF’s grant will be well spent renovating this facility, interpreting the fascinating history within and making it a popular place for all to visit once more.
Railway Street, Berwick
Just the ticket: a poem about parking tickets
THIS is a light-hearted poem I wrote to lighted up the letters page after all the serious stuff about Berwick’s parking problems.
A little thought, in the new year
But what it’s brought, is might queer
With quiet shops, we breathe a sigh
The penny drops, I don’t know why
Let’s park in town, and spend some cash
Only to frown, when quick as a flash...
From behind a van, a hedge or thicket
Out pops a man, with penalty ticket
And there’s no doubt, that Santa’s been
He’s trying out his new ticket machine
It’s unwrapped, from out his stocking
The way it’s slapped on the car is shocking
“A happy new year”, I sarcastically bid...
“My shopping’s been dear, coz that’s 70 quid!”
The ticket man replied, “You can always appeal”
After just being bled, I answered with zeal
“When on Santa’s knee, did you tug on his beard?
“I’m sure he’d agree, what you asked for is weird,
“Did you not want a train set, or nice pair of jeans,
“No, you asked him, I’ll bet, for a ticket machine”
It’s why Santa Claus lands on roofs all the time...
Too high up for your paws, to issue the fine!
But a new year’s begun, Santa’s back at the Pole
So the ticket man’s won, and he’s on a roll
Let’s not cause a riot, he’s just doing his job
But the shops, they stay quiet, as I’m down a few bob
So to this ‘fine’ chap, a seasonal greeting
I’ll doff my old cap, at our next roadside meeting
To all council voters, to all I hold dear
And to those in their motors, have a ticket-free year
Club 55 withdrawal will impact on local economy
SINCE September 2009, anyone aged over 55 has been able to travel from Berwick to any station in Scotland for £19 return during certain periods of the year when trains are less busy.
People living in Scotland have also been able to visit Berwick, which has helped the local economy. But when the offer restarts on 14 January, travel to and from Berwick is excluded. The scheme details are at www.scotrail.co.uk/club55
East Coast trains, which is the lead operator in Berwick, has pulled out of co-operating in the scheme, so cross-border travel with this promotion is now only available to and from Carlisle.
Club 55 rail tickets have been very popular with Berwick residents who have gone on trips they would not otherwise have made, so this extra revenue will simply be lost.
Scotrail’s managing director Steve Montgomery has told me that East Coast placed so many additional restrictions on co-operating as to make the scheme unworkable for travel to and from Berwick.
I would urge anyone who has enjoyed Club 55 in the past to write to both Scotrail and East Coast trains to express their disappointment at this lack of co-operation in a promotion that can only have increased revenue for the rail companies.
Kipper Hill, Berwick
Businesses must explain benefits of dualling A1
THE Christmas post brought me an unexpected present, in the form of confirmation of a meeting with the new Secretary of State for Transport in the new year.
Following the Chancellor’s positive messages in his Autumn Statement about the importance of dualling the A1 to the Scottish border, I wrote again to the Transport Department asking for a meeting to discuss the first tranche of evidence which our campaign team has collated since the summer on economic impacts to local and regional businesses.
I am very pleased that our continued efforts and those of all political parties raising this critical North East issue at Westminster alongside the campaign is making an impact.
The reality is that talking about it isn’t enough. Businesses from Scotland down to Teesside have to help us build the economic evidence to prove to Whitehall just how vital this investment is for the future of the North East.
We have a few more weeks before this meeting, so I would encourage all your readers who have any business involvement, to take a few minutes to complete our business survey at www.surveymonkey.com/a1businessview
We can build a really strong case if every business in the region shares their views. We must able to justify the investment commitment to the treasury.
Dual the A1 Campaign
Seahouses Poppy Appeal raised more than £4,000
I AM now able to write and thank your readers for supporting the Royal British Legion 2012 Poppy Appeal in Seahouses and North Sunderland.
The total sum raised is £4,045.97, made up of £3,487.97 for poppies and £558 for wreaths and donations. This is more than last year. I would like to thank everybody in the village for their extra help.
Stone Close, Seahouses
Postal workers deserve praise for festive service
FULL praise to all the hard- working postal workers who made sure we received our Christmas mail in time.
All our mail and parcels arrived – from Canada, Isle of Man, Wales, England and Scotland. Only one card arrived a little late – on Christmas Eve – but it is perhaps understandable because the sender forgot to put a stamp on.
Fantastic year for north fundraising group
WE would like to thank Berwick Rotary Club for their very kind donation of £500 to Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. This money was raised as part of their charity golf day and we are particularly grateful to Les Landels for organising this event.
This year has been a fantastic one for us, and a lot of that is down to the enormous support we have received from the Rotary Club.
The joint venture of the Diamond Jubilee Street Party raised a huge sum of money for us and raised our profile enormously and for that we are very grateful.
HELEN TAIT & MARION BLACK
Leukaemia and Lymphoma
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