Another council apology needed over gravediggers
I WISH to set the record straight on recent allegations by Northumberland County Council, that two gravediggers have been dismissed for burying bodies in the wrong graves.
The two gravediggers were dismissed on November 15, 2011, one year before the allegations came to light.
The reason for their dismissal never has been and never will be proved.
However they certainly were not dismissed for incorrect burials. Both gravediggers plus Northumberland County Council have proof of this.
Northumberland County Council spent a vast amount of taxpayers’ money over a 13-month period gathering whatever information they could, incorrect or otherwise, to try and justify the dismissal of these two men. Because that justification can never be proved, the council decided to inform the press that they had legitimately been dismissed for incorrect burials.
Management of Northumberland County Council, some of whom are on extremely handsome salaries, seem able to blame frontline staff for apparent mistakes that they say they were aware of in April 2009 yet didn’t make public for a further three- and-a-half years.
The truth of the matter is that the council did not check any burial records until March 30, 2011. Even then they did little or nothing to rectify it – until now. Why? In a press statement, the council accused both gravediggers of distributing incorrect deeds. This, however, was the role of administrators and not the gravediggers. They also accused them of erecting headstones on wrong graves. Again, this was not the role of the gravediggers. They had not been trained to undertake this line of work.
The council also mention in the press statement that the gravediggers buried what they call unregistered burials.
What this means is that no undertaker was involved, no death certificate was issued, that no-one in authority was aware and no coffin was used. If this was the case, why are the two gravediggers not being held in custody pending a court case that would surely result in a long term prison sentence?
The system the two gravediggers used to locate graves was one which they inherited from past gravediggers. It was a complex system that they had mastered over 22 years in their profession – a system that Berwick Borough Council knew well yet obviously Northumberland County Council could not master. Hence they believe that bodies had been incorrectly buried.
The two gravediggers are 100% certain that all burials excavated under their term in their chosen profession are correct and are more than willing to prove this beyond any doubt.
I believe that Northumberland County Council have apologised to all families concerned. However, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to apologise for their unprofessional approach to a situation which they created through their own negligence, plus a complete misunderstanding of a system they should have been able to work and understand from day one.
CHRIS GREGORY and
Memorial gates locked on special Remembrance day
ON the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday, the Thursday when crosses are placed in the Fields of Remembrance, I went to place two crosses, one for the grandfather of my wife, who was killed in the Great War, and the second for 2nd Officer Paul Henry GM, who perished as a hero on the RFA Sir Galahad.
The gate to the War Memorial in Tweedmouth was locked and there is no other access. It is not to stop vandals because it would be very easy to gain access over the wall by the River Tweed.
The gate has not been locked in previous years as I have laid memorial items there three times each year at the anniversary of family and friends who gave their lives for our freedom.
Alex’s A1 campaign attitude applauded
I WOULD like to congratulate Alexander Gibson on such a significant effort in relation to his A1 safety petition, reported in last week’s ‘Advertiser’. His approach to highlighting local concerns on this issue provides a refreshing contrast to the ‘my argument for dualling the A1 is better than your argument for dualling the A1’ mud slinging that seems to have preoccupied our political representatives in recent months.
We live in a forgotten corner of the forgotten region of the UK, squeezed by the relative success of Scotland to the north and continuing political and fiscal bias towards the south. Some people suggest that we need our own Alex Salmond type figure to fight our corner. Whilst I would not go this far, we clearly do need more strong, independent and unfettered voices to robustly speak up for our area.
I don’t know if Alexander Gibson, or those campaigning to save maternity provision harbour independent political ambitions, but if they do they might like to note we have local elections coming up.
Ancroft North Moor
Parking fees have had no impact on traffic problems
I READ with amazement in the Advertiser as the County Council claimed that parking charges in Berwick are in place to enable traffic management. Clearly our councillors never walk down Marygate, or Tweed Street, where there appears to be no traffic management happening at all.
When the parking officers started patrolling I hoped that our pavements would be reclaimed by pedestrians. Not so. On Marygate, and in many Berwick streets, the elderly, those using wheelchairs or pushchairs and people with toddlers in hand are still weaving through cars parked selfishly on the pavements.
But where are the parking officers? Looking for rich pickings, giving out parking fines in council car parks.
I have not seen one parking officer ask a car to move on where the driver is still in their seat, or issue a ticket where a car is left on the pavement.
Of course, parking management has nothing to do with parking charges. A time-disk system could be used without charging people to park.
Finally, under the new pricing structure, we are still paying to park in Berwick when it is free in South East Northumberland. This unfairness is still with us.
Main Street, Spittal
Ridiculous plan to charge visitors, not residents
I AM writing with regard to the Conservatives’ plan to abolish parking charges for residents in Northumberland, while continuing to charge visitors from elsewhere.
The implications of this plan could be severe for Berwick. Berwick is of course in England, but half of its historic county, Berwickshire, is across the border in Scotland. Half of the people who work in Berwick live in Scotland, half of the businesses in Berwick are owned by people living in Scotland and most of the trade in the town comes from Scotland.
Therefore, if the Conservatives have their way, what sort of message would Northumberland be sending to half of the people who travel into Berwick every day for work? The Conservative plan is even more ridiculous in the context of Scotland’s referendum on the break-up of the UK.
I will give the Conservatives this, however – their plan would certainly work wonders for traffic management in Berwick, as half the people working in, visiting and shopping in the town would see the unfairness and head elsewhere.
Far better to manage traffic through parking charges, as the Lib Dems running the council are doing, while offering excellent value permit schemes for those who need to park more frequently.
for Norham & Islandshire
Police commissioners may well have to toe party line
I VOTED today – the fifth elector at St Mary’s School, Newfields, which had been open for over two hours. While I voted for yet another layer of bureaucracy I wondered whether each candidate had been specifically chosen by their acknowledged political allegiance and would find that they would have little independence on how they would run their department.
Because I voted I will have the legitimate right to criticise, though I suspect the new police commissioner will have to toe the party line and hence be, like President Obama, unable to get needed reforms passed by a number of slightly higher placed and often non co-operative authorities.
Maybe this will be why the turnout of voters was dismally low!
Spoilt papers sent right message to Government
I NO longer belong to any political party and deeply resent the party politics in last week’s elections for police and crime commissioners (PCCs). I deliberately spoiled my ballot paper and am delighted to hear now that thousands of others did likewise. I gather that the proportion of deliberately spoilt papers was way above the average.
There may be a case for voting for our PCCs (and even our archbishops or rat-catchers) but the Government never made that case. It then spent £100 million to force these unwanted elections on us but refused to spend a further £30 million to ensure that we heard from the candidates, perhaps to give an advantage to the political parties’ delivery machines. Wonderful backfire – lowest ever turnout and several independent winners!
If you or any reader spoiled a ballot by writing a message on it, you might want to get that message to the Government. If so, you could summarise what you wrote and send it to Theresa May, House of Commons.
Similarly (and even if you just refused to vote), there is an e-petition (on www.submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/41806) which has about 5,000 signatures already. If it reaches 100,000, MPs will consider debating the issue.
Scott’s Place, Berwick
Bus shelter makeover in Wooler a bright idea
WELL done, everyone, at Wooler Drop-in Centre. What a cracking paint job you’ve done in our bus shelter.
The colours are brilliant, it really cheers one up. I just hope that the ‘obscene graffiti artists’ don’t spoil all your hard work.
Westwood Ave, Wooler
Dickensian Market fundraising success
THE Committee for the Berwick Dickensian Market held a Jive Workshop Night last month in order to raise funds to help stage the Dickensian Market this year. The evening was very successful and we would like to thank certain individuals and businesses for the kindness.
Firstly we must thank Kate Stephenson of Berwick WatchTower who very generously allowed us to host the event at this fabulous building, we are very grateful to her. Special thanks to Mike and Christine Kelly, our jive specialists, who gave us their time free of charge and who impressed us all with their ability to teach 60 people in one room.
Before and during the workshops the lovely Brenda Sokell also gave us her time free of charge, entertaining us with her fabulous voice.
Barclays Bank agreed to match fund the evening up to £500 and for that we are very grateful. Further thanks must go to sponsors The Old Vicarage Guesthouse in Tweedmouth and East Coast Shutters for the posters and flyers for the event.
Raffle prizes were donated by Lesley Stephenson, Caffe Nero, Cocoature, Tait, Farrier & Graham Solicitors, Marks & Spencers, Reivers Tryst and Specsavers in Berwick. Last but by no means least thank you to the people who attended and supported.
We managed to raise £502.55 and Barclays match-funded £500, bringing the total to £1002.55. This is a tremendous amount towards the market which will go ahead this year.
FUND RAISING COMMITTEE
(Ruth McNeely, Lesley
Stephenson, Kate Gill, Julie Riley)
Thanks for support
I WOULD like to thank everyone who supported my Christmas shopping evening at the Bluebird Hotel in Belford in aid of Niamh Yates and children’s cancers.
The evening was a success and so far £1,190.70 has been raised.
West Street, Belford
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 20 C
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Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
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