Only practical proposal on table for Marygate
PERMIT me to reply to your correspondent Mr Peter Watts who suggests (Letters, November 29) that he has had no response to his earlier points raised through the columns of this paper.
I do not normally use the privilege of addressing the public through the press, however I am of the opinion that clarity is required as to his motives in opposing a genuine attempt on my part without so-called vested interests. Mr Watts served on Berwick Borough Council as a Liberal Democrat.
In response to an observation from a correspondent to this newspaper, he attempted to access ‘Portas’ funding. This attempt although commendable, failed.
Having studied the available information, prior to this bid, I advised him that his application did not accord with what I read and understood to be the required criteria. I understand that Mr Watts has no involvement with New Town Team, nor have I ever participated in this group.
Unfortunately, Mr Watts is being economical with the facts as usual. He is correct in his assertion that Berwick Town Council is once again supporting the reinstatement of short-term parking, as, by far, a majority of over 90% of the public were in favour in all petitions.
Mr Watts, in attempting to use his influence as then chairman of the Berwick Development Trust and a member of the Traffic Movement Group of the Berwick Futures (and almost every other individual lobbying organisation in the town), has opposed the reintroduction of short-term parking. His views do not represent the opinion of the general public, nor the views of local and national traders.
Mr Watts does not seem to accept that a motorist or shopper requires, for different reasons, to be close to their objective (thus look at the loading bay misuse in Marygate). The facts speak for themselves; I have information collated over a long period of time by professionals showing a reduction of motorists and footfall in Berwick town centre.
Mr Watts has attempted on many occasions to stress that any proposals should emanate from Buchanan, a professional well-paid firm of consultants, who failed to recognise that Holy Island was part of the former Berwick Borough Council, but illustrated many parts of Europe in their reports. This should surely bring in to question the validity of the reports of this firm.
According to Labour Party research, the district contributed some £963,000 to the coffers of Northumberland County Council. A proposal to abolish car parking charges throughout Northumberland was defeated by 21-19 votes with the Conservatives abstaining and Mr Watts’s fellow party members, including all Berwick Liberal Democrat councillors, voting to retain the then highest parking charges in Northumberland. This has led to peripheral parking in all areas of the town and also into Tweedmouth, in an attempt to avoid these charges.
Mr Watts suggests free parking to supplement the shoppers’ permit. I supported the abolition of parking charges 24/7. The shoppers’ permit has not worked in Berwick and according to a fellow councillor has not worked in Alnwick either. He has been brave enough in reviewing a system that has failed, requesting and supporting free parking throughout Northumberland.
On Marygate, a zebra pedestrian crossing, in the location I have proposed, meets with national regulations and takes into account the heaviest crossing point in the high street. The removal of existing bollards at £30,000 also accords with the Portas theme. The removal could be reversed should someone come up with an alternative. A crossing located at West Street has been costed at £60,000 and on restricted parking either side of the crossing by another 40 metres in total.
When Mr Watts requests proof of the links and attempts to support his views, then he should also provide proof that all views are impartial by naming the individuals and membership of the organisations. To cut to the chase, many of the figures are the same people wearing different hats.
It should also be noted that there are plans to increase the countywide parking ticket in the near future and a review of costs to the failing shoppers’ permit, as is probably also the residents’ permit.
The one point on which I agree with Mr Watts is that people should not be making decisions from miles away that impinge on the wishes and welfare of the Berwick public, restricting the views of the majority and failing to consider the stakeholders in respect of the town’s future.
The proposal for Marygate that I have suggested is the only sustainable and practical deal on the table and indeed the fact that Berwick is the highest rated town centre is being ignored.
It has one of the lowest footfalls of all market towns and the only town without car parking provision in its principal high street within Northumberland.
COUN BRIAN DOUGLAS
A1 upgrade: fight goes on to get the road we need
IT is disappointing that the upgrade of the A1 announced in the Autumn Statement is to stop at Newcastle and will not continue through to Northumberland.
This is largely because the last Labour government failed to recognise the strategic importance of the A1 to the economies of both Scotland and the North East of England.
A succession of Labour transport ministers in the last government stated that there was no business case and refused to consider one. The economic argument for getting the A1 dualled in Northumberland is a powerful one and we must keep making it.
Now that the Government has recognised that the A1 north of Seaton Burn is a “strategic route” we have a golden opportunity to put our case for an economic highway between Scotland and North East England by pointing out that the lack of road transport communication between Edinburgh and the North East has contributed to the call for Scottish independence.
A proper link would help to bind the United Kingdom and make a substantial contribution to the economies of the North East and Scotland in particular and the United Kingdom in general.
However, the planned upgrades south of Newcastle do at least establish the principle of upgrading the road, which will hopefully mean that when the Government plans to spend money on road improvements in future, the A1 in Northumberland will be at the top of the list. Indeed, the Chancellor told Sir Alan Beith after the statement that dualling in Northumberland is “not off the cards”, so we must remain hopeful of investment in the future.
I can assure residents and businesses that I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues across Northumberland, at every level of government and outside of it, will continue to lead the fight to make sure we finally get the road we need.
COUN ALAN THOMPSON
Council executive member
Permit holders paying for cheaper parking fees
AFTER having read in this week’s Berwick Advertiser that annual parking permit charges are to increase from £110 to £130, an increase of 18%, I am extremely annoyed.
Why have they reduced hourly parking fees in Berwick, and increased the cost of the annual permits? Have the permit holders to subsidise the money the council are losing from the hourly tickets?
I find this extremely unfair, they are giving out goodwill in one hand and taking it back with the other.
Like the pensioner in last week’s paper, I am another permit holder who will no longer be renewing my permit next year.
MRS J CHAPPELL
After 18 years, farewell from Canon Alan Hughes
IT has been said that thankfulness is the shortest lived of all human emotions. However, I will be eternally grateful for the privilege of having served Berwick as vicar these past 18 years.
Our unique Parish Church was built by The Coldstream Guards, with whom I served and I am proud that they are to be represented at my farewell service.
Through over 6000 services, school assemblies, baptisms, marriages, funerals and civic occasions, I have been permitted to share in many important moments in the lives of our citizens.
My farewell will be held on Sunday, December 16 at 10am. I warmly invite anyone and everyone to come and share in that service, not least to support the regular congregation.
They have done so much to ensure that our Parish Church and ministry are freely available to all, without local or national state aid. Justly proud of my church wardens and congregation, I commend them to the prayers of everyone, as they seek to appoint my successor.
The Berwick Advertiser has been an essential ministry partner, its journalists generously publishing our appeals and good news.
Local publications are vital for community groups, encouraging both local folk and those who follow Berwick life from afar, especially over the internet. Good news stories attract what Berwick desperately needs, visitors, inward investment of people and funding as they ask themselves “Is this the sort of place I would like to live in, invest in?”
My sole regret is that prayers for Berwick to become the host town of a centre of learning, in some form or another, to attract inward investment, have yet to be answered. There are many positive and creative circles in Berwick but, like the Olympic rings, they need to be joined together. Berwick deserves a better economic future. Spiritual, political and social partnerships, working for the common good, can deliver what Berwick needs.
May God Bless Berwick and all who work for its common good. I look forward to shaking your hand a last time at Berwick Parish Church on Sunday at 10am.
CANON ALAN HUGHES
Vicar of Berwick
Twenty-five years on, and
still same old problems
RETURNING eight months ago from living and working abroad for the last 25 years it is so depressing to find all the problems that were around then still exist.
All I hear from locals is:
1. Berwick – the forgotten town; 2 High Street – it’s a joke; 3 Parking fees – you would have to censor the words or cover your children’s ears.
Twenty-five years and longer so my parents say, never changes for the better, even those reporting for this paper must be sick and tired of the same subjects, around and around we go and nothing improves.
Do my children have to write in another 25 years and ask the same questions and get the same replies, ‘we’re looking into it’ or ‘we will set up a think tank’?
Berwick is a fine old town and deserves better. It feels like we have gone back to medieval times when the baron, now ‘council’, ran the shire, taxed everyone, ‘car parking’, and the money went somewhere else?
I live in the town centre and have to park my car in Tweedmouth or pay for the privilege (another cost) or have to fight over residence spots when there are clearly not enough.
We need councillors without egos prepared to fight for the town or let’s just change hands again for the 14th time; maybe Scotland might actually want us.
Thanks for help raising £3,600 for Haig Fund
I WOULD like to thank through your newspaper column everyone who made possible the sum of £3,600 being sent to the Earl Haig Fund in Wooler area.
The singers in the concert, the helpers at the coffee morning, poppy sellers, raffle ticket sellers, the poppy decorator, cake makers and everyone who gave so generously when money is tight. This is once again a wonderful effort in Glendale.
Thanks for raising £350 for Berwick Hospice
MANY thanks to all contributors of food, raffle prizes and gifts for the Christmas party at Tweedmouth Bowling Club held in aid of Berwick Hospice.
Thanks also to Steven Drummond, who provided the disco free of charge. We raised £350 on the night which will be passed directly to the hospice.
WILLIE BLYTHE and
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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