I would like to clarify the basis behind the intention to attempt to revitalise Marygate as central to Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal and as the hub of its hinterland with some of the factors that affect this.
In my opinion and from the various positive signs for change that I have witnessed over the last year or so at various meetings with members of Berwick Town Council, Northumberland County Council and a wide range of other interested parties within the town, the seeds of optimism are beginning to take root, in spite of the obviously dire economic situation.
The joining of forces, merging of minds, whatever you’d like to call it from folk who naturally represent differing views is apparent and individuals and groups who in the past may not have wished to engage with each other, with the enhancement of Berwick’s undoubted potential being the common theme, are now beginning to.
It will take a combination of legacy Berwick opinion, formed over generations by those indigenous Berwickers to meet with the views of some more recently arrived Berwickers to make it all come together and make each party feel that their important opinions are represented.
Three things stand out to me as important.
First to realise that some very rapid and decisive action is required to at least create the possibility of some hope for the range of businesses that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. So no more surveys, no more consultancy just some quick action based on common sense and widespread opinion from local people and business. There is simply not the time to endlessly strangle an attempt to boost trade by throwing bureaucratic entanglement in the way of ‘just giving it a go’. I refer to parking on Marygate specifically.
The idea is to conduct a two year trial that is affordable, safe and reversible to at least try to see if that might help, based on the fact that 99 per cent of Marygate retailers are in favour as well as the majority of local inhabitants.
The opposing view of sitting back and aspiring to see Berwick morph by magic into a deluxe destination without a properly funded and considered action plan is just not cutting the mustard for the business owner wondering how he is going to find next month’s bills.
I hope that in 10 years Berwick is so busy that we might possibly consider pedestrianised zones but please don’t think that doing nothing by emptying a town’s heart in the meantime is going to produce a wave of visitors.
Second, it is not the critic who counts, to paraphrase ‘Citizenship in a Republic’. There are many reasons why we can’t do something positive here in Berwick but that for the moment does not matter. What matters is to actually deliver something that might. That is then offering some hope because without that, it’s just all talk and no action.
And finally Berwick is not at the despondent far end of Northumberland and Berwickshire in every sense. It’s smack bang in the middle of its own beautiful hinterland, central between Newcastle and Edinburgh, unmatched scenery, coastline, heritage, character and characters. The weather map in the Advertiser is the target area and the rainclouds certainly don’t see a border. If only we would believe it and give it a fair go.
Sea House, Scremerston
I strongly endorse the observations made by Peter Watts about the proposals to introduce short-stay parking on Marygate.
Although I am the chair of Berwick upon Tweed Civic Society this, it must be stressed, is my personal view. However, we have as a society, been enthusiastic about many of the proposals outlined in the ‘Tweed and Silk’ consultation.
Nowhere is re-introducing parking on Marygate considered a workable or a worthwhile objective.
It is at best a possible ‘quick fix’ with no tangible long-term benefits. Parking on Marygate is not the answer to Berwick’s problems.
Devon Terrace, Berwick
As promised on the front page of the December 6 edition of The Berwick Advertiser, I have not renewed my annual car parking concessionary permit.
This was because of the 42 per cent increase in the cost of the permit imposed by the Executive Councillors, the majority of whom (six out of ten) represent Blyth and Wansbeck, whose car using pensioners pay absolutely nothing in their wards.
I have, instead, taken out a Shoppers Permit for £15 for two years. This has saved me £102 this week. Although it only gives me two hours per day on the two or three mornings we usually spend in Berwick every week it will suffice. However, because we will be clock watching to get back to the car park by 11am, especially in view of the recent severity of the car park wardens, it does mean that the shops and businesses in Berwick will not get our usual full patronage.
We must not forget the action of the Lib Dem Councillors last December when a motion was agreed in Full Council to allow one week free car parking, the week before Christmas, in those parts of Northumberland that pay car parking fees - places like Berwick. The motion was opposed entirely by Lib Dem Councillors, 14 of whom represent Blyth and Wansbeck, who of course pay no car parking fees at all 52 weeks every year! It beggars belief.
Labour Councillors have initiated a petition that has gone its rounds, requesting free car parking throughout Northumberland, and the Conservatives have free car parking throughout Northumberland in their manifesto.
It is obvious that one party who will not be getting my vote on May 2 will be the Lib Dems.
I am certain that everyone agrees that education is very important, especially in this day and age. However, family holidays are important too and not everyone can take them during the school holiday period.
Bus and rail staff have to take their holidays on a rota system. There would be a public uproar if bus and rail services were suspended for six weeks during the height of the summer season and quite rightly so.
Berwick is in a lowly paid area and not everyone can afford to pay the exorbitant fees that tour, air and hotel operators charge during this period.
By taking them outwith this period families can save a thousand pounds or more, which could mean having a holiday or not having a holiday. Other families may not be able to afford having a holiday at all but at least they will be able to play with their children and give them lots of attention.
I am sure that parents will help their children to catch up on any work they may have missed by returning late to school.
With regard to the English side of the border at Lamberton, for some time it had been an eyesore for both locals and passing tourists. I’m sure that most would agree that this border crossing is an important landmark and it’s very disappointing that the English side at Lamberton had been neglected for so long.
I appreciate that the flags there are prone to the elements but there should be someone responsible for checking them regularly and having them replaced if necessary. There were three Northumberland flags flying a good while back but they were just left hanging and tattered after they got beaten and torn with the weather. A few months ago, I met the councillor (he’s not from Berwick) who had arranged for these flags to be flown and informed him that I wasn’t too happy that they were there. I went on to say that at any border crossing of any country, the flag of that country should be flown. At the English border we should have the Union flag as well as the St. George’s Cross.
Personally, I would like to see the “Berwick Bear” flag flying also as I think our town has as much in common with Northumberland as we do with Timbuktu.
I was very pleased to see a few weeks ago that there are three, really good quality flags flying there now. A Union, St. George’s and a Northumberland one. Hopefully, someone is now in place to keep a check on them. The etiquette for night time flying of flags is that they should be illuminated which would complement the flags over the road on the Scottish side. It would be really good if this could be arranged.
Likewise, on the Scottish side, they are flying three Saltires. I remember the outcry a few years back when they flew the European flag alongside the Saltire with no Union flag. Although Scotland is presently governed by the SNP, they are part of the United Kingdom and it would be respectful that the Union flag was flown also at each main Scottish border crossing.
Out and about it’s nice to see that Eyemouth High School is flying the Union flag as well as the Saltire. The outdoor shop at Scremerston proudly flies both Scotland and England flags. The most impressive site nearby is at Purdy Lodge where they are flying Scotland and England with several Union flags at the side of the road. Keep the flags flying and your heads high and be proud to be British!
Main Street, Spittal
The County Council usually come in for some stick for things that they don’t do well but I would like to express our thanks through your paper to the team at the NCC’s Tweedmouth Depot for responding so quickly to an email sent through the firstname.lastname@example.org enquiry line.
We had left a message late the other Sunday evening about several animal carcasses and discarded fishing netting that had been washed up on Spittal beach over which several people had shown their concerns.
Before 8am the following morning a team of men and a tractor were on the beach and doing a clean up.
So, credit where it is due, well done to the team and for their quick response and in fact all their support of our events and gardening efforts in the past and the year to come.
Main Street, Spittal