Gratitude, dignity and respect costs nothing
IT was with considerable regret that I read your front page story and leading article on page six of the January 17 issue of the ‘Advertiser’ about the care of the elderly. It did not make easy reading.
Of course, apart from what I have read in your paper, I know nothing about the case you have highlighted. But I myself am elderly and have been very badly disabled for many years. Throughout these years I have had carers sent in by, initially Northumberland County Council, and then, after the government wanted the whole thing privatised, since April 2011 it has been 360 healthcare.
I have seen no deterioration in the service since the changeover. In fact, in the numerous surveys that are done to ask if you are happy with your care, I always answer “first class” because, as far as I’m concerned, it is.
I write this letter simply to reassure people in the Berwick area that their loved ones are not in the hands of some uncaring or incapable organisation, indeed all the carers that have ever come to me always ask if anything else that they can do for me before they go.
In closing I would just like to agree with the sentiment of your leading article that the proper care of us old folks is absolutely essential. We should be treated with compassion when appropriate, kindness, dignity and respect at all times. However after all, the carers, notwithstanding the fact that they are professionals, have feelings too, and a little gratitude, dignity and respect shown to them costs us nothing at all.
Negativity is the wrong message from consultants
WHEN I read the news item by Kirsty Smyth “No easy solutions to Berwick’s problems, warns consultant” my heart sank. Rightly or wrongly, I felt readers’ expectations were being managed by the negativity espoused. What is needed is a truly energetic, resourceful can-do approach to the challenge. Here are a few thoughts.
1. Bully, cajole and persuade local and national government and the authorities concerned such that The University of Northumbria relocates to Berwick over a thirty year spell.
You’ve only to look at small towns like St Andrews to see what a university does for their economic well-being. Durham University has a facility at Stockton. That suggests how the process might begin and offer fairly immediate benefits.
2. Invoke existing and introduce new powers to force landlords of eyesores (eg Youngman’s building and the old cinema car park) to landscape them, demolish them or whatever and put their sites to temporary use less damaging to the town’s image (eg car parks or covered markets).
3. Encourage and consider subsidising enterprises to help Berwick offer something new and/or excitingly original. What happened to River Tweed cruises?
Is it beyond the wit of man (or woman) to introduce a shallow draft small cruiser (like but smaller than the “Mercedes” example which is one of many on the Thames) to offer dinner whilst passing slowly under the three bridges on a summer evening?
Mini cruises from Berwick up and down the coast should be possible too. Dunbar’s historic harbour in one direction and Holy Island in the other. These could be marketed to the considerable seasonal tourism influx both north and south of the river - not just to the town’s visitors. And a cross-border folk festival with the best from Scottish and English bands would be ideal for Berwick.
4. Investigate investment in the port with a view to making Berwick the principal offshore windpower maintenance and construction centre between the Tyne and the Forth.
5. Encourage the gifting of sites by the local authority to kick start business and tourism ventures. What about a training school for Northumbrian and other small pipes bands (or is it only the Scot whose arguably less tuneful doodlesac is so encouraged)?
6. Try to mitigate the Victorian brutality meted out to Berwick Castle in the interests of the railways. It’s western remains could be a mini tourist site with gift shop, reconstructed model of the castle etc. It is unbelievable that it was ever savaged as it was. It is even more amazing that the situation seems to be accepted.
7. Ensure that Berwick’s tourism offering is of the highest standard and relevant to its location between the Scottish Borders and Northumberland - two of the finest staycation regions in Britain. I recently popped in to the YHA cafe in Dewars Lane Granary and asked for a local beer.
Imagine my dismay at being told I could only have a national brand because that was the YHA’s buying policy. I do not know if that is true but, if it is, the building’s landlords have let down Berwick by failing to include appropriate letting conditions.
8. Don’t blame the big stores for drawing trade away from the town centre. Regard them as the magnets to encourage people to discover Berwick. I don’t hear owners of such gems as The Green Shop (“Greener than Robin Hood’s underpants”, according to The Guardian) complaining about a lack of trade. Their shops seemed stuffed with customers just before Christmas and Bridge Street benefits greatly as a result.
9. Encourage “trails” other that the excellent LS Lowry example. For its size Berwick has a brilliant pub mini-trail for real ale aficionados in the form of The Pilot, The Free Trade (on CAMRA’s national inventory for its unspoilt interior) and the brilliant Barrels which, for its quirky interior, wall hangings and its approach to cask ale bears comparison with the great pubs of Edinburgh and London.
10. And talking of Edinburgh, why can’t Berwick work with the greatest cultural festival on the planet to ensure its (Berwick’s) tourists can enjoy a late night Scotrail train home such that the town could be an alternative (and cost effective) base for overnight stays during those wonderful late summer weeks?
Finally, I would ask the Berwick Advertiser to consider running a permanent ideas forum in the interests of the town. Despite years of decline and neglect Berwick remains an exceptional place.
Let’s see if its citizens of today can do for it what their counterparts of yesteryear did and make it wealthy again.
Planners are ignoring coastal guidelines
WHY are Northumberland County Council northern area planning officers ignoring the national planning policies in the government’s new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) by continuing to support development proposals on the coastline of Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast?
The planners have supported four proposed housing developments on the coastline at Beadnell despite the NPPF having specific policies (paragraph 14) indicating that development should be restricted in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast.
One of the largest sections of the NPPF is devoted to ‘Conserving and Enhancing the Natural Environment’ and contains paragraphs 114 and 115 which clearly states: Paragraph 114 - “Local Planning Authorities should maintain the character of the undeveloped coast, protecting and enhancing its distinctive landscapes, particularly in areas defined as Heritage Coast and improve public assess to and enjoyment of the coast.”
Paragraph 115 – “Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.
The conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage are important considerations in all these areas, and should be given great weight in National Parks and the Broads.” Although the NPPF sets out a presumption in favour of sustainable development it does include specific policies that requires the character of AONBs and Heritage Coast to be maintained, protected, enhanced and conserved by restricting development.
Development on the coastal strip does not conserve the landscape or the scenic beauty, in fact it constitutes a significant negative effect on the character of our coastal landscape, visual amenity, biodiversity and green space.
The planning officers should be protecting Northumberland’s landscape, the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Northumberland Heritage Coast. Our coastal landscape and seascape is a key element of Northumberland’s tourist economy and requires protection.
Is it not time that someone at Northumberland County Council investigated why the northern area planning officers are not protecting our Heritage Coast and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
Abiding by the NPPF policies would save the coastline from inappropriate development and would save time and money by all concerned, including applicants, objectors, consultees and especially the council.
Thankfully the county councillors on the north area planning committee have so far protected our coastal landscape by rejecting planning applications to build on the coastal strip at Beadnell, recognising the importance of protecting views along the coast, the visual characteristics of this landscape, its biodiversity and green spaces which are so important to Northumberland. Hopefully they will continue to do so as the number of planning applications to destroy our Heritage Coast is increasing.
Save Beadnell Association
Berwick is so lovely it brought a tear to my eye
I FELT I had to tell you how much my husband and myself enjoyed a recent overnight trip to your lovely town.
We enjoy a change of scenery now and again and like to visit smaller places in order to escape our normally busy lives. Your wee town is becoming a regular stop and is already a great favourite.
The scenery is always stunning, no matter what the weather is like and the old town itself has some amazing buildings. We have never found the locals to be anything other than extremely welcoming and friendly.
This visit found the town rather quiet. Understandable considering the time of year, and even though a lot of places were closed or had shorter opening hours we found a few local hostelries doing trade which was welcome after a long (and rather chilly) walk.
I have to mention the Cobbled Yard which we came across by accident. We wanted an evening meal and when we arrived the restaurant was empty, although it filled up as the evening went on.
It was very comfortable with a lovely, roaring open fire. I have to say, we were both delighted that our path crossed this wee hotel. The food was outstanding!
We have to send out thanks to the waiting staff and our compliments to the chef.
The highlight of our day was a visit to the Pilot Inn. We usually stop there to end our evening as it is on the way back to our hotel.
We didn’t know that there is live music there on a Thursday evening. Apparently there has been a group of people playing here for about 20 years. There were musicians of all ages playing, guitar, banjo, fiddle, whistle, flute and cello to name but a few. This was not a gig as such but I have paid money for concerts and not been so entertained and in awe of the natural gift these musicians have and not a sheet of music in sight! I even got a wee request which brought a tear to my eye.
So, once again, thank you to the people of Berwick-upon-Tweed. You have a fantastic town and we hope it won’t be too long until our paths cross again.
£6,000 is all packed up for BARK
THROUGH your letters page may we please pass our thanks on to Asda and Marks & Spencer of Tweedmouth for recent bag packs organised on our behalf. We would also like to show our appreciation to Aldi, Asda, Homebase, Marks & Spencer Food and Morrisons for allowing us to sell our Christmas raffle tickets at their stores and to Ford the Bakers for their continuing support in providing various food items to sell at our events. A final thank you to all who supported our Christmas events which raised over £6,000 in total.
on behalf of the BARK