OPINION: Berwick looks better than it has for years

In July 2014 I wrote an article for the Advertiser stating how amazed I was at the shoddy conditions of Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal.

Sunday, 29th January 2017, 7:07 am
Alex Gibson with a damaged bench near Berwick rose garden in 2011.

I blamed Northumberland County Council for about 70 per cent of these conditions.

For example, the public toilets in Berwick and Spittal were in a bad state, paths needed edging to give clean lines and an appearance of being kept, potholes needed filling in and hedges needed trimming back.

And, of course, the biggest issue was rubbish/litter.

All of these issues have now been addressed. Some might take a little longer than others, but it will be done so have patience.

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I can honestly say that Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal today have never looked so clean and tidy since new management for the NEAT (Neighbourhood Environmental Action Team) team took over, headed by Bob Hodgson, northern area manager, Terry Harkins in charge of recycling and all their officers.

You can never forget the workforce who work in diverse weather conditions but always come up with the goods.

Presently, some of the guys are edging the greens and pathways in Highcliffe and they’re doing a fantastic job.

With all this going on, Northumberland County Council (NCC) have to manage to find ways of giving a service. They are stretched to the limits with millions of pounds of Government cuts which lowers financial resources. To be truthful, services will be at breaking point with the possibility of losing some.

Last year, Berwick Town Council stepped up to the mark to help keep our town and urban areas tidy and litter-free by employing two seasonal workers in partnership with NCC over the summer and one over the winter months until the end of March. The comments that have come forward over the period from residents are encouraging.

This year, Berwick Town Council will hopefully debate whether to retain the seasonal workers to keep up the standard that we are getting used to or let them go and slip back to the dull days of untidiness and letting our residents and visitors down. I hope this will not be the case.

Berwick Town Council have put new litter bins out all around the town, taken away the old rusty metal bins and replaced some of the outdated grey bins.

I also blame some of the other problems on English Heritage when you look at the state of the most complete, iconic battlements/walls in the United Kingdom. From afar, some area look like a huge rockery. They were weeds at one point years ago but now they have grown to large bushes dotted all around the walls.

Grass-cutting is also an issue, keeping up the standards of years gone by when it was all manicured and pleasing to the eye. Footpaths need to be edged and trees need to be clipped or topped. English Heritage seem to have lost pride in maintaining. Maybe when it falls apart they’ll do something about it. Going through Ness gate arch looks more like an arbour. The amount of foliage is disgraceful.

The other percentage that were eyesores was run down land such as the Youngmans building, play parks, old Playhouse and the Cowes building. But since 2014 things have changed to a certain degree for the better. Youngmans, Cowes, the old Labour club on Ravensdowne and the former Kwik Save site are all being revamped and work on the Playhouse site to build a Premier Inn is due to start shortly.

At the play areas, the Flagstaff refurbishment has been a huge success. The revamp of Grove Gardens South play park in Prior will soon be completed and work on Osborne play park will start in med-February once the surrounding trees have been seen to.