Waters look a bit choppy

July has been a strange month for me.

Saturday, 13th August 2016, 8:00 am

I tried to contact a number of the crew on board the good ship SS Northumberland County Council to get information in performance of my duties as a representative of the town, but there has been no acknowledgement or reply.

Messages sent were concerning Quayside construction (message jammed), West Street/Cowes Building (message jammed), car parking plans (message jammed), Town Champion (message jammed), and the sale of Berwick assets/Sandstall Road car park (message jammed).

I had tried to contact the owners, who I knew to be holidaying, but there had been no reply.

I was becoming worried so I tried to contact the chief officer, but again no reply.

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Surely the monitoring officer in the crows’ nest would spot my message to him, but no reply either.

Was this another Marie Celeste?

In desperation I sent out two emergency contact calls using Morse Code (the SS Northumberland County Council website).

To my amazement I received two distress messages in reply – complaint references returned without interception.

Shortly afterwards I received a note from a crew member. The chief officer was apparently on shore leave. The monitoring officer was also on leave, it had been confirmed.

This was no Marie Celeste, but could it be a rudderless ship?

I knew that the owners were on board back in early July because, using the new communications network, codename Facebook, I had circulated a letter and I actually got a ‘thumbs up’. But there was no other response.

If you are still out there Coun Ledger, thank you.

Don’t worry, HMS Democracy has sailed from Plymouth and is steaming to your rescue.

An infamous gussler, and likely low on fuel (unless it has hidden reserves), the Northumberland County Council appears to be badly in need of maintenance.

Could the SS NCC be in distress on the high seas? It has been something of a jinx since it was launched.

The owners seemingly neglect its crew and have been charging its passengers large amounts of money to sail on her. It has developed a poor reputation. According to many passengers they were never taken anywhere nice.

But the senior officers never seem to have listened to its passengers before so why should they now?

The ship is due for an overhaul next May, but the future looks bleak.

If SS Arch, its sister ship, is decommissioned there is a glimmer of hope, but with the prospect of the same old owners and same old officers at the helm I fear for those who sail on her.

I don’t want to worry those of you who have relatives on the SS Northumberland County Council, but it’s a fact that Napoleon once sailed on the HMS Northumberland to be imprisoned on St Helena, never to return.

Maybe that was a lucky ship after all.

David Blackburn

Castle Ward

Berwick Town Council