Haltwhistle Town Council
Chairman’s Report 2021/2022
The last year has still been a difficult time due to the Coronavirus pandemic. People are still very nervous about COVID and although the restrictions have been lifted during the last few months many people are still cautious about adapting back to previous routines. I am proud to say that the community of Haltwhistle have worked very hard to continue to care and support one another during this time.
The Town Council arranged for a new COVID monument to be erected in the form of a book in the Memorial Park just below the hospital. We would like to thank Northumbria Stone for the donation of the stone to make the monument.
In May 2021 the present membership of the Town Council was elected and we were pleased to welcome Marie Hodgson and Christopher Moore onto the council and during the year Mike McGuire resigned from the council and I would like to thank Mike for his contribution during his time as a councillor.
The monthly luncheon club and drop in centre have now recommenced having had to close for some time during COVID and it is good that they continue to be well attended as it is important that people can socialise and meet up again after having to isolate for some time.
The Town Council continue to support this facility and provided £6,000 in financial assistance. We also gave £2,000 to Haltwhistle Partnership as an annual grant towards the running costs.
The Town Council have given £4,000 for youth services and this money has been used to fund youth services in Haltwhistle for the benefit of our young people to help them build a future which is very important, I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Ayesha Jackson for all her work as she continued to support our young people throughout the year.
Further drainage work has been completed on the village green during the year and the football teams continue to do well. We are pleased that junior football has been taking place on the school playing fields as it is important that we have good facilities in our town for the provision of sport and healthy activities.
Some trees on the village green have been pruned and a programme is in place for further work to be done on the other trees beside the carpark. I would like to thank the Village Green Working Group for their continued support and advice.
We have received donations of trees which are going to be planted on the road below the Bellister Bridge and on land at the bottom of the Comb Hill playing field.
One of the schemes which we completed during the year was the refurbishment of the bike track on the village green which has made a great improvement and it has been well used by the children. May I thank everyone who was involved with this project and Northumberland County Council and members of the old Cobra Wheels Group for their financial assistance towards the work.
We continue to receive reports from the police regarding the number of incidents which is appreciated as it is important that we work together. I would like to record my thanks to Margaret Forrest for her work as our representative.
The Town Council continue to be responsible for the maintenance of the three play areas on Comb Hill, the Fire Station and at Hadrian’s Rise. We have recently provided some new play equipment on the Fire Station play area.
With regards to the Comb Hill playing field we have just completed the refurbishment of the wet pour surfacing on three areas where the play equipment is situated and this has made a big improvement. We also plan to carry out improvements to the footpaths during the coming months. A further two solar lights were installed on the park last summer.
The Grounds Maintenance Contract has been renewed during the year and it has again been awarded to Northumberland County Council. We continue to replace seats and have carried out painting and repairs on several other seats around the town. We have also supplied and replaced several litter bins. Much of the maintenance work continues to be done by the Haltwhistle and District Joint Burial Committee staff, Michael and Sean who do a really good job. I would also like to thank all of the volunteers who have carried out the improvements on the land in front of the Tyne around the railway sidings.
I would like to thank all of the volunteers who continue to attend to the flower beds and the tubs around the town and I would also like to thank Derek Martin for his help in keeping the town tidy.
We also continue to press Northumberland County Council regarding public lighting and public footpaths. We are pressing the County Council to have 20 mph signs erected around the whole town. There are also other improvements which need to be carried out by Northumberland County Council around the town.
Once again the Town Council have contributed £4,000 towards the putting up and taking down of the Christmas lights and can I thank the Chamber of Trade and all of the volunteers for all of their continued support in assisting with the fund raising for improving and maintaining the lights and banners. I thought that they looked very impressive last Christmas.
I am pleased to report that the transfer of land at Orchard Gardens has been completed and we have received the section 106 funding towards the improvement of the play facilities in Haltwhistle which I have mentioned in this report.
We are grateful to Northumberland County Council who are going to arrange for the refurbishment of the public toilets in Haltwhistle and hopefully these works will be done during the summer months.
We were pleased to attend the opening of the new school after the refurbishment works were completed. We support the new school as it is important that our children get the best education possible. The Town Council have again contributed the sum of £600 towards a new reading scheme for the children. We also had a visit from Michael Smith, the Head Teacher of Haydon Bridge High School and the Council was pleased to see the good progress the school has made.
The Town Council continues to support the Swimming and Leisure Centre financially and the Council receives regular updates on the progress of the Centre.
The Council also financially assist the Haltwhistle and District Burial Committee and have representation on the committee. Haltwhistle Town Council is now the host authority for the Haltwhistle and District Joint Burial Committee.
During the year the Town Council moved its office into the Old Estate Office in the Market Place as we were no longer able to use the office in the library as the County Council had asked us to vacate the premises. The County Council are developing a new community hub in the library building.
We have had many meetings with the other voluntary organisations in the town regarding the celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and I am pleased with the many events which are being held in the town and a brochure is being sent to every house in the town to inform our residents of events. May I thank all of the volunteers who are helping to make this occasion a success.
Haltwhistle has also been included as a town in the Borderlands Place Programme which provides the possibility of major funding for much needed investment into new projects for Haltwhistle. A working group has been set up which is being chaired by Northumberland County Council. This could bring many benefits to us in the future.
One of the challenges ahead for the Town Council is the continued service which is provided by Northumberland County Council and how this is going to be financed in the future because it is very important that the services which they provide continue to be financed by them otherwise the additional cost would have to be put onto the Parish precept.
I would also like to thank Susan Saunders for all her hard work as Town Clerk which has made the running of the Council much more efficient and Michael Ridley my Vice-chairman for all of his support particularly with chairing the Grounds Maintenance Group.
Finally may I once again thank you all for your support to me as your Chairman and I hope that we can continue to work together in the future for the benefit of our residents and hopefully the various schemes will be completed as I have outlined during the coming year.