Annual report from your Parklands Ward Councillors 2016

September 23, 2016 3:31 PM

GrangeAt the one-and-annual meeting of the Parklands Ward Committee of Newcastle City Council, David Down was elected Chairman for 2016-17. Outgoing Chairman Pauline Allen delivered this report on activities during the past year :

Parklands Ward Report September 2016

2015/16 was the last financial year in which the Ward committee had funds of any significance with which to influence the quality of local people's lives. Here Councillors Allen, Ashby and Down report on some examples of what it has been able to facilitate, as well as issues that have been extensively discussed during the year.

ACTIVE PEOPLE

We encouraged the establishment of Gosforth Sports Association, whereby Gosforth RFC combined with the City of Newcastle Cricket Club and "came home" to Broadway West. This subsequently resulted in the relocation of the Tigers Australian Rules club. A small grant was made to improve security in the clubhouse. We are very pleased that the clubs are making visible efforts to work with young boys and girls.

Red House Farm FC applied for planning permission for artificial pitches, fences and floodlights. While opposing the application, Councillors made clear their support of junior football, and now chair a club/residents' liaison group. The future is unclear because of a strategic review into the context of "hubs" at which junior football leagues will play. The fields to the north of Kingston Park Road will remain an important leisure resource for residents whatever the outcome.

We were also able to help the Bohemians tennis club on Brunton Park to improve their car park so that there would be less parking on local roads and therefore less aggravation for local people.

THE ENVIRONMENT

The Gosforth Nature Reserve asked for and received our help towards tools for volunteers, and the grants we have given them have also been used to leverage more from other grant giving bodies.

Allotments groups at Three Mile and Salters Bridge were given help with resurfacing their access roads. The award winning Three Mile Allotments entered into a partnership with the Ward to plant and maintain flower planters at Three Mile and Grange shops, with ward funds buying bulbs and plants. We aim to continue this into the 2018 planting season. (Note : The large numbers of planters at Brunton Park and Melton Park are provided and maintained by the North Gosforth Parish Council)

The Melbury & Warkworth Woods Residents Association asked for assistance with equipment for litter picking. It is held at the Ark in the Park and is available to any other groups (it can be arranged for litter bags to be removed in bulk)

We continue to share the concerns of residents about dog fouling left behind by irresponsible owners.

The entire ward has now been designated a series of no cold calling zones.

CARING FOR PEOPLE

Using funds from the NHS delegated to the Wards (something that has now stopped) we utilised a series of leaflet drops across the whole of the ward - some leaflets were supplied by organisations and charities, some reprinted. They covered a diversity of subjects like help for carers, CRUSE help for widows, using local pharmacists rather than GPs for minor ailments, and a road safety campaign of images drawn by children at GEMS.

From the last of our funds, we gave a grant to the Citizens Advice Bureau who will be working in conjunction with Grange First School this autumn to provide a series of advice surgeries for local residents until the funds run out.

Daft as a Brush is a charity based on the Great North Road which transports cancer patients to and from appointments. We gave them a grant which would help specifically to improve the safety of their volunteer drivers, many of whom live in the ward.

Over the past years we have given grants to support Gosforth Community Minibus. We hope they will be able to replace our help in the future as we know how the Minibus is valued by those it helps.

SCHOOLS AND SAFETY

One of the grants we made to Gosforth Nature Reserve was towards an ecotoilet, which means that more school parties can visit the Reserve.

Parking around the Broadway schools has been a concern for many years. Finally, and after long procedural delays, additional restrictions on parking have been introduced, and crossing of Strathmore Road and Granville Road made safer for pedestrians. We also have agreement for dropped kerbs on three of the main roads crossed by parents with prams and children with scooters at the entrance to Whitebridge Park - we'd been prepared to fund these from the ward budget but that finally proved unnecessary. The area is a school safety zone, covered by a 20 mph speed limit.

Cycle lanes on the Great North Road and new crossings at Broadway East and West were installed years after consultation was first started. The roundabout, which the public wanted to see maintained rather than being replaced by traffic lights, continues to cause concerns which are unlikely to be alleviated by a road safety audit report now in the hands of officers. We intend to present a petition to the next Council meeting calling for raised beds for the zebra crossings.

Our pressure to reduce the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph on the Great North Road looks like bearing fruit soon too, as the Broadway to Brunton Lane changes are introduced. These should further encourage parents not to use the car to take the children to school. We used some of our Ward funds to pay for a packed out public meeting at Northern Rugby Club which was attended by Council officials. Much of the work proposed will be carried out without the need for Traffic Regulation Orders, thus speeding the process. The replacement of the footbridge at the Three Mile Inn by a controlled crossing will be helpful particularly for disabled and elderly residents, and will reduce long term maintenance costs too. Though we recognise that not all residents will support the removal of this bridge.

COMMUNITY FACILITIES

The Scout Hut at Brunton Park is not just for children in the scouts and guides families but has in the past been available for hire for events such as birthday parties. It had been very much showing its age, so we gave grants to make it weather proof again and to encourage its users to raise further funds for more upgrading.

The Community Centre at St Aidan's looks mainly to North Gosforth Parish Council for support but we have been able to make some supplementary grants to enable it to continue to be a home for a wide range of community groups. The indoor bowls club based there asked for our help in replacing equipment worn out from long use, and we were happy to help.

All Saints Centre in the centre of Gosforth is an important community asset used by people across three wards and more, so we were able to give it some small grants.

Gosforth Central Park is now mostly maintained by volunteers. We supported the Ward Committees from East and West Gosforth in making grants for maintenance equipment and consumable materials which hopefully would mean a continuation of this excellent facility despite Council cut backs.

COMMUNICATIONS

The Council has decided to remove three out of four Ward meetings in future. Some of the small budget for 2016-17 is being set aside to enable emergency meetings to be held. As an experiment, we held one meeting with residents to discuss road plans in the Three Mile Inn, and were grateful that they provided a room without charge. We would welcome feedback about the value to local people of such informal meetings at less than ideal locations and which would probably not have any Council Officer support.

As well as conducting ward surgeries for face to face consultation, councillors also read and sometimes participate in online forums such as Streetlife, Gosforth Traffic and the home pages of Residents Associations covering Melbury & Warkworth Woods and Melton and Brunton Park. We are trying to encourage a Whitebridge Park RA - there's a small closed group on Facebook for it. At least one Councillor attends the monthly North Gosforth Parish Council as an observer.

Councillors provide a newsletter (called Focus) to every home in the Ward at their own expense and send emailings to known addresses (which we describe as 'more news, more quickly'). If you don't receive the latter and would like to, please email robin.ashby5@yahoo.co.uk

Pauline Allen, David Down and Robin Ashby Councillors for Parklands Ward