Saturday, 30 August 2008

The Chin Syndrome

It’s public so I can’t back out now – I’m committed to shaving off my beard to raise money for the Mayor’s Charity Appeal (which happens to be Motor Neurone Disease and Hearing Ear Dogs, this year).

Cllr Irene Brumwell has been teasing me about my beard since she came onto the council five years ago – and, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to a sponsored shave in her mayoral year. And last Thursday at Full Council, she announced the deal which is that I should appear at the next Full Council (25th Sept) clean-shaven.

So – if anyone wants to sponsor me, please just get in touch.

I’ve had a beard of one sort or another continuously since I was eighteen. I grew it then to make me look older, and it seems to have done the trick. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it is reversible!

Actually, I’m relatively happy about losing the beard (apart from risking a cold chin) – G K Chesterton reckoned that shaving off a beard was a better disguise than putting on a false one – so with luck I’ll cast off my public, recognised, image as my term as councillor comes to an end.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


SHLAA - sounds like a type of fizzy apple juice – but it isn’t.
It’s the ‘Strategic Housing Land Area Assessment’ – and that’s just a way of assessing what building land is out there and how suitable and ready it is for development. Our vey busy strategic planners have consulted and collated and assessed a huge list of potential development sites in Castle Morpeth.

The list is on the Castle Morpeth BC website – available for anyone to see what is listed in their local area, and express their views back to the strategic planners.

So why not have a look....

But this is just an assessment to see what is there. Just because a site is listed, it doesn’t mean that it is Council policy for it to be developed. It’s just ‘evidence’ not policy.

And the assessment in terms of housing is just a way of measuring the land – it doesn’t mean that houses will be built on the site if it is developed.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Dave Hall cooking at Ponteland FM

Dave Hall was back at Ponteland Farmers' Market yesterday - and did another three superb recipes:

lamb with broad beans & mint: simple enough - using neck lamb fillet (from Jimmy Bell 'the lamb man') thin sliced and stir-fried, broad beans from Craigs of Tritlington - with shallots, mint, lemon and Feta cheese - and eaten with sourdough bread from Auroan. Very much an Eastern Med style

Romanesu cauliflower - that's the lime green, pointy one (again from Tritlington) with poached duck eggs (from Haydon Bridge), streaky bacon (from Moorhouse Farm) - and shavings of parmesan

and - Strawberry and Raspberry Vanilla Mess, a variant of Eton Mess with raspberries and strawberries (from Tritlington) - the latter macerated in Ponteland heather honey - with double cream, yoghurt and meringue.

All delicious - and all made in 10-15 mins using local ingredients available on the market. Dave is back again at Pont for a last time this year next month (Sept 27th) - I wonder what he'll give us then?

Dave is available through ExpoChef and his recipes can be found on his blog

Friday, 15 August 2008

Local food is less expensive

Food costs are going up mainly due to increasing oil and fuel prices. So it stands to reason that local food that hasn't travelled so far (lower foodmiles) is not going up in price as much as supermarket food, let alone imported or airfreighted food.
And again, organic producers who don't use petrochemical-derived fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides will have lower costs than non-organic producers - so expect the price difference between organic produce and non-organic produce to reduce.
Look to farmers' markets, farm shops and local shops with local suppliers for relatively low prices.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Considerate Constructors - Inconsiderate Car Drivers

I'm very disappointed that NCC has decided to close the Lumsden Lane alley onto the Market Place - after I lobbied so hard to keep it open.

The issue is 'conflict' between pedestrians and vehicles creating safety hazards. Yes - Maunsells' works vehicles and M&S delivery lorries have to be there, but the understanding arrived at through Dick Phillips at NCC was that the contractors and M&S would have staff to direct pedestrians during deliveries and he (Dick) would keep a watching brief.

That lasted nearly two weeks - but (and Dick has promised me photos - watch this space) apparently, car users and other lorries were still coming down to the hammerhead junction, parking recklessly and endangering pedestrians. And - reportedly, pedestrians did not seem alert to dangers from vehicles either. In fact - it was (to quote Dick) 'dangerous chaos'.

So - the access has been closed to both vehicles and pedestrians, so that access from Back Riggs onto Bridge Street and the Market Place is now very restricted. Boulevard's pizzeria, the Jewellers' Guild and the Wednesday Market are all suffering.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Both Sainsbury's AND Tesco's?

News on the Morpeth Herald website that Tesco's is proposing to build a store in Morpeth -
- up at Coopies Lane

Apart from planning restrictions which would not (as far as I'm aware) allow food retail on Coopies Lane (even the car show rooms had to jump through hoops to set up there) - IMO, a supermarket (whether it is Tesco's or Sainsbury's - or [Govt forbid!] both) on the edge of the town - would kill Morpeth town centre stone dead, in the teeth of anything the Dransfield development achieves.

And again - a retail consultant's report commissioned by CMBC identifies (after the Morrison store expansion takes place) that there is no demand for additional 'convenience' (ie foods etc) retail floorspace at all until 2025 and beyond.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Monbiot vs Scargill

And an interesting article by George Monbiot on relative C02 emissions from coal, nuclear and renewable technologies

His main point (IMO) is that Greens (and Govt) should define the acceptable CO2 emissions (and other enviro-costs) for energy generation - then let the experts develop the technologies to meet these targets

Monday, 4 August 2008

Abbey Meadows Blog

Just come across an excellent blog - a photo-based journal of wildlife - flora and fauna - in and around Morpeth. Latest posting features Carlisle Park

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Whorral Tip closing...

We're told:
"The household waste recovery centre at Whorral Bank will shut temporarily in September for work which will substantially increase its size. The site will close at 7.30pm on Friday September 12, and is scheduled to re-open at the end of February 2009.

"The nearest alternative public tip is on Castle Island Way on North Seaton Industrial Estate. This site is open seven days a week between 8am and 7.30pm (the site will close at 6pm between November 1 and March 31)."

CMBC is offering up its garden waste (green bin) and bulky waste collection schemes as alternatives - though they cost. I've blogged before about the possibility of sharing these with neighbours

BUT - this is also an excellent opportunity to find out about Freecycle (which I've also previously blogged):

Freecycle is a web-based network of people giving away things they don't want and seeking things they do want. A bit like e-Bay but without money changing hands, and locally-based.

As the website says:
"It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and thus keeping good stuff out of landfills."

The Morpeth network currently has 2,571 active members