Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Geoff wants your flood snaps & clips

Dr Geoff Parkin is leading a Newcastle University study of exactly how the water reached different areas of Morpeth and how quickly the flood levels.

He wants to do this using pictures, videos and descriptions contributed by the public.
By the end of November, he wants to collect from the public:
photographs showing flood levels at different times through the day
and descriptions of how, where and when flooding happened.
Photographs (preferably digital) and comments can be contributed by any of the following means:
Hand in to:
  • Stait Photography, 51 Newgate Street, Morpeth (who will copy photos from camera, memory stick etc onto CD free of charge)
  • Castle Morpeth Council FirstCall, 28 Bridge Street, Morpeth
  • New Life Christian Centre, 24 Dacre Street, Morpeth
  • Or any residents' meetings

Or post to: Geoff Parkin at 39 Mitford Road, Morpeth, NE61 1RG

Geoff Parkin - who is, incidentally, a Green Party member - argued strongly against the previous Env Agency proposals for Morpeth Flood Protection, advocating a comprehensive flood alleviation system of the sort that the Env Agency is proposing now, more than five years (and two floods) later.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Boys' Brigade 'Bargain Bazaar'

It is coming up to the time of year when that 'mother of all bring & buy sales' - the 'Bargain Bazaar' - organised by Morpeth Boys' Brigade and 6th Morpeth Scouts - is held.
This year it runs from Sat 22nd - Sat 29th Nov - with opportunity to bring items for sale to the hall every evening (6.30-8.30pm Mon-Fri) from 27th Oct
It has always been like an amateur version of Smail's Hardware Store - and this year, may help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in fans of Smail's with the shop still closed after flood damage.
And, personally, I'll be looking to do a lot of my Christmas shopping at the bazaar :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Blocked Drains - what the council did

Following on from NCC's 'drain unblocking day' on 9th Oct - several people told me that they hadn't seen the work being done. So I asked County officers for a report on what was done and this is what they said:

"I've checked with the team who did the work and can confirm that three gulley emptiers and one road sweeper/gulley emptier were used on Thursday the 9th to cleanse the road gulleys in the flood affected areas in Morpeth. The areas were split up into four locations and each crew were given a map/location plan of their area to cleanse. The CMBC road sweeper/gulley emptier attended to the Low Stanners area and cleansed gulleys with no problems requiring further attention reported. Overall two gulleys that require further attention were reported , one o/s Roch Catering in the Newmarket and one in Phoenix Court. We hope to resolve these two in the near future."

I also raised the question of the blocked storm drain at the end of Olympia Gardens:

"With regard to Olympia Gdns. we are aware of the blocked road gulleys and have a job sheet in the system to replace the existing gully pots with new ones with rodding eyes as at present we are unable to access the pipework to jet clear the blockage."

Perhaps the most important message is how best to report problems in the future:

"Any specific concerns relating to individual gulleys are best dealt with from now on by residents calling the Highways freephone number 0808 100 8 9 10."

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Greater Morpeth Development Trust

GMDT's AGM is coming up - Nov 12th at Collingwood School. Nominations for 'general community director' are invited - and there'll be an election at the AGM.
This is one of two 'general community' directors who sit on the board alongside directors nominated by each of the 'theme' groups - heritage, arts, economy, environment, enterprise, youth etc (I put etc cos I'm not sure if I've missed one out and mortally offended someone) - and reps from the local authorities.
For more info on GMDT, see their website

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Government reneges on promise to Morpeth

Sorry - couldn't think of a more original headline.

I'm livid that the Government is backtracking on the Minister's (John Healey's) promise on Monday 8th Sept that Morpeth would receive 'all possible help' from the Government.

Now Government is saying that there won't be any emergency flood funding - we'll get 85% of money spent by the council (eventually) under the 'Bellwin' rules - but there'll be no extra money, and the 'Bellwin' period runs out within a couple of months.

The excuse given is that they've blown all their money supporting the banks - and there's none to spare to make a decent job of flood recovery, and maybe use the refurbishment process to make improvements, in energy efficiency, better design against future flooding, improved drainage etc - so-called 'resilience'.

Is it just me who thinks that investing in flood recovery is more important, and will probably have a longer lasting effect than throwing money at the gamblers who run the global economy?

Anyway - there's an 'adjournment debate' on the Morpeth flooding in Parliament on Monday. Let's see what those great champions of Morpeth - (in strict alphabetical order) Peter Atkinson, Sir Alan Beith and Denis Murphy - have to say in our support.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Blocked Drains

Drains and gullies blocked by silt and sand brought through by the flood is one of the more frequent concerns of people are raising with me at the moment. Certainly seeing standing water in Staithes Lane is very unnerving...
So - I'm pleased to report that I'm told there'll be a grand gully clearing this week: the streets will be swept first - then on Thursday, massed ranks of gully clearing machines from all over Northumberland (well, Wansbeck at least) will descend on Morpeth and clear all the street drains out.

There should be notices going out beforehand to warn people to move cars etc to clear the streets.

Monday, 6 October 2008

All change must be resisted

I had a blazing row with a Morpeth shopkeeper in the Market Place on Saturday - and I really ought to apologise to him.
We've switched the Morpeth Farmers' Market from the 1st Sunday in the month to the 1st Saturday in the month - and last Saturday was the first one. We switched because:
i) the Town Hall isn't available at least till Christmas - and one of the main reasons for having the market on a Sunday was because we had use of the Town Hall
ii) customers have been asking us why the market isn't on a Saturday since we started
iii) a survey in Gateway magazine in the spring showed a significant demand to switch to a Saturday
iv) we've been losing traders over the past 15 months - producers don't want to work on Sundays, or they've been attracted away to the Sunday Quayside Market. And - as far as I know - the nearest markets on the 1st Saturday are Barnard Castle and Edinburgh
So - we'd discussed switching at the Markets Partnership, with Chamber of Trade reps enthusiastic about the idea, recognising that a successful market will bring people into Morpeth - and it's better to do that when the shops are open!
We had hoped to tell everyone at the Sept Market - but that was cancelled - so it was a scramble to get the message out. My apologies to anyone who turned up on Sunday looking for the market!
Anyway - the gist of the shopkeeper's argument was that the market represented unfair competition for local butchers and greengrocers who depend heavily on Saturday trade. I still believe that a farmers' market once a month on a Saturday will bring more people into Morpeth and increase trade - and increase demand for local produce which local shopkeepers can supply the rest of the month.