Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Congratulations to KEVI which has just won the ‘Most Sustainable School’ category in the Chronicle (regional) Environmental Awards.

Well done to Victoria Najafi and everyone involved.

It is, of course, a credit to the whole town, with lots of support for the school coming from local councils and other organisations.

27th March...

In response to an anonymous comment implying that the school only pays lip service to eco-status "successfully burning in excess of 100 tonnes of imported coal in its 60 year old boilers, with a whopping 0% insulation rate throughout the building. And a continues 24 hour do-not-switch off any of the 800 PCs system."
- a school spokesperson pointed it that there has been considerable modernisation with actions and systems matching the words: "The boilers have actually been replaced and the PCs are all switched off at the end of the day"

Friday, 13 February 2009

New Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is developing a plan to build a new £75M Specialist Emergency Care Hospital 'close to the A19 and A1 on the Northumberland and North Tyneside border' (would this be Seaton Burn?).

It is planned that the new centre will have 210 beds, a Critical Care unit, operating theatres, blood sciences, radiology including MRI and CT scanners, maternity and a full range of support and ancillary facilities.


There’s a series of public meetings about this – the Morpeth one is 25th Feb 2.30pm - 3.30pm Morpeth Cottage Hospital, tel 0191 2031296 for more info

It may well be a good scheme, but an immediate concern the springs to my mind is about access by non-car users. NHS has lots of fine words about sustainability, carbon reduction and reducing car dependency, but does it put them into action:
i) how does this location relate to the NHS vision:
"NHS organisations are exemplar in leading the population-wide shift to more active and low carbon travel such as public transport, cycling and walking”
ii) would the hospital comply with the NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy for England (January 2009), Section 3 'low carbon travel, transport and access' (all five Key Actions).
iii) and of course, the location must be approved by the NHS Sustainable Development Unit

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Access to the new bus station

The new Morpeth bus station opens next Tuesday (17th) - and demolition of the old bus station starts straightaway, so lets hope there's no 'Terminal 5' type problems, because there is no fall-back cover if something doesn't work first time.
Access will be from the T&G Allan passageway from Newgate Street while the demolition and redevelopment continues in Back Riggs. Should be a bit of a boost for the Newgate Street shops.
The Comrades Club, HealthiChoice and Ladbrokes are persistently remaining open in Back Riggs at the centre of the chaos. They'll be accessed from Bridge Street.
Friday 13th: possibly a slight hitch: apparently the bus bays have not be laid out in a deep enough chevron, so that passengers will have difficulty getting on and off if buses are parked in adjacent bays. But - I'm sure they'll sort it by Tuesday...

Monday, 9 February 2009

Bus Fares Up Again

I see Arriva has quietly increased its bus fares. If petrol had gone up, motorists would be march - sorry, driving - on Downing Street and there'd be more than a hint of revolution in the air.
Bus fares go up - and there's not even a mention in the press, let alone a peep out of the bus passengers. Not sure what the average increase is - and admittedly some fares have increased - but some increases are quite steep. Highest I've found so far is Longhirst-Morpeth return which has gone up 11%
And this all at a time when we are supposed to be switching too public transport
Then again - the buses are full of older passengers taking advantage of the free travel for over-60's. This is going so well that Arriva has renegotiated their deal with Castle Morpeth BC, and is getting an extra £70,000 to cover the cost of concessionary travel. It's a great scheme - but the funding from central Government to local authorities doesn't really cover the costs.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

No Action on Cycleways in Winter

Remember the correspondent who raised the issue of cycle paths not being maintained or gritted or kept free from overhanging branches.

Well, his UTube video illustrating the hazards has been viewed over 2000 times, and he has had replies from the Netherlands and Germany all expressing surprise about the conditions of our cycle ways.

However there has at yet been no response from Northumberland CC.

He writes: “What to do? The council doesn't seem to bother. May be we should lobby that they don't build any new bicycle paths. If cycle paths are not maintained they provide a false sense of security and suggest to car drivers that we should use them. This in turn makes them more aggressive towards cyclists on the road.”