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  1. A collaborative scheme to provide a sustainable wastewater strategy that facilitates housing growth has won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) North East Award for Planning Excellence. The North Morpeth Strategic Sewer was one of only six entries short-listed for the North East’s top planning award. The project was initiated by the unique opportunities present in Morpeth, including the construction of the Morpeth Northern Bypass and the timing of development proposals in the local area, together with the strong relationships that already existed between the organisations involved. The local community was a key influence in the development of the project concept, which provides a range of benefits to the wider Morpeth community into the future as plans for development materialise into additional dwellings in the town. Working in partnership with Northumberland County Council, Taylor Wimpey North East, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Linden Homes, Persimmon Homes North East and the Homes and Communities Agency, Northumbrian Water were able to deliver a strategic sewer to serve multiple development sites in an approach that meets the current and future needs of the town and its residents. Richard Warneford, Wastewater Director for Northumbrian Water said: “The project is a great example of our collaborative approach to putting the needs of our customers and stakeholders at the heart of what we do. The recognition afforded by this award reflects the emphasis given by Central Government to aligning investment with infrastructure to support the delivery of new homes.” “This project demonstrates how important engagement in the planning process is for utility companies and we are thrilled that our industry-leading approach in this area has been acknowledged by the judges.” Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member responsible for planning at Northumberland County Council said: "This is a great example of partnership working between the council and key stakeholders which has ensured that important infrastructure is provided ahead of planned development taking place. It represents the Council's firm commitment to working collaboratively to ensure a strategic approach to infrastructure delivery."
  2. A series of free open days are being held in sports centres across the county to showcase the fantastic classes, facilities and support on offer to the more mature residents of Northumberland. Active Northumberland is running a campaign to help encourage the older generation to keep fit and active and is inviting adults aged 65 years and over to attend the sessions which will be taking place in local sports centres throughout October. Fully trained and friendly staff will be on hand to show visitors around, answer any questions and offer professional advice. There will also be the opportunity to watch a class in action and get a free cup of tea or coffee afterwards. Those who attend will be given a voucher entitling them to a free class, gym session or swim at their chosen sports centre. Active Northumberland offer a full range of classes. Some of those more suitable for seniors include pilates, yoga, zumba, Active Life and aqua fit which are taught at a moderate pace, but still give a great workout to improve health, strength and flexibility. Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “ As you get older, keeping physically active and taking part in regular exercise is one of the single most important things that you can do to keep yourself healthy. However, a trip to the local sports centre can be a really daunting prospect especially for someone in their more senior years. “ We are laying on the open sessions free of charge especially with our older residents in mind, to take the stress out of their first visit and help them make the first steps to a more active life.” The open sessions coincide with the launch of a special new discounted membership that Active Northumberland has introduced especially for older adults to help them stay fit and active. People aged 65 years or over are now eligible to join up to Active Northumberland’s new Stay Active membership costing only £26 per month on either a three month flexible contract or with a one-off annual fee of £312. “ You're never too old to increase your level of physical activity and there are ways, with the correct advice and support that even those with physical or health limitations can exercise safely." added Cllr Homer. Centres offering open sessions are: Ashington Leisure Centre Fri 13th Oct, 9.30am-10.30am Fri 20th Oct, 10.30am-11.30am Blyth Sports Centre Weds 11th Oct,10.00am-11.00am Mon 16th Oct, 10.00am-11.00am Concordia Leisure Centre Weds 11th Oct, 10.00am-12.00pm Mon 16th Oct, 10.00am-12.00pm Newbiggin Sports Centre Wed 11th Oct 10.00am-12.00pm Morpeth Riverside Centre Mon 16th Oct,10.00am-12.00pm Ponteland Leisure Centre Fri 13th Oct, 11.00am-12.00pm Tues 17th Oct, 1.00pm-2.00pm Fri 20th Oct, 11.00am-12.00pm Prudhoe Waterworld Thurs 12th Oct, 9.15.am- 10.30pm Thurs 19th Oct, 9.15 am - 10.30pm Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham Fri 13th Oct, 10.00am-12.00pm Fri 20th Oct, 2.00pm-4.00pm Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre, Alnwick Weds 11th Oct, 10.30am-11.30am Fri 20th Oct, 12.00pm-1.00pm Swan Centre, Berwick Fri 20th Oct, 9.30am-10.30am For further information about the open days log on to activenorthumberland.org.uk/stayactive or call 01670 620200 to speak to a member of the customer service team.
  3. Landlords gather at county forum

    Landlords and agents from around Northumberland gathered at an annual forum organised by Northumberland County Council. Almost 100 landlords attended the event, now in its seventh year, at Morpeth Rugby Club last week. The free event showed landlords what services the council can offer, updated them on any new legislation and highlighted any industry issues. Guest speakers from the Department of Work and Pensions and the National Landlords Association addressed the forum on a range of issues. Topics this year included updates on the latest legislation, Universal Credit and fuel poverty and energy efficiency. There were also a number of traders exhibiting at the forum including, Northumbrian Water, Envirovent and Jacksons Law. Landlord William Bransby, who owns properties in Tynedale, said: “It has been a really informative day, especially the updates about new legislation. “Coming to event like this helps me to keep ahead of the game and I would definitely recommend other landlords to come along to future events.” Northumberland County Councillor, John Riddle, cabinet member for housing, said: “It was great to see so many landlords coming together to share best practice and find out more about what the council can offer them. “By working closely with private landlords the council can ensure that communities across the county are getting the service they should.”
  4. During the week beginning 2nd October Northumberland County Council will be making highway improvements in parts of Morpeth, with work taking place overnight to minimise disruption. As part of phases 2 and 3 of the Morpeth Cycleway scheme there will be further work on and around the Mafeking roundabout, between Shields Road and Castle Bank. This will include upgrading road markings. Work will take place overnight, between 7pm and 6am, and will be done under two way traffic lights. It is due to start on Monday 2nd October and take up to a week. The council is also going to repair and resurface the road from the mini-roundabout to the north of Telford Bridge, east to the traffic lights outside St George’s Church. There will be a partial closure of the road, two-way traffic lights and a diversion around the town when required. Work is due to start on Tuesday 3rd October and take up to three nights, and will be overnight working - from 7pm until 6am. In addition to this work there will also be footpath improvements under the railway bridge on Shields Road. This is not part of the cycle scheme but the council is taking the opportunity to carry out this work at the same time - to avoid further disruption in the future. The Morpeth Cycleway scheme itself is part of wider work throughout the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area to improve sustainable travel options at key transport gateways. The approaches to Morpeth station were identified as a location where infrastructure for cyclists should be improved, and the work also aims to help pedestrians and other road users on the Stobhill approach to Morpeth. It is being implemented by the council and has been funded by through the North East LEP from the Local Growth Fund, part of the North East Growth Deal.
  5. Highway improvement work in Morpeth

    During the week beginning 2nd October Northumberland County Council will be making highway improvements in parts of Morpeth, with work taking place overnight to minimise disruption. As part of phases 2 and 3 of the Morpeth Cycleway scheme there will be further work on and around the Mafeking roundabout, between Shields Road and Castle Bank. This will include upgrading road markings. Work will take place overnight, between 7pm and 6am, and will be done under two way traffic lights. It is due to start on Monday 2nd October and take up to a week. The council is also going to repair and resurface the road from the mini-roundabout to the north of Telford Bridge, east to the traffic lights outside St George’s Church. There will be a partial closure of the road, two-way traffic lights and a diversion around the town when required. Work is due to start on Tuesday 3rd October and take up to three nights, and will be overnight working - from 7pm until 6am. In addition to this work there will also be footpath improvements under the railway bridge on Shields Road. This is not part of the cycle scheme but the council is taking the opportunity to carry out this work at the same time - to avoid further disruption in the future. The Morpeth Cycleway scheme itself is part of wider work throughout the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area to improve sustainable travel options at key transport gateways. The approaches to Morpeth station were identified as a location where infrastructure for cyclists should be improved, and the work also aims to help pedestrians and other road users on the Stobhill approach to Morpeth. It is being implemented by the council and has been funded by through the North East LEP from the Local Growth Fund, part of the North East Growth Deal.
  6. Compliments to Carlisle Park

    A regular visitor to Morpeth has written to Northumberland County Council to express her appreciation for the ‘beauties of Carlisle Park’. The woman, from Newcastle, wrote to the council’s green spaces officer to ask her to pass on her message to all gardeners for their hard work in maintaining the large park to such high standards, which she says speaks for many admirers. She said: “After enjoying the beauties of Carlisle Park for many years, probably like countless thousands, I felt it was really time that I should write in with some comments. “I was in the park this week and, as ever, it was such a source of pleasure and relaxation. “I first got to know the park on seeing it from the bus window when entering Morpeth and had always admired the floral display, not realising then how large it was. “Because of its location and the immaculate way in which it is tended, I feel it has great importance in setting the tone for what to expect in the town as a whole. “It is so refreshing to walk through the beautifully kept, litter-free park or sit comfortably on one of the many seats provided. The wonderful floral arrangements in the town are also much appreciated “In having Carlisle Park, the town has a precious asset.” Cllr Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services said: “I would like to thank the regular visitor very much for her kind comments. We do have some fantastic park areas in Northumberland, and it is extremely good to know that they are appreciated in this way.” Carlisle Park is one of nine parks in Northumberland that achieved a Green Flag award this year. Situated on the south bank of the River Wansbeck, it contains The William Turner Garden, formal gardens, an aviary, play areas, a paddling pool, ancient woodland, picnic areas, toilets, tennis courts, a bowling green, a skate park, and much more. All Green Flag award winning parks are currently in the running to be one of the nation’s favourites in the People’s Choice Awards. To vote for your favourite Green Flag park simply go to www.greenflagaward.org, find the park on the map and click the vote button.
  7. Landlords and agents based in Northumberland are invited to an annual forum being organised by Northumberland County Council. The free event, now in it’s seventh year, will be held at Morpeth Rugby Club, on Thursday, 5 October from 9.30am. It aims to update landlords on any new legislation, highlight any industry issues and demonstrate the services on offer to landlords from the council. Representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions and the National Landlords Association will be addressing the forum on a range of issues. Topics this year will include landlord fire safety, an update on Universal Credit and fuel poverty and energy efficiency. There will also be a number of traders exhibiting at the forum including, National Energy Action and Northumbrian Water. An update on the council’s Landlords’ Steering Group will also be given. The steering group was set up as a way to represent the views of landlords in Northumberland and helping to overcome ongoing issues faced by landlords in the Private Rented Sector. The key roles of the steering group include; assisting with the development of the property accreditation scheme, assisting with the organisation of landlord events and reviewing the policies and procedures that impact on the Private Rented Sector. If you would like more information about the group please contact a member of the private sector team on the details provided below. Northumberland County Councillor, John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience said: “In previous years this forum has attracted hundreds of landlords and agents from across the county, and we are hoping that this year’s event will be as successful. “There are a number of services the council can offer to private landlords, which they may not be aware of, such as a free tenant vetting service. This forum will not only help to demonstrate what we can do, but also give landlords an opportunity to network and find out about upcoming industry issues.” Any landlord or agent wishing to attend should register their interest by Friday, 29 September. You can do this by emailing privatesectorhousing@northumberland.gov.uk with your name and address, or calling the team on (01670) 623073.
  8. Northumberland residents are being asked to vote for their favourite Green Flag park - putting it in the running to be the nation’s favourite in the People’s Choice Awards. In July we found out that nine Northumberland parks had gained Green Flag Awards this year - marking them out as some of the UK’s very best parks and green spaces. Now members of the public can vote for the Northumberland Green Flag park that they think should be the whole nation’s favourite. Green Flag parks in Northumberland are: Ridley Park in Blyth; Doctor Pit Park in Bedlington; Alexandra Park in Cramlington, Hexham Parks; Carlisle Park in Morpeth; Castle Vale and Coronation Parks in Berwick; Plessey Woods Country Park near Bedlington; and Bolam Lake Country Park near Belsay. Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council said: “We have some exceedingly beautiful and very special parks in Northumberland - all with their own unique set of attractions. “In each you will find a range of opportunities to suit all ages and interests - from sports and play facilities - to areas where those who seek it can enjoy peace and tranquility. “I urge everyone to get behind their favourite park in Northumberland - giving it a chance to become one of the nation’s favourites.” To vote for your favourite Green Flag park go to www.greenflagaward.org Simply find your park on the map and click the vote button. Once you’ve voted, why not encourage others to get involved too. Paul Todd, International Green Flag Award manager said: “Following the huge success of #LoveParks Week, the People’s Choice Award is another chance to show how much your favourite park means to you. Make your voice heard and vote now.” Voting is open now and closes on 30 September, with the top 10 winning sites due to be announced on 11 October. Last year saw tens of thousands of people voting for their favourite park, with winners coming from all across the UK, from London to Lanarkshire.
  9. Green fingered Northumbrians have done the county proud yet again as they collected a string of awards after impressing judges in this year’s Northumbria in Bloom awards. Dozens of towns, villages and businesses showed off their floral displays, summer planting and well tended parks and gardens in the competition which has seen communities and council staff pull together to show off local neighbourhoods at their best. The county did exceptionally well in the Towns category with Morpeth winning overall Gold for the bright displays that have produced a blaze of colour right across the town. Alnwick won Gold, Bedlington won Silver and Berwick and Hexham were awarded Silver Gilt. In the Large Towns category, Blyth won Silver and Cramlington won Silver Gilt. In the Small Towns category Ponteland and Seaton Sluice won gold with Seaton Delaval achieving bronze. Seaton Delaval won the Most Improved entry for enthusiastically taking on a number of neglected areas for transformation and for the hard work and vision of the community. The county’s villages also scooped a number of fantastic awards against tough competition. Ord near Berwick won the Large Villages category. Judges found the village to be pristine throughout with residents taking a great pride in keeping their neighbourhood spotless as well as caring for the many tubs and planters. There were celebrations elsewhere as Holywell and New Hartley won Silver and Seghill won Bronze in the Large Villages category. East Hartford won Silver in the Small Villages category and Lesbury won Silver Gilt in the Villages category. The popular Ridley Park in Blyth was winner of the Best Park award for its beautifully landscaped public space. Young growers in the county also got involved and Tweedmouth West First School in Berwick scooped the Growing Together for Schools award. Other Gold winners included Alnmouth Railway Station ( best bus/metro/rail station) The parish hall garden, Corbridge ( best Grounds of a hospital, university or public building) Ord Country Park ( best commercial premises) Berwick Bowling Club ( best sports ground) Woodbine Terrace, Corbridge ( best residential community). A number of very worthy awards were made for outstanding voluntary contributions. Neville Rutherford of Corbridge for his inspiring leadership of Corbridge in Bloom; Kenneth Thompson from Morpeth for his commitment to the ‘In Bloom’ entry and George Anderson for his contribution to the betterment of Ord Village Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It is wonderful that the hard work and efforts of a few have made the towns and villages where we live such attractive places. We really do appreciate their work and congratulate everyone involved. ”
  10. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) have unveiled their new breathing apparatus training facility at Pegswood Community Fire Station. The new training facility has been purpose built and designed to allow firefighters the opportunity to train in a realistic yet safe environment, meaning that personnel continue to have the necessary skills and experience to ensure that the safety of the communities is maintained. The opening of the new fit for purpose training facility at Pegswood Community Fire Station means that training opportunities across the service will be maximised and the facility can be used to its full potential over the coming years. Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, said, “I am delighted to open this new training facility at Pegswood Community Fire Station which will provide excellent breathing apparatus training facilities within Northumberland. “The safety of everyone who lives, works and visits Northumberland is our priority and this new training facility will provide the opportunity to not only maintain but also improve training provision for our fire service.”
  11. Next steps for parking studies

    Parking studies and survey work has been taking place in the county’s market towns over the summer in order to help develop options for future parking needs in Northumberland, and the first stage has now been completed. Concerns about parking capacity are regularly raised with the County Council and the new administration has made finding a solution to these problems a high priority, with parking studies for the market towns of Berwick, Hexham, Morpeth and Alnwick being commissioned in order to get a clearer picture of capacity and usage of car parks in these areas. The first stage of survey work looking at actual levels of usage over the summer period has now been completed. Work is now being undertaken to seek the views and opinions of the local county councillors, town councils and other key stakeholders on the parking issues in their areas through a series of meetings during September, with the final report findings then being received by the Council in November. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “We need to have a close look at parking issues as we constantly hear that visitors and residents alike can’t find a car parking place when they want to shop and that causes real problems and is bad news for traders. “Despite the introduction of free parking some years ago, communities are often telling us that a lack of parking capacity is having a negative effect on their local economy and the sustainability of their towns. “We’re listening to these concerns and as a first step have commissioned a study to investigate the current car parking situation within each of the four main market towns where parking capacity has been identified as a key issue. “This will establish current patterns of use and enable us to factor in the future demand for car parking spaces so that we can fully understand what improvements are required now and in the future and look at what’s needed in terms of any new car parking sites. “The survey work over the summer has progressed well and we are now gathering the views and listening to the thoughts of key stakeholders to help inform the development of options on the current parking issues and parking needs in their local community. “Ultimately we want all our communities to prosper and have the right balance of sustainable parking for residents, visitors and businesses and this is the first step in making that happen.”
  12. Residents and visitors to Northumberland will be given a rare opportunity to see some of the county’s hidden architectural treasures when the doors to many of its most historic buildings are opened to the public, free of charge. The Heritage Open Days event is taking place between Thursday 7 and Sunday 10 of September. The open days are free and fun and provide an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to explore the fantastic cultural heritage of Northumberland. A wide range of tours, events and activities are on offer. Dozens of attractions are taking part including the ever popular Cragside House in Rothbury. There will be the the opportunity to look around local churches, Morpeth Clock Tower and the Rothbury Trenches. There will also be the chance to look behind the scenes of Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn Museum and get a rare glimpse into the work that goes into preserving diverse collections which cover over 800 years of Northumberland’s fascinating history. Northumberland county Councillor, cabinet member with responsibility for culture , arts and leisure, Cllr Cath Homer said: “ This hugely popular annual event provides free public access to historic buildings and local landmarks, many of which are not usually open to the public. "It's an unmissable opportunity for residents and visitors to get a glimpse behind the scenes, and perhaps get a better understanding and appreciation of our county's rich cultural heritage.” Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. To view a full list of this year’s attractions visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk .
  13. Northumberland County Council has welcomed the Government’s announcement today of the preferred routes for the A1 Morpeth to Felton and Alnwick to Ellingham dualling upgrade. Following further development of their proposals Highways England have now identified the Green route option for Morpeth to Felton, and the Orange route option between Alnwick and Ellingham. Following a six-week consultation last year, three options were presented to residents and regional stakeholders for plans to widen the A1 between Morpeth and Felton, and one option to widen the A1 between Alnwick and Ellingham. The council has long campaigned for dualling of the A1 north of Morpeth - recognising the significant economic and other benefits for the county and wider border and north east regions. The improvements will mean the creation of a dual carriageway on the entire stretch of the route between Newcastle and Ellingham - providing additional capacity and improving journey times and safety. Cllr Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council said: “This is fantastic news for Northumberland and will provide very significant strategic and economic benefits. “Dualling will promote sustainable growth along the A1 corridor as well as improved connectivity with Edinburgh and the Lothians and with Tyne and Wear and other regions to the south. “Existing businesses will have better access to markets for their goods and services, and to sources of labour, and the dualling will also encourage new businesses to become established - creating new jobs and economic growth. “This announcement is a further confirmation of the Government delivering on its promises in Northumberland.” Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services said: “We have been campaigning for dualling of this key strategic route for over two decades, and this announcement of preferred routes is the next important step to securing major improvements. “The ‘green’ route for Morpeth to Felton was strongly favoured by the council and so I am very pleased that this will be going forward. It addresses our concerns that the other routes would have had more impact on the A697 during construction. “The dualling is set to make significant improvements to road safety on the route, something I am also a very strong campaigner for, with the Green route between Morpeth and Felton offering the best alignment for improving safety. “We welcome the support of our MP who has worked so hard for this and look forward to working with Highways England as they progress this through the next steps.” Highways England project manager Nanette Hoyle said today: “We recognise the importance of this route and are delighted to announce the two options we are taking forward are the ones which the majority of people wanted in last year’s consultation. “Over the last few months we have worked hard to identify the best possible options by working through the feedback from the events, along with safety, economic and environmental analysis and we are excited to share our plans with local stakeholders, businesses and the community. “Work now continues, adding detail to the design for each of the dualling options and on planning how we will deliver them in a way that keeps traffic moving. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for taking part. There will be further opportunities to have your say as the schemes develop.” The green option between Morpeth and Felton includes building a new carriageway to the west of the existing road between Priest’s Bridge and Burgham Park. This option will improve safety along the route and will also have benefits during construction in terms worker safety and efficiency. The existing A1 will act as a local road once the scheme has been completed. The orange route between Alnwick and Ellingham involves upgrading the existing road to dual carriageway, widening either the east or west of the current road depending on the local features that need to be considered. This option also includes improvements at the South Charlton junction. Highways England will be holding further public consultation events in the area during 2018 - offering communities the opportunity to discuss in more detail the design of the preferred routes, discuss the planning application and the next steps with the project team. Further information will be released nearer the time. You can find out more about the A1 in Northumberland scheme at www.highways.gov.uk/A1inNorthumberland
  14. The county took centre stage in the international spotlight today ( Monday 4th) as the Tour of Britain, the UK’s premier cycle race, rolled through the county giving residents the opportunity to see some of the world's top teams and riders competing on their doorstep. A carnival atmosphere swept across Northumberland as elite cyclists set off from Kielder for the second stage of Britain’s most prestigious cycle race. The riders passed through 28 communities, covering over 200kms, culminating in an exciting finish in Blyth. Kielder Water & Forest Park was filled with an electric atmosphere from early morning, with cycling fans coming along to get up close to the riders before the start of Stage 2 of the race which is being televised live in 120 countries. Northumberland County Council Civic Head, Cllr Anthony Murray and young future star of cycling Roisin Lally from Hexham waved the Northumberland flag to set the riders underway. Communities joined in the spirit of the occasion by decorating the route the distinctive red and yellow colours of the Northumberland flag while thousands of people turned out to welcome and cheer on the cyclists and give them a fantastic Northumberland welcome. A series of community events were held in towns along the route focussing on all things pedal powered to provide Northumberland residents, of all ages the perfect opportunity to have a go at cycling. Northumberland County Council has worked closely with race organisers Sweetspot, start sponsors Northumbrian Water and finish sponsors Blyth Town Council to bring the race back to Northumberland. It was last here in 2015. Leader of Northumberland County Council, Councillor Peter Jackson said : “It has been a fantastic day for the county. We are blessed in Northumberland with amazing natural scenery and wonderful people and it is great that we got to show this off to the competitors and all those who watched the race unfold on television. “In 2015 the Tour of Britain gave a real boost to the local economy - to the tune of £2.2m - and we’re confident this year’s stage which was entirely in the county, will be great news for businesses in Northumberland and our ever increasing tourism industry.” “ It was great to see so many spectators lining the route cheering the riders on and so many communities getting behind the event and decorating their towns and villages . I’d like to thank the organisers of the Tour of Britain, the emergency services and our council staff who all worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure the event ran smoothly and safely.” Jackie Sewell, owner of Tomlinson’s cafe and bunkhouse in Rothbury helped to co-ordinate efforts to decorate the town. She said: “ The Tour of Britain coming through Rothbury created an amazing atmosphere. It is such an iconic event and fantastic sporting spectacle and we are so proud to have been a part of it.”
  15. Chimney Fire Safety Week 2017

    Northumberland County Council, along with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) are once again supporting the annual Chimney Fire Safety Week running from 4th to 10th September. Chimney Fire Safety Week raises awareness of safe chimney fire use and information about how to prevent a fire occurring, highlighting the importance of having chimneys swept regularly and only burning suitable fuel. Chimney Fire Safety Week is held during September each year as the mornings get darker, the nights draw in and temperature begins to fall. It is this time of year that people with open fires and log burners start to fire up hearths and grates that may not have been used for several months. This is a time when it is vitally important to have the chimney swept to ensure it is clean and free from soot, leaves, birds’ nests and other debris. Carrying out the sweeping process will reduce the risk of a fire occurring or the build up of the poisonous gas, carbon monoxide, within the property. In the past twelve months, NFRS have responded to 60 chimney fires county wide, this involved the response of a total of 120 fire engines to safely deal with the fires. The aim of Northumberland Council and NFRS is to make Northumberland a safer place to live and create a safer working environment for firefighters. NFRS Chief Fire Officer Paul Hedley said: "NFRS and NCC have a long term aim of improving the wellbeing of residents in Northumberland and central to this is the prevention of fires and other emergencies, with the result of reducing death, injury and damage to property. “NFRS offer free home safety advice and, where necessary, the fitting of free smoke alarms. It is also recommended that anyone with an open fire, woodburner or gas central heating system install a working carbon monoxide detector to their property to create a safer living environment. For any further advice contact your local fire station." Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, added: “Fire safety is of utmost importance and it is imperative to continually raise awareness about how to safely maintain and use fires within the home. “Northumberland Council and NFRS are committed to relaying the safety messages of Chimney Fire Safety Week to all residents in the region to help prevent chimney fires from happening and ensuring maximum enjoyment from your open fire or log burner in the home.” Key tips to help prevent chimney fires include: Ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times. Spark guards can prevent serious property fires. If you have had a fire ensure you extinguish the flame before bed or leaving the house. Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire. If you have a wood burner, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on fuel loading and air flow. If you plan to reopen an old fireplace, seek professional advice from a certified chimney sweep. If you suspect that you have a fire in your chimney breast follow the three safety rules below: 1. Get yourself and others out of the property 2. Call the fire service out on 999 immediately 3. Stay out of the property until after the arrival of the fire service. For further information, please visit: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Fire/Home.aspx#chimneyfires http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Fire/Home.aspx#firefacts-didyouknow http://www.hetas.co.uk/ http://www.chimneyfiresafetyweek.co.uk/ https://woodsure.co.uk/
  16. Don’t let dodgy spirits haunt you

    Residents and shopkeepers are being asked to look out for cheap illicit vodka after it was found on sale in pubs in the Berwick area. The illicit vodka has been passed off as Smirnoff Vodka and Glens Vodka. Generally the alcohol content of these products is below the legal and declared strength of the products. Tests have found industrial alcohol in a sample and also that the product is not vodka and as such it was mis-described. Now Northumberland County Council’s Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit, is warning people to be on their guard. Councillor John Riddle, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing & Resilience said: “We need retailers to protect their customers by refusing to buy in products like this. They don’t know what’s in it and are trusting that it is safe to drink. Our message is that you just can’t be sure and shouldn’t buy it. “Only buy from reputable suppliers who will provide the necessary paperwork that allows our officers to trace the supply back down the chain. We have made some shops put conditions on their licences controlling how they buy in spirits and the records they have to keep but can consider prosecuting others. We will look at taking licences away from the worst offenders.” David Sayer, Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager, added: “We currently do not know the scale of this problem. “Trading Standards Officers have found illicit and counterfeit vodka in a number of pubs. The sellers have bought the bottles from itinerant sellers and have no paperwork to show who they bought it from. The fact that we are finding industrial chemicals in the samples tested shows that it is not even vodka. We suspect that industrial alcohol is being diluted and then sold as vodka.” Any shopkeeper or publican who has bought such vodka and still has it in stock can surrender it to Trading Standards, who also want to hear from retailers who have been approached by anyone selling the product and from residents who have concerns about product they have bought. Trading Standards can be contacted on 01670 623870 and ask for the Duty Officer. If a member of the public thinks they may have bought fake vodka from a shop or a pub or club, they should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506
  17. Today ( Monday 4th September) is the day that Northumberland will come alive with the sights and sounds of the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain - the UK’s premier cycling race - and there is plenty of opportunity to catch a piece of the action. Thousands of spectators are expected to line the route to cheer on the world class cyclists, including UK favourite Mark Cavendish as they speed through 28 communities and cover over 200 kms in Stage 2 of the race. The race is due in the following communities at the times below. Please note these are approximate race arrival times. Fixed and rolling road closures will be in place so please arrive in plenty of time to your chosen viewing point. START Kielder Water & Forest Park at 10.15am Bellingham 10:40 Otterburn 11:00 Elsdon 11:05 Rothbury 11:45 Alnwick 12:10 Eglingham 12:30 Chatton 12:45 Belford 1:00 Bamburgh 1:10 Seahouses 1:20 Beadnell 1:30 Embleton 1:35 Longhoughton 1:45 Lesbury 1:50 Hipsburn 1:55 Warkworth 2:00 Amble 2:05 Widdrington 2:15 Widdrington Station 2:20 Ulgham 2:25 Longhirst 2:30 Morpeth 2:40 Guide Post 2:45 Choppington 2:50 Bedlington 2:50 Blyth 3:00 Seaton Sluice 3:10 Seaton Delaval 3:15 FINISH Blyth around 3.30 pm. For full route details, race timings, community activities and information on road closures and parking restrictions log on to www.nlandtob.com
  18. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and the Council’s Public Protection Teams will be offering businesses safety messages as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council UK Business Safety Week 2017. The week runs from 11th - 17th September and aims to make sure businesses and their staff have the information they need to prevent, protect and respond to fire incidents in the workplace. Organisations can also access information on how to comply with the legislation that controls how their business is run. The week has been scheduled to run at a time when many businesses will be recruiting extra members of seasonal staff in the run up to the Christmas period. Head of Fire Safety with NFRS Craig Ducat said: “New recruits may not have the same level of fire safety awareness as permanent members of staff, and may not be aware of the steps needed to protect themselves, their customers and colleagues. “We’ll also be offering businesses input from our Public Protection Teams and traders will be able to discuss current issues and find out where to go for advice if they need it in future. “The week is also a good opportunity to remind employers of the need to review fire risk assessments and training and make sure existing staff know the importance of fire safety.” Across the country fire services will be asking businesses to ensure they have taken action to prevent fires in the workplace, take action to protect themselves from arson and make sure all staff know how to respond appropriately in the event of an incident. Northumberland County Council wish to promote the advice available to businesses regarding regulations, through a series of ‘drop in’ sessions. Business representatives will be able to speak to regulatory inspecting officers from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards, Licensing and Environmental Health Services which will be held at: West Hartford Fire Station on September 11th from 9am-1pm Hexham Fire Station on September 12th from 9am-1pm Pegswood Fire Station on September 13th from 9am-1pm Alnwick Fire Station on September 14th from 9am-1pm Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, added: "I’m delighted that we’re again working with small and medium size businesses to help them ensure that they are able to operate in a way that is safe from the terrible effects of fire. “These businesses make a huge contribution to our economy and local communities and we want to help them to do this in a sustainable and safe way." Business representatives can find advice on fire safety in their business on the NFRS website by searching for “fire safety” via www.northumberland.gov.uk or by phone to Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service on 01670 621140 or via firesafety1@northumberland.gov.uk
  19. Cycling legend Mark Cavendish has confirmed that he will ride in next week’s Ovo Energy Tour of Britain, which has a stage in Northumberland on Monday 4 September. Cavendish will lead Team Dimension Data in the Tour as the ten-time stage winner in the race makes his comeback from injury after fracturing his scapula on Stage Four of the Tour de France. The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step. On Monday 4th, Northumberland is hosting an entire stage of the prestigious cycle race including an exciting start in the heart of Kielder and a dramatic finish on the coast at Blyth. It will pass through 28 communities covering 211 kms along its route through the county. Dimension Data will be heading to the race as two-time defending champions and hoping to make it a hat trick of wins in 2017, having won the 2015 and 2016 editions of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Steve Cummings respectively. Boasson Hagen is the current Norwegian Time Trial Champion, and with the Stage Five test at Clacton in Essex over a short 16-kilometre distance that is likely to play to his strengths, the 30-year-old is among the favourites to add to his overall wins in the Tour of Britain in 2009 and 2015. The line-up includes a strong mix of strength and experience with Mark Renshaw (a double Tour of Britain stage winner), Bernhard Eisel and Jay Thomson, while Scott Thwaites will make his third appearance in his national Tour, having last ridden in 2014. Commenting on the line-up, Sport Director Roger Hammond – himself a double-stage winner in the event – said: “It is great to be heading back to the OVO Energy Tour of Britain this week. As this event has grown in stature year on year, so has our team and the last two years in particular were fantastic for us. “We always receive a huge amount of support in the UK for the team and for Qhubeka. With our partners, Dimension Data, Deloitte and Nederburg having such a large in presence over here too, the Tour of Britain is a very special and key event for our team. We will no doubt be looking to put on a good show once again, we always start a race with the goal to win, this year's Tour of Britain will be no different.” Founded in 2007, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka became the first ever African cycling team to gain a WorldTour license, in 2016. In the team’s palmares you can find a Milan-Sanremo victory, numerous stage wins at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, two Tour of Britain GC victories, and 36 National Championships. It’s also known as Africa’s Team due to its focus on helping African talents to the world stage of cycling. The team races to raise funds for the Qhubeka Charity to change lives with bicycles in Africa. For route details and timings in Northumberland log on to www.nlandtob.com
  20. A fantastic range of free events and activities will be taking place in communities along the route of the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain cycle race to celebrate its day in the county. On Monday 4th September there will be a carnival atmosphere across Northumberland as elite cyclists from the world’s top teams set off from Kielder for the second stage of Britain’s most prestigious cycle race, passing through 28 communities and covering over 200kms of the county. The community events will focus on all things pedal powered and provide Northumberland residents, of all ages the perfect opportunity to have a go at cycling. These include: Kielder In Kielder where the race starts, a two day cycle themed festival will take place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September at Kielder Waterside to help get people of all ages and abilities in the mood for the big day on Monday 4th. KielderFest is free and includes a pop up velodrome, stunt performances, live music, outdoor cinema screenings, street food and a whole host of cycling related activities. Morpeth From 11 am on Monday there will be a family fun day in Carlisle Park and the Market Place. 3 Sixty bicycle stunt team will put on a BMX display at the skate park in Carlisle Park and will help anyone wanting to have a go using their own bike. Other activities include archery, a cycle slalom, games and puzzles with prizes and bowling and tennis taster sessions. There will also be music and a climbing wall in the Market Place. Staff at Morpeth Riverside Leisure Centre will be holding free bike riding lessons to help children get off their stabilisers. Children must wear a helmet and bring their own bike, preferably with the stabilisers removed. Sessions last approximately 75 minutes and will run from 10 am - 12 noon. Call in at Riverside to find out more, and to book your child onto one of the sessions. There are also 14 golden bikes placed around Morpeth for you to try spot ! Alnwick From 10 am on Monday there will be a series of attractions in Bondgate Within including The 3 Sixty bicycle stunt riding team. Bring your children along to try out balance bikes with Active Northumberland or watch a cycle-powered juice maker in action. Spinning cycling sessions will be taking place at Willowburn Sports Centre. It is hoped that members will clock up the total 815 mile distance of the Tour of Britain over the course of the day. Rothbury On Monday from 10.30am on Church Street there will be music, crafts, street performers, a Vintage 3 wheeler morgan and a bookstall. Childrens sports will start at 1.30 pm ( meet outside the parish hall) and Free Balance Bike sessions will be open for 3-5 year olds at Rothbury Kindergarten between 2-3pm. To book a place contact Rothbury Visitor Centre on 01669 621462. Blyth Activities will be taking place in Blyth Market Square on Monday from 10am when the Street Velodrome and stalls will open. There will be live music on stage from 11. Local school children will be competing in Italian time trials on the finishing straight between 11.45-12.45. Sports Development Officers from Active Northumberland will be present in the town centre from 10am. They will run balance bike sessions for young children, a static cycle challenge for those a little older and you can learn more about the adult cycle hire scheme. Spinning cycling sessions will be taking place at Blyth Sports Centre. It is hoped that members will clock up the total 815 mile distance of the Tour of Britain over the course of the day. At around 3pm the pro cyclists will pass through and start their finishing lap of the Seaton Valley. The riders are set to cross the finishing line around 3.30pm by Blyth Market Place. The presentations to the pro-riders will take place in the Market square after the race. ​ Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Wayne Daley said: ”This promises to be a really memorable day for Northumberland and I hope residents enter the spirit of the occasion by coming along, cheering on the riders and taking part in the fun family events taking place in their local community.” For further information log on to wwww.nlandtob.com
  21. The Environment Agency has appointed a new team of engagement officers to help communities be more resilient to flooding in the North East. The £280,000 a year project includes four new engagement officers spread across four areas – Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Darlington, and Cleveland. Funded by the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (NRFCC) for the next four years, the officers are working alongside partner organisations to help support communities. It includes helping businesses and residents to understand their risk of flooding and ensuring those in flood risk areas are signed up to receive free flood warnings. They’re also helping communities prepare themselves for flooding, such as supporting them to develop community flood plans and recruit volunteer Flood Wardens in at risk communities. The Community Engagement Officers are working on behalf of the Environment Agency and local authority partners. As well as supporting residents and businesses, working alongside schools will play a key role in helping future generations understand their risk. Phil Taylor, from the Environment Agency’s Flood Resilience Team in the North East, said: “We’ve seen over the last few years alone just how devastating flooding can be for communities, so it’s positive news that Northumbria RFCC has agreed to fund these dedicated officers to provide direct support to communities. “In areas where the Environment Agency’s free Flood Warning Service is available the officers will be working to increase sign up to the service. “They’ll also be helping develop community flood plans that will detail the action each community or business can take to reduce the impact of flooding, and help them return to normal life as soon as possible should a flood happen. “And working with schools and youth groups means children can be educated about what it means to be flood resilient and ensure the messages delivered through the project have long-term impact in flood risk areas for years to come.” In Northumberland, Emma Craig is the new Community Engagement Officer. Emma is working on behalf of the Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council to increase flood resilience in areas at risk of flooding. Over 300 properties were flooded in Storm Desmond in 2015 but there are over 3,000 properties at risk of fluvial flooding in the county. Sign up to receive alerts and warnings in areas where the free Flood Warning Service is available is around 60%. There are also around 17,000 properties at risk from surface water flooding. Emma said: “Many communities in Northumberland have created plans and taken action to make themselves more resilient after experiencing significant flooding during Storm Desmond. “I’ll be continuing to work in the communities which were affected as well as other areas in Northumberland that remain at risk of flooding.” You can contact Emma at emma.craig@environment-agency.gov.uk or 0208 474 9845. To find out more about your local flood risk and sign up to the Flood Warning Service visit www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk.
  22. With just days to go until Northumberland is alive with the sights and sounds of the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain, spectators are being urged to arrive in plenty of time to catch the action. The Ovo Energy Tour of Britain, the UK’s premier road cycling event, is coming to the county on Monday 4 September, with world class riders cycling over 200 kms between Kielder and Blyth, passing through 28 communities along the route. To minimise disruption across the county, all roads on the route will be closed using a rolling roadblock system for around 40 minutes - both 20 minutes before and after the cyclists are expected to pass through each community. The closures are required to ensure the safety of spectators and competitors and will be managed by police motorcycle escorts. While the closures are in place, pedestrian access will be maintained as will vehicle access for emergency services. In some key parts of the race, including Rothbury to Alnwick, Belford to Seahouses, Lesbury to Warkworth, the centre of Morpeth and in Blyth town centre there will be full road closures which will have a greater impact on travel. Although the road closures will be kept in place for as short a time as possible, they will inevitably cause some disruption to both car and bus journeys. Spectators are advised to arrive in plenty of time to watch the race and residents who are going about their daily business on race day are being asked to plan their journeys around the race, take a different route, or allow extra travel time. Some key points and estimated timings along the route: 10.15am Start on Kielder Dam 11am First King of the Mountains climb starts outside Elsdon, climbing to the Winter’s Gibbet 11:45am Riders approach Rothbury followed by King of the Mountains hill climbs up Debdon Bank and Corby Crag 12:10pm Riders approach Alnwick 1pm Riders approach Belford and head to Bamburgh 1.20 pm Sprint through Seahouses 2pm Sprint through Warkworth 2.40pm Arrive in Morpeth via Amble, Widdrington and Ulgham 2:50pm Arrive in Bedlington via Guide Post and Choppington 3pm Riders pass through Blyth for the first time 3:10pm Sprint through Seaton Sluice 3:30pm Riders race back through Blyth for the finish Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, Councillor Wayne Daley said: “The preparation is almost complete and we’re ready to welcome the Tour of Britain, which will attract many visitors to the county, boost the local economy and showcase Northumberland’s magnificent landscape to a worldwide television audience. “ The council has worked hard to minimise disruption for its residents while the race takes place but this is a major international event so there will be a number of road closures in place to ensure the race can take place safely. “We will be working hard to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum and would ask residents to familiarise themselves with some of the details and timings of the route so they can plan ahead. ” Access to Morpeth Bus Station, Morpeth Railway Station and public car parks in the centre of Morpeth will all be affected by the road closure between 2pm - 3.30pm so visitors should plan their journeys around these times as routes around Morpeth are likely to be busy during this period. There will be disruption to other bus journeys on 4 September, particularly with afternoon services. Details of all affected services are available via www.nlandtob.com All health services will remain open and fully functioning during the Tour and access to hospitals and GP practices along the route will be maintained, although in some cases diversions may be in place. Patients and visitors are advised to allow extra time for their journey. Professor Chris Gray, medical director at NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: “The Tour of Britain is sure to be an exciting event, but with the added influx of people in the area, this may put additional pressure on health services. “If you are unfortunate enough to have a minor injury or illness, such as a sprain, strain, cut or fall, there are lots of options – ranging from pharmacist advice and basic first aid treatment to GP surgeries and NHS 111. Please keep A&E for life-threatening injuries and severe symptoms which come on suddenly.” For more details about Stage Two of the Tour of Britain, including maps detailing the route, road closures and estimated arrival times of the race, plus information about events going on in your local area, visit www.nlandtob.com
  23. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is to take up the baton of promoting mental health awareness across the county. The Our Blue Light Torch relay is making its way across the UK’s emergency services and on Saturday, September 2 the baton will be handed over by bike from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to NFRS, along with colleagues from Northumbria Police. Our Blue Light started in the north west of England with the specific aim of raising mental health awareness across all emergency services including fire, police, ambulance, search and rescue, the Prison Service and the NHS. The arrival of the torch relay heralds the start of a week of NFRS awareness raising events in Northumberland, including a cycle ride, demonstrations of the service’s swift water rescue techniques and a walk from Craster to Bamburgh, which people are welcome to attend. At the end of the week the torch relay will pass to colleagues from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and will also make an appearance at the Great North Run. Station Manager Andy Davison from NFRS said: “Recent high profile incidents in London and elsewhere have really highlighted the work of the emergency services and the challenges and stresses we face on a daily basis. “While the service already offers a range of support to promote both physical and mental wellbeing, it’s important we continue to realise that mental health issues can affect everyone and this relay is a great way of getting the message out there.” Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, added: “While working in the fire service is one of the most rewarding jobs, by its very nature it can be stressful. “Their health and welfare is an absolute priority and we are delighted to be involved in this torch relay and awareness raising events.” Anyone interested in joining the awareness raising walk on Thursday, September 7 can contact Andy Davison on (01670) 621186 or via andy.davison@northumberland.gov.uk More information on the work of the charity is available via www.ourbluelight.com
  24. Residents are being asked to play their part in tackling under-age sales in the county. The sale of age restricted products happens throughout the whole of the year and Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards Service carry out regular test purchasing exercises whenever it receives complaints. The sales usually centre around alcohol and tobacco but can include any age restricted product, including knives, solvents, fireworks and aerosol paints, e-cigarettes and liquids. Apart from the known health effects of some of these products, issues can arise in terms of anti-social behaviour when some of the products are consumed or abused. Currently there are few complaints being reported about the selling of age restricted to those under the legal age and the Trading Standards Service is asking anyone who sees or knows of shops selling age restricted products to report it to them so that action can be taken. Councillor John Riddle, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing & Resilience said: “If residents know of any people selling age controlled products to young people, especially if they are selling alcohol or tobacco from their own home, they should report this to Trading Standards. “If you are approached by a young person and asked to purchase alcohol, tobacco or e-cigarettes always refuse. Buying such items for under 18s can lead to a fine, fixed penalty notice or even a criminal record.” Any concerns regarding age restricted sales should be reported via email to tradingstandards@northumberland.gov.uk Any information will be held in the strictest confidence. People can also telephone 01670 623870 and ask to speak to the Trading Standards Duty Officer.
  25. Up to 2,000 homes and businesses could benefit from funding to provide superfast broadband to more Northumberland communities. Through the iNorthumberland programme, Northumberland County Council and BT have agreed a fund of £2.2 million to bring the high-speed technology to some of the most expensive and technically difficult to reach communities in the county. The new iNorthumberland Community Broadband Fund works with a Community Fibre Partnership programme in which communities not currently in any fibre broadband plans can partner with Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group, to get superfast broadband in their area. These communities can now apply to use the new iNorthumberland fund, which can be matched by up to 50 per cent of additional private funding, on top of Openreach’s investment. If fully matched, the value of new broadband schemes could be more than £4 million. The fund will offer up to £2,000 matched funding per premise for a superfast broadband connection or up to £2,500 for ultrafast - with a maximum contribution available to a single community capped at £100,000. Each community will need to have a nominated person or organisation to apply for inclusion in the scheme. They will be responsible for getting a community fibre broadband quote from Openreach and also required to arrange payment of the community’s contribution to the scheme when the contract is agreed. Cllr Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate services at Northumberland County Council, said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to agree the funding for this scheme, and to get the ball rolling for a number of communities who are geared up to sign contracts, and get work underway. “We know that there is a high demand amongst households in these more hard to reach areas, and also that a number of businesses are struggling to sustain their current business models due to connectivity issues. “Securing schemes through this funding will help to increase access to services and allow greater adoption of digital services for rural residents. It will also help to grow the economy by both supporting existing businesses and encouraging new ones to become established in Northumberland.” By the end of this year the iNorthumberland programme will have delivered superfast broadband to 93 per cent of homes and business in the county - and it is envisaged that through this new community fund it could reach close to 98 per cent. These final premises are in some of the most rural and dispersed communities in Northumberland and providing connectivity to these areas has been both technologically challenging and costly. The iNorthumberland team has been working with BT, Openreach and local communities and groups across the county with a view to progressing with this scheme, and some communities are already gearing up to sign contracts. Some of the first communities set to benefit include Nunnykirk, Stanton near Netherwitton, Bolam, Pauperhaugh and Styford. Steve Haines, managing director of next generation access for Openreach, said: “It is great to be able to work with Northumberland County Council and communities from across the County to find a fibre broadband solution. “Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible for households and businesses. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people interact online.” Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, added: “This additional fund is quite literally going to help superfast broadband go that extra mile, reaching communities that would otherwise be unlikely to benefit from faster broadband speeds. This is fantastic news for Northumberland.” The iNorthumberland team will liaise with communities who have previously been in touch with the council or BT to support them through the process. Those who are interested will need to register with the iNorthumberland team, who will be able to provide support in completing documentation and starting the process. As well as the 50:50 funding option, there could be further opportunities for areas to become connected. In instances where Openreach cannot provide a quote under the criteria of the fund, there will be secondary funding within the scheme which could be used to seek alternative network solutions, such as fibre via a different network provider, fixed wireless or mobile 4G. The funding for the iNorthumberland Community Broadband Scheme has been made available due to efficiencies in the first phase of the iNorthumberland programme. iNorthumberland, a partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT, has already made fibre broadband available to more than 55,000 premises across the county. More than 40 per cent of Northumberland households and businesses able to upgrade to the new technology have already chosen to do so - a figure which is among the highest levels of take-up in the UK. BT was awarded the iNorthumberland contract in April 2013, whilst the second phase contract was signed in June last year. More than £29 million is being invested in the programme area by Northumberland County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). For further information and details of how to contact iNorthumberland visit www.inorthumberland.org.uk