BOWSDEN DISCUSSION GROUP RETURNS

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We are pleased to report that the Bowsden Discussion Group [BDG] is returning, and will have its first meeting will be at The Black Bull Lowick, on Wednesday 18th October at 7.30. Traditionally aimed at farmers, the membership has spread over the years to include anyone who has business in, or to be in, the country. Asked whether women members are invited, Graeme Reavely, who is the Secretary, said that none had ever been turned away!

The first guest speaker will be former local County Councillor, Dougie Watkin, who farms locally and is well liked and respected. He will be sharing his memories of life, sheep and politics, with characteristic wit and wisdom.

There will be a buffet after the main business, when informal discussion can take place over the amuse bouche! The cost for each session will be £5, and annual membership covering all 6 sessions is £20.

The new BDG has been revived following the demise of the Black Bull, Bowsden, and the narrow escape of the Black Bull Lowick. Its purpose is mainly rural and agricultural, but topics include any of the lives and backgrounds of the guest speakers. Members have heard from Bishops, Weather Forecasters and Naval Captains, as well as Vets, Farmers, and Businessmen.

Future speakers have already been booked, and they will include Ann Marie Trevelyan, our MP, Karl Crane, owner of the Black Bull and James Thompson, Director of Agriculture for Beeswax Dyson Farms.

The Common and Your Council Tax

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A Message from the Parish Council

You will be pleased to hear that the owners of Lowick Hall Farm, 1 and 2 Lowick Common and the Parish Council have now concluded the lengthy process that has engaged all parties for over 3 years. The applicants for ownership of land in front of their properties  have achieved their aims. The Farm is happy that its right of access to its field have been guaranteed

The cottages now own the land in front of them, and the Farm has secured a further right of access to its field, for agricultural purposes.

All parties will have their own view of the process, and the costs involved in getting to this point. Some see it as an essential exercise in establishing appropriate legal title to land and access to property. Others regard the lengthy negotiations as unnecessary and leaving all parties no better off than they were – with the 3 sets of lawyers involved immeasurably richer as a result. There are shades of opinion between both positions, as you might expect.

We are publishing details of the final [as far as we know] costs that have been born by the community as a result of the case. These have resulted in a slight increase to the Council Tax payable by residents, because the Parish has been compelled to defend the Common and the legal position of the Council, and to accommodate the demands of the other parties to the case for adverse possession and enhanced rights of access. This has also entailed surveying, legal and registration fees in order to register the Common with the Land Registry, and in so doing, establish a boundary with adjoining property, and where new and exiting easements would lie.

The Agreement

The Agreement agreed and endorsed by the Land Registry Tribunal is broadly as stated below

  • Land at the front of 1 & 2 Lowick Common is now owned by and registered to the owners of the properties.
  • Rights of access over the existing track by all parties, and by the owners of Burn House, are acknowledged by the Council and the Tribunal, and are recorded in the records of the case, and in pre-existing deeds of access.
  • A further metre wide strip at the western edge of the Common has been established, and registered, as an agriculture right of way, in perpetuity.  The owners of Lowick Hall Farm may gravel this surface to match the existing, if they wish to.

It is important to remember that no part of the Common has passed out of Parish ownership. The PC did not contest the area in front of the cottages that it believed had been used exclusively by the residents for over 100 years. The PC has now ensured that as part of the process the title to the Common is now properly registered, and the boundary established.

The Costs

The Costs to the parties have been considerable. However, satisfaction may be taken by the Cottages which now have secured additional value in the land in front of them. The Farm has secured additional right of access to wider farm machinery to its field.

The Parish is pleased that this has been the outcome for the first respondents. As second respondents, however, it has been forced to raise a considerable sum to defend the public’s rights in circumstances that it was unable to avoid. Apart from securing the boundary to the Common with the Land Registry, which it accepts were costs it was responsible for, it has received no other benefit, and its other costs have not been adequately defrayed by the court process.

As public money was involved, here are the costs as far as the Parish Council were concerned.

EXPENDITURE
WELLERS LAW GROUP £12,442.80
ANDREW YOUNG SURVEYOR £1,020.00
TOTAL COSTS £13,462.80
INCOME
LOWICK HALL FARM COST OF EASEMENT £2,500.00
LOWICK HALL FARM CONTRIBUTION TO PARISH COSTS £1,500.00
1 LOWICK COMMON CONTRIBUTION TO PARISH COSTS £1,500.00
2 LOWICK COMMON CONTRIBUTION TO PARISH COSTS £1,500.00
TOTAL INCOME £7,000.00
NET EXPENDITURE BY PARISH COUNCIL £6,462.80

Was This Avoidable?

It is hard to say how this could have been avoided, given the absolute determination to secure a legal judgement over the claims to ownership and access. Had the boundary of the Common been registered at a much earlier juncture, then it is possible that this might have been avoided. Though the process of litigation would probably have started at this point, just the same.

Future Actions to Be Taken By the Council

The voters of Lowick may decide that sharper eyes should be employed by Councillors in future. For itself, the Parish Council is now resolved to survey all unclaimed and unregistered land within the village to ensure that the Public’s rights are secured, and that these area are properly registered by the Parish, for the Public good. This process will begin forthwith, with identification of land that is used communally, or can be seen to have been used in this way within recent memory.

Heritage Weekend in the Village Hall

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Lowick Heritage Group is holding a Heritage Weekend on Saturday 30th September and Sunday 1st October. This Special Event will explore 4000 Years of Lowick History. There will be a display of photographs, historic maps, local archaeological finds and an update of the Dryburn Limeworks Conservation project, each day from 10am until 4pm. There will be free refreshments, and a chance to sit and talk about the memories the many images are sure to provoke.

One key theme is the launch of a “Domesday Book” project on THE BUILDINGS OF LOWICK.

The Lowick Heritage Group has teamed up with The Neighbourhood Plan researchers to create a database of the buildings of Lowick, recording the changes in use and in the families who owned and occupied them. This will be a long-term project and your help would be appreciated.

John Huddart from the Parish Council adds: “We are interested in materials and styles of building, and changes made over the years to sites and the structures on them. This will help create a neighbourhood plan that acknowledges local heritage sites and qualities, when considering new developments.

Julie Gibbs from the LHG has been researching Lowick’s past for many years. She continues: “On the day, we hope that you will enjoy looking at the images, many from the Robert Sinton collection. We hope also that you would like to contribute your own knowledge about Lowick. What can you remember about the properties? Any detail, however small, may be significant. If you wish to jot down any memories, paper will be available. “

Finds made by the Archaeology group will also be on display. These numerous and varied artefacts some dating back at least 4000 years, a few as many as 8000 years, should help us determine not only the earliest evidence of people living in this area but add more to our quest of answering the question ‘Where was Lowick?

Citizens’ Advice Bureau Changes

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Lowick Live is publishing the details of the new arrangements for helping people with problems introduced by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau after 2nd October 2017. We are also printing contact details. You will find the leaflet produced by the CAB on the INFORMATION page – just click the link.

The leaflet provides details of the new opening times for face-to- face services across the county. These services can be accessed through a mixture of drop-in sessions and pre-booked appointments. Contact details for other services are provided below.

Northumberland Adviceline.

Telephone: 03444 111 444.
Opening hours – 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Clients needing advice will be given a short assessment interview so that the CAB can discuss their options and decide how best to help. This could include:

  Simple information provided at the assessment interview.
  An appointment with our generalist advice service.
  An appointment with a specialist adviser.
  Signposting or referral to another appropriate agency.

Specialist Debt Advice

Debt Helpline: 01670 339960
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.00am to 4.30pm.
Text service: Text ‘debt’ to 81400 to receive a call back within 2 working days.

The CAB has introduced a new debt helpline which can be accessed using the above details. Clients who need help with their debts can contact the CAB on the above telephone number or go along to their nearest drop-in session.

Text Service

This is in addition to a recently introduced text ‘debt’ service. Clients who text ‘debt’ to 81400 will receive a call back within 2 working days to discuss their debt problems.

NEW PLAYPARK EQUIPMENT FOR THE UNDER 7s

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Following an award of £13537 from the Community Windfarm Fund, the Parish Council has completed the installation of new play equipment for children aged 5-8. Up till then the park only catered for 8-13 year olds.

 

 

The new equipment was manufactured and installed by the specialist company, Playdale.

In order to choose the right equipment, a local group of mums and children met to pour over catalogues and ideas. A social media page was set up and a suggestion box provided in the Village Shop. The children in the school were also asked for their ideas. The equipment chosen was based entirely on their choices.

The additional items include a Gravity Bowl, a Spinner and a Play Galleon. When I called round to take these photos a mum and her child were busy enjoying the new equipment. “It’s an amazing playpark, now!” she said.

ROAD RAGE NEWS!

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The battering from traffic taken by the B6325 as it snakes up to Barmoor Corner is as nothing to the treatment meted out by Northumbria Water this spring and summer. We are all eager to see whether or not a new hole will be required to mend yet another problem uncovered [or covered up] by the attempt to bring water to our thirsty community.

I am told by a source close to Northumberland County Council [our former Councillor, Dougie Watkin] that Northumberland is only too well aware that the road surface requires special care when driving, and that when they are sure that Northumbria Water has finished with the road, they will resurface it properly. Obviously no-one wants to see a new surface immediately broken up by more diggers and rollers.

 

NEW AREA AUTHORITY LOOKS LIKE OLD NORTHUMBERLAND

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Image result for old northumberland mapsDoes this map look familiar to you? This shows Northumberland in the 1700s. In the 1970s its southern border was chiseled away to form North Tyneside – a Council that was part of the new county of Tyne and Wear. Newcastle also joined Tyne and Wear, having been a county in its own right since 1400.

So much for history – the current Conservative leadership of Northumberland County Council is campaigning for a new regional authority that will combine all three of these councils – i.e., Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle. Tentatively called the North of Tyne Authority [though a bit is someway south of  the Tyne] the proposal is for an agreement between the three to join hands, drawn up with central government, and featuring its own mayor – to be elected in 2018.

Whether this comes about is down to everybody agreeing – but in an era where localism is supposed to involve the voters having an opportunity to express their views, it might be time to ask your local County Councillor what is happening, and what will happen to far-flung regions like Berwick if NCC Leader Councillor Jackson’s plan succeeds.

This throws into more uncertainty the future of County Hall in Morpeth. Apparently rescued by the cancelled new building in Ashington, its future still looks dodgy. My source believes that the new authority would be based at the North Tyneside HQ down in Cobalt Park. Anyone wanting to preserve some of the fine sculpture work in the old County Building needs to work out a strategy, while there is still time.

Meanwhile, which political party or parties will lead the new Authority, and how soon will voters be able to choose who will represent them, when it meets?