Saturday, 11 December 2010

Play Equipment Scheme


One of the consequences of two weeks of snow and sub-zero temperatures followed by the rapid thaw on Friday was that the roof drains on the pavilion roof couldn't cope. Result - the melt water penetrated into the main room of the pavilion.

So, many apologies for having to cancel the pop-in session on Saturday 11th December. We had hoped to be able to show visitors our plans for the development of the play equipment on the playing field.

Visitors to the field will know that work has already started on the access path (that's why it looks like a bomb site). The timescale is very tight as the whole scheme has to be completed and paid for before the end of March 2011. The contractor (Northumbrian Landscaping) is confident it can be done on time.

In the meantime, we'll try to rearrange the pop-in session as soon as possible - maybe in the Reading Room in January.

Also in the meantime, we've got to sort out the damp in the pavilion. Ho-hum.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Parish Council Notes - November 2010

The Parish Council were delighted that the Playbuilder funding has been reinstated and work has already started. Plans have been drawn up and holes have been dug! To conform with financial restrictions it is hoped that the work will be completed by 31 March (the end of this financial year). Already other parishes with similar schemes are appealing for extra time. However Councillor Holden is quite convinced that providing we have a not-too-hard winter our target will be achieved. It is hoped that Ovingham will think of this as their project and once there is real progress it is hoped there will be a demonstration in the pavilion where the scheme will be on show and anybody who can offer help in any way will be very welcome.

There are many trees which need cutting back at this time of year. The Council would ask that any trees or bushes on private land which overhang roads and pavements be cut back. Northumberland County Council are beginning their annual Autumn cut-back and there are several places which they will be pruning.

The Council’s budget and finances were discussed in great detail at the meeting and the precept has been set again at £15,000. This means that there has been no increase in the precept for 6 years. However, to maintain this amount it may mean cutting into reserves, bearing in mind that there may be a cut-back of essential services by NCC. Luckily Ovingham has no bus-shelters to maintain, the allotments belong to the Council and have always been managed by the Association and the Playing Fields have always been managed by the Council. Unfortunately, where there has been and will be large cut-backs is in the provision of trained youth workers. The Council feel that there is always a need for work amongst our young people and at the moment there is no youth club being run in Ovingham. It is hoped that the situation may improve.

The Council were delighted to donate £100 to Tynedale Hospice at Home and other charities who had submitted applications will be discussed later. It is the Council’s policy to donate to those charities who are or have a potential to be of benefit to the village.

Some time back the Council received a request from the Reading Room Committee that the old Royal Mail post box be disposed of. It was pointed out that this box was given to the village and could only be disposed of by the village. However, there is a danger in keeping it in the Reading Room and the Council are asking where it could be placed in the village. Of course, it would need to be sealed up and would need a coat of paint - but does anybody have a constructive idea?

Once again Councillor Jordon has maintained the flower beds beautifully and it has all been done from donations - it hasn’t cost the Council anything. She has just received another donation and this time she has purchased bulbs for the schools to plant for a good show in the Spring.

Last, but certainly not least the Council are delighted to be able to co-opt Ian Heslop to the Council. He will “sign in” at our next meeting which will take place 20th January. It was also agreed that there will always be an item on the agenda where Green Ovingham can inform the council of their activities and plans for the future.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Play Equipment - Good News!

The Playbuilder Grant of £42500 (which was effectively withdrawn last summer) has been re-instated in an almost unbelievable about-turn. Full marks for Northumberland County Council for confirming this grant which is provided by central government.

It means that the scheme can go ahead as originally planned. Other grants awarded to the scheme total £27500 which means that the playing field will get £70000 of new and refurbished play equipment.

Playing field visitors will already know that work has started. The contractor has begun installing the access path. There will of course, be unavoidable disruption during the following months but we are sure it will be worth it.

The village will be leafleted soon inviting residents to an 'exhibition' in the pavilion where they will have the opportunity to view the plans and comment on them.

Want to get involved? Watch out for the leaflet and come along. Have a browse, have a chat.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Parish Council Notes - July 2010

Once again "bridges" featured very large on the agenda. The Packhorse Bridge has been repointed and once again Northumberland have assured the Parish Council that gravel had been removed down stream of the bridge and this will allow the next heavy rainfall to push the gravel through the bridge. The Council will keep a close watch to see if this does happen.

The Bridge engineer had visited Ovingham Bridge and had admitted that although there had been a slight drop in noise level this was only temporary. The Council were also informed that the major replairs would not take place until 2014.

The Council expressed their concern and sympathy with Councillor Holden regarding the cut back of the Playbuilder scheme for the Playing Fields. Although the government had put a stop on all such schemes it is hoped that a smaller, less ambitious scheme may be produced. The Council not only expressed its sympathy for Councillor Holden, but also to all those other people - especially the Middle School, whose input had been invaluable.

Once again the parking at the rear of the Church was discussed and especially the difficulty for the refuse collectors to pick up the bins. The clerk had received a reply from the recycling manager who pointed out that sometimes the van had had to return to the area three or four times. The Council have pointed out that this problem could be overcome if the collection of bins followed a different route, therefore changing the time of collection. The parking is usually a lot less later in the morning.

Councillor Paul Kelly (NCC) had sent his apologies and his report was read to the meeting. The report was mainly concerned with the budget and the cut-backs which are to take place. These consist mainly at the moment of redundancies in staffing.

There will be no Parish Council Meeting during August but that does not mean the Councillors will not be carrying on their work in the village. If there are any problems, please contact the clerk on 831897. The next meeting will be 16 September 2010 at 7.15 in the Reading Room.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Ovingham Parish Notes - June 2010

The Parish Meeting held on 25 June covered many items of village concern. Our Community Policeman was able to attend and contributed much information to the meeting.

The Council are still not happy about the dredging of the burn. Council workman worked for two days and took much of the gravel away, and yet it still appears that the middle culvert is blocked. The Council has asked for a further inspection. Bridges were high on the list for discussion. It is thought that the Packhorse Bridge could need repointing and the Ovingham Bridge is again causing concern. It certainly seems as though the plating is more noisy. The Council have sympathy for all the bridge's neighbours!

Once again parking at the rear of the Church was discussed. Although the Council do appreciate that parking in Ovingham is always a problem, please would all those who have to park there, be very conscious of how they park.

Sometime back the Council was concerned that trees on the ban kside had been cut back with chain saws and it looked as though people had camped there. We have now found out that it is not only Ovingham which is involved but Wylam and others as well. The police are concerned at this random camping which is spreading and would ask that if anybody sees anything which seems wrong to report it immediately to the police. Whittle Dean is one of the areas which is giving concern and the police hope to arrange patrols.

Unfortunately, youth work centred in Prudhoe but including surrounding villages has been hit by lack of funds and also lack of stable leadership. A caravan is to circulate throughout the villages where needed – but we are lucky that we have such an excellent pavilion!

P.C. Charlie Cross was able to report that crime was down this year by 400 cases, though he is having some problems. It was good to hear that Ovingham does not suffer as many or as bad youth crime as other villages. However, very sadly Councillor Jordon has reported that after a lot of hard work planting out plants (mainly Horsley Road) these have been lifted (obviously for somebody's own use). She replanted and these, too, were stolen. If anybody can shed some light on where these plants went, the Council would be pleased to hear.

The date and venue for the next meeting is Thursday 15 July at 7.15 p.m. in the Reading Room. The Council does not meet in August.


The Council received a letter from NCC on the day following the June meeting about the £42,500 Playbuilder Grant. The letter basically says that due to changes in government policy, combined with Northumberland C.C.'s precarious financial circumstances, the Playbuilder Scheme is now on hold.

We are all terrifically upset and annoyed at this development, as will be all the people (including all the pupils who have been consulted) who have put so much time into developing the project so far. There is a possibility that a much smaller scheme might go ahead but at the time of writing we are waiting for more information and considering our options.

Councillor Holden

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Ovingham Parish Notes - May 2010

The Annual Parish Meeting took place on 27 May when Councillor Turnbull was re-elected as Chairman and Councillor Jordon as Vice Chairman. Councillor Jordon was elected as the Council's representative on the Reading Room Committee, Councillors Macdonald and Mennear to the Burial Committee and Councillor Holden as the representative Associate Governor to Prudhoe High School.

The Chairman thanked all the Councillors for all they did and also the members of the public who attend the meetings so faithfully and contribute so much. It must always be remembered that Councillors do much in the village and the work is voluntary. Councillor Macdonald expressed special thanks to Councillor Holden who has done so much for so many years for the young people of the village and Councillor Jordon for creating many areas of beauty throughout. He hoped that it might be possible to acknowledge this publicly by, perhaps, a plaque or some other sign.

A letter has been received showing concern over the parking at the rear of the church. Parking is always a problem in the village - because there is so little space but the Council would ask everybody that when they park at the rear of the Church they do so with care and consideration. Sometimes it seems as though one car carelessly parked can take up the space of two or three. Also there have been times when the refuse van has been unable to get round and then bins don't get emptied. Concern was expressed because in the event of a serious incident it could be impossible for emergency services to get to the problem.

Work is proceeding on the Playbuilder project and Councillor Holden is going out to tender. All the legal details have now been finalised for the 27-year lease on the field and it is hoped that when plans have proceeded a little further it will be possible to have an open day for the village who will then be able to see the progress.

Concern is still being expressed on the burn and prevention of further flooding. It is hoped that the NCC Western Area Mainteance Manager and a representative from the Environmental Agency will be able to come to an on site meeting to discuss the building up of stones in the burn. The burn is just one contributary factor to flooding and it is hoped that these can be sorted out before the winter.

The Council apologises that sometimes the "date of the next meeting" is not correct. This is unavoidable as there are times when there are external factors which make it necessary to change the date after the "deadline for publication". However, we hope that the next meeting will be held on 15 July at 7.15 in the Reading Room.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Playing Field Lease

Good news!

We've just received confirmation that the new lease on the playing field has been extended for another 27 years.

The field is owned by Northumberland Estates (the Duke of Northumberland in everyday language) and has been leased to Ovingham Parish Council since the late 60's.

The existing lease was due to expire in only a few years and we needed to extend it (amongst other things) in order to qualify for the substantial grants that are on offer for the refurbishment of the play equipment.

The new lease runs from 29 April 2010 for 27 years. As you might guess, there are some caveats but all being well, youngsters and their families will be able to continue to enjoy the facilities for years to come.

Watch out for more details of the play equipment project here and with leaflet drops over the next few weeks.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Parish Council Notes - April 2010

Our Parish Council Meeting on 15th April contained everything.

First there was a power point demonstration from the Fire and Rescue Service when the Council was informed about the new building in Prudhoe which will be more modern, more user friendly and more integrated within the community. Those present raised the question of how long it would take to get from Prudhoe to Ovingham in the event of a fire. We were told, at the most 10 minutes, but the meeting still felt that was quite optimistic!

Are you a "Village Champion"? We were told that there were many of them in Ovingham. And how do you become a "Village Champion"? You become responsible for a small area of the village and make sure that you clear any litter which arises. If you want to know more about "Village Champions" please have a word with Doreen Jordon. In the meantime, thank you to all those who care enough for the village to make sure it is kept clear of litter.

The Council has had complaints about children playing on green areas close to housing. Whilst not wanting to spoil children's fun the Council would point out that there is a good recreation ground with plenty of space where they can play. Please would all dog owners who walk their dogs on the recreation ground ensure that they clear up after them. In the meantime, the dog wardens have promised to patrol the recreation ground and try to ensure that this unsocial behaviour stops.

Northumberland County Council were congratulated on their speedy action during the latest flood alert. They were at the Packhorse Bridge within half an hour of them being called. It is hoped that Highways will be starting soon on repairing the pot holes on the Wylam/Ovingham Road and they will be using a new experimental way to fill the holes - it will be more expensive but should last longer and be more efficient.

The Council were delighted to approve a donation to the Great North Air Ambulance.

Once again the Council has concerns about the speed of cars using the bridge. It seems that few people keep to the speed limit of 10 mph and the Council is to request a survey be carried out by the police. At the same time the noise which arises from the traffic is giving some concern. An inspection will be requested.

Our next meeting will be held in the Reading Room on Thursday 27 May at 7.15 p.m.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Parish Council Notes - March 2010

The Councillors met on 18 March, though the meeting was fairly short owing to its closeness to the February meeting.

Phil Holden has now received all the funding required to be able to proceed with the Play Equipment Project on the Playing Field. A new 27 year lease for the field has been signed and quotations will now be obtained for the venture to go forward. A presentation is planned in the pavilion where everybody will be able to see the intended plans.

Correspondence had been received concerning the Boundary Commission's electoral areas. The Council was glad to note that this has made no difference to Ovingham.

The East Centre has had to cut back its youth work through lack of funding. It is hoped that there may be some form of mobile facility covering villages in the area though this has not been finalised.

Unfortunately, due to financial cut-backs Northumberland is no longer able to provide the village with bedding plants or hanging baskets (these were given to the schools).

The dog warden has been working around the village and there have been some new stickers put up. It is hoped these may remind dog owners that they can be fined very heavily if they allow their dogs to foul the pavements or the playing field.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Parish Council Notes - February 2010

There were many items of Parish Maintenance which were discussed at the February meeting and it is hoped that those which depend upon work to be undertaken by Northumberland County Council can be done. Although it was good to see that some road maintenance had been carried out on the Wylam/Ovingham Road some scepticism was felt as to whether the patching would last for any length of time.

The Council is still concerned with branches and hedges which overhang pavements and would ask all residents to cut these back wherever possible. Also there is much concern over dog fouling in the village. This is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the village. The fines are very heavy if the dog owners are caught and the only way for this anti social behaviour to be stopped is for the public to note and report the offence to: Stephen Hall or Neil Armstrong, Animal Welfare Officers (new title).

Councillor Holden was congratulated on achieving much of the funding required for the Playbuilder funding application. The Council had pleasure in agreeing unanimously to the proposal to accept the terms of the new lease of Ovingham Playing Field.

There had been a request for another notice board to be placed at the entrance of the Piper Road Estate. The Council did not feel this was necessary as being too near the existing notice board. There was discussion as to what notices were acceptable and the Council would point out that it is a Parish Council Notice Board and the PC notices must take precedence. However, suitable village notices, providing there is room, can be placed there and it is appreciated that when they are out of date they be removed.

The litter pick has been held and the valiant souls who turned out in very wet conditions made big inroads on the litter. Of course, it would be better if the litter wasn't dropped in the first place. Have you ever considered making yourself responsible for just keeping one small area free of rubbish in the village?

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Green Ovingham - 31 Jan 2010

Green Ovingham is a newly-formed group aiming to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and to encourage more sustainable lifestyles in the Ovingham area.

They have regular meetings on the second Friday of the month in the back room of the Bridge End, Ovingham at 6.30, and welcome new members. Their website is  and their email address is .

Green Ovingham invite you to join them at the GO GREEN FAIR at Ovingham Middle School on February 10th between 5.30 and 7.30 in order to celebrate and be inspired by all the green work being done already by local schools, organizations and individuals.

Everyone’s welcome – there’ll be information stalls, crafts, games, climate change films, a “green library”, refreshments and the chance to talk to like-minded people!

Come and see what’s going on.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Parish Council Notes - 25 January 2010

The Council met on 21 January after a very cold snowy period. Councillor Kelly, Northumberland County Council, gave a lengthy report on how the County had coped during this bad weather. All the major trunk roads had been gritted and kept open. Some of the journeys undertaken by the gritting lorries had been incredible. Various agencies and volunteers had worked hard, clearing paths to the most isolated. It was pointed out that although the main roads had been kept clear it was hard for Ovingham residents to get to the main roads as little or no gritting was done on the internal roads.

However, the Council was most impressed that the buses managed to run a very adequate service and proved a lifeline for those unable to leave the village any other way. Certainly the main complaint from many has been the extreme ice on pavements. The Council must point out that the few gritting bins which are in the village contain grit only for the highways and it is illegal to take the grit for private use. Some roads which could have been made safer were not treated because the gritting bins had been emptied for private use. Grit for private use is available from DIY stores.

Once again the Parish Council is making a plea for hedges overhanging the pathways to be kept pruned back. They are proving quite a danger where pavements are narrow and pedestrians are forced to walk in the road. Also the Council would like to remind residents that it is illegal to leave the rubbish bins on the pavements. It was pointed out by a resident that the bins can provide a dangerous obstacle for the elderly and also parents with toddlers in prams.

Councillor Jordon is to arrange a litter-pick. Please, when the date is announced, do your best to volunteer to help.

Councillor Holden gave the meeting more information, mainly financial, on the progress being made on the Playbuilder Recreational Facilities. The Middle School are providing many new ideas for this exciting project.

Green Ovingham was welcomed to the meeting and it was good to hear that there is to be a Green Fair at the Middle School on 10 February. A table has been booked by the parish council to publicise the play equipment project.

The March Meeting will be held in the Reading Room at 7.15 p.m. on Thursday 18 March 2010.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Keeping Warm - NHS Advice

Prompted by the remarkable length and severity of the current cold spell, the NHS has sent a letter to all parish councils with tips and advice on keeping warm. Top tips are listed below but if you would like a copy of the complete document, please email your request to .

Top tips for staying well include:

Keep your home warm - close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the rooms used the most.

Use hot water bottles or electric blankets (but never both together) to keep warm at night.

Eat well – food is a vital source of warmth, so eat regular hot meals and drink plenty throughout the day.

Wrap up warm, inside and out. Several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer. Don't forget to wear hats, gloves and scarves. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or breathing problems.

Keep active. Move around at least once an hour and don't sit down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm and improves circulation.

Look out for elderly friends and neighbours. Check they're safe and well through the winter.

Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather.