The future could be in our hands

WHILST it is nice to see Bedlington aspirations being mentioned, ‘Campaign demands a sporting chance, (News Post Leader, November 24), I think there are a few more salient facts to consider.

Firstly, if Bedlington being close to other sports and leisure facilities in other towns means no provision is needed, then using the same argument surely Bedlington as a site should be considered for the new facility on the drawing boards for Ashington.

Again I am not decrying Ashington getting its new facility, good luck to it, but I am challenging the whole ‘close enough’ argument which has been used to stifle any development within our town for the last 40 years.

I think that shows just how ludicrous and farcical that argument really is.

Secondly, possible user figures within the KKP feasibility study into sports and leisure provision the Bedlington Forum commissioned, for any facility built in Bedlington, was based on a ten-minute walk.

How many readers who use these sort of facilities anywhere in the county walk to them within that allotted ten minutes?

If we make that a ten-minute drive, which I would more suppose to be the norm, then possible user figures go from a few thousand to over 100,000 as all of a sudden Ashington, Cramlington, Blyth and Morpeth have to be included given Bedlington’s geocentric position.

I fully realise the next step in the negative argument would be why go to Bedlington when the same provision is on our doorstep, and I think this is the real kernel we have to crack.

The way to do that is to have provision in Bedlington which is not available anywhere else and make any development here innovative, progressive and responsive.

To this end the Development Trust was asked by Friends of Gallagher Park to undertake a ‘community consultation’ exercise on its behalf.

One of the trust’s immediate targets were the local schools (many thanks for all who took part) for the simple reason they are full of the people who would be the users of anything which might be developed in the years to come.

Most other local organisations have taken part and at every opportunity members of the public have been asked their views.

To date more than 3,700 replies to the questionnaire have come back with 46 individual suggestions for possible development.

A lot of these suggestions would seem to be worthy of closer inspection in an effort to make a Bedlington development viable and sustainable.

The trust is busy collating all that information and along with the friends group will use it in further meetings with the county council.

One of the questions is quite simply ‘Do you think Bedlington has adequate sports and leisure provision?’.

With affirmative answers which can be counted using the fingers on one hand there would seem to be a 99.9 per cent statistic or more than 3,700 local men, women and children who do not think their needs are being catered for in this respect.

Personally, I think that is pretty indicative of the strength of feeling locally concerning this subject and has been for many decades

With many Bedlington community groups now trying to form a consortium, at least of opinion, and having the new Localism Bill to work with, for once the future could well be in our own hands.

M ROBINSON

Bedlingtonshire Development Trust