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Petition to protect woodland from development threat

Bedlington Labour members, including town-council candidate Vivien Mather, front centre.
Bedlington Labour members, including town-council candidate Vivien Mather, front centre.

Labour members in Bedlington are calling on Northumberland County Council to intervene and protect woodland that could be under threat from development.

The party has launched a petition, which has attracted around 500 signatures, asking for a tree protection order (TPO) to be placed on the woodland between Bedlingtonshire Golf Club and Hartford Hall in order to protect local amenity.

No planning applications have been submitted, but the potential for housing development was revealed in a blog post by the county councillor for Bedlington Central, Russ Wallace, who was aware of early discussions due to his previous role on the board of the golf club.

Labour candidate for the vacant Central ward seat on West Bedlington Town Council, Vivien Mather, said: “The people of Bedlington have been clear in their opposition to sprawling developments of executive housing. They put a strain on the local infrastructure and are unaffordable to many local people.

“Labour has listened to the concerns and this tree protection order should be only the first step. We believe that housing must benefit the community and that infrastructure should keep pace.

“As a local councillor, I would seek to use the resources at the disposal of our town council, hopefully in collaboration with East Bedlington Parish Council, to audit our facilities.

“Bedlington is a wonderful place and we should start to promote the local businesses and amenities we do have. We should also draw up a list of things we are lacking and seek to improve what is on offer for people living in our community.”

The petition, which will be submitted to the county council, can be found online at https://www.change.org/p/northumberland-county-council-save-bedlington-woodland

Coun Wallace explained that he joined the board of the golf club because he felt he could then have a positive input to any proposed development so that it would be for the benefit of the town.

He has since resigned from the board and apologised after he made an incorrect statement in his blog support from a local red squirrel group.

“Pre-planning discussions are confidential, but it is also important to note that at the last board meeting I attended, the proposal was not ready for pre-planning in any case,” he said.

“I believe therefore that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service