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Robert Arckless – Amble Ward County Councillor Report September 2013


I recently joined students at James Calvert Spence College for a talk given by Professor Sir Alan Craft, a distinguished children’s cancer specialist, now retired, and formerly the James Spence Professor of Child Health at Newcastle University.  Sir Alan gave us an insight in to his own career, but also in to the life of Sir James Calvert Spence who was born in Amble, gave heroic service in the First World War, and then spent much of his career working in the region’s hospitals.  He was a man ahead of his time.  He researched the link between poverty and health; his work formed the basis of future policy and remained influential for more than fifty years.  He understood the importance of involving and supporting families in the care of sick children.  When the NHS was established in 1948 Spence became an advisor to the Government.  He had a huge influence on those who worked with him.  When he died in 1954 his work was known internationally.  The links he had with Newcastle continue to this day.

The students who heard this talk at our local school named in honour of Sir James Calvert Spence could not fail to be inspired.  Sir Alan Craft, who had in many ways followed a career which mirrored that of Spence, was generous with his time, and encouraged our young people to aim high.

I am delighted that there are now links between JCS College and the RVI children’s cancer charity which continues to fund research and development locally.  Students are already raising funds and are planning future events. I now fully appreciate why Coquet High School was renamed in honour of Sir James Calvert Spence. Who knows what one of our youngsters might achieve in the future?  They were certainly given two fine examples to follow.

Buses – good news

Thanks to a concerted effort by local Councillors, County Council transport officers and a rethink by Arriva there will be additional services to the Links estate from October.  Look out for details, and help to make the new service viable by using it.  I know how supportive the local Town and Parish Councils have been in making clear the need for this service and I hope we will be able to work together to publicise times once the changes are made.

Clean and Green

I know the effort that has gone in to making improvements to our street scene; the Pride in Amble Group have made significant improvements, supported by Amble Town Council and the Parishes across my Division have each made their own contribution.

I am concerned that the County needs to get the basics right.  I have spoken to Barry Rowland who is the Corporate Director of Local Services and Andy Rutherford one of his senior management team about the state of too many of our estates and Amble town centre; weeds, litter, overgrown planting and an air of neglect.

I also mentioned, again, the disappointing lack of progress on the Paddlers despite the willingness of JCSC to be involved in what I hope would be a genuine community effort.

Andy Rutherford has offered to meet on site and I have suggested that the Town Council (and particularly Craig Weir in his Pride in Amble role) should be involved.

We all know that money is tight and the overall financial situation is going to be even more challenging, but what Northumberland County Council spends on the basics needs to be used much more effectively.

I also raised the matter of staff changes not being effectively reported and that leading to gaps of months before issues are followed through (as with the tree replacement offer to the Town Council.

I would welcome specific feedback from Town and Parish members on any glaring areas of concern.

Small Schemes

I am always looking for good local capital projects to support.  I am hoping to finally get something off the ground for the Ambler Paddlers but if any members have thoughts on schemes please let me know.

Previous projects have included:-

Street lighting schemes

Dropped kerbs

Improved access to Hauxley Village Hall

Improvements to Amble Links and Amble First School

Support for a major refurbishment of St. Cuthbert’s Church Hall

Environmental improvements in Togston

CCTV cameras and play equipment at the Paddlers

Road safety schemes in Radcliffe and Hauxley

Footpaths to Amble East Cemetery as part of the refurbishment project

A major contribution to the refurbishment of Amble Library

I am especially keen to see schemes where any funding from NCC can match fund others and therefore increase the size of the pot.

The basic rules are that the total is £15,000 per County Councillor per financial year.

The schemes should be capital and not revenue.

Ideas welcome!

Forthcoming Surgeries

Hauxley Village Hall, Friday September 27th 6.00 p.m. – 6.45 p.m.

Amble Library, Saturday September 28th 10.00 a.m. – 11.00 a.m.

Broomhill: Hadston Community Centre (with Cllr Scott Dickinson)

Saturday September 28th 11.15 a.m. – noon.



Robert Arckless

Telephone: 01665 711938


*This report was was presented to the Town Council