Meeting Minutes (May)

Tuesday 17th May 2022 7.00pm at Percy Wood, Swarland

1. Apologies / Welcome to new members

Apologies had been received from: Val, Neil, Elizabeth, Sandra & Mick, Jo & Vin, and Nick.

11 members present.

2. Actions from the last meeting
a) Composting workshop date – Going ahead as a SNAC members-only group at the Stanleys. Date to be provided when event is ‘do-able’. Bryan and Suzanne have started a trial with Val’s jars taking dated photos each week of the composting process.
b) Letter to farmers – One very positive response from a farm owner who has farmed organically for 20+ years. Would be willing to give a talk on what they are doing on the farm including asking the Alnwick Wildlife Group to carry out a bird survey, carrying out a carbon audit, making wide hedge margins, reducing use of plastic. Looking at using vermiculture (worms) to turn it into compost. Interested in working with SNAC to survey hedgerows and help create wildlife corridors, collection of seed in autumn. DF said he had met with another local farmer who is also interested in working with the group.
c) Queens Jubilee Fund application – We got a £500 grant! This will be used to pay for trees and labels. Will purchase bulbs later in the year for autumn planting. Jan to get permission for tree planting in NotM.
d) Contact with other climate change groups – NCC have had a ‘Climate ‘Champions’ scheme and are producing a climate change toolkit which has been sent to the Carbon Literacy Project for validation. NCC want to remodel the Climate Champion scheme but there is no date available for this. Felton and Rothbury Climate change groups are interested in meeting to share ideas – worth doing this while NCC is still getting sorted out. Liz
e) West Hazon Wood – Meeting on 30th May to see the work that Val & Rob have been doing.

3. Bus Survey Results and next steps

The summary of the results has been circulated by Carolyn. There were 97 responses (two thirds online) of which 95 were positive and interested in using a bus service. 40 people say they already use buses, mainly the X15. Main probable use is for shopping/leisure. Preferred destinations are Alnwick, Morpeth and Newcastle. Frequency – several times a week. A smaller number of people are interested in using buses for access to school/work. There was a real feeling that a bus service would help people socially,help to be more ‘green’, avoid parking issues and cope with lack of access to a car. The dangerous walk to the nearest bus stops was highlighted. A number of respondents also said that they are worried that they will have to move away from the area as they become too old to drive.

David said Neil Easton (NCC Public Transport Manager) had told him there was unlikely to be any government funding for buses but other funding sources are available. It was agreed that we should try and arrange a public meeting to which Neil would be invited. This would allow the survey results to be presented and Neil to talk to the community about what is possible. Dave/Carolyn

4. Footpath Survey Results and next steps

Marlene said 25 paths had been identified to survey, 9 local residents participated and there was a 100% response.

17 of the paths had problems for people with limited mobility, and only three paths had no problems. There were issues with non-existent/broken signs, damaged gates or stiles, overhanging branches or very deep mud. In one case there was no crossing over mud. Signage was 80% of the problem.

Marlene had sat in on a meeting with Tony Derbyshire (NCC Footpaths Officer) and the Felton Group about their survey. Tony told Felton that NCC could provide materials if signs could be put up by group. David said he found some more paths and there was potential to develop some circular walks.  Mick said PW is keen to help create circular routes and promote local walks.

Next step is to meet with Tony. Marlene will set up the meeting to include David and Bryan. After the meeting, SNAC will go back to the footpath surveyors to ask if they would be interested in doing practical work. Marlene, David and Bryan

5. Swarland Woods

Carolyn said that Alec MacLennan from the Forestry Commission had been in touch about restoring some of the little bridges in the woods over informal paths over ditches and streams. A meeting has been suggested to discuss which bridges need to go back. Could possibly talk about the footpaths too. Bryan said that SVA had met with Alec in the past. Carolyn to arrange meeting with Alec and Jan. Carolyn and Jan

6. Recycling information and next steps

Jan and Katherine still to meet (Covid stopped the planned meeting). The national Big Plastic Count survey starts on Monday 16th May for a week.

Katherine asked why can’t we recycle yogurt and margarine pots in Northumberland when other areas do? Nearest recycling for these is Blaydon Waste Recycling centre. Down to contract NCC had for waste disposal.

Need to educate people better on what can go in recycling bin. What about a community wide composting scheme? Could ask for a Recycling Officer from NCC to come and talk to SNAC.

7. Tree planting opportunities – PW application has been submitted. The Northumberland Forest scheme at NCC have suggested the school as possible site for tree planting.

The Vyner Park Charity are supportive of planting additional trees on the south field of VP and widening the existing tree belt forming the southern boundary. Could apply for funding to Woodland Trust and NCC scheme. Will need to know how many trees will be planted and types which could include fruit trees. Suzanne to follow up with VPC. Suzanne

David mentioned the Alnwick Bullfield Community Orchard. This led to discussion about residents passing on surplus fruit to the Alnwick Food Bank. Marlene to write an article for the Column about this. Marlene

8. Articles for the June issue of The Column – Deadline 26/27th May

  • Bus Survey – Carolyn
  • Footpath Survey – Marlene
  • Introduction – Liz
  • Fruit and Veg – standalone item – Marlene

9. Events

  • Events – Alnwick ‘What a Wonderful World’ 23-26th June at the Playhouse and Alnwick Garden.
  • Alncom Ultrafast Broadband – David said we need to promote this as much as possible.
  • NALC (National Association of Local Councils) David said there is a current survey asking if there is an appetite for Parish Councils to access government groups.

10. Future format and frequency of SNAC meetings

Liz asked the group for its views on how the group is developing, now that we have been meeting for 5 months. For example – are monthly meetings ok, is the group meeting people’s expectations, is there anything people would like to change ?

It was agreed that monthly meetings feel ‘about right’ and that the group had achieved a lot in a relatively short time. The sharing of e mail addresses was discussed (these are currently not shared in e mails to the group). It was agreed that in future e mail addresses should be shared to promote more engagement – with the proviso that people were given the opportunity to opt out. A suggestion to set up a SNAC Facebook page was supported.

People who were not at the meeting will also be given the opportunity to comment. Liz and Jan

Marlene will pass on the footpath surveyor emails to Jan for including in SNAC group circulation. Marlene

11. Any Other Business

  • Jubilee Trees – have been re-potted. Need to decide when the trees will be planted. To go on PC agenda.
  • Swarland Show – For the next meeting include item on the SNAC stall at Swarland Show on 2nd September. We have a free stall and chairs.
  • SNAC meeting locations – PW moving into summer season so meeting room not available. Meet at Swarland Club for the rest of the year. Jan to contact Club. Jan
  • Ground Source Heat System at School – is this worth publicising? Carolyn to approach Louise and ask if item could go in The Column. Carolyn
  • Climate Change Fund at NCC – Available for Community Groups and Parish Councils. £250-£1000 and £1000-£5000.  Application deadline 15th June. 2 rounds. Could ask for resources for the Show such as Banner, display boards, gazebo. Suggestion we put in joint application with Felton and Rothbury. Could ask for funding for recycling containers? Liz to explore with Felton/Rothbury. Liz
  • Carbon Footprint Calculator – NCC and Newcastle University developing a questionnaire which is completed by a household and the results then aggregated over the community to identify individual and communal actions. They are looking to run a pilot with parishes in September. Group agreed to express interest in being included in pilot. Liz
  • Mick explained that it would not be possible to hold meetings at Percy Wood during the summer. Liz thanked him for providing the venue.

12. Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday, June 21st 2022 at 7 pm Swarland Club.

Email:  Phone: 07775060430