Ward Walkabout with Council + Capita

In this edition of Wilson’s Weekly I’ll be updating you on my recent ward walkabout with senior managers from North Tyneside Council and their contracted partners, Capita.

When it comes to helping others to understand what’s going on in our community I think the best way to is simply to show them. That’s why periodic ward walkabouts matter. In an hour and a half we can tick off loads of issues that can be quite tricky to explain over email or phone calls.

The Preston ward of North Shields is divided into 4 parts, each with a quite distinct character, resulting in different issues popping up in different places. On our latest walkabout we focused on the south western quadrant. This is an older part of the ward, with mostly terraced streets. It includes a conservation area, a few rare public green spaces, and lots of trees.

We began by inspecting the work that has been taking place on the mid section of Cleveland Road, where tree growth had made sections of the footpath quite dangerous. The uneven surfaces also prevented drainage, leaving large ponds forming in wet weather. Residents have told me that they are very happy that the work is happening, and that the overall quality of the job is good. Sadly it hasn’t been possible to match the original aggregate flagstone as it went out of production decades ago. The team have done their best to mitigate this by creating a patterned effect. There are some concerns about how long the job is taking. I asked Capita to look into this as there are literally miles more footpaths that need replacing in the years ahead and so a more efficient working method needs to be found.

Replacing uneven paving on Cleveland Road

On Brightman Road / The Chase we looked at the ‘Green Triangle’ area which is a well-loved public amenity. A combination of heavy storms and an outbreak of honey fungus (Armillaria) resulted in the loss of several lovely trees. Replacing the trees is going to be tricky until the honey fungus is fully dealt with. We discussed ensuring regular maintenance in the interim, and spoke with residents about providing a bench. I’ll be following up on this as there are some residents nervous about a bench becoming a focus for anti social behaviour.

At the end of Brightman Road where it connects to Albion Road, by St Cuthbert’s Church, we looked at the old graveyard that is mainly now used by dog walkers. This area isn’t well maintained at the moment, being quite overgrown with nettles etc. We also know that it has been a location of anti social behaviour. A local group is interested in ‘adopting’ the area and my colleague Councillor Davis is following up on that. I must stress that the area is public and will remain so, but it is encouraging to hear of a local initiative to improve the spot as it has a lot of potential.

Walking around from Albion Road to Preston Road we stopped at Jubillee Corner to discussed its maintenance schedule, including mowing and planting. It is a lovely little sun trap in nice weather and the flower displays there at different times of year bring lots of colour. I wanted to ensure that the manager from the council’s grounds team knew how much local people enjoy this spot and like to see it well-kept.

A range of other issues were picked up before we concluded including sections of Alma Place where weeds have not been properly dealt with and flagstones have become uneven. Several trees with low-level growth that interferes with passers-by were also noted. I was pleased to hear that the grounds team can deal with these rather than the specialist arborist team as I know they are still run ragged catching up with tree damage after the storms earlier in the year. We also noted some of the local litter hotspots. These locations are being passed to the street cleansing team for blitzing over the summer.

If you have any street-level issues that you’d like me to raise on your behalf you can drop me a line on my council email which is: matt.wilson@northtyneside.gov.uk

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