2018 PARISH NEWS    

Below are some of the news stories from our parish that made the local press in 2018


The following article was published on 9th December 2018 by Chronicle Live


A suicidal prisoner hung dead in his cell for over an hour - because guards thought he "looked alive".

HMP Northumberland staff hadn't checked if inmate Gary Lines was still breathing, even though he hadn't moved.

A new report has aimed fresh criticism at the scandal-plagued prison, which claims it has since acted on it.

The Prisons and Probations Ombudsman aims fresh criticism at the Acklington jail, which has been plagued by controversy.

The 44-year-old, who had a history of self harm and depression, "had been dead for some time" when staff eventually cut him free.

But a probe has revealed multiple welfare checks were carried out that morning even though he "must have been dead at that time".

And one guard's account - in which he claimed Lines was in bed - has been questioned by a watchdog due to the prisoner's "advanced rigor mortis".

"There must be some doubt whether his recollection was correct," states the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman report.

"We are concerned that the staff who checked Mr Lines’ welfare on the morning he died did not establish he was alive and breathing, as they should have done."

The watchdog previously slammed the privately-run prison for keeping a cancer-stricken prisoner on a chain until days before he died.

The jail was also branded "dangerous" by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery after footage emerged of naked inmates fighting on chains.

Having been recalled for theft, Lines had only been in the prison for a fortnight when he took his life.

And the report revealed: "He was not prescribed anti-depressants, which he said he needed to help drive off suicidal thoughts, until the day before he died."

Staff found Lines on the morning of September 18, 2015.

The night before, checks found he had been watching TV in his cell.

One guard told investigators he was "certain" he was in bed during a welfare check at 6.52am although this has been questioned.

And another, who visited him around an hour later, said Lines was standing in a "totally natural position" looking out of his cell window but he could not recall seeing him move.

The guard believes the prisoner gave a verbal response, despite medical evidence suggesting he had died "several hours" earlier.

When staff eventually entered at 9am, the report adds: "[The guard] opened the cell door and started talking to Mr Lines and was puzzled when he did not reply.

"He began to feel that something was not right, as Mr Lines did not move."

Mr Lines was a troubled £30-a-day heroin addict who had spent time in Durham Prison.

He had been recalled for an alleged theft against someone he referred to as a "mother figure".

"Mr Lines had left a note in his cell in which he said that he was very sorry to all the people he had hurt in his life," adds the report.

And making a string of recommendations, the watchdog stated: "Although we cannot be sure what time Mr Lines died, the evidence suggests that he had been dead for some hours at 9am.

"We are not satisfied that checks that morning were sufficiently thorough – particularly as Mr Lines had been identified as at risk of suicide and self-harm."

An HMP Northumberland spokesperson said: “The death of a prisoner in our custody is devastating for their family, staff and other prisoners.

"We cooperated fully with the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s review of the 2015 incident.

"Alongside the external healthcare provider at the time, we accepted the recommendations made in 2016 and implemented an action plan which we have since completed.”


HMP Northumberland was forever in the news throughout 2018. 
If you would like to read all of the prison news articles then please click on the link below,


otherwise read on to see what else has been happening in the parish.


The following article was published on 27th November 2018 by Chronicle Live

A contentious housing development in a Northumberland village has been given the go-ahead once more - despite going back before councillors for a fresh decision.

The scheme for 22 new homes on land west of Acklington Village Hall was passed by just one vote when the North Northumberland Local Council debated it the first time round - in February.

At Thursday's meeting, where it was was one of a number of previously-approved applications to go back before the committee for another decision, it was given the nod by five votes to one, with three abstentions.

The unpopular bid had sparked 85 objections from residents the first time round due to concerns around road safety, impact on the village hall, flooding and drainage, the development being too large, a lack of need for the type of houses proposed and a lack of services in the village.

Objector Tessa Sayers outlined many of these when she spoke at the meeting on November 22, including underlining that the village hall is a lifeline for Acklington and that this development is not only not sustainable from a social point of view, 'but threatens to undermine the one amenity the village does have'.

But Coun Gordon Castle said: "I can't find a reason to refuse it. There's not many facilities in Acklington, but there's many nearby, and the view from the village hall will be worse, but more people might mean more use for the village hall."

Coun Jeff Watson agreed that there were no grounds to reject it, adding: "We have a responsibility to our residents, but we also have a responsibility to carry out government legislation - we are like magistrates in that respect."

However, Coun Georgina Hill was convinced by the objector's case and said: "I heard only one side with premises and a conclusion, the other side is just conclusions."

The planning permission is subject to a section 106 legal agreement for four on-site affordable homes at no more than 80 per cent market rent in perpetuity, £39,600 for education and an ecological contribution of £600 per dwelling.

It was back before the councillors as it had not been finally signed off due to various issues to iron out, including the completion of the section 106 legal agreement.

In the meantime, the Government published its updated and refreshed planning rulebook - the NPPF - in the summer and so the proposals were reassessed in light of this new advice.  



The following article was published on 26th July 2018 by the Northumberland Gazette

                                                               Remembering yesteryear                                                  Neil Rodgers

A special party was staged at Acklington C of E First School last Friday to mark the closing of its doors for the final time.

Well-wishers gathered to see memorabilia, recall old times and sample delights provided by the Women’s Institute.

The children enjoyed a bouncy castle and, ahead of the closure, they went on a number of trips and attended a leavers’ service.

The school was part of the James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) federation.

Neil Rodgers, executive headteacher at JCSC, described the closure as a sad day. He said: “Everyone associated with the school will miss it being at the heart of the community.

I’m delighted that the children have gone on to find the first schools of their choice to move on to and I hope to see them again in the future at JCSC.”

The decision to close the school was based on falling pupil numbers.



The following article was published by The Ambler on 4th May 2018


Jeff Watson, Northumberland’s new civic head             Jeff with his daughter Louise Rowlandson

County Councillor Jeff Watson has been officially appointed to his role as Northumberland County Council’s civic head.

Cllr Watson, who represents Amble West with Warkworth, takes up the one year post, where he will represent the County Council in a ceremonial role at various civic and community events.

“I was unanimously elected, and so I’m delighted,” he told The Ambler.

“It is the first time a councillor from Warkworth, Amble and Acklington ward has ever been elected civic head. It is quite an honour.”

Jeff will represent Northumberland County Council at various events in the coming year, and a busy diary lies ahead.

“This year we’ve got the Great Northumberland Event, The RAF’s centenary, and the commemoration of 100 years since the end of WW1.”

Jeff’s chosen charity is the Royal British Legion and any money raised for them will be distributed in the Northumbria region.

I will try my best to represent and visit all the areas in the county. It’s going to be a busy year,” he said.


The following article was published by the Northumberland Gazette on 26th April 2018
The village of Acklington                                                                Councillor Jeff Watson
 A plan for 21 homes in Acklington has been approved by a majority verdict, despite one councillor describing it as ‘an estate too far’ for the village.
 Northumberland Estates submitted the outline scheme – with four affordable properties – for land along Acklington Drive.
 The parish council was against, saying it would be a ‘significant increase to the size of the village’.
 At last week’s planning meeting, Coun Jeff Watson said it was overdevelopment, detracting from the character of the village – especially as it came on the back of approval for 22 homes in the village.
 But Coun Trevor Thorne said that there were no valid planning reasons for refusal and it would be approved on appeal.
 Members did agree with a request from Coun Watson, who asked for speed cameras to be placed at both ends of the village if the scheme was approved.

 Afterwards, Coun Watson said that he didn’t feel he could oppose the scheme for 22 homes, but felt the cumulative effect of the latest application was too much for a small village.


Well done to everyone who took part in Saturday's Acklington Litter Pick.

A record turnout of 30+ villagers enabled us to execute an extensive search of the village, and many of its feeder roads. The record haul of 112 Kilos included 24 sacks of general refuse (mostly food packaging) and 18 sacks of recyclable cans and plastic bottles. Trashy surprises included: a fitness machine, garden barbecue and a lounge carpet.

But the biggest surprise of all, were the number of young people who took part in Saturday’s Litter Pick – thank you for your energy, passion and commitment to the future of Acklington.

And a special very big thank you to Alison, Alison and Tessa for all the lovely cakes!

Litter thrown from vehicles is the scourge of rural Northumberland. The discarded refuse pollutes the environment, endangers wildlife and blights the appearance of our beautiful villages. We have a simple choice: put up with it, or do something about it.

If you missed Saturday’s Litter Pick, then don’t worry, because you’ll have another opportunity to join in the fun on Saturday 22nd September, 10:00am – 12:00pm. Make a note of that date in your diary now.



The following article was published by the Northumberland Gazette on 26th February 2018

A controversial bid for a new housing development in the village of Acklington has been given the go-ahead – but it was very much a split decision.

At their meeting last Thursday, members of the county council’s North Northumberland Local Area Council voted by five votes to four, with one abstention, to approve plans for 22 new homes on land west of the village hall.

Four of the properties – two pairs of three-bedroom dwellings – would be affordable, while the remaining 18 would be four-bedroom houses.

A planning statement said that the affordable units would ‘supplement the four existing affordable homes that are already on site and which have proved extremely popular with 100 per cent occupancy since their completion’.

These were approved in 2013 in conjunction with the conversion of the buildings at Cavil Head Farm into 11 residential units, but objectors raised questions about how popular they were, claiming people known to the developer had occupied them.

The affordable homes were also of concern to Coun Steven Bridgett, who did not think they should be ‘segregated’ from the market housing, although the planning officer pointed out that they had simply been located next to the existing affordable homes on the site.

The objector speaking at the meeting raised a number of areas where she felt this application didn’t conform with planning policy and said: “This development is not satisfying any local need – we do not feel a need for any more houses on open fields in the village.”

However, the applicant’s agent Craig Ross, of George F White, said: “The site is in a sustainable location, the development meets the three strands of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) and would help support services nearby.”

As well as the affordable homes, a legal agreement will be signed to secure a contribution of £39,600 for first/primary education and £600 per home towards ecology.

Coun Jeff Watson also proposed that the developer to fund interactive speed signs on the western approach to the village.



The following article was published by the Northumberland Gazette on 22nd February 2018

The site of the approved housing in Acklington.                                        
Councillor Sharpe

New homes have been approved in two north Northumberland villages today, but three other schemes were withdrawn.

Earlier today, we reported that developments in Acklington, Bamburgh, Lucker and Seahouses were set for the go-ahead while another in Whitton was recommended for refusal at this afternoon's meeting of the county council's North Northumberland Local Area Council.

At the start of the meeting, it was announced that the Bamburgh, Seahouses and Whitton schemes had been withdrawn from the agenda.

Decisions on homes in Acklington and Lucker did go ahead, however.

The scheme for 22 properties in Acklington, on land to the west of the village hall, including four affordable homes, was approved by five votes to four with one abstention.


To all the residents in Acklington parish that filled in an objection letter, or emailed NCC direct, to object to the housing development on the land west of the village hall...

I am so sorry to inform you our objection fell on deaf ears, by 1 vote, so near but a futile exercise.

I would like to thank you all for your help in this and I need to thank a few folks by name:- Mr Paul Glover for his help and guidance; Mrs Tessa Sayers for her brilliant comments and speech at the meeting yesterday, and my darling husband for his unwavering support.

Kind Regards



The following article was published by Northumberland Gazette on 8th February 2018

Elaine Brown, picture below, is preparing to run a 10k race each month.


The determined clerk of Acklington Parish Council is putting on her running shoes to raise money for a cancer charity, after losing her parents to the ‘heartbreaking disease’.

Elaine Brown is planning to take part in a 10k race each month throughout 2018, in aid of Gosforth-based Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care.

Elaine, who lives in Newbiggin, is all too aware of the devastating impact that cancer can have, after witnessing family members suffer.

She said: “I lost my mum at a young age in 1988 and my dad in 2014, both to cancer.

Members of my maternal and paternal extended families have also been impacted by this heartbreaking disease.

“In 2018, I start being screened for abnormal cells as a precautionary measure.

“I started running about a year ago, it’s more of a run/walk that I do, but it’s a start!

I’m challenging myself to run a 10k race each month in 2018 because I want to improve my running and I’m also doing it for my cousin Heather, who has been battling cancer since 2013 and continues to do so.

She has really been through the mill, but she has such determination to carry on.”

Elaine, a member of Ashington Hirst Running Club, ran the Dalton Park 10k at the weekend, knocking seven minutes off her personal best time to finish in 1.20.36.

Other 10k races on her to-do list include Cragside and Druridge Bay.

To sponsor her, please click on the 'Daft as a Brush' logo above right.



The following article was published by the Northumberland Gazette on 18th January 2018


A poignant service of commemoration was held yesterday to mark the anniversary of the Guyzance tragedy.

The remembrance ceremony was staged by the Durham Light Infantry Association at the Guyzance memorial.

A sizeable crowd gathered at the commemoration service for the Guyzance tragedy.

The tragedy happened on January 17, 1945, on the River Coquet, near to the-then Army Training Camp in Felton.

Two Duke of Wellington’s Regiment trainees, along with eight Durham Light Infantry trainees, who were taking part in a river-crossing exercise, were swept in their boat over Guyzance Weir as a result of strong currents and floods.

Weighted down by their equipment, not one of these 18-year-old soldiers survived.

Members of the Light Infantry Regimental Association at the commemoration service of the Guyzance tragedy.

Pictures by Jane Coltman