Below are some of the news stories from our parish that
made the local press in 2018
PRISONER WHO HUNG HIMSELF 'LOOKED ALIVE' - SO GUARDS
DIDN'T CHECK HIM
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
The Prisons and Probations Ombudsman aims fresh
criticism at the Acklington jail, which has been plagued
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
"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
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
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
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
HMP Northumberland was forever in the news throughout
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
CONTROVERSIAL HOUSING PLAN IN ACKLINGTON GIVEN
GREEN LIGHT FOR THE SECOND TIME
The following article was
published on 27th November 2018 by Chronicle Live
contentious housing development in a Northumberland
village has been given the go-ahead once more -
despite going back before councillors for a fresh
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
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
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
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.
FINAL BELL HAS SOUNDED FOR ACKLINGTON SCHOOL
The following article was published on 26th July 2018 by
the Northumberland Gazette
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
The children enjoyed a bouncy castle and, ahead of the
closure, they went on a number of trips and attended a
The school was part of the James Calvert Spence College
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
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
NEW CIVIC HEAD EXTREMELY HONOURED TO TAKE UP POST
The following article was published by The Ambler on 4th
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
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
“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
“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
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.
THIS REALLY IS AN
ESTATE TOO FAR FOR ACKLINGTON'
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
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
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.
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.
NARROW APPROVAL FOR NEW HOMES IN ACKLINGTON VILLAGE
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
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
Coun Jeff Watson also proposed that the developer to
fund interactive speed signs on the western approach to
NEW HOMES APPROVED IN NORTHUMBERLAND VILLAGES
The following article was published by the
Northumberland Gazette on 22nd February 2018
The site of the approved housing in Acklington.
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
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
FROM ACKLINGTON PARISH COUNCILLOR ALISON SHARPE
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
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.
PARISH CLERK TACKLING 10K CHALLENGE IN PARENTS' MEMORY
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
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
“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
To sponsor her, please click on the 'Daft as a Brush'
logo above right.
COMMEMORATION SERVICE TO MARK GUYZANCE TRAGEDY
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
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