Jim chaired this meeting, which had 28 in attendance – apparently a record, and with several people there for the first time.
While stressing that the group looks at various projects and ideas, and that small-scale ideas are always welcome, Gillian concentrated her report on the Hydro project. A recent presentation (22 Aug) had provided a realistic appraisal of technical and financial aspects. The latter were less promising than at the start of the project, but there had been clear support for continuing.
Two more presentations were planned. The first (2 Oct) would be for all those with local fishing or riparian interests; the second (3 Oct) would be a public meeting to allow for discussion of detailed plans, with questions. This would also allow time for further planning to finish the design phase by the end of October.
The main topic was the Car Club project. Jane and Trevor explained that the most likely avenue was now to use Common Wheels [aka Co-wheels] to manage the scheme on our behalf. This would provide a reliable and proven system, notably for bookings, although the cost might therefore be higher than originally hoped. A meeting with Co-wheels was planned for 13 October. Meantime, the plan remained to have an electric car, and one of these would be on display at the Farmers’ Market on 8 September, together with information on public transport, cycling, etc.
Debbie noted that the stall on 13 October would feature the results of the pumpkin seed challenge launched earlier in the summer.
Pat explained that the orchard had been badly affected by poor weather this year. With two upcoming events (Hexham Eating Festival on 22 September and the Hexham Farmers Market Apple Day on 13 October) it was vital to obtain more local apples. Various appeals would be made, including via the Courant.
Volunteers at the Community Garden were always welcome. The regular date was now the third Saturday of the month (next: 15 September), from 10.30 to about 13.00.
Meanwhile, Dave explained that the Garden Share scheme was not designed to allocate gardens, but to facilitate direct arrangements between individuals.
Wendy proposed transferring the group’s funds to an “ethical bank”, and this was approved. She also noted that electronic transfers of group funds were now possible. It was confirmed that TT is formally a company limited by guarantee.
Several upcoming events were noted: Pat would circulate group members with details via the email list. Discussion centred on a proposed visit to the Egger factory: the company apparently showed a lot of interest in recycling and sustainability. Roly would coordinate a TT visit, provisionally on the second Wednesday in November.
The group would also support the Tyne Valley Winter Market initiative offering local produce and crafts. This is being organised by TT member Jude. The market is being held at Tyne Valley Garden Centre, Mickley on Sunday 18th November from 10:30am to 4:00pm.
Ted introduced the Paths for Communities scheme (government funds of £2m over two years, with up to £5k per project), seeking to identify paths which would increase access as bridleways. He detailed a project with a loop from Hexham via Acomb and Watersmeet, and asked if TT would be willing to endorse the bid with a letter of support.
It was pointed out that normal policy in such cases was for TT to encourage members to write as individuals, but several member felt that the proposed plan overlapped so closely with several of our projects that we should adopt it. This was agreed, with the proviso that (in the event of a successful bid) all audit trails should clearly distinguish between TT funds and the Paths project.
The College (with a new building in Hexham) had asked about possible linkages and collaboration with TT. This was seen as a positive opportunity. A College representative would attend the next meeting.
Jim outlined the situation noted at the previous meeting and recently reported in the Courant. The 270-acre site was for sale at a price of £1.2m. He outlined a scheme for community purchase and use, with a professional management team and income derived from cultural, educational and recreational activities. There was a requirement to indicate serious interest by 21 September. The Heritage Lottery Fund was a potential source of help, and several members stressed this heritage aspect of any community bid.
It was agreed that a robust business case was absolutely necessary, and that work should continue on a proposal (action: Jim). It was also agreed to hold a special meeting before 21 September to argue the merits of the case. The agreed date was Monday 17th (time and venue to be confirmed via the email list: Pat).
Research student Hugo Winn (DurhamUniversity) asked if any members of the group would be prepared to give interviews about their involvement with TT. Anyone willing to do this should contact Hugo via the general TT email address: at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next (Regular) Meeting
The Hydro Public Meeting unfortunately collides with our regular slot of the first Wednesday of every month.
We are therefore rescheduling the next open meeting to Wednesday 10th October