Alnwick Civic Society

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Heritage Heroes

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Our plans to showcases our townscape, and celebrate those who have helped to protect, interpret and promote it over the years have been covered by the Northumberland Gazette. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.

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Written by Peter

November 21, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Path Finding

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In 1869 Alnwick Board of Health assessed the eighteen footways that it was responsible for maintaining, and nine that were in the care of others.

In most cases the route they describe can still be traced: either on the ground, or on a 19th century map.

Some of their footways no longer exist, but many do, and we thought it might be interested to revisit and update their assessment from almost 150 years ago.

However, in some cases we are finding it difficult to trace the original route. Is anyone able to help us plot the route described here?

Path1

Written by Peter

September 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Newlsetter corections and clarrifications

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Alert readers of our newsletter may have noticed several spelling mistakes and one factual error in the recent (November 2013) edition of the Civic Society Newsletter. We will leave readers to spot the spelling mistakes, but this is  an early opportunity to correct the factual error: Alnwick Playhouse dates from 1925, not 1926. We understand that we are not alone in making this mistake, and we are pleased to be able to correct it online here. We will publish another correction in the next issue of the newsletter.

It looks as though corrections may become a regular feature, and it always slightly puzzles us when those who point out errors are so apologetic. Perhaps we need to make it clear that we are keen to hear about mistakes in the newsletter. Of course we would rather not make them in the first place, but when we do we like to know about it. If nothing else it confirms that the newsletter is read. More importantly it shows that readers care about the quality of the content, and are willing to make an effort to raise standards.  The fact that we sometimes make a mistake hardly comes as a surprise.

More than that.

The whole point of the newsletter is to support the work of the society. It’s a newsletter, not a peer-reviewed academic journal. We hope that members find it informative, and feel that it properly celebrates their pride in our town. We want to raise awareness of issues that concern members, and in doing so, we hope to raise the profile of the society. Content that can be trusted is an important factor in achieving all of that, but it is not the only factor. We assume that readers want content that is varied, interesting, topical,  and readable – as well as accurate. Sometimes they will prefer us to remain on familiar ground, and sometimes we need to try something different.

So please feel able to point out our mistakes. And if we ever stop making them, then please feel just as free to point out that we may not be trying hard enough.

Written by Peter

November 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Playing with maps

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We are working on creating a new background for various projects which will involve maps.

It’s a good way of understanding how difficult this is, and appreciating the work of others.

These are a couple of recent attempts. Hopefully we are beginning to get somewhere.

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Written by Peter

September 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

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Picture puzzle: What do the purple areas represent?

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Image

Written by Peter

August 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Any questions?

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The next “Any Questions?” panel discussion will be on Oct 15th.

It’s not to early to start thinking about the topics for discussion this year. As a prompt, there is a list below of the issues that the panel discussed last year, along with a brief summary of the response. All are invited to submit suggested topics for this year to the chair.

Questions discussed in 2012:

  • How to engage younger generations in the work of the Civic Society (raise profile across all generations, ask young people what they think, work with relevant organisations, and help young people demonstrate civic responsibility)
  • How to stop retail spend leaking outside the town (initiatives which capitalise on the distinctive character of Alnwick are welcomed, but we should not exaggerate the extent of the problem)
  • The future of the Corn Exchange (any long-term solution is likely to be contentious, but we still need to find one)
  • Parking (the current situation is unsustainable, but can a better alternative be found while feelings are running so high?)
  • Whether the town had become over-reliant on the castle and gardens (we welcome the visitors they attract, but should also seek alternative ways to bring visitors into Alnwick)
  • What buildings the panel would like to blow up in Alnwick (mainly the bus station)

Written by Peter

August 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Public Spaces Protection Orders

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The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill is currently making its way through parliament, and recently passed committee stage.

Among other things, it will introduce a “Public Spaces Protection Order”, to prevent specified things being done in specified public places. The idea is to introduce a simplified alternative which replaces Dog Control Orders (use of leads, control of fouling), Gating Orders (restricting public access), and Designated Public Place Orders (restricting consumption of alcohol in public places).

Once the bill is passed by parliament, a local authority will be able to make a Public Spaces Protection Order if it is satisfied that activities carried on in a place have a detrimental effect on quality of life.

Before making a Public Spaces Protection Order the local authority will need to consult the police, and whatever representatives of the community it thinks appropriate. The order can last for up to three years, and can then be extended repeatedly, for periods of up to three years. Breaching an order will be a criminal offence, subject to an on-the-spot fine of £100, (more in certain cases), and a fine on conviction of up to £1,000.

On face value it all sounds good stuff: improving quality of life, simplifying bureaucracy, but various groups have raised some worrying concerns. The main ones are:

  • These orders are too open-ended: as well as replacing existing powers that cover alcohol control zones, dog control, and local bylaws, they would allow councils, for example, to ban spitting, smoking or begging in public places, or ban rough sleeping.
  • There are fewer checks and balances than with current regulations: no requirement for public consultation, less central government scrutiny
  • New crimes would be introduced, normally be punished with on-the-spot fines, sometimes issued by private security guards working on commission
  • There is a risk of discrimination: orders could be directed at particular groups of people, such as the homeless, or young people, rather than being general rules which apply to everyone. They could be used to suppress peaceful protest.

These are not straightforward issues. We will be watching the specialists debate with interest. But above all, we can’t help feeling that having to resort to punitive measures is a symptom of a deeper problem. We hope that a strong community, and more constructive interventions will mean that approaches such as Public Space Protection Orders are rarely (if ever) necessary to maintain the quality of our life.

To quote the indefatigable F. R. Wilson, in his “Practical Guide for Inspectors of Nuisances” (1881):

Good-humour, good words, forbearance, explicitness of explanation and clearness of instruction, will be found most serviceable.

Written by Peter

August 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized