Alston Moor Parish Council’s February meeting heard from Eden Housing Association about their Independent Living scheme and their desire to provide more housing on Alston Moor, if they are able to find some suitable building plots. There was also updates on policing, transport, parish maintenance, the ambulance service and the ever-continuing saga of the lack of lighting.

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Carolyn Greenhalgh from Eden Housing spoke about the Independent Living scheme, launched in 2012 in response to the fact that Eden is the second largest district in England and Wales, with an ageing population, likely to mean a rise in dementia and other issues of older age. The one-stop shop provides information and services to anyone over 60 living in Eden, or disabled or long-term sick. They offer care alarms at £2.94 a week, and handy-man, gardening and other practical help for around £15 per hour. They have had 400 new customers in their two years, mostly home-owners. The parish clerk pointed out that residents of Alston Moor could apply to the Fairhill Charity for financial support with these services.

Kevan Guest said Eden Housing is keen to provide more housing, particularly new homes in rural areas, and, most especially, suitable housing for older people. On Alston Moor, Eden Housing has only two bungalows available, and would like to purchase building plots for ten more. Anyone with suitable land to sell at a reasonable price should contact them.

Matters arising from the minutes of the January meeting brought the news that PC Paul Bower will take over Paul Crabtree’s rôle in local policing. The Transport Group will next be meeting in March, as it is essential to have the County Councillor, Mary Robinson, there, and she is on holiday through February. Mention was made of money coming from central government to Cumbria County Council for rural transport. It is intended not for transport subsidy but at finding ways to ensure transport is co-ordinated, and a feasability study of such proposals would be one potential use of the money. Councils have to bid towards the possibility of obtaining this funding. It is uncertain whether a feasability study would be able to support transport for Alston Moor, because our population is so low. We do not currently know if Cumbria CC intend to submit a bid

The ever-continuing saga of the lack of street and footway lighting continues. Lights that councillors and local residents see as essential do not qualify under the criteria Eden District Council has decided on; the County Council is unwilling to take on the A-road lighting unless it conforms to certain criteria regarding height and distance, considerations that were not declared at the time, long ago, when the street lights were erected or the roads became A-roads. The parish clerk has asked the EDC officer to look at the Brampton Road lights and discuss with the County Council whether any new lights might meet their criteria.

Councillor Matthew Herdman offered to repair the wall at the Nenthall War Memorial, an estimate for work on drainage at Tyne Willows was accepted, and a contractor chosen for the Firs Wood walling.

North West Ambulance Service have written to say that there are some issues with the arrangements for progressing the ambulance project, and they would like to meet with representatives to review progress to date.

The council discussed dates for the Annual Parish Meeting and for hustings for election candidates. The hustings date has already been fixed as 23 April, and it was decided this would be for national and district council candidates. Hustings for parish council candidates will be arranged at the Annual Parish Meeting, with the date set as 14 April.

Alston Moor residents are invited to attend to observe the next parish council meeting, at Alston Town Hall at 19.00 on Monday 2 March, and to visit the ‘surgery’ at the Alston Moor Partnership shop every Saturday morning from 10.30-12.30, when questions, comments and complaints are welcome.