Help Nunthorpe’s hedgehogs

Tired parents know that play parks can be a saviour.

When you’ve exhausted all options – and the kids are bouncing off the walls – a walk to the park to let off steam can be just the ticket (whilst you take a minute on the bench…).

Sadly our Nunthorpe play parks have lost a bit of sparkle.

But now there’s good news! Read about it in my weekly roundup below.

Play time

Two Nunthorpe pay parks are set for improvement.

With the help of Nunthorpe Community Council and Nunthorpe Parish Council, I consulted with members of the public to look at the next steps for The Avenue Play Park after £10,000 funding was secured by my predecessor Lesley McGloin.

And now I’m thrilled that the new equipment is set to be installed – which includes a new sky carousel and slide – with work commencing September 16. New benches are also on their way to the play park.

The missing Mallowdale Park swings are set to be replaced too, week commencing September 23. This will be welcome news to many residents who have contacted me frustrated about the situation.

Hurrah for hedgehogs

Who doesn’t love hedgehogs?

The kids and I were delighted to spot two of the little fellas on the way home from the Southern Cross. And thankfully both seemed in good health.

But sadly this isn’t always the case – and England’s hedgehogs are at real risk. 

In the 1950s England was home to 30m and this figure is down to just 1m.  The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report says hedgehogs could disappear for good unless something is done.

There has been a national call for people to bring in their football nets after the RSPCA reported a spike in hedgehogs becoming entangled and seriously injured or killed, a Nunthorpe resident recently freeing one in exactly that situation.

And things could get worse in coming weeks as hedgehogs are on the hunt for food ahead of hibernation, travelling further in their quest for slugs and snails. 

The Government has launched a new road sign to be placed in areas where hedgehogs cross roads – and I’ve requested Nunthorpe is considered.

Where in Nunthorpe do you think is the place most suitable? 

Green machine

Nunthorpe is about to become even greener.

Voluntary group OurGreenways has announced its bid to the National Lottery Community Fund has been successful.

Almost £10,000 will go toward green and healthy projects across Nunthorpe – and I know there are already some great ideas.

If you’re a business that would like to offer matched funding then Our Greenways would also love to hear from you.

I look forward to supporting OurGreenways in its next steps.

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, September 9 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

Finders keepers

Sometimes an idea just takes hold and really captures the collective imagination.

#LookForABook is just that – a summer holiday trend where children have been hiding books along with a note for other children to find, creating a giant UK-wide book treasure hunt. Just the kind of thing needed to tempt kids away from the screen and pique their interest.

I loved the idea so much that I was determined for Nunthorpe to play its part – and I enlisted the help of the kids to help me on my mission.

And we were thrilled to hear – via the powers of social media – about two of the children who had found the books we’d hidden!

If you’d like to join in then this Facebook group is really helpful.

Onto this week’s roundup…

Power of three

This week I asked residents three things that they’d like to see happen in Nunthorpe – and there were some fantastic responses.

Many of the things suggested are ideas I absolutely embrace and I’m actively working towards – such as improved cycle paths between Nunthorpe and the North Yorkshire Moors, a new community centre and working together to give young people more to do in our area. 

A new pub was also on many residents’ priorities.

You can see what else was high on the wish list for residents here.

Autumn fun

There’s a lot to look forward to in the Nunthorpe Autumn calendar – from fireworks at the recreation ground on Guisborough Road through to Halloween fun hosted by Nunthorpe Community Council at The Avenue Primary School. 

One thing that I’ve been Googling though is how to make a scarecrow in readiness for the Nunthorpe Scarecrow Festival.

To join in – and to raise funds for Devon’s Dream Team and South Cleveland Heart Fund – make a scarecrow, submit entry with £5 donation and display outside your house for judging from September 29.

The winner will be announced at a scarecrow fancy dress party at the recreation ground on October 5. Good luck!

Visit this page for more details.

To market, to market

It was great to see the recreation field filled with food and drinks stalls – from the quirky Barista Sisters through to homemade cake stalls – at last week’s summer fun day.

Could we look to widen the selection for a Nunthorpe Farmers Market or similar?

There was a fantastic Christmas market last year, hosted by The Naughty Habit on Guisborough Road, and many residents have commented on how much they enjoyed it.

What are your ideas for a Nunthorpe market?

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, September 9 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

All summer long

Just when we thought summer was well and truly over – it surprised us with a final reprieve.

And it was just in time for Nunthorpe and Marton Playing Field Association’s Summer Family Fun Day on Sunday.

It was absolutely roasting, with so much going on; a plethora of inflatables for the kids, a beer tent for the adults and ice cream for everyone.

I was chatting to Nunthorpe residents, many commenting that it was exactly the kind of event that they’d like to see more of. A big well done to everyone involved.

Without further ado, here are three things to think about in Nunthorpe this week – including big news for Middlesbrough commuters. Here we go!


Easy rider

Could a Marton Crawl puzzle piece have finally fallen into place?

This week Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Conservative MP Simon Clarke and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston announced a significant step forward for the Nunthorpe Park and Ride.

An ambitious future for Middlesbrough means more people travelling to our commercial centre – and we need to be thinking about our current infrastructure and its ability to cope with a rise in demand. A park and ride scheme could be just the ticket.

I commuted to Newcastle for many years – and chose to take the train or Metro rather than face the monstrosity of navigating a car into the centre. The same goes for trips to York. Why not Middlesbrough?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Future proof

There has been a spate of anti social behaviour in Marton and Nunthorpe, with youngsters throwing eggs at properties. A cause for real frustration and anger for the residents affected. Without a doubt boredom could be a factor. 

The incidents coincide with residents contacting me who are keen to help provide something to do in the area for young people and teenagers, which is something I’d love to support. My children will be teens too in the blink of an eye.

Do you have any ideas or thoughts on the kind of provision we could offer in Nunthorpe?

Book worm

Last week I met the head of libraries and community hubs at Middlesbrough Borough Council, Martin Harvey.

Middlesbrough Central Library was built with a donation of £15,000 from the Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and was opened on May 8, 1912, by Alderman Amos Hinton.

It has a proud history and is now part of a network of just over 20 libraries across the UK to be backed by the British Library.

Martin talked passionately about the library provision provided across the town, our nearest being at Marton Community Hub and Library.

There is so much going on –  from LEGO clubs to coffee clubs to one-off events. And this week I took the kids to make slime… A big thumbs up from them both.

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, September 9 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

Rail ale

Despite its naughty nickname, Nunthorpe is really rather innocent.

In the early 20th century steel magnate Sir Arthur Dorman made Nunthorpe his home – and the industrialist planned a suburb around the railway station for his workforce.

However he imposed certain ‘rules’ on this new community: shops were not permitted, public houses were not allowed – and homes were not permitted to have house numbers! (I’ve always fancied giving my house a name…).

Could it be that Nuthorpe’s complete void of pubs is rooted in this historical quirk?

This could soon be set to change, and it’s one of my three items for discussion in this week’s blog…

The Railway Cottages, Nunthorpe

Cheers?

Could Nunthorpe could soon have its first ever pub?

The idea has been mooted before, with talk that The Avenue shops could play host.

This application to Redcar and Cleveland Council is for a micro pub at the Railway Cottages adjacent to Nunthorpe Railway Station.

The application states that the Samuel Smith Old Brewery venue would be a “small and simple public house with a focus on cask beer and conversation for entertainment”, that it would draw from walk in trade and is located so that customers can take advantage of train and bus services.

It says there would be no live or recorded music or television, mobile phone use is discouraged and a planning condition restricting such features would be welcomed by the applicant.

When I was out on the doorstep in the run up to the election many of the residents I spoke to said that they would like to see more places to gather in Nunthorpe. Do you have any views on the proposal?

More houses for Nunthorpe?

Grey Towers Village, Nunthorpe

David Wilson Homes/Barratt has applied to Middlesbrough Borough Council to increase the number of houses on the next phase of its Grey Towers Village by 42, taking the previously agreed total up by 70% to 102 homes.

I stood on a manifesto to oppose house building in Nunthorpe without proper consideration for our communities’ needs – including a community facility, fit for purpose GP surgery and thought to the ever-increasing traffic on the Marton crawl.

I’ve had a lot of feedback on the issue, including information from those living on the site who are concerned about issues including the lack of exit and entrance points.

You can read what I have to say on the application here. And you can have your say here – with comments accepted until August 29.

Meet and greet

Tuesday saw another successful public meeting of Nunthorpe Community Council – this time at Nunthorpe and Marton Recreation Club.

There were a number of guest speakers including from Wade Tovey, of OurGreenways, Wendy Dewhirst, from Cleveland Fire Brigade, and Cleveland Police crime prevention officer Gerry McBride who gave some fantastic advice about protecting your home from burglaries.

One of his top tips was investing in one of these clever devices, this one priced at £11.99, which makes it appear that someone it at home watching the TV. Very nifty.

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, August 19 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

The right way

I’m packing a few (ahem) extra pounds at the moment – so I’m looking for ways to get fit.

I think the key is probably to do something you enjoy and I’m easing my way back in with family walks around Nunthorpe.

There are a wealth of public rights of way to enjoy in our area – and you can see them here on this map.

This weekend we ventured along one of my favourites, following the path adjacent to the Nunthorpe and Marton Recreation Club and across the Nunthorpe Bypass over St Mary’s Church. 

It was the first time my family had been up that way and I think they were quite taken aback by the wheat fields, stretching far into the distance. If you have a recommendation – or photos to share – I’d be happy to feature them.

Here are three Nunthorpe things that I’d love your feedback on this week.

Any other business

Marton Shops is becoming a burgeoning spot for eats and drinks – with a new Italian restaurant set to join other new businesses including Bloc and The Wonky Carrot. 

When I was out and about before the local elections in May, many Nunthorpe residents I spoke to mentioned they’d love to see new places to eat and drink here too, from coffee shops through to restaurants.

Do you agree? If so, what would you like to see and where? 

On the buses

When was the last time you caught the bus?

I’d have happily hopped on yesterday when it started to tank down – but presuming they’d be few and far between I didn’t bother checking the timetable and one flew past.

Bus provision was one thing mentioned to me during my campaign – and I’d be interested in hearing residents’ thoughts on buses and public transport more generally.

Would more regular services, at different times, encourage you to swap your car on your work commute, for example?

Park it

With the consultation on The Avenue Play Park now at a close, the new equipment should soon be on its way.

As well as that it’s been confirmed by council officers that money left over from the play park funding can be spent on new benches, giving parents and grandparents the opportunity to sit down and have a well-earned rest. Result.

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, August 19 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

Flutterly fabulous

The summer holidays are in full swing – and I’ve got the hardest of all audiences to impress.

But thankfully my six and eight-year-old have been wowed by some of the things we sometimes take for granted in Middlesbrough.

At the not-so-tender age of 37 I took my first ever walk across the top of the Tees Transporter Bridge. The kids loved it – and I was quite emotional taking in the spectacular views of our home town.

My first trip to the top of the Transporter – at 37!

Closer to home, we’ve also spent time at The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum at Stewart Park in Marton that’s hosting some fabulous sessions for children over the summer and I’ve also booked the kids in for slime-making at Marton Community Hub and Library.

Wouldn’t it be great to have such activities offered here in Nunthorpe? More on that in my round up of three Nunthorpe things I’ve been involved in this week…

  1. Have your say

With the sad news that Nunthorpe Institute has lost the use of the Dorman Suite at The Avenue Primary School, I feel there is a hole left in the fabric of our community. We need our own community facility here in Nunthorpe.

As we know, Nunthorpe is growing and to support that community spirit, I feel our groups, clubs and events need – and deserve – a home.

Supported by ward councillors, the parish council and the community council, a group of Nunthorpe residents are now consulting on this: and they need your opinions.

You can have your say by filling in the Nunthorpe Community Centre Steering Group survey here.

Potholes on Skiddaw Court

2. Walkabout

Along with Cllr Jon Rathmell I was this week invited on two walk the ward sessions in Nunthorpe – one with PCSO Kristin Youngman and a second one with Middlesbrough Council staff from area care and highways.

Both were productive and a number of issues were raised including the state of the road surface in Skiddaw Court, overgrown hedges surrounding St. Bernadette’s Primary School and the parking issues that are spilling over onto Muirfield from Chandlers Ridge. All of the concerns will be logged and looked into by officers. If you have any issues please don’t hesitate to contact me using the details below. 

3. Flutter-by

Cllr Carole Morgan is ward councillor for Nunthorpe across the railway tracks in Redcar and Cleveland.

A painted lady in our garden in Nunthorpe

This week she shared a lovely video of butterflies enjoying her back garden on her Facebook page – and inspired me to check out if we have any visitors.

Until the end of August you can take part in the Big Butterfly Count, a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment. There’s even an app to tempt the kids. 

We downloaded the app and picked out the different types of butterflies that were out back – including several painted lady butterflies that are being spotted in the UK in a once-in-a-decade phenomenon.

Get counting!

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, August 5 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by! 

Howzat!

Well, the sun shone. Then it rained. And then it absolutely bucketed it down.

But in the early hours of the morning there was only one thing I was fixated on – the well-being of the knitted mini-me Liam Plunkett tribute, lovingly crafted by the Nunthorpe and Marton Knitters. 

Thankfully, he stood up to the drenching and continues to stand proud on top of the postbox at Marton shops as a tribute to his amazing part in the Cricket World Cup-winning England team.

Disappointed after Royal Mail confirmed there’d be no postbox decorated in honour of Liam in his home of Marton or Nunthorpe, his knitted likeness was quickly brought into being after a request from Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston.

Superb stuff from a group that continues to make headlines and be a very valued part of our community. Thank you!

Here are three things I’ve been up to on behalf of Nunthorpe this week.

1.  Pedal power

During my time as Nunthorpe ward councillor I’m keen to do what I can to help tackle the Marton Crawl. One way of doing this is cutting down the number of cars on the road by encouraging cycling.

I asked Nunthorpe resident Louise Spaldin to let me publish her diary on ditching the car and hopping onto her bike to commute into town.

“The traffic lights near the Rudds Arms in Marton have caused complete havoc on my daily commute.  

After wasting hours of my time waiting in traffic along the Marton Crawl during my route to work on Borough Road, I decided to sweep the cobwebs from my two wheeled contraption and get my little legs peddling down Dixons Bank.

What a lovely experience! No waiting in queues of cars, no cars squeezing into the line of traffic where there is no room…complete bliss. 

If I had a free hand I would have been waving to all the stationary traffic, gloating as I drifted along the bike lane, wind wafting through my curly locks!

Weather permitting, I will be doing this more often. Although I need my car for work I intend to organise my diary to enable me to cycle to work at least once a week. 

I was ‘glistening’ and a little out of puff when I arrived at work but it was nothing that a pint of water and baby wipe couldn’t fix. I felt good all day and empowered to do more.”

Louise Spaldin, Nunthorpe resident

2. On the radio

This week I was invited onto BBC Radio Tees to talk about stepping from the world of journalism into local politics as ward councillor for Nunthorpe. In my head it was set to be a quick pre-recorded chat with any mess-ups edited out.

But it was live…

Luckily Scott Makin was kind and I enjoyed the experience in the studio. You can listen to my interview here at around here at around 2:24.

3. Flower power

Environmental campaigners and Nunthorpe residents Bob Mullen and David Leyland are passionate about encouraging wildlife and biodiversity in our area.

They have suggested the introduction of wildflower areas in Nunthorpe, which not only look stunning but attract butterflies, bees, birds, mammals and more.

We met with Middlesbrough Council officer Peter Chapman who has agreed to support Bob and David who are looking into the potential for wildflower projects in our area. 

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, August 5 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

Cheers to Nunthorpe!

Seeing Nunthorpe come together is a great thing.

This weekend it was for Nunthorpe Community Council’s Summer Family Fun Day, which took place on Saturday afternoon.

Despite the heavens opening, it was a tremendous success thanks to all those who pitched in to help. I feel that these are exactly the kind of events we need to see more of.

I was content manning the Prosecco stall…which I’m very happy to report was a complete sell out. 

Without further ado, here are three things I’ve been up to this week to improve Nunthorpe.

  1. On your bike 

Nunthorpe has a privileged position, located perfectly between town and country.

It acts as a welcoming post for many visiting Middlesbrough, at the gateway of the North Yorkshire Moors.

I am very keen to make the most of this location during my time as ward councillor – one idea being the introduction of a path or cycle way to link with Great Ayton, Stokesley and the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

This week I have been investigating this by contacting Sustrans, which looks after the National Cycle Network and would be keen on any feedback from Nunthorpe residents on the idea (contact info below).

I believe the benefits of such a scheme are vast – on health and well-being, travel and tourism. From less cars on the Marton crawl – due to commuters from areas such as Stokesley able to utilise the route – through to more visitors to Middlesbrough, keen to explore all our area has to offer. I will keep you updated with any feedback I receive.  

2. People power

Dixons Bank residents met on Tuesday evening at The Southern Cross to discuss the recent road alterations. It was well attended – by residents, council officers and councillors.

As well as a possible group action for compensation on the agenda, ways to mitigate the potential for an increased level of traffic noise were discussed. Officers agreed that more shrubbery could certainly help and are open to working with residents to provide it.

I asked about the possibility of a weight restriction along the route and I’m talking with officers to see if this could be an option.

2. In a letter

A big thank you to parents who took the time to reply to my walking bus letter, sent out to all children at St Bernadette’s Primary School, The Avenue Primary School and Chandlers Ridge Academy last week.

A walking bus is where children are dropped off at a designated point and walk to school together.

There was a good response, with 53 replies. Out of those replies, 42 people said either ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ to their children using a Nunthorpe walking bus – 79%. I will be analysing the results school by school and deciding on the next appropriate step.

If you are a parent, grandparent or member of the community willing to help then please get in contact on mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk


If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, September 19 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!

Summer fun in Nunthorpe

Family fun with my daughter, sister and niece at the last Nunthorpe Community Council event

School’s almost out!

With two primary-aged children it can be quite daunting to know what on earth to do to keep them entertained throughout the six week hols.

As part of my culture and communities role I will be encouraging families to enjoy the summer in Middlesbrough, where this is a wealth of attractions to experience – from beautiful parks and museums through to art galleries, the theatre and big scale events.

And Nunthorpe is no exception. Thanks to a community council growing in strength and ideas, a supportive parish council and a whole range of clubs and events there will be plenty going on.

The next event in the calendar is this Saturday, July 20 from 1pm when The Avenue play park will play host to the Nunthorpe Community Council Family Summer Fun Day – with donkeys, gosling raptors, bake off and – if we can get the necessary permissions in place – a Prosecco stall. See you there!

Every week I blog about three things I’ve done to help improve Nunthorpe. So here we go…

1. On the buses

Parking around Nunthorpe schools is something that was raised by many residents when I was campaigning.

There is no easy answer – with our schools set in the middle of estates, their locations chosen before Nunthorpe’s expansion.

I have worked with headteachers at St Bernadette’s Primary School, The Avenue Primary School and Chandlers Ridge Academy to send a letter to parents to gauge interest on the possibility of a walking bus in Nunthorpe, where children are dropped off at a designated point and walk to school together.

If you are a parent, grandparent or member of the community willing to help then please get in contact on mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk

2. Park it

While we’re on the subject of parking – I have this week alerted the police and council over problematic parking on and around Chandlers Ridge during school times. 

Council workers were unable to collect refuse due to inconsiderate parking.

Police have now written to parents and carers to remind them of the dangers, saying inconsiderate and illegal parking greatly increases the risk of an accident occurring.

3. Working together

The joint efforts of ward councillors, police and the council has led to a reduction of antisocial incidents reported at a small green area near High Gill.

Those living in the area were asked by PCSO Kristin Youngman and the Neighbourhood Safety Officer Melanie Boyce to help keep track of what was occurring and when.

No further incidents have been passed on – which is a great result. 

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, July 15 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by! 

Walk it

The idea of getting fit in a gym is something that leaves me cold.

After a day at work the very last thing that would entice me is heading back out – in leggings – and feeling totally inept over the fact I can’t do one single push up.

However…walking is something I can be persuaded on. And Nunthorpe residents will know that we have an absolute wealth of stunning walks you can do at your own pace.

I’d love to see more people enjoying our Nunthorpe natural environment, perhaps tying into Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston’s hope for walking groups or set step-counted walks across the whole of Teesside. I know those who visit Nunthorpe couldn’t help but be impressed. What’s your favourite Nunthorpe walk?

Here are three things I’ve been involved in this week, working to make our area even better.

  1. Let it slide
My son George enjoying an ice cream at The Avenue park

Consultation has finally began on the new play equipment for The Avenue play area – and you can see the plans here. The council has suggested new equipment for the park and you can have your views heard by emailing officers by July 19 on mbc_environmentservices@middlesbrough.gov.uk.

I’d really like to see progress on this and the equipment in situ as soon as possible for the children of Nunthorpe to enjoy – and for us to bid a fond farewell to the tired slide.

2. Hello councillor?

This week I attended Nunthorpe Parish Council – and was pleased to see an increasing number of members of the public attend.

It’s quite an informal meeting where parish councillors discuss a wide range of topics, from considering grant applications for community groups and activities through to planning issues and future hopes for Nunthorpe.

I know that the group is always looking for new talent too – so if you fancy becoming a parish councillor find out more by emailing clerk@nunthorpepc.org.uk

3. Thank you! 

I’m chuffed to bits that I have been given the chance to represent Nunthorpe residents, an area I’m immensely proud to call home.

My thank you leaflets are ready and I shall be pounding the streets this week to get them delivered.

I’m always here to help.

If you have any concerns, issues, ideas or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me either via the Nunthorpe Matters Facebook page, via mieka_smiles@middlesbrough.gov.uk or on 07938119858. My next ward surgery will take place on Monday, July 15 at 6.30pm at Nunthorpe Institute. Make sure to pop by!