Rallying call for village businesses in Otterburn

BUSINESSES in a hard-hit Northumberland village are to hold a public meeting this month in a bid to boost its fortunes in 2013.

Parish chairman John Hartshorne and Val Corbett outside the newly-closed Percy Arms in Otterburn
Parish chairman John Hartshorne and Val Corbett outside the newly-closed Percy Arms in Otterburn

BUSINESSES in a hard-hit Northumberland village are to hold a public meeting this month in a bid to boost its fortunes in 2013.

Otterburn suffered a string of misfortunes in 2012, resulting in heavy trading losses and the closure of two of its three hotels.

Road closures, floods and power cuts also had a damaging effect on the 500 population and its handful of small businesses. But Border Reiver village shop owner Gordon Moore is determined to show that the Otterburn spirit is still thriving – and safeguard the future.

Mr Moore has pencilled in a date of January 14 to call businesses and villagers together round the table.

He declared: “It has been a difficult past year with a lot of problems, but we need to be proactive and get the community involved.

“We have got lots to offer in Otterburn and there are many positive things happening.

“The meeting this month is designed for people to bring agenda items, both sublime and ridiculous, for a schedule throughout the year ahead.

“We want to get Otterburn on to a positive footing again and develop ideas both for business and for the community.”

The scenic rural village 31 miles north west of Newcastle has long been a popular attraction for tourists and visitors. But the rot set in last May when a giant transporter carrying a turbine segment to the Green Rigg wind farm site at nearby Ridsdale crashed on the main A696 south of the village.

The road was closed for a week for surface repairs and village businesses sustained losses running into thousands of pounds.

In September, energy company EDF Renewables finally paid out compensation to the Border Reiver, Otterburn Woollen Mill and the Percy Arms Hotel.

Last week The Journal revealed that EDF had also agreed to pay another £18,000 in compensation to the community, through the parish council. But just before Christmas the Percy Arms became the second hotel to close in four months when it went into administration, costing more than 20 staff jobs.

Owners Clive and Alice Emerson had only recently celebrated 25 years in charge.

The Otterburn Hall Hotel had closed suddenly in August, throwing 30 people out of work and forcing the cancellation of a number of pre-booked weddings.

Parish council chairman John Hartshone said: “People have lost substantially in the past few months, and we are getting pulverised a bit.

“We have also had a number of power cuts in recent weeks and the Percy Arms itself was booked for Christmas visitors but had to turn them away before its sudden and sad closure. It was difficult to cope with all that in the run-up to Christmas – it has been a hard slog and we are hoping for a better time in 2013.”

 
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