Thanks to the 20 or so who came to our first AGM at Lazenby (and thanks to the Club for providing the room for free). It wasn't a big turn out but it was spirited with lots of feedback and discussion.
Thanks to all our new members and also Charlie Harper and Jan Lindberg who became trustees.
Thanks to Jacob Young (Conservative parliamentary candidate) for attending and Ian Swales MP (Lib Dem) for his apologies. For the record, we invited all the candidates as we are a non-biased, non-political organisation.
Thanks also to Cleveland Police and Crime commissioner Barry Coppinger and his colleague Sarah Wilson for attending and announcing that some funding from the Police and Council has been allocated to help stop vehicles accessing the hills. No figures or further details were given apart from the money has to be spent in this financial year. This is welcome news. Hopefully it will be enough to make a decent start.
We also recieved some other good news last week in that LOT 3 of Lazenby Bank has been sold to a nature conservation trust. They are not going public just yet but we have been in touch with them and make no mistake it is a positive. For the record, LOT 3 is a 20-acre plot of old woodland at the top of the golf course track above conker wood.
One year ago, we were keepers of the biggest secret on Teesside or so it seemed to us. The Lazenby Bank owner had accommodated and accepted our bid of £15k for 2.7 acres at Eston Nab. The legal process took 3 months and it was tough keeping tight-lipped! On March 21st, the documents were signed, the land was ours and we went public. It was great to see the story spread across the media bringing smiles to faces far and beyond the Eston area. A week later, there was a gathering at the Nab for ribbon cutting, champagne and merriment! A historic moment in time was enjoyed by all who made the effort up there. But all of this wouldn't have been possible without people putting their hands in their pockets in the first place. You know who you are.
There was however one small cock up in the purchasing of the land. The final boundary map of the agreed plot had a small error. The colour shading marking the adjacent field extended beyond its Northern boundary onto our plot. The map itself was not clear and the seller agreed with us but as we had noticed it after the sale, the piece of land had to be acquired as an additional purchase. And so a footpath, 40 feet by 4 feet approx, was purchased for the princely sum of £1. Then came the mandatory land registration fee of £40 plus, as it was ultimately our fault, the sellers legal costs of £300. A win, albeit with a hiccup, still beats losing...
In May we saw another great turn out for 'The Big Nab Litter Grab'. In a couple of hours, 30 years of rubbish was collected into 60 bags along with scaffold poles, deck chairs, bike frames, several knives and even a car door. The entire escarpment of Eston Nab had never look so tidy in decades. Thanks to Flatts Lane Country Park / RCBC refuse dept for carting it away.
We held a second litter pick in October. The turn out wasn't as good but about 18 of us covered much ground from the Powder House all the way to the SS Castle. Thanks again to Flatts Lane Country Park for carting it all away.
Donations continued to come in over the Summer from the public and two local primary schools. Normanby Primary raised over £200 in a frantic week long cake bake and sale. In July, Whale Hill held a sponsored disco and raised an amazing £401.
In July, public access to the hills via the college field at Flatts Lane was under threat from owner, Teesside University, in an ill-thought out plan to stop joyriders. We helped instigate a rush of objection letters to the Council planning dept. and Teesside University sensibly withdrew their planning application.
But stopping joyriding and criminal behaviour on the hills is something we support completely. 2014 sadly proved a chronic year with half a dozen stolen cars being dumped and burned out. Sheep were run over, stolen, drowned, attacked and even thrown off the Nab cliff. The good news is that in the last couple of months all the farmers and landowners (which includes us!) plus the police, fire brigade and RCBC planning dept are now all involved in devising a robust solution to block vehicle access.
Looking back over our first year, it has been positive though frustrating we didn't achieve more and faster. But we are all volunteers and fitting this in with our work, home and family commitments isn't always easy. But we still have a vision that we are striving for.
Craig Hornby, Chair