Pegswood Gardeners flushed with pride as Banks Group grant pays for new allotment Toilet

September 24, 2014 | Brenkley News

A four figure grant from a local employer has come as a great relief to green-fingered residents in a South East Northumberland village.

For members of the Pegswood Allotment Association now have access to an on-site toilet for the first time after a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, took them past the amount they needed to buy and install it.

The new toilet is waterless, odourless, requires no access to sewerage or electricity, and is fully accessible to disabled users.

And as well as being accessible to any of the 150 garden tenants who make up the Association, the new facilities are also open to both local people and visitors who are travelling the two well-used public footpaths that run through the area.

Formed in 2010 to administer, manage and maintain 98 allotment plots on behalf of Pegswood Parish Council, the Pegswood Allotment Association has taken on responsibility for significantly improving the local landscape, which includes areas where fly tipping has taken place in the past.

A number of derelict former pigsties’ and other buildings, many of which contained asbestos, have been demolished, with parts of them recycled wherever possible, and other work including pothole repairs and scrap metal removal has also been carried out.

Produce grown on the allotments is made available for sale in an on-site shop to help raise money for further site enhancement work, which includes an ongoing project to improve the fencing around it, and a new beekeeping group has just been formed which Bertie Sexton, chair of the Allotment Association’s management committee, hopes will help to increase user and visitor numbers in the area even further.

He says: “This is an increasingly well used of the area that benefits everyone in all sorts of ways – as well as offering a place to grow your own food and enjoy time in the open air, we often get passers-by stopping to see what we’re growing and to talk to the gardeners on site, which can only be good for community relations.

 “The clearance work we’ve done so far has made a big difference to the area, and there’s a real enthusiasm amongst those involved for making the allotments as welcoming and productive as we can.

 “Up until now, the closest toilets to the allotment have been at the Miners’ Welfare, but they’re not always available, and we’ve been looking at how we make these much-needed facilities available on site.

“Having easy access to a toilet means we’re all able to spend more time here getting on with our various tasks, and we’re extremely grateful to the Banks Community Fund for providing the funds we needed to get it purchased and installed.”

The Banks Group has worked in South East Northumberland for more than three decades, and currently employs over 200 people at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines.  It has also recently completed restoration and landscaping work at Phase Two of the Pegswood Community Park, which sits on the operational area of Banks’ former Pegswood surface mine.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Groups, adds: “The commitment of the Pegswood Allotment Association’s members to improving their site is making a real difference to their community, and the donation we’ve made to help them bring in these new facilities is a well-deserved reward for everything they’re achieving.”

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