On this page you will find Notices of forthcoming Parish Council meetings and other local news.  If you have items of news you would like to have included on this page, please contact Martin Chilvers, Rochester with Byrness Parish Clerk (details on the Contact Us page) or send a message using the Guestbook.

07 August 2020Byrness Play Area

Following the government guidance the play area in Byrness is open again.

However it is vital anyone visiting the play area follows the government guidelines on social distancing.

Government guidance suggests that the Covid19 virus can survive for up to several days on some hard surfaces. The risks are reduced when outdoors, where surfaces may be subject to UV light and / or rain. Those wishing to use the play area do so at their own risk but here are the basic rules you must follow when in and around the equipment

  • Maximum number of users in the play area will be three. If there are three there when you arrive please come back another time.
  • Only one family member to accompany children.
  • Use hand gel before and immediately after using each piece of equipment.
  • Stay 1m + from all others in the play area.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid contact with anyone else in the play area.
  • Cough / sneeze into your arm.
  • Consumption of food and drink within the play area is not permitted.
  • Please take all litter home with you.


Rochester with Byrness Parochial Church Council will be in St Francis Churchyard on Wednedsay 29 July, 2020 from 10:00 to 12:00, cutting back the grass and foliage on main pathways and graves.  This has been moved from original scheduled date of Monday due to the poor weather forecast.

Do you have a few hours to spare on Wednesday morning? Would you like to come along to help out as well?

We’d really welcome your help and would love to hear your views on your churchyard. What can be done to make access to graves possible, while still preserving the wildlife and wonderful, eco-friendly nature of Northumberland’s most remote burial grounds?

We’ll also be organising a day in Spring and in Autumn next year for a general tidy-up and community get-together, refreshments included. Don’t miss them!

The PCC hope to see you all on Wednesday morning!


An update from Rochester with Byrness Parochial Church Council (PCC)

1. Background

It became necessary to erect barriers around the north side of the interior of the church of St Francis to comply with the risk management advice of the churches insurers before the Covid-19 lockdown. Thereafter, St Francis was closed by the Parochial Church Council (PCC), because architectural investigations carried out on the northern pew platform revealed the presence of serious wet rot in floor timbers and joists Wet rot may also be present in the pew platform on the south side. The architects of the Anglican Churches Diocesan Advisory Committee later confirmed the findings and approved a series of options for the repairs. The PCC has the task of raising sufficient funds to carry out repairs for one of these options.

2. The options

The options are:

- to repair the north and south side platforms in a like-for-like manner – should funding permit;

- to repair the north side only as like-for-like, leaving the south side to be tackled at a later date – depending on funding;

- to replace the north and south side pew platforms with a solid floor level with the aisle floor, preserving and replacing the pews on this solid floor - should funding permit;

- to replace the north side only with a solid floor level with the aisle floor, etc.,, leaving the south side to be tackled at a later date – depending on future funding.

The PCC’s preferred option would be to replace both the north and south platforms with a solid floor levelled with the aisle floor and preserving the existing pews, as this would be better for the long term. However, whatever option is chosen will inevitably be determined by the funds raised before repairs can begin.

3. Estimates

Two detailed estimates have been received so far and a third is expected imminently. It would not be fair to state what these estimates are now, as one has not yet been chosen. Once the third is received and the PCC decides on the option to go for, an updated note can be sent for posting on the Parish Council website.

4. Funding applications and funds received

Two grants have been received so far: one for £2,500 and the second for £3,,000. An application was recently made to Northern Historic Churches Trust but this received a negative response. An application was made to the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund, but the PCC has just learnt that this too has been unsuccessful. Further funding possibilities, such as The National Churches Trust, which have deadlines later in the year, will now be considered.

5. Timescales

St Francis cannot be reopened until the pew platform on the north-side has been made safe. As soon as there are sufficient funds to carry out the necessary repairs of the option chosen, the preferred contractor will be engaged and the work completed as quickly as possible. Once the insurers and the church authorities are satisfied that the work has been completed and the church safe, it will then be possible to open St Francis once again.

22 July 2020Parish Council meetings

Parish Council meetings

The next Parish Council meeting will be on Tuesday 28 July, 2020 at 7.00pm.  Due to the current social distancing guidelines it is not known at this time whether the meeting will be held at Byrness Village Hall or via zoom.  Details will follow nearer the time but should it be conducted via zoom and you wish to attend the meeting please email the Parish Clerk at rochesterwithbyrnesspc@gmail.com and you will receive the meeting invite link.

The Agenda for the meeting can be found here or in the appropriate section of the 'Document Library' a few days before the meeting.

Additionally a draft version of the minutes from the previous meeting are available to view within the 'Document Library'.

The Parish Council meet on the last Tuesday of every other month. Below are dates and locations for the next six meetings

29 September, 2020 @ Rochester Village Hall

24 November, 2020 @ Byrness Village Hall

26 January, 2021 @ Rochester Village Hall

30 March, 2021 @ Byrness Village Hall

25 May, 2021 @ Rochester Village Hall (to include Annual Parish Meeting)

27 July, 2021 @ Byrness Village Hall

03 July 2020Public phone box in Byrness - BT plan to have it removed

Telephone Box No: Proposal to remove phone box 01830520675

Location: PCO PCO1 Byrness Village Newcastle Upon Tyne NE19 1TR

Application No. 20/02029/BT

As you may already be aware BT is currently undertaking a programme of proposed public payphone removals. The above public payphone in Northumberland which has a very low usage level and has been identified by BT for removal under full consultation. A consultation notice for the relevant payphone has been displayed to ensure that the local community are fully informed.

NCC acts as the ‘local organisation/Relevant Public Body ’, as identified in the Ofcoms: ‘Guidance on procedures for the removal of public call boxes’. The ‘local organisation’ gathers information to help make an informed decision about the removal of public call boxes.

In order to do this do this NCC will seek the views of the local community by carrying out a consultation process- this process is not prescribed by Ofcom-although it is suggested that parish councils be informed which call boxes have been identified in their area for closure and their input sought . I shall be pleased to receive your observations within 21 days of the receipt of this letter (dated 2 July, 2020). You can reply with your observations to planningcomments@northumberland.gov.uk.

In addition to the views and opinions expressed by parish councils and individuals- BT recommend that the local organisation look at the area that surrounds the box and the people who live locally and consider the following:

Who lives there - Is it predominantly private rented, or council housing, - this might suggest residents on a lower income without access to mobile and fixed telephones.

Number of households – There might be concerns about alternative access to telephone services for low population densities.

Emergency calls – especially in those areas where there is limited, or low mobile signal.

General mobile phone coverage- in remote rural areas phone coverage is often weak.

After the initial consultation NCC will weight up the views that have been received and makes their first decision, this is called the First Notice – this information will be published on NCC Planning Website for a further consultation process that will run until 11th August 2020

Having considered all the evidence NCC can exercise a right of veto to the BT proposal, this has to be supported by sufficient evidence identified through the consultation process.

NCC will consider the responses to the First Notice, and make their final decision. A Final Notice will be published, setting out their final decision by 28th September 2020

Please send your responses to https://publicaccess.northumberland.gov.uk/onlineapplications// quoting the application reference 20/02029/BT.

22 June 2020Northumberland Communities Together - Coronavirus

Please see the message below and the link that is provided


Hi Everyone

I wanted to touch base wit h you all and remind everyone about the Communities Together Hub.


The link above takes you to the main page of the Communities Together Hub, for the details of telephone number please click on How can I get help?

If anyone in your area is having a difficult time or struggling at the moment please get in touch, we'll find you support and connect you with people in your area and/or services.

I appreciate that most of you know your residents and have already support in place.


Michelle Redfern

Locality Coordinator – West Northumberland

Based at County Hall

Northumbria Healthcare Trust



14 June 2020Byrness grass cutting

The Parish Councillors are aware that the grass was too long before the last cut was carried out in the village on 9 June that has left the areas looking not as tidy as we would like. This is no reflection on the contractor, CM Landscape Ltd, ability to cut the grass.

Over the last few years there has been an average of 10 cuts carried out each year and it is this number that the Councillors have budgeted for in 2020 together with an additional commitment to cut the areas down towards the river at the start and end of the grass cutting season.

A three weekly cut is presently set by the Parish Council with some flexibility for weather and times of increased or slow growth.  The Councillors will continue to monitor and advise the contractor if any adjustments to the cutting regime are felt necessary.

Whilst the Parish Council wishes that the grass in and around both Byrness and Rochester villages could be cut on a frequency that would mean it would look neat and tidy all the time unfortunately the Parish budget won’t stretch to allow this.

10 June 2020Covid19 - Grants for businesses

Please see attached link that provides details of possible gants for small businesses in Northumberland impacted by Covid19


22 May 2020Byrness car park closure

Please note Byrness car park is closed during the Covid19 crisis.

Whilst it is acknowledge a number of car parks within Northumberland are now being opened the thoughts of the Parish Councillors and a number of the local residents are that it is still too ealry in the North East. The Parish Councillors will continue to monitor the situation but in the meantime ask that drivers do not park on the soft grass verges.

Local residents can still use the bottle bank located in the car park.

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