Saturday, 5 January 2013


Its such a pity that the inimitable Eric Pickles, who as leader of Bradford Council during the 1980's  announced a five-year plan to cut the council's budget by £50m, reduce the workforce by a third, privatise services and undertake council departmental restructures that weakened the Councils ability to deliver services, has been placed in a position where his private ideas can be publicly delivered in order that society remembers him for something.
He and his running mate, Liberal Democrat, Andrew Stunell MP who defends him at every turn, have shown that they are completely out of touch with reality when it comes to Local Government Finance and understanding how it can link to austerity measures.

The pair clearly don't comprehend that Councils must invest to realise efficiency savings. Also that some Councils who have pre-absorbed their ideological thinking and taken on Public Private Partnership's to assist with those efficiencies still need to pour money in to get results out, yet their cuts are just as large if not larger than others, take Liverpool's joint venture with BT as an example.
Some of their strange ideas such as chief executives taking pay cuts to save front line jobs or sharing backroom services as a way of protecting frontline services, these minor things would help of course but in Northumberland we have taken out £105M over the last four years and have agreed efficiencies and spending reductions today that are above £11M. This from a Council containing Englands highest levels of sparsity and some of the most deprived wards in Britain.

Northumberland Labour Group Leader Grant Davey said: "I'm sure Northumberland and its people would agree to follow Pickles and Stunell and if we paid our Chief Executive £29M per year, had a back room as big as Blackpool Tower Ballroom and staffed at Red Army levels we could comply with their wishes, as it is, LGR and the last Labour Governments performance management targets, cut out all the fat, We now have the vultures picking over the bones telling people the chemicals their made of can be sold off to the private sector."

More Cuts by Jeff friends in Government LIB DEMS and Tories

County council spending reduced by £6.5million
Berwick Press
Published on Friday 4 January 2013 07:23
BUDGET cuts will reduce Northumberland County Council’s spending power by £6.5 million in real terms this year - more than the national average, the communities secretary Eric Pickles has revealed.
This year’s budget settlement for councils across the UK has been revealed by the Government, with an average cut in budgets of 2.7 per cent for 2013-14.
Northumberland will have its allocation reduced by £6.5 million, after adjustment for inflation - a two per cent drop, again more than the national average.
Other councils have seen their spending power cut by up to 8.8 per cent.
Northumberland County Council will have just under £312 million to spend in 2013-14 - the equivalent of just over £2,100 for each household.
The move is part of a shift from central to local funding of councils, with more money to be raised locally and less via government grants.
The council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (for the next three years) is due to be discussed on February 11, at a meeting where the Executive will also be given the chance to make formal budgetary recommendations to the county council regarding spending in the coming year.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

It is with great trepidation that Northumberland Labour Group acknowledges the proposed merger of Kings School and Priory primary school in Tynemouth and their intended open admissions policy.

It is with great trepidation that Northumberland Labour Group acknowledges the proposed merger of Kings School and Priory primary school in Tynemouth and their intended open admissions policy.

Their catchment area through openness, is dangerously close to the Northumberland border with North Tyneside and may become a flaw in Northumberlands improvement program for schools across South East Northumberland. Several vulnerable schools, pupil numbers wise, within travelling distance of Tynemouth could be affected by this growth.

Northumberland Labour Group leader Grant Davey said:"Parent Choice in education across the Country has led to all sorts of local difficulties, inflated house prices being one of the most common, but this new type of school who will recruit from anywhere to remain a viable product may cause a vacuum effect and suck in families from a massively wide area.
In Northumberland we need to protect our schools against predators and demand that a full impact assessment is undertaken on this schools proposals for a Lottery Type admissions policy on our counties education system".

County Councillor Glen Sanderson

Why does the Conservative Chair of Northumberland County Council Communities and Place Scrutiny Committee, refuse to allow an ‘emergency item on the disgraceful abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board’ on the agenda for the next meeting?
The Tories and their Lib Dem handmaidens sneaked through the abolition of the AWB, 2 hours before parliament broke for the Christmas recess.
It’s estimated that this will remove £240m from the rural economy over the next 10 years and will result in a ‘race to the bottom’ for agricultural workers.
Northumberland has hundreds of workers in the farming and forestry industries who will be hit by the scrapping of a board which has protected some of the lowest paid workers since 1924.
The abolition of the AWB will save the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition only £50,000 and will mean that agricultural workers will need to negotiate their contracts directly with farm owners.
Unite; the trade union have highlighted that wages as low as £2.59p per hour could be ‘negotiated’.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

'Scrutiny Committee can't fit in an emergency item when it only has three updates and a report on the forward plan'

County Council Glen Saderson

Three Meetings of the Communities and Place Overview and Scrutiny Panel that CC Glen Sanderson Chairs and has not got the time for this important item on Farm Workers Pay

Northumberland County Council
Communities and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Work Programme 2012-2013

Housing/Annual Business
Venue: Bernicia Headquarters, Kingston Park (including visit to Bernicia extra care development)
Bernicia Housing Group - Presentation (Bernicia Representative)
Strategic Housing Services: (a) Performance Report (b) Affordable Housing Definition (c) Adaptations (d) Energy Use/Fuel Poverty (e) Performance Data on Social Housing Providers - Updates (Daljit Lally/Kevin Lowry/Councillor T Brechany)
Annual Work Programme (Annual Member Research Survey) - Draft/Residual (Paul Allen/Jackie Roll)
13 June 2012 MEETING THEME:
Waste Management
Venue: Tees Valley Energy from Waste Plant, Billingham
Waste Management Service Plan: (a) Performance (b) Garden Waste Collection Performance (c) Textile Recycling – Update
Recommendations to Executive - Annual Monitoring Report (Paul Allen/Jackie Roll/Councillor J Reid)
12 July 2012 MEETING THEME:
Communities/Sport and Leisure
Ponteland Leisure Centre
Customer and Cultural Services Service Plan: Sport and Leisure Service - Update (Kate Roe/Stacey Burlet/Councillor NJ Bradbury)
Sport England Strategy - Presentation (Judith Rasmussen/Stacey Burlet/Councillor NJ Bradbury)
Northumberland County Council Engagement Update - July 2012 (Stacey Burlet/Councillor R Styring)
Neighbourhood Services - Verbal Update (Grass-cutting) (Andy Rutherford/Councillor JA Thompson)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Northumberland Councillors call for review on farm workers’ pay

LABOUR councillors are calling for a detailed analysis of the likely impact on Northumberland of Government plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.
Currently, all casual farm workers in England and Wales have their pay set by the board, which was established in 1924. But coalition ministers recently announced plans to axe it as part of the drive to get rid of quangos, with agricultural employers setting pay locally.
It has been claimed that the decision will see farm workers lose benefits such as payment for annual leave, and result in the removal of about £240m from workers over the next 10 years.
Now the Labour group on Northumberland County Council has asked for the impacts of the decision to be examined by the council’s communities and place scrutiny committee.
Group leader, Grant Davey, has written to committee chairman, Glen Sanderson, asking for an emergency item to be added to the next meeting.
Coun Davey said Labour agrees with a recent Office for National Statistics report which said the cost of living for rural families is £50 a week higher than in urban areas.
He says the abolition of the wages board, and its protection for farmworkers’ pay, will be a further blow for countryside dwellers.
In a letter to Coun Sanderson he says: “We urge the council’s communities and place overview and scrutiny panel to launch a review, and a thorough impact assessment, of the effect which the Governments removal of the Agricultural Wages Board will have on Northumberland.”
The decision to axe the board has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union, which labelled it outdated and an administrative burden, but has been condemned by the Unite union.
Ministers say the move will create a more flexible labour market.

Read more: Journal Live