Friday, 15 February 2013

DOOM AND GLOOM FROM TEBBUTT AND REID

Published on Thursday 14 February 2013 13:13 The councillor responsible for the county’s budget has warned that whoever is in charge following elections in May will have to deal with a ‘horrendous’ situation.
At Monday night’s meeting of the north area committee, council leader Jeff Reid, deputy leader Roger Styring and executive member for corporate resources Andrew Tebbutt presented a ‘state of the area’ update.
Couns Reid and Styring emphasised that the key priorities for the council, chief among them growing the county’s economy, remained the same.
But Coun Tebbutt outlined just how severe the financial situation facing the council is now and for the coming years.
The county council has already cut £100million from its budget since 2009 and another £86million is set to be cut over the next three years, with £23million coming in 2013/14.
It means that the council’s revenue budget for next year is £467million, but around two-thirds of that is ring-fenced for education and adult services.
As it stands, around £200million of that money is the Dedicated Schools Grant which goes directly to the schools themselves.
Coun Tebbutt said: “I will not comment on the years 2014/15 and 2015/16, other than to say it looks horrendous.
“Whoever forms the administration will have a real job on their hands.”
The capital budget for the next three financial years is around £314million.
The full council meeting on the 2013/14 budget will take place on Wednesday, February 27.

Northumberland Loses Twice in the Next EU Funding Round

Northumberland Loses Twice in the Next EU Funding Round

With the release of the projected UK distribution of EU Grant funding (NUTS 2) for 2014 - 2020, Northumberland Labour Group are extremely concerned that the County loses out,not once, but twice.

In a report from the Industrial Communities Alliance it is expected that the UK Coalition Government will attack the funding used to offset deprivation and increase life chances for people living in the most deprived areas and steer £1bn  towards the rich areas of the South East of England issuing funding on a population and not a needs basis. It is expected that the North of England will lose £500M in this round of funding.

In Northumberland they have been hit with a double whammy as they have been tied in with the Tyne and Wear Authorities and labeled a 'more developed region' and offered £110 per head of population. Whilst Durham and Tees Valley has fallen into the transition Authorities bracket and will receive an average of  £260 per head of population.

Northumberland is the 'most sparsely' populated area in England and was attacked by the coalition Government because of its sparsity in the recent round of funding as the Government raised the floors and lowered the ceilings of the grants to ensure the area was almost zeroed.

Northumberland Labour Group Leader, Grant Davey said: "This shows that the Conservative led and Liberal scaffolded coalition Government are only interested in protecting their votes in the South East and don't even give a jot for the two seats they currently hold in Northumberland.
These grants that assist with easing the costly burdens of delivering services and infrastructure in difficult to manage areas are being denied to the people of Northumberland at the correct rate. Whilst the people of the Tyne and Wear Authorities have good public transport links and an excellent highways network that is being extended to assist speedy travel throughout Tyne and Wear we have an ever deteriorating and never growing set of out of date stock and problems that this Government is deciding to sweep under the carpet and ignore."


ALLOCATION OF EU FUNDING ACROSS THE UK, 2014-20




This note provides estimates of the possible distribution of EU funding across the UK in the forthcoming 2014-20 spending round.

The calculations are based on the assumption that the UK government “passes through” the funding to each area on the basis of European Commission formulas.  Though no decision has yet been taken, this approach has been suggested by UK officials at recent consultation events.  It differs significantly from the way funds were allocated in the present 2007-13 round.

The consequence of this possible new approach would be to divert around €1bn more in funding to southern England at the expense of the rest of the country.



Basis of the estimates

All the local and regional figures presented in this note are estimates by the Alliance Secretariat.  The calculations involve a number of successive steps resting on data and assumptions about:

  • The scale of the overall EU budget
  • The share of funding coming to the UK
  • The allocation of funding between sub-regions within the UK

Comparisons are then made between the funding allocations in the present 2007-13 spending round and the estimates for 2014-20.


The overall EU budget

The EU budget for 2014-20 was finalised by the Council of Ministers at their summit in Brussels on 7-8 February 2013.  Subject to ratification by the European Parliament, this is the budget that will be implemented.

Across the EU as a whole, the Structural Funds budget – which covers regional economic development – is divided as follows:

            Less developed regions (sub-75% of EU av. GDP per head)              €164.3bn
            Transition regions (75-90%)                                                                        31.7bn
            More developed regions (90% +)                                                                49.5bn

Each NUTS 2 region across the EU is allocated to one of the three categories on the basis of GDP data for 2007-09.  Two UK NUTS 2 regions (West Wales & the Valleys and Cornwall) qualify as ‘less developed regions’ and eleven as ‘transition regions’.
Share of funding coming to the UK

The European Commission will hand over pots of money to member states for each of the three categories of region.

The financial allocation is determined by a complex formula, based on population, regional and national GDP, unemployment and other factors.  These calculations, which will be undertaken by the Commission using NUTS 2 data, are not easily replicated.

The outcomes in the present 2007-13 spending round do however offer a useful guide.  In the 2007-13 round, the UK allocations per head were about two-thirds of the EU average, reflecting the lower GDP figures and greater development needs in other member states.  If this two-thirds proportion is maintained – which seems reasonable – and taking into account the UK population in each of the three categories, the overall allocations to the UK for 2014-20 will therefore be:

            Less developed regions                 €2.8bn = €1,150 per head
            Transition regions                            €3.3bn = €260 per head
            More developed regions                 €5.1bn = €110 per head

These figures are necessarily approximate.


Allocation between parts of the UK

The Commission requires the money for each category of region to be spent within that category.  The local allocations, however, are a matter for member states.

For 2014-20, UK government officials have spoken of “passing through” the funds to different parts of the UK on the basis of European Commission formulas.  This potentially gives the Commission’s complex calculations a key role.

As a guide, a simplified version of the Commission’s calculations for the UK would be as follows:

  • That each less developed region is allocated €1,150 per head (the UK average figure – see earlier).  Cornwall and West Wales & the Valleys are not far apart in terms of GDP per head, so a broadly similar allocation between the two might be expected.

  • That each transition region is allocated funding on a sliding scale, from €420 per head at 76% GDP to €160 per head at 89% GDP (giving a UK average of €260 per head – see earlier).  GDP per head is the main factor the Commission takes into account in its calculations for transition regions.

  • That more developed regions are allocated an average of €110 per head (again the UK figure – see earlier) but with an adjustment to reflect differing levels of prosperity.  The Commission uses seven indicators for this purpose.  The illustrative figures presented here assume that the financial allocation to each NUTS 2 region rises or falls by 10 per cent for every one percentage point increase/decrease in unemployment relative to the UK average (measured using Eurostat data for 2011).

The resulting allocations to NUTS 2 regions are as follows:


Less developed regions
Cornwall                                €620m            W Wales & V             €2180m

Transition regions
Tees V & Durham                €460m            Cumbria                      80m
Lancashire                            €350m            Merseyside                €470m
E Yorks & N Lincs                €200m            S Yorks                      €350m
Shrops & Staffs                    €410m            Lincolnshire              €240m
Devon                                                €210m            Highlands & Is          €120m
N Ireland                                €410m

More developed regions
N’land & Tyne & Wear        €180m            Cheshire                     90m
G Manchester                       €340m            N Yorks                        80m
W Yorks                                 €290m            Derbys & Notts         €240m
Leics                                       €170m            H’ford, Worcs & W   €110m
W Midlands (met)                 €380m            East Anglia               €210m
Beds & Herts                         €170m            Essex                         €170m
London                                  €970m            Berks, Bucks & O     €180m
Surrey and Sussex              €220m            Hamps & IOW           €160m
Kent                                        €190m            Gloucs & Wilts          €220m
Dorset & Somerset              €110m            East Wales                €110m
E Scotland                            €200m            SW Scotland             €280m
NE Scotland                           30m


The purely illustrative basis of all these figures must be emphasised.

In practice, the Westminster government looks likely to make financial allocations to LEPs in England rather than to NUTS 2 regions, which would require detailed adjustments to the figures where LEP boundaries straddle more than one NUTS 2 region.

Allocations between the ‘more developed regions’ within Scotland is a devolved matter.  Current plans are that that there will be a single programme, covering all the relevant areas in Scotland, rather than individual NUTS 2 financial allocations.





More or less than in the current round?

The first part of the attached table shows the allocation of ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and ESF (European Social Fund) monies by region in the UK during the present 2007-13 spending round.

The second part of the table shows the estimated allocation of funds between the regions for 2014-20, based on the figures and methods described in this note – in other words, assuming that the UK government simply “passes through” the money without imposing any steer of its own.

The crucial comparison is between the share of funds (outside the Convergence regions) going to each region in the two spending rounds.

The final column shows the extent to which each region would gain or lose, compared to its share of funding in 2007-13.  There are some stark figures here:

  • The North of England, in total, could lose €500m

  • Scotland could lose €300m

  • The South of England, in total, could gain nearly €1bn

The figures for individual regions are as follows:

            South East                                        gain  €440m
            South West (ex Cornwall)              gain  €220m
            London                                              gain  €160m
            East of England                               gain  €140m
            East Midlands                                   gain    €30m

            West Midlands                                  lose    €20m
            Wales (ex W Wales & Valleys)      lose    €50m
            North East                                         lose    €80m
            Northern Ireland                               lose  €130m
            North West                                        lose  €190m
            Yorks & Humber                              lose  €220m
            Scotland                                            lose  €300m


Implications

The clear conclusion of this analysis is that if EU funds are simply “passed through” to UK regions and sub-regions, there is likely be a major shift in resources for economic development to the south of England.

It has long been recognised that the Midlands, North, Scotland and Wales have more acute development problems than most of the South and are therefore in need of greater financial support for regional development.  The post-2008 recession has if anything widened these regional disparities.

In the 2007-13 round, the UK government took the reasonable decision to prioritise the parts of the country with the greatest development needs.  The ESF funding, for example, was allocated using a formula based on worklessness and skills needs.  This resulted in around £350m more funding going to the Midlands, North, Scotland and Wales than would have been the case if the allocation had been based on population alone.  ERDF funding also prioritised these areas: within England, for example, the North was allocated 52% of the available funding.

The calculations here suggest that simply “passing through” funding on the basis of European Commission formulas will not deliver this strong and necessary geographical focus.

The key problem is the allocation of funding among the UK’s ‘more developed regions’, which account for almost half the anticipated funding.


Next steps

A final decision has not yet been taken on the distribution of EU funding between the different parts of the UK.  This leaves an important opportunity for lobbying.  The primary target needs to be the Westminster government, in whose hands these decisions largely rest.

The Westminster government needs to be persuaded to break with the Commission’s allocation formulas, which do not adequately reflect the divergences in local economic well-being across the UK.

Given the trends in regional economic well-being since the financial crisis, there is little obvious reason why the allocation of EU funds across the UK in 2014-20 should not broadly mirror the distribution of funding in the previous spending round.






Alliance Secretariat
13 February 2013

The Industrial Communities Alliance is the all-party association representing local authorities in the industrial areas of England, Scotland and Wales

Appeal made for vital road repairs

Appeal made for vital road repairs

Repair work is needed on Bondicar Road, in Hadston, which is littered with potholes. Parish council chairman Scott Dickinson said: “I appreciate that there has to be priority on major roads but repairs are needed here. It is the only road in and out of Hadston and I would like it to be usable without damaging cars.”

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Councillor Dickinson said that rural towns needed Labours pledged support to generate a boost for independent shops and create thriving town centres.

Councillor Dickinson said that rural towns needed Labours pledged support to generate a boost for independent shops and create thriving town centres. The parking charges have been patchy and wide ranging in terms of cost, Labours policy has always been to equalise to zero unlike the Tories who have recently jumped on this.
In areas like Morpeth & Alnwick we need to encourage visitors and locals to use the towns rather than travel out of the area, removing charges will support this vision.  

When you look at places that currently charge in Northumberland they are all former Libdem or Tory Council areas, SE Northumberland its residents and shopkeepers were protected by labour from charges. Labour are the only party to trust on equalisation on parking to ZERO across

Northumberland. In places like Amble parking needs to be clarified and areas of charge made clear by whichever authority enforcing, rules on the Main Street also need clarification so residents and visitors can use the town with confidence.

County charges at Druridge Bay Country Parks need looked at, resident who are elderly and need to drive to the parks are asked to pay, and this shouldn't be the case locals whatever their capability to get there should be able to use local beauty and wildlife areas for free. Preventing locals and visitors from being able to park for free is off putting for users and fails to promote the area.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

It is a pity that people in Berwick have been confused about the use of Pay to Park

It is a pity that people in Berwick have been confused about the use of Pay to Park Machines over the Xmas period, but it is heartening to learn that the anti pay parking petition has now raised upwards of 1700 signatures in Berwick and numbers are picking up in the other market towns across the County blighted by the Administrations stealth tax on motorists.

With the council busy trying to put their budget plans to bed for the 2013/14 year, traditionally announced in the last week of February, the Business people of Berwick  are urging the authority to make car parking free for shoppers.
The business community claims this would increase footfall in the town centre, make them more attractive places for firms to do business, and reduce the number of vacant commercial premises.
Northumberland Labour Group agrees with the business sector that free car parking would benefit our market towns. Labour Group Leader Grant Davey said: “ We just need to look at the Metro Centre to see how free parking at shopping centres boosts trade, their car parks are bursting at the seams most days and trade seems endless”
If able to form an administration in May, Northumberland Labour Group want to work with Town and Parish Councils to produce local parking plans to see if traffic can be managed in an area without the need for charging. They believe Town and Parish councils can work through the problems and that trade will increase, the offer to customers will get better through the increased footfall and people will benefit through greater competition via  this change

“Since the Lib Dem administration took over in 2008 they have tried to cheapen every service, including public health and protection. The people who expose us, our sportsmen and women and our children to dog fouling must be caught and punished, not lost in the melee of performance figures for a poorly-performing council.”

Northumberland County Council criticised for dog fouling fines fall
by David Black, The Journal
TOUGHER action is being called for to tackle irresponsible dog owners in Northumberland amid claims those who fail to clear up their pets’ mess are being given an easy ride.
Opposition councillors have criticised the Liberal Democrat-led county council after the number of fixed penalty fines issued for dog fouling fell to just nine in 2011/12, down from 17 in 2010.
There were also two magistrates’ court prosecutions for dog fouling.
Conservative councillors say the figures are “shockingly low” when compared to the 228 dog fouling fines which they said were issued in the same period in County Durham.
Opposition members say the authority is failing to prosecute dog owners for allowing their animals to foul public paths and open areas – and have now called for stricter enforcement.
The council’s Conservative group has hit out after obtaining the figures under a Freedom of Information request.
Deputy leader Glen Sanderson said: “In the same year as our council fined just nine people for dog fouling, Durham Council fined hundreds of people.

“This appears to fly in the face of the Lib Dem claims to have a zero-tolerance policy on dog dirt.”
Fellow Tory Wayne Daley, who represents Cramlington North, said: “I am shocked to learn that prosecutions fell to an all-time low in 2012 for what is one of the most disgusting and offensive public health issues which affects everyone.
“The fact is the county council is not making this a priority, and bad owners are making a mockery of the existing laws.
“The time has come for the council to get this matter under control through education and prosecutions.”
Coun Daley will be calling on the authority to increase the number of staff who are trained to issue fines, and says the council’s 26 traffic enforcement officers play a key role in policing and tackling the offence.
The Labour group is also calling on the council to improve its prosecution rate on dog fouling, claiming many Northumberland park footballers are having to clear up mess and disinfect the area before playing their matches.
Group leader Grant Davey said: “Dog fouling reports are certainly on the increase and councillors have had complaints at the south east area committee about fouling in Cowpen Cemetery.
“Since the Lib Dem administration took over in 2008 they have tried to cheapen every service, including public health and protection. The people who expose us, our sportsmen and women and our children to dog fouling must be caught and punished, not lost in the melee of performance figures for a poorly-performing council.”
A council spokeswoman said the approach taken by the public protection service was to try to educate irresponsible dog owners, and deal with first time offenders by issuing a fixed penalty notice.
Council leader, Jeff Reid, said: “What incenses me is that when Labour was in charge in Blyth Valley, and the Tories ran Tynedale Council, they never fined people for dog fouling. They seem to have had a Road to Damascus moment.”

Parish Councillor Scott Dickinson has expressed his delight at the announcement of the Northumberland Labour Groups priorities if they win a majority in May.

Parish Councillors delight at Labours Grass Cutting & Dog Fouling agenda.
Parish Councillor Scott Dickinson has expressed his delight at the announcement of the Northumberland Labour Groups priorities if they win a majority in May.

Looking at some of the commitments on the Street Care agenda I am delighted that improvements to Grass Cutting along with tackling Dog Fouling is on the agenda of the Labour Party in Northumberland. Commitment to improve grass cutting that was a major issue in many areas including Chevington and Widdrington Areas in 2012.

I chair the Druridge Bay Cluster which is made up of the local parish councils and during last year grass cutting was a major issue. This will be a joint effort not only with the county council but also ISOS who took over managing their own grassed areas. The Councils needs to work closely with ISOS to ensure that the grass cutting is up to speed and it will be the job of the new County Councillor to ensure that happens.

Residents who are in ISOS properties should still be represented well by a County Councillor even tho they are a tenant of the ISOS company, if I am elected in May I will do just that.

Dog fouling is a major issue across the Druridge Bay Council ward I have highlighted it in my area so have other parish councils, looking at the table below Northumberland has failed to attempt to deal with the issues only tackling 14people with fines. Much more needs to be done of this and the Northumberland Labour Group has it high on their agenda, it may seem like a small issue but it means a lot to people.


Council
2012 Complaints
People Fined
Population
Sunderland
1,861
26
275,300
Northumberland
1,204
14
316,000
Newcastle
1,083
62
277,800
Blackpool
809
25
140,200
Carlisle
711
32
104,700
Hartlepool
505
179
91,700
Middlesborough
459
2
142,700
Redcar
420
82
140,000
South Tyneside
412
4
148,100
Allerdale
411
55
94,300
Lancaster
374
14
141,100
Copeland
236
44
69,700
South Lakeland
200
0
103,800
Eden
151
0
51,800