Thursday, 25 April 2013

Now Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has stepped into the row, and called on the town council to find a less controversial site for the new loos.

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea community split by plans for new loos
by David Black, The Journal
Apr 25 2013

COMMUNITY leaders in a seaside town have been urged by their local MP to re-think a controversial decision on the location for much-needed new public toilets.
Last week it was revealed that the proposal to build the three-cubicle block of loos in the middle of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, has been given the green light by the Planning Inspectorate.
The toilets will be built just off Front Street, on a patch of land right next to a house owned by local man Mike Rigg and close to business premises.
The site was chosen by Newbiggin Town Council and caused a split in the community, with hundreds of locals and visitors signing rival petitions.
Planning inspector Chris Checkley overturned the county council’s refusal of planning permission for the scheme, a decision branded an “absolute disgrace” by Mr Rigg.
Now Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has stepped into the row, and called on the town council to find a less controversial site for the new loos.
Fears have been voiced that the toilets will lead to a loss of privacy and attract problems such as vandalism, graffiti, drug use and noise.
Mr Lavery says the town council’s decision to ignore the local residents’ petition is wrong. He called for a re-think, saying the council might have won over the planning inspector, but had not convinced those who really matter – the people who will be affected by the decision.
“They have a chance to come up with a new location and I’m urging them to think again. The ball is in their court and they need to listen to the views of the residents, not the planning inspector.”
Alan Thompson, who represents Newbiggin on the county and town councils, said more than 10 potential sites had been examined, but virtually all had proved unsuitable.
He said the chosen site was in the town centre, accessible and was an excellent location. He added there are no plans to reconsider the decision.
“I can think of public toilets in Ashington’s pedestrianised shopping centre, and in Corbridge, which are stuck between business premises with domestic accommodation above, so this is nothing out of the ordinary.”
Millions of pounds have been spent in Newbiggin to make it a more attractive destination for tourists and regenerate its ailing high street. But town leaders say the effort is hampered by a lack of accessible toilets for the growing number of visitors.
Mr Checkley said he could find no reason why the toilet building should act as a magnet for young people or cause any disturbance, especially when it will be locked at 7pm every night.

Spokesperson for the Labour candidates in Morpeth, Debbie Davies said'It's clear that only Labour aren't playing politics with parking in this election and our plan to give communities the final say over free parking in Northumberland. This should be an issue that crosses the party political divide and we believe the decision for free parking should be made in communities not in County Hall'

Political row rages over free parking in Morpeth
by David Black, The Journal
Apr 25 2013

A POLITICAL row has erupted over a long-running campaign by business leaders for a fairer system of car parking charges across Northumberland.
Furious officials at Morpeth Chamber of Trade say they feel “threatened and bullied” by an accusation from a local Liberal Democrat councillor that the business organisation is a “front for the Conservative party”.
Coun Ken Brown also said the town council may withdraw its annual £1,000 grant to the chamber because of its allegedly party political stance.
The row has blown up just days before voters go to the polls to elect new members of the county, town and parish councils.
Morpeth chamber of trade has been campaigning for years against the current system, which sees parking fees levied in the rural market towns while drivers park free in south east Northumberland towns such as Ashington and Blyth.
The chamber has distributed leaflets and window stickers in advance of next week’s county council elections urging people to Vote for Free Parking – and setting out the current policies of the three main political groups on the issue.
The Conservatives have promised to introduce free parking for all Northumberland residents if elected, Labour has pledged to phase out parking charges in consultation with local communities and the Lib Dems say scrapping charges is unaffordable in the current financial climate.

The Lib Dems have now accused the chamber of urging people to vote Conservative – an allegation which it strongly refutes.
In an email to chamber chairman, George Williams, Mr Brown said the organisation was to “publish a leaflet in support of the Conservative Party’s policy of free parking”.
He said this would have “ramifications” for the chamber, including the Lib Dems identifying it as a front for the Conservative Party. Mr Brown also said Morpeth Town Council will not subsidise any organisation that engages in political activity.
He added: “This would prevent payment of the annual £1,071 subsidy to the Chamber, would bring into question joint projects such as Northumbria In Bloom and will probably tear apart the Town Team.”
The chamber held an emergency committee meeting last week and unanimously agreed to press ahead with its campaign for free parking.
Yesterday vice-chairman Charles Robinson said the chamber was non-political and didn’t support any one party.
“There is a great deal of anger, frustration and disappointment at the stance which the Lib Dems have taken on this,” he said.

“We were incensed by this attack on us and feel threatened and bullied. We have been running our campaign against the unfair system of parking charges in Northumberland for almost five years. All we have done in the leaflets is to set out the current policies of the three parties on this issue.
“As a chamber we wish to make it absolutely clear that our policy in having fair and equal car parking charges throughout the county is supported by both the Labour and Conservative parties – and that it is they who support us, not vice versa.”
Andrew Tebbutt, who is the agent for all Morpeth Lib Dem candidates at the county and town council elections, said his party was “astonished and disappointed” that the chamber of trade had taken a political stance in the election campaign.
“We can understand that they want free parking, but to come out in support of a political party on a single issue is not what is expected from a chamber of trade,” he said.
Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservative group at County Hall, said the Lib Dems were “acting like petulant children”. He said: “They have been forced into a corner as the only group which wants to maintain the current unfair system of parking charges.”

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Senior local politicians and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery have waded into the row about the council’s failure to log thousands of resident’s names describing the council’s lack of action as ‘deeply disturbing’ and an affront to the people who signed Labour’s petition which demanded free parking across the county.

Council accused of deliberately ignoring parking petition
‘The petition closed on 26 Feb – why won’t the council release how many people have signed up?’ – Ian Lavery
Senior local politicians and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery have waded into the row about the council’s failure to log thousands of resident’s names describing the council’s lack of action as ‘deeply disturbing’ and an affront to the people who signed Labour’s petition which demanded free parking across the county.
Labour MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery said

'Thousands of residents have signed up to Labour's petition on free parking but it seems the Liberal led council doesn't even want to debate this issue. They've dragged their feet over the petition and haven't even released the number of people signed up. I'm calling for the council to make public the number of people who signed have signed up and listen to the people who've taken time to sign up to the campaign to deliver fair parking across the county'. 
Ian Swithenbank said
‘It’s clear this isn’t an issue the council wanted to talk about but to deliberately ignore a petition which contained many thousands of names of people who had taken the time to sign up must feel like a deliberate snub from this Liberal Democrat administration. The council has failed in its duty to allow the petition to be heard and I can only assume that the Liberals in County Hall are desperately trying to silence the majority of people who want to see an end to the Liberal Democrat parking tax’.
It’s unknown exactly how many people have signed up to the Labour party’s petition to scrap the unfair Liberal Democrat parking tax and now the Labour party is demanding to know why the council is dragging its feet over the petition and how many people signed up to call to scrap parking charges.  
The council received an estimated 3,000 names collected in Berwick and hundreds collected in Morpeth and promised to ‘update and contact the petitioners shortly’. The petition closed on 26 Feb and the council have refused to hold the petition meeting.  
Now Morpeth Chamber of Trade and umbrella organisation Northumberland Chamber of Trade have launched their own campaign to push for free parking across the county and not just in the South East towns.
Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘It feels like the Liberals are covering up and trying to hide the many thousands of people who signed up to express their dismay at the unfair parking tax which taxes towns like Berwick, Morpeth, Alnwick and Hexham while ignoring others. The council should come clean and at least publish how many people signed the petition.’

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Combination of cuts hits most deprived areas hardest

Combination of cuts hits most deprived areas hardest

New analysis by the Labour Party shows that the most deprived areas of the country are getting a double hit from local government cuts and cuts to tax credits and benefits.

The North East of England is the worst hit area, with cuts amounting to £566 per head. Least affected is the South East, where the combined impact of local government and welfare cuts is just over half as great, at £292 per head.

The worst-hit area, Knowsley in Merseyside, sees a total loss of £850 per head – £515 per head in welfare cuts and £336 in local government cuts. The least-hit area, Mole Valley in Surrey, sees a total loss of £182 per head – £164 in welfare cuts and £18 in local government cuts.

Two thirds of those affected by cuts to tax credits and benefits are in work.

By region, the loss per head is as follows

North East                  £566
London                      £511
North West                         £508
Yorks and Humber       £421
West Midlands            £388
East Midlands             £364
South West                 £334
East                            £324
South East                   £292

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

“The Tories are zeroing in on areas in need and hitting them hard – twice.

“Communities facing the biggest hit to local government are also losing most from cuts to their tax credits and benefits, yet instead of helping working families the Tories are giving millionaires a tax cut. That tells you everything you need to know about this Government’s priorities.”

Ends

Editor’s Notes:

1.   The analysis by the Labour Party combines two separate datasets - not originally compiled by the Labour Party - to show the impact of local government cuts and welfare cuts in 2014/15. A spreadsheet is attached.

2.   The welfare cuts information was compiled by the Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, and published as "Hitting the poorest places hardest: The local and regional impact of welfare reform", April 2013, http://www.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/hitting-poorest-places-hardest_0.pdf

3.   The original data was calculated to show the cut per working age adult by local authority. Labour has divided the total cut in each local authority by the total number of residents to give a per head figure instead.

4.   The local authority spending cuts dataset was compiled by Newcastle City Council, and gives cumulative per head of population change in Revenue Spending Power in 2014-15 compared to 2010/11. Their dataset is available here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AonYZs4MzlZbdHlyTlZGMFhyNXFsU2JlQjZkVkNGUHc#gid=9

5.   The City of London has been excluded from the figures.

Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Iain McNicol on behalf of The Labour Party, both at One Brewer's Green, London SW1H 0RH. Website: www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0845 0922299

Labour MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery branded the decision by the town council to ignore resident’s petition as ‘wrong’

MP urges rethink over controversial toilets plan
‘Surely Alan Thompson and the town council should listen to residents and think again about the location of public toilets in Newbiggin?’ – Ian Lavery MP

A controversial plan to locate much needed public toilets in Newbiggin next to a restaurant and private housing has come under fire from the town’s MP after the town council ignored a residents petition and the decision of the council South East Planning Committee and invoked an expensive planning appeal to get the ‘go ahead’ to build.
Residents in the area are concerned that not enough space has been left between the proposed Convenience and the historic home of Mr Rigg at Sea View Terrace and that the doors of the Convenience will open right onto the entrance of the flat above the carry out, forming a den for youngsters to congregate after dark. The residents are seeking assurance from Northumberland County Council who gifted the site to Newbiggin by the Sea town council that this project will not begin the process of blighting their properties through what they call ‘a ridiculous planning decision by an inspector’.
Labour MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery branded the decision by the town council to ignore resident’s petition as ‘wrong’ and said
‘It’s clear that we need a new public convenience in the town but the choice of location has turned a public convenience into a potential public inconvenience. Alan Thompson has led the plans to site this toilet next to a restaurant and someone’s home and he’s got to think again. He may have won the planning inspector over to his plans but he’s not won the most important people over and that’s the people who will be affected by this decision. He has a chance to come up with a new location and I’m urging him to think again and look at a new location. The ball is in his court and he needs to listen to the views of his residents not the planning inspector’.


Monday, 22 April 2013

The Northumberland Labour Group is fielding six candidates under the age of 30 to vie for seats on town and county authorities.

Published on 22/04/2013 07:00  Morpeth Herald
COUNCIL elections are attracting a young generation of candidates this year.

The Northumberland Labour Group is fielding six candidates under the age of 30 to vie for seats on town and county authorities.
Included in the list are Scott Dickinson, of North Broomhill, and Otis Gilbert, of Mitford.
Mr Dickinson, 29, has served on East Chevington Parish Council and fought for the Chevington and Longhorsley county council seat in 2008, but was beaten into second place.
Now he is trying his luck in the newly-formed Druridge Bay ward, where he will come up against Lindsay Arkley, for the Liberal Democrats, and Conservative candidate Daniel Hedley.
Mr Gilbert, 19, is fighting for a county council seat in the Longhorsley Division. He is up against Northumberland Conservatives’ Deputy Leader Glen Sanderson, David Cox, of the UK Independence Party, and Charles Jevon for the Liberal Democrats.
Standing for Ashington Town Council is Liam Lavery, the son of Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery.
Labour Group Leader Grant Davey said: “This election should be about the future of Northumberland and we need to make sure young people are represented in the decision-making structures of the council. We’re pleased to have such a talented and hard-working group standing for election this time around.”

It’s unknown exactly how many people have signed up to the Labour party’s petition to scrap the unfair Liberal Democrat parking tax and now the Labour party is demanding to know why the council is dragging its feet over the petition and how many people signed up to call to scrap parking charges

Council accused of deliberately ignoring parking petition
‘The petition closed on 26 Feb – why won’t the council release how many people have signed up?’
A senior Labour politician has waded into the row about the council’s failure to log thousands of resident’s names and described it as ‘deeply disturbing’ and an affront to the people who signed Labour’s petition which demanded free parking across the county.
Ian Swithenbank said
‘It’s clear this isn’t an issue the council wanted to talk about but to deliberately ignore a petition which contained many thousands of names of people who had taken the time to sign up must feel like a deliberate snub from this Liberal Democrat administration. The council has failed in its duty to allow the petition to be heard and I can only assume that the Liberals in County Hall are desperately trying to silence the majority of people who want to see an end to the Liberal Democrat parking tax’.
It’s unknown exactly how many people have signed up to the Labour party’s petition to scrap the unfair Liberal Democrat parking tax and now the Labour party is demanding to know why the council is dragging its feet over the petition and how many people signed up to call to scrap parking charges.  
The council received an estimated 3,000 names collected in Berwick and hundreds collected in Morpeth and promised to ‘update and contact the petitioners shortly’. The petition closed on 26 Feb and the council have refused to hold the petition meeting.  
Now Morpeth Chamber of Trade and umbrella organisation Northumberland Chamber of Trade have launched their own campaign to push for free parking across the county and not just in the South East towns.


Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘It feels like the Liberals are covering up and trying to hide the many thousands of people who signed up to express their dismay at the unfair parking tax which taxes towns like Berwick, Morpeth, Alnwick and Hexham while ignoring others. The council should come clean and at least publish how many people signed the petition.’