Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Labour administration has signalled its intention to introduce a ‘living wage’ for the county council lowest paid staff by kick starting negotiations with the authority’s trade unions and the Northern TUC

Labour moves to implement promise on ‘living wage’ Hundreds of lowest paid workers set for pay boost as negotiations begin over living wage implementation in Northumberland County Council.

The Labour administration has signalled its intention to introduce a ‘living wage’ for the county council lowest paid staff by kick starting negotiations with the authority’s trade unions and the Northern TUC.

 A working group has been set up to look at how the county could implement a ‘living wage’ with a remit to report back to the executive within three months and to look at the potential knock on effect of increased wages for the local economy.

A terms of reference for the group has been circulated to trade unions and an accompanying academic report has been commissioned. In addition, the council is keen to develop an equality impact assessment and have already approached a third party to evaluate the potential impact of the ‘living wage’ policy.

 Labour are outlining their approach to delivering a key ‘manifesto commitment’ in the run up to the council’s budget process as a signal to its priorities despite having to make almost £70m worth of savings over the next two years and having to deal with the coalition government’s expected decision to reduce the amount it transfers to Northumberland by £222 per household.

The party is confident that the ‘living wage’ policy would benefit the wider Northumberland economy because many of the workers who would see a pay hike, live and shop in their local communities. It is estimated that a pay rise to over £7.20 an hour would mean that local businesses could see an additional £10m of local spending.

Labour group leader Grant Davey said ‘There are already 51 council’s across the country who’ve signed up to a ‘living wage’ for their lowest paid employee’s and we’re keen to get on and deliver our promise to the make Northumberland County Council a ‘living wage’ employer. As communities and families face an ever increasing struggle to make ends meet as coalition tax increases such as the VAT hike continue to eat into household incomes, we’re clear that we think a ‘living wage’ will boost households and businesses alike.

We’ve taken the step to set up a working group which will report back within three months after assessing the wider impact of the policy and we’re clear that this policy is about a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. I’m hopeful that this policy will attract ‘cross party support’ as it’s not a party political issue’. End The 12 Councils of the North East agreed that a conference should be held in january 2014 once the size of the cut is known by Councils to progress the matter of what is the North-Easts level of living wage.

If we move more quickly in Northumberland it will be a two stage matter. The Newcastle Model will be the first step to get the principle established and then the regional model when the massive problems of setting that level are resolved. nationally 51 Councils have applied a form of living wage. Some as a cash supplementary payment for the low paid, some with a new base pay for the lowest paid worker and some by deleting lower pay points. We as labour in Northumberland are open as to the best method of tackling this issue.





Also calling for a timely publication of the report was Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey. The Labour councillor said: “‘The coalition is completely divided about the potential of onshore wind farms and it’s places like Northumberland which are at the forefront of onshore wind developments which are impacted the most.

By Adrian Pearson ,Journal

Northumberland wind farm campaigners press for findings
21 Aug 2013 08:12 Last night the Government was urged to publish findings on the impact wind turbines have on the rural economy in Northumberland




Wind campaigners have urged the Government to finalise and publish a report into the impact giant turbines have on the rural economy.

Groups seeking to preserve Northumberland’s unique visual appeal have warned of a possible detrimental impact on visitor numbers, and say it is vital the Government sets out its evidence.

Their calls come as it emerges two senior Government ministers are locked in a dispute over the key report. Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey is said to have raised concerns with Conservative Environment Secretary Owen Paterson over Defra’s plans to assess the economic impact of wind farms. Speculation is mounting that Mr Davey has attempted to delay publication of the report carried out by the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs over fears it could expose shortcomings in his department’s renewable energy strategy.

It is claimed that figures in the energy department are concerned that the report, which has not been completed, could include negative conclusions about how renewable energy affects the rural economy.

At its strongest, it is suggested the report “could provide official confirmation that the controversial turbines can harm rural areas”.

Last night the Government was urged to publish the findings as soon as possible to help provide a strong evidence base for those objecting to wind turbines in areas such as Northumberland.

Bill Short, from the Northumberland and Newcastle Society’s environmental committee, said that with developers able to bring in their own research at the planning decision stage, it was vital residents had whatever support was available.

He said: “There is very little out there that backs up what we know anecdotally, that these turbines put people off. We have heard of some studies that say anywhere up to 30% of people are put off visiting because of turbines.

“If you think how important tourism is to Northumberland, what business can afford to lose 30% of potential customers?

“We and others have been voicing our concern in this area for some time now. There was a Defra study some years back now that praised the unspoilt beauty of Northumberland, we need to see what they will do now to preserve that.”

Also calling for a timely publication of the report was Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey. The Labour councillor said: “‘The coalition is completely divided about the potential of onshore wind farms and it’s places like Northumberland which are at the forefront of onshore wind developments which are impacted the most.

“This report should be published and it’s a shame that coalition tensions are stopping further evidence which would be very helpful in our planning process.”

Last night a Government spokesman said: “We need to ensure that energy is generated in a way that is sustainable and understand the effects that different technologies have on the environment and on communities across the country.

“DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) and Defra are working together on this report, which is not yet complete, to ensure that it meets the usual standards and quality assurances that you would expect from any Government publication. A diverse energy mix is the best way to meet our energy security requirements, our climate change commitments and keep energy bills affordable.”

No deadline or publication date was given.