Tuesday, 11 November 2014

‘a decision the Council hasn’t made yet’


WHAT THE CONDEMS TRIED TO ‘HIDE’

You won’t be surprised to read that this blog is centred on the hypocrisy of politicians who say one thing and then expect the world to ‘forget’ what they’ve previously said. Nobody says that they’re not allowed to change their minds – they are and that should be seen as healthy but what is deeply corrosive is the current ability of some politicians in Northumberland to say they’re against something when less than 18 months previously, they were secretly arguing for the exact same policy.

This week’s focus is on a unique local politician Councillor Andrew Tebbutt, a senior figure in Northumberland’s Liberal Democrats, a ‘champion of Morpeth’ who was a portfolio holder in the last Lib Dem administration 2008 – 13. He’s been unfairly dubbed ‘the portfolio holder for privatisation’ because of his seeming slavish desire to ‘sell of Northumberland’s family silver’.

For those of you who don’t know – he’s also the man who led the recent, abortive call in attempt over the emerging plans to vacate County Hall for a purpose built new HQ in Ashington, a decision the Council hasn’t taken yet. For all his faux outrage over the emerging plans and the devastation it will supposedly wreak on Morpeth, he’s never mentioned that he had plans to move the council out of County Hall into a purpose built facility in Cramlington. Spot the similarity but why he’s against one proposal and but was in favour of the other?

The key difference, dear readers is, wait for it – a joining of North Tyneside Council, then run by ex Tory Mayor Linda Arkley with Northumberland County Council who would ‘pool services’ and offer up public services for private profits. This would have operated out of Cramlington. It’s clear that Councillor Tebbutt was ‘gung ho’ for this dangerous leap into a private sector future and he was keen to ‘vacate’ county hall, so why the change of heart? He wasn’t thinking about the huge loss of council jobs (between 1295 and 3500 according to Councillor Tebbutt’s own report) when he was ‘fattening up the public sector calf’ for the delectation of the ‘private sector’ predators. He wasn’t thinking about the cost to the public purse when he commissioned consultants costing millions of pounds to identify ways that the private sector could make ‘efficiencies’ (even his report admits that means job cuts) and he certainly wasn’t thinking about ‘Morpeth’. His plans would have seen hundreds of Morpeth jobs lost AND County Hall closed.  

At this stage, Councillor Tebbutt hasn’t explained his role in the ‘private sector coup’ cooked up in Tory North Tyneside and ConDem Northumberland. He hasn’t explained why he’s campaigning to ‘save Morpeth’ now yet was secretly planning to leave the town high and dry? He hasn’t explained why he ‘briefed elected members’ on some parts of the ‘Impower Report’ and not others? He hasn’t explained why his first port of call was to ship out services to the private sector instead of defending public services? He hasn’t revealed the links between North Tyneside Council and Northumberland County Council and the huge number of top tier meetings between the two authorities?

He could come clean now. He could come clean about his plans (backed by his Conservative coalition colleagues in Northumberland) to ship jobs out and close County Hall as the council HQ.

The challenge is on Councillor T.

Come clean and tell us what your plans were. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Conservative group leader Peter Jackson is being urged to withdraw his application to sit on an important and influential committee which is looking to decide how Northumberland County Council develops the county over the next 20 years.

LABOUR CALL FOR TORY LEADER TO WITHDRAW NOMINATION FOR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Tory group leader has ‘substantial land interests’ across county as concerns raised about potential conflicts of interest
Conservative group leader Peter Jackson is being urged to withdraw his application to sit on an important and influential committee which is looking to decide how Northumberland County Council develops the county over the next 20 years.
Councillor Jackson is seeking to oust fellow Conservative councillor Richard Dodds who has sat on the committee for the past two years at a meeting of Full Council at Morpeth on Wed 5 Nov 2014 but is being ‘urged’ by Labour to reconsider given his substantial landholdings across the county. They also point to Councillor Jackson’s public statements about the LDF especially related to ‘protecting the greenbelt around Ponteland’ where many of the Tory leaders farming and land interests are based. 
Labour are urging Councillor Jackson to withdraw his nomination from the LDF committee because of the ‘close proximity’ of the top Tories business interests and the intrinsic links between the LDF and local land values.
Labour group and council leader Grant Davey said
“The Local Development Framework has been in discussion and consultation for over 5 years yet Councillor Jackson wants to ‘muscle’ his way onto the committee when it gets close to a final decision. As a major landowner in Ponteland and beyond and a regular contributor to the various party political campaigns around the LDF, he needs to consider what signal that sends to residents and interested parties when he’s seeking to join a group that has an important role in shaping land decisions in the county for decades to come. I’m urging him to reconsider his decision to replace his fellow Conservative Councillor Dodds on the LDF committee and to withdraw his application before the meeting of Full Council on 5 Nov”.

Notes
Councillor Jackson declares the following interests in the members Register of Interests in April 2013
1.     Edgehouse, Belsay
2.     East Coldcoats, Ponteland
3.     Westcotes Farm, Ponteland
4.     West Low House, Whalton
5.     Angerton North Moor, Hartburn
6.     West Benridge, Morpeth
7.     Land at Eshott
8.     Harlow Hill, Stamfordham
9.     Higham Dykes, Ponteland
10.                        Land at Medburn
11.                        A Jackson (Westcotes) Ltd
12.                        Greenshields Agri Ltd
13.                        Meldon Village Drying and Storage Ltd
14.                        Grainco Ltd
15.                        Tynegrain Ltd
Councillor Jackson’s public pronouncements on the LDF and greenbelt development in Ponteland




Thursday, 30 October 2014

It’s not answers that Ukip are providing, it's just division and exploitation



Wednesday 29 October 2014

It’s not answers that Ukip are providing, it's just division and exploitation

Getting dragged into Nigel Farage's game will only poison our politics and pull us apart

 Politics already has a bad name. And given the escalating arms race between the Tories and Ukip in the run-up to the election, it’s going to get a lot worse.

 Government Ministers are voting in Europe to stop rescuing migrants at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean. And Nigel Farage is sending posters depicting abused children on the back of vans round Rotherham to try to get votes in the Police and Crime Commissioner election.

 The anger and anxiety that both right-wing parties are exploiting is very real. But be it on immigration, Europe or child exploitation, neither party is providing the real answers to the problems the country faces – and our politics and our country are going to get angrier, poorer and weaker if we don’t change direction fast.

That doesn’t mean running away from problems. Quite the reverse. More does need to be done on immigration. In a global economy, immigration is really important for Britain, but the system needs to be controlled and managed so it is fair. The asylum backlogs are growing, the crisis in Calais is continuing, and 175,000 people here illegally are not being sent home.

That’s why Labour are calling for stronger border controls to tackle illegal immigration, action against agencies who only recruit from abroad to undercut local wages and jobs, stronger English language requirements, and better integration. Refugees fleeing persecution should be helped in the country they first arrive in so that vulnerable people don’t have to travel across continents, and when people are here illegally, they should be sent home. Otherwise you undermine confidence in the whole system.

 The Government is failing on all those counts, anxiety about immigration is rising and Ukip are certainly making hay. But that is no justification for what the Home Office announced this week. Ministers have decided to support a massive downgrade of rescue help for those travelling in dangerous and overcrowded boats across the Mediterranean because they think that rescuing people whose lives are at risk is “a pull factor” encouraging more to travel. So to deter others, they are saying it’s OK to let more people drown.

 This lack of humanity is appalling. How has our politics come to this? Failure on enforcement is no excuse for abandoning our values. It’s quite possible for Britain to support strong border controls and enforcement and still help those in desperate need.

It’s not just on immigration where reforms are needed, but where the arms race led by Ukip is so destructive and is making things worse. Take Nigel Farage’s decision to campaign on child abuse in Heywood and in South Yorkshire. Ukip haven’t set out any answers or any reforms. Yet on child exploitation reforms are badly needed. Children’s lives have been wrecked by terrible abuse in Rotherham, Oxfordshire and Rochdale, in the BBC and NHS by Saville and others, in North Wales care homes, and religious institutions. We need a massive overhaul of the child protection system so victims are properly listened to – to get criminals caught, justice for victims and changes in the law for the future.

But what is Nigel Farage’s response? To send a party political poster depicting an abused child, to tour the very town where those abused children are still living and trying to rebuild their lives. Ukip’s campaign doesn’t call for justice or for reform, only for Ukip votes.

When victims and their support groups speak out to complain, Farage just dismisses it. Some 1,400 children in Rotherham have already been abused and let down. Politicians of all parties should be calling for justice and support, not pulling PR stunts over children’s lives.

Too often that’s what we get from Ukip – no answers, just division and exploitation. No shame, and no limits to how low they will stoop. No qualms about joining up with a Polish MEP whose party trivialises the Holocaust – even at a time when we are facing a big increase in anti-Semitic attacks. Farage is no fool and no fruitcake. He knows exactly what he is doing, who he is manipulating and who he is exploiting. It will poison our politics and pull apart our country if everyone gets dragged into his game.

 Dealing with the big challenges that all voters and politicians should be concerned about is the right thing to do. Pretending problems will go away because they are too difficult will never work. But playing divisive and exploitative politics in pursuit of votes is not just immoral. It won’t solve the problems of the country and is something Labour will not do. We need to be honest about the challenges, determined about the need for reform, but optimistic about the common values and humanity we can draw on to face them together.

 

 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Northumberland Tories Peter Jackson still bleating on in the Northumberland Gazette


Dear Sir,

 It’s pitiful to see that in the run in to yet another County Council budget the leader of Northumberland Tories Peter Jackson still bleating on in the Northumberland Gazette about the difference between the cost of services delivered in rural areas and the cost of those in the urban South East of the County.

 For once he’s right, there is a cost difference, its almost three to one times higher to deliver services in the rural North and West as it is in the compact 4% of Northumberland’s land mass known as the old South East.

 His bitter disappointment is that the Labour administration in County Hall is introducing new ways of working that will bring that gap down and he hates it.

 We’ve extended the South East to facilitate this and brought in the residents of the rural coalfields into the urban model, were also developing a successful delivery model to overcome the difficulties of providing cost-effective support services across the most sparsely populated county in England. With 80% of Northumberland totally rural, having five different geographic characteristics and separate settlements with well developed distinctive characteristics and cultures. The model, were developing for the most rural areas, has proved replicable in all rural settings and most urban areas.

 Councillor Jackson also cannot accept that Northumberland has been recognised as the most improved highways repair authority nationally when under his joint administrative watch with the Lib Dems they failed miserably to deliver a modicum of value from the Local Transport plan. He and his Lib Dem colleagues ignored potholes across the county leaving this Labour administration to clear 35,000 potholes in just 12 months. 

 For me, it’s a pity he won’t turn his efforts towards challenging his own Government to reduce the burden of cuts they’ve loaded onto Northumberlands residents and instead place an equal value on people from Alnwick as they do on those from Aylesbury but it looks like he’d rather keep trying to set communities that need each other against each other to hide the disgrace of his failure.

Yours Sincerely
Grant Davey
 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Information from the Leader


  1. We would obviously prefer not to have to make this decision but we've tried to offset it with a £900,000 parachute payment and deals with alternative transport providers
  2. Since free post 16 travel was introduced in 2008 - the council's budget has shrunk by a third
  3. Demand for the service has risen by 323%
  4. In 2013 the government changed the funding formula for post 16 students - it now means the whole funding package follows the student. This equates to £4,435 per student.
  5. The cost of providing the service is £3.3m a year - this means all Northumberland tax payers pay to transport students out of the county primarily to Tyne and Wear.
  6. 46% students studying in county subsidise students outside county because the county council pays for transport yet gets no funding from either government or the schools and colleges.
  7. Every family in Northumberland pays over £30 per year for post 16 transport through their council tax yet they lose over £70 a year per family in funding to Tyne and Wear.
  8. The Tories have put forward a proposal to scrap free parking to re-instate free post 16 transport - this is very controversial (between us it is also illegal)
  9. At May's policy board and in the minutes, Tory group leader Peter Jackson suggested that post 16 education had a 'reputation and quality' problem - that means 46% of students educated in county are getting a second class education?
  10. Since 2008 the county post 16 sector has lost funding equivalent to £28m - this equates to nearly £4.7m per year
  11. Circa 1500 students who travel in Northumberland now subsidise 1600 students out of county - this isn't fair 

The cancelled council meeting

  1. Neither Tories or Lib Dems submitted a motion nor questions for the council meeting originally scheduled for 2 July - the decision to cancel the meeting was taken because there was no business to transact - this would save the taxpayer £18,000
  2. The decision to remove free post 16 transport from the budget was taken after 3 months of consultation and was never called in by neither Tory or Lib Dems which is their right under the constitution. The policy was effective from 31 May 2014.
  3. The lead director of NCC Steve Mason has rather robustly defended the decision in the attached letter to group leaders - he's accusing them of 'punch and judy' politics - I prefer 'playing politics on the rates' - I've estimated that the cost of the new meeting which will happen on 11 July by Conservative 'requisition' 'in the region of £45,000'.
  4. As both Guy Opperman and Peter Jackson have accused the council of acting 'illegally' the only people who will gain from this exercise is 'expensive barristers' you can judge which one between Guy and PJ that sobriquet applies to.
  5. The £45,000 line has been carried in the Northumberland Gazette and the Journal/Chron as has the 'expensive barristers' so its in the public domain.
  6. Guy Opperman wrote to DCLG Minister Brandon Lewis and that was splashed in the Journal last week - he accused the council of acting 'illegally' - he's never substantiated that and he hasn't written to the council - why?
  7. Northumberland College and James Calvert have already taken advantage of the deal NCC negotiated with Arriva and have committed to free transport for their pupils from Sept 2014 - we expect other 6th form colleges to follow suit - the range of new measures is set out in Grant's letter including a 'parachute payment' from the county of £900,000
  8. Conservatives like Colin Cessford/Peter Jackson/Richard Dodd/Anne Marie Trevelayan stand accused of 'scaremongering' and ignoring the real reason for the change of policy - ConDem cuts of £130m over the next 4 years
  9. The Tories haven't put forward a budget nor a proposal to save the council £3.3m and boost post 16 education in Northumberland. If the policy was changed without identifying the equivalent saving, the council would face an £18m black hole. To give you some scale - £3.3m equates to around 130 lost full time posts every year for the next 4 years.   
  10. Peter Jackson may say post 16 education in Northumberland has 'quality and reputational' issues and this shows the Tories real motives - Peter Jackson has already promised spending of over £200m to resurface Northumberland's roads and now he wants to break his promise on free parking to undermine post 16 education in the county and he stands accused of 'keeping mum' about his governments cuts which have removed £357 equivalent spending from every family in the county yet he wants to continue to pay to export students to Tyne and Wear. What has got against Northumberland post 16 education?




GUY OPPERMAN BlogSpot Mon 23rd June


“Full Council is the key meeting of the Council and happens just once a month. It is the democratic chance to hold the Council to account, debate key issues, and allow the public to make their case. With an August break there now won't be another meeting until September if Labour get their way. It's like the Prime Minister cancelling Prime Ministers Question Time”.

“Pretty shocking stuff. Northumberland's Labour Council would do well remember we are all servants to the public, not the other way round”.

 
THE DAILY MAIL 11TH MAY
“Coalition branded 'zombie government' as it prepares to give MPs 19 days off because they have run out of laws to debate

  • “Tories and Lib Dems order break because they have nothing to debate. Parliament to finish on Thursday and not come back until June 4”
  • “Embarrassingly MPs have only been back in Westminster for eight days since they returned from a 17-day Easter recess”.
  • “They also had nine days off in mid-February for a half term break, which came only four and a half weeks after their Christmas break which last from December 19 to January 6”.

 
SO YOUR MP THINKS IT’S PRETTY SHOCKING STUFF THAT NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL HAS CANCELLED A MEETING BECAUSE THERE’S NO BUSINESS TO TRANSACT WHICH WOULD SAVE THE TAX PAYER £18,000  AND IT’S LIKE THE PRIME MINISTER CANCELLING QUESTION TIME YET MP’S WERE GIVEN 19 DAYS OFF LAST MONTH BECAUSE ‘THEY HAD RUN OUT OF LAWS TO DEBATE’.
IT SEEMS A MONTH IS A LONG TIME IN POLITICS FOR HEXHAM’S TORY MP.

 

 

 WE’D ALSO LIKE TO REMIND HIM OF LABOUR’S RECORD IN NORTHUMBERLAND IN JUST ONE YEAR - THIS IS SOME OF THE POLICY DECISIONS TAKEN
  • 350 NEW AFFORDABLE HOMES BUILT OR IN PLANNING
  • 17% FALL IN THE HOUSING WAITING LIST
  • FREE PARKING PROMISE DELIVERED
  • COUNCIL SERVICES COMING BACK TO HEXHAM TOWN CENTRE WITH AT LEAST 200 NEW JOBS
  • INVESTED SIX FIGURE SUM IN NEW PRUDHOE ‘SPETCHELLS’ CENTRE
  • STRUCK A NEW DEAL TO CREATE NEW ACTIVE NORTHUMBERLAND WHICH WILL RUN COUNTY LEISURE FACILITIES PROVIDING VALUE FOR MONEY ACESS TO STATE OF THE ART LEISURE FACILITIES
  • £1M PER YEAR SAVED FROM ‘SLIMMING DOWN TOP MANAGEMENT’
  • £2M PER YEAR SAVING FROM MIDDLE MANAGEMENT RESTRUCTURING
  • £3M SAVINGS FROM IT BUDGET
  • 75% REDUCTION IN USE OF EXPENSIVE EXTERNAL CONSULTANTS
  • 600 EXTRA RURAL HOMES WILL GET BROADBAND BECAUSE WE ‘CLAWED BACK £700,000 FROM BT CONTRACT
  • INVESTED £160M IN A UNIQUE DEAL WITH NORTHUMBRIA HEALTHCARE TRUST WHICH MEANS A NEW HOSPITAL IN CRAMLINGTON, NEW INFIRMARY FOR BERWICK AND HUGE SAVINGS FOR NHS INCLUDING CHEAPER COSTS FOR HEXHAM HOSPITAL
  • CREATED OVER 300 NEW APPRENTICESHIPS THROUGH THE COUNCIL AND NORTHUMBERLAND’S ‘FAMILY OF FIRMS’
  • SAFEGUARDED FRONTLINE SERVICES AND SPENT £600,000 EXTRA ON POTHOLES (MORE LATER)
  • STOOD UP FOR NORTHUMBERLAND AS TORIES TRIED TO BLOCK ‘DARK SKIES’ TOURISM PROJECT
  • STARTED THE FIRST FULL PROJECT PLAN TO DUAL THE A1 IN NORTHUMBERLAND INCLUDING COST AND ROUTE
  • STRUCK TOWN COUNCIL DEALS WHICH MEAN THE COUNTY TOWNS HAVE EXTRA WORKERS TO KEEP THEM ‘CLEAN AND GREEN’
    AND WE
  • BALANCED THE COUNCIL BUDGET DESPITE SAVAGE CUTS OF £130M OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS BY A CONDEM COALITION  
     
    For Immediate Use
    LABOUR SLAMS ‘HYPOCRITCAL ATTACKS’ BY TORY MP
    MP’s embarrassment as it emerges that Parliament ‘stopped’ for 19 days last month because ‘government had run out of business’ after he criticises County Council for cancelling council meeting because ‘it had no business to discuss’
    A North East Tory MP Guy Opperman has been branded ‘hypocritical’ after his claims that Northumberland County Council was acting ‘illegally and undemocratically’ cancelling a meeting of the council because of a lack of council business. The Hexham MP has written to his Conservative colleague Brandon Lewis to make the allegation that the council ‘may have acted illegally’.
    Now Labour have hit back, highlighting various newspaper national newspaper reports which branded Guy Opperman’s government as a ‘zombie government’ after it gave MP’s 19 days off before the Queens Speech because ‘it had no business to debate’. Labour have also pointed out that MP’s had also only been back in Westminster for eight days after a 17-day Easter recess. They also point out that MP’s had nine days off in mid-February for a half term break, which came only four and a half weeks after their Christmas break which last from December 19 to January 6.
    Grant Davey, leader of the Labour group and leader of the council said
    ‘Clearly in Guy Opperman’s eyes it’s all right for his government to give him 19 days off because there wasn’t any government business to debate but not for this council to save £18,000 because it has no business to transact. In most people’s books that is hypocritical. I’m sure residents will note his double standards and his decision to try to play politics with this issue which will end up costing the county council tax payer even more money. Now we’ve caught him in letter writing mood, I wonder if he can explain why he hasn’t written any letters to the government standing up for his constituency against the savage cuts voted for by him and his ConDem colleagues or the 400 plus families who have been hit by the bedroom tax or the hundreds of residents who have lost their jobs because of his government’s decision to privatise HMP Acklington or Search and Rescue services at RAF Boulmer. He needs to explain why he sees a council meeting where the only outcome will be party political grandstanding against the backdrop of this council’s need to cut its budget by a third because of his party decisions.
    End
     
     
     
     
    Notes
     
     
     
     

Rescheduled meeting could cost taxpayer ‘in the region of £45,000


PRESS RELEASE FROM NORTHUMBERLAND LABOUR GROUP


LABOUR BRAND TORY STANCE ON CANCELLED MEETING AS ‘GESTURE POLITICS WITH TAXPAYERS CASH’

Rescheduled meeting could cost taxpayer ‘in the region of £45,000

 

Labour are highlighting Conservative plans to ‘reinstate a controversial cancelled meeting’ could end up costing the county’s taxpayers ‘in the region of £45,000’, almost three times more expensive than the cancelled meeting. They point out that plans to hold a demonstration against the decision to reluctantly scrap post 16 free transport in the county cannot change the decision taken on 31 May and they’re accusing Northumberland’s Tories of ‘gesture politics’ as ConDem politicians have failed to put forward any savings that would match £3.3m savings from the policy decision.

Labour are accusing ConDem councillors and MP’s of ‘playing politics with taxpayers cash’ after it emerged that moves by Tory group leader Peter Jackson and Hexham Conservative MP Guy Opperman could land the council with a bill to reinstate a meeting that has no business to discuss. It is estimated a rescheduled meeting would cost in the region of £45,000.

A Labour group spokesperson said

“It’s almost like ConDems think there’s a money tree in Northumberland as their decision to play politics with the cancelled meeting could well end up costing each and every family £20 each. The council needs to make savings of £130m because of cuts supported by Mr Opperman and Mr Beith and yet they seem to be happy to use taxpayers cash to make a political point. Both Mr Opperman and Mr Beith enjoyed an extended 19 day break from the House of Commons last month because ‘the government had run out of business to discuss’ yet we didn’t hear a murmur from either party”.

 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

‘Time to stop knocking the town’ urges Grant Davey as Westgate House is sold

NEWS RELEASE FROM BLYTH LABOUR
WE’RE BACKING BLYTH AS CO-OP IS FINALLY SOLD
‘Time to stop knocking the town’ urges Grant Davey as Westgate House is sold

Labour politicians in Blyth have reacted positively to plans by a major, national property developer to develop Westgate House which formerly housed the town’s Cooperative store.
West Yorkshire based Commercial Development Projects Ltd, part of the Marshall Construction Group, has said that it proposes to change the building from one large store to number of new shops with quality housing above.
The former Co-op store has stood empty for a number of years gradually becoming, what some residents described, as ‘an eyesore’ and has been at the centre of a political tug of war with a local property developer in the past.
The new plans come hot on the heels of the decision by the Labour administration decision to appoint Bowmer and Kirkland to develop and build the Commissioners Quay site through Arch, one of Northumberland County Council’s ‘Family of Firms’. This development will create specialist office space and residential properties.
“After many false dawns, the sale of Westgate House has been finally concluded and it’s clear that the developer has exciting plans for the site which include the creation of a wide ranging shopping experience and quality residential units above. You just have to look at the track record of Commercial Development Projects Ltd and its parent company Marshall Construction Group to see that they will deliver a quality project for Blyth. We see this as yet another thumbs up for Blyth and we’re committed to working with Blyth Town Council to assist them with the development of their neighbourhood plan. This plan would ensure that development in the town becomes a reality whilst secondary development further along Cowpen Road could be placed on the back burner to allow the development of the town centre. This will mean the creation of local jobs including some apprenticeships through Arch”.
Councillor Davey then urged ‘local politicians to start recognising the positive rebirth of Blyth along with the falling unemployment rate in the town’.
“Some people have described Blyth as a dump – the truth is Blyth was neglected for over 5 years but we’re now committing serious cash and solid plans to create a town that can thrive in the 21st century and I’m saying let’s back the town, it’s people and make sure these developments are supported”.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Northumberland County Council must cut its revenue by £130M over a 4 year period to meet the Tories and LibDem cuts imposed by this government

 Northumberland County Council must cut its revenue budget by £130M over a four year period to meet Government targets.

 Post 16 Transport is a non-mandatory service.

 Schools and FE Colleges receive £4425 per post 16 learner.

 Northumberland County Council receives £0 per post 16 learner.

 49% of post 16 learners choose to stay within Northumberland to advance their learning.

 The 51% of learners who chose education outside Northumberland have removed £28M from the in-County Education system through the former post 16 transport policy.

 It costs Northumberland County Council £750 per year to bus a learner to their nearest place of education.

 Northumberland County Council has offered surplus places on school buses to parents at £600 per year a loss of £150 per learner per year.

 Payments can be made by Direct Debit.

 The decision of the Policy Board on post 16 transport is final and Council cannot change that decision.

 £900,000 has been dedicated to assist those who have special needs or can’t afford to travel to their nearest educational establishment.

Link to Policy: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=457

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Open letter in todays Journal

Dear Councillor Jackson,

Thank you for your opinion with regard to the regrettable changes we have to make to post 16 transport.. I think you will agree that circumstances have changed since this policy was introduced in 2008 when a Labour government was significantly supporting local authorities by rightly focussing resources on education and disadvantage.

The free Post 16 Transport Scheme was introduced at a time when the Council was awash with cash. Compare that to the decisions taken by this Conservative led and Liberal propped up coalition. You may benefit from a short history lesson in case you have forgotten that this council has lost 1/3 of its total budget by cuts from a government you support.

During 2009 Labour gave council's extra cash to help schools, Childrens Centres & Sure Start schemes which were centrally enhanced and the Labour government installed a fully funded Educational Maintenance Allowance which was paid out to those pupils who qualified, to assist with their Post 16 educational needs.

Northumberland Labour Group fully supported the introduction of the free post 16 transport scheme in 2008.

Moving on to today, The Liberals backed out of their educational promise to stop tuition fees, scrapped Educational Maintenance Allowance and joined with the Conservatives to drive forward an austerity programme which has meant cuts for local councils especially in the North East while protecting council expenditure across the South East of England.
I've not heard a word raised in protest by you at this shameless 'reverse Robin Hood policy' which takes from the poorest and gives to the richest.

Under Government plans you support, Councillor Jackson, Northumberland UA must lose another quarter of its revenue budget over the next three years. From 2008-2013 your joint administration with the Liberal Democrats took out 1500 jobs from the Councils workforce, causing dreadful hardship for families particularly in areas of higher unemployment in the South East and Rural Coalfield areas of the County. Our policy is the opposite because we see by backing the Northumberland economy, we can maintain jobs and family income levels in order to support communities County wide; therefore we must look at other methods and matters to meet the aspirations of your Government to reduce the spend of the Council.

The £600 charge you refer to is about equality. Young people from the South East and the Rural Coalfield who don't qualify for assistance will have to pay exactly the same amount if they live three miles or more from their chosen in County establishment to gain access to any vacancies on the 'School Bus'.

Every young person at age 16 carries £4425 per annum in fees to complete their education with them to their chosen FE environment, whether that be their local school or an FE college. This money is no longer handled by the Council, so all costs in relation to transporting Post 16's to school or college falls directly onto our revenue budget.

Acceptance of the report to the Policy Board leaves £900,000 per year in the scheme to protect second year students and assist those in greatest need gain access to their local school or college. It also gifts the opportunity to Schools and FE Colleges to use some of the cash available to them from Government to attract young people to their establishments.

This policy is driven by the decisions of your government to hammer the budget that allowed for choices like free post 16 transport. Unlike your government though, this administration will protect the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged youngsters and our hope is that you get behind our plan to halt 'Northumberland's brain drain to Tyne and Wear colleges and instead start to speak up for the county education system which has lost £28m to Tyne and Wear since 2008.

Yours Sincerely




J Grant Davey
Leader Northumberland Labour Group
Leader of Northumberland County Council UA.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Councillor Jackson’s position in Feb 2014 BUDGET DEBATE

LABOUR SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON MANAGEMENT ‘EFFICIENCIES’
Tory leader Peter Jackson challenged to make his mind up – does he back the efficiency plan or not?

Conservative group leader Peter Jackson and the Conservative parliamentary hopeful Anne-Marie Trevelyan were today challenged to ‘back the Labour plan to save money on top tier managers’ or tell the public how they would find £2.5m of expected savings up to 2017.
Both Conservatives had earlier launched an attack on the efficiency policy earlier in the week despite Councillor Jackson speaking in support of the plan in February and Labour are pointing to the ‘confusion’ that now surrounds the Conservative approach to so called ‘fat cat pay’. Labour have pointed to their plan which has seen the number of Executive Directors reduced from 7 under the previous Lib Dem administration to 3 and the ongoing review of the next tier of senior managers. Labour are also setting out the savings each change to top tier management will contribute to making the savings required after the coalition government’s cut of £130m from the council’s budget over the next four years.
The savings will amount to £1.62m with fewer executive directors and £900,000 in savings for the next tier of management and this will save the tax payer £2.5m in the run up to 2017.
A Labour group spokesperson said
‘It’s clear that Councillor Jackson is leading his group and Ms Trevelyan into a dead end on the issue of so called ‘fat cat pay’. Our plans haven’t deviated from the ones Councillor Jackson supported last month. He’s now got to answer the question why he’s changed his mind before the ink on the minutes of the last meeting were dry and how he will find more than £2.5m savings from the management budget in the run up to 2017? He’s fast losing credibility in his rush to get a headline.’
End
Councillor Jackson’s position in Feb 2014 BUDGET DEBATE
Councillor Jackson……did support efficiencies in running the organisation, free parking and the Council house building programme. (Item 72 Minutes of Meeting 18 Feb 2014) YET HE VOTED AGAINST THEM





NORTHUMBERLAND LABOUR BUDGET 2014-17

THESE CONSERVATIVE AND LIB DEM COUNCILLORS VOTED AGAINST THE LABOUR PLAN TO SAVE £2.5M ON THE MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE, BUILD 2000 AFFORDABLE HOMES AND £600,000 POT HOLE CASH TO CLEAR THE POTHOLE BACKLOG BY JUNE:

25 voted as follows:-

E. Armstrong Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
V. Jones Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
H. Cairns Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
A.H. Murray Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
G. Castle Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
J Reid Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
C. Cessford Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
J.R. Riddle Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
W. Daley Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
T. Robson Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
J.B. Fearon Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
H.G.H. Sanderson Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
B. Flux Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
A. Sharp Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
R. Gibson Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
J.E. Smith Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
C. Homer Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
A. Tebbutt Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
C.W. Horncastle Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
T.N. Thorne Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
E.I. Hunter Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
R.J.D. Watkin Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
J.I. Hutchinson Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
J.G. Watson Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes
P.A. Jackson Voted against £2.5M management savings, pot hole pledge money and 2000 new affordable homes but said he supported them???


Notes
• The Council has not changed its Management Structure which remains three Executive Directors replacing the previous seven Corporate Directors at a saving of circa £540k per annum.
• In addition the Council are currently reviewing the next tier of management which encompasses Head of Service roles.
• This restructure will save an additional circa £300k per annum net of the two new posts mentioned.
• These posts reflect priority areas of the Council namely Economic Growth and working with the new Combined Authority and responding to the challenges within Education outlined within recent Ofsted reports.
• There will be further savings within management costs as new structures are implemented and these reflect the administration’s commitment to protect front line services as far as possible given the significant cuts imposed by Government.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

FREE PARKING ‘FEVER’ REACHES NEW PEAK AS DEMAND FOR ‘DISCS’ GROWS

FREE PARKING ‘FEVER’ REACHES NEW PEAK AS DEMAND FOR ‘DISCS’ GROWS
Berwick, Alnwick and Morpeth see huge rise in resident free parking ‘discs’

Labour politicians across Northumberland are heralding the introduction of free parking across the county as demand for residents ‘free parking discs’ continued to grow.
Demand for the discs has been steadily rising in Berwick and Alnwick but Morpeth is leading the way with over 5,000 discs issued to date. The introduction of free parking was a manifesto promise in last May’s elections for Labour and they point to this measure as a ‘win-win’ for both local businesses and residents with a predicted ‘gold rush effect’ for local companies. The administration at County Hall are privately highlighting a ‘real shot in the arm for the local economy with an expected £500,000 bonanza with hopes that the measure will also lead to more new jobs being created.
Portfolio member Ian Swithenbank said
‘This measure has proved a really popular measure which will help safeguard and create jobs by making it easier to access our towns across the county. For the first time in many years, local communities have been able to decide whether they want free parking and how they want to implement it. Morpeth is leading the way with over 5,000 ‘discs’ issued to date but demand is steadily picking up in the other towns who’ve introduced this scheme’.
Labour are pointing to this measure as real and tangible help for both hard pressed residents and struggling businesses who have seen their commercial advantages undermined by restrictive parking measures and they’re pointing to this measure as a real example of the difference between what they’ve christened ‘the phony council tax freeze’ and their approach to the first budget of the new administration which saw council tax rise slightly to ensure long term stability.
Grant Davey, leader of the Council and the Labour group said
‘Communities will notice the difference of a fake council tax freeze offered by our own local version of the coalition and our ‘honest’ deal with Northumberland. The last Liberal Democrat administration got used to relying on ‘parking stealth taxes’ and failed to tackle excessive top tier management. We’ve tackled both within 6 months and we’re now on course to save £1.2m from our top management ‘shake up’.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

He's 'forgotten' yet again that he voted against Labour's £600,000 investment to clear up the backlog of pot holes left by the previous Lib Dem administration

Councillor Jackson has once again 'forgotten' how he voted against Labour's #potholepledge only 6 weeks ago

It's becoming a bit of a habit. First he 'forgets' he's got a planning application for wind turbines in his back garden now he's in the newspaper again trumpeting his support for the government's £2.3m pot hole cash for Northumberland. He's 'forgotten' yet again that he voted against Labour's £600,000 investment to clear up the backlog of pot holes left by the previous Lib Dem administration. That was only 6 weeks ago. He's also 'forgot' that his recent comments on the rural broadband programme would mean 700 fewer rural homes would be 'connected'.

It's about time Northumberland Tories stopped playing party political games because residents won't 'forget' that you keep 'forgetting' what you're against and what you support.
C'mon Councillor Jackson when are you going to stop 'digging' and back Labour's #potholepledge ?

We welcome the government's investment (see its easy to welcome the other side when they do something good for the community) and we also eagerly await Northumberland Tories 'conversion' to the Labour #potholepledge coming soon to a street near you.

Councillor Jackson has once again 'forgotten' how he voted against Labour's #potholepledge only 6 weeks ago

>Journal
b>Potholes in Northumberland following heavy snow
A Northumberland councillor wants extra funding from the Government to fix roads concentrated in the rural areas of the county.
Peter Jackson, the leader of the Conservative opposition group on the county council, has called for the Government grant of £2.7m which was allocated to the council last week, to go towards tackling problems on the roads in the west and north of Northumberland.
“We think this extra money is a good opportunity to try and tackle the problems in roads in the north and west and make a real difference in the future,” said Coun Jackson.
Northumberland County Council received £2.7m to repair roads, bridges and other structures damaged as a result of the recent tidal surges and severe wet weather.
Coun Jackson claimed money budgeted to repair non-principal roads in the whole county was not split proportionately between the north, west and south east. He said he hoped the new funding grant would be used to tackle problems in rural Northumberland.
“Obviously the number of miles of these non-principal roads in both the north and west of Northumberland amount to thousands of miles whereas in the south east it is a limited number of those minor roads and it is those minor roads that have fallen into disrepair in recent years,” said Coun Jackson.
“It is the number one thing that people talk to me about in rural Northumberland. We do not have very good conditions in any case, there’s limited mobile phone coverage in Northumberland, there’s no high-speed broadband in rural areas.
Councillor Peter Jackson
“The roads are absolutely essential to keep communities going and also to grow the local economy and try to increase jobs in those parts.”
He said he hoped the money would be used for long-term work instead of temporary pothole filling.
Northumberland County Council said the funding was provided after a bid which identified that nine miles of road and 25 bridges and other structures were damaged by the recent weather. This was all over the county, but particularly in the rural areas to the north and west.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council said: “This additional funding is very welcome, and confirms the need for funding that we have demonstrated in our bids to Government. It will enable the council to accelerate its work to repair roads and structures which have been badly affected by extreme weather.
“The funding will allow work on roads, bridges and other structures, as well as repairs to landslips. A programme of work is currently being confirmed and we will be starting to roll this out at the earliest opportunity.”
The council said all of the damage identified would cost over £5m to repair and the funding will be spent in line with the work outlined in the bid.
It is hoped the majority of the work will be completed by the summer.
Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council added: “It’s a signal of how much the west was left out of the thinking under the last Liberal Democrat administration that the number of potholes has been allowed to grow to such a backlog.
“We know how important it is to local communities to deal with the menace of potholes which blight our roads.
“We aim to clear the backlog by June and then we’re aiming to stay on top of future pothole reports.”

Monday, 24 March 2014

Fact 1 Barry Elliot was in a polling station at Cowpen shouting at staff. He lives in Wensleydale. He may have upset the staff but did not commit a crime.

Fact 1 Barry Elliot was in a polling station at Cowpen shouting at staff. He lives in Wensleydale. He may have upset the staff but did not commit a crime.

Fact 2 Grant Davey was in a number of polling stations on behalf of the Labour Party to ask presiding officers how many constituents had polled. He lives in Kitty Brewster. This activity is undertaken County wide by all parties and independent candidates. He did not commit a crime.

Fact 3 Susan Davey was not in any polling station. She did not commit a crime.

Statement of fact:
We are aware of a number of allegations on social media sites concerning the outcome of the local election on May 2013 and in particular the Cowpen ward.

We are also familiar with the concerns raised and have fully co-operated with Northumbria Police in its investigation. At no time have we been accused of any offence and have received in October 2013 confirmation from the CPS that no charges would be brought against others as there was insufficient evidence to provide realistic prospects of conviction for any offence.

Allegations by the UKIP party to the contrary are entirely false and without basis in fact or law.

Northumberland County Council, who ran the election, has well established and robust systems in place for managing local elections.
Susan and Grant Davey.

Fact 4 At the election count 31 votes from Cowpen ward were classified as 'spoiled' due to being incorrectly completed. Spoiled papers are commonplace, it is a voters democratic right to spoil their papers if they so wish and abstain from the democratic process. Agents and Candidates from all parties involved in the election are called together and on the day, they agreed with the election officer which were spoiled voting papers.

Fact 5 The 'others' referred to were not members of the Labour Party.

Fact 6 No agent from any party involved, lodged an appeal with Northumberland County Council in regard to this election.

Using its wholly owned Development Company ARCH, Northumberland County Council has begun a new development in Seaton Delaval to widen its housing portfolio.28 New homes in Seaton Deleval

COUNCIL DEVELOPING NEW MARKET HOMES

Using its wholly owned Development Company ARCH, Northumberland County Council has begun a new development in Seaton Delaval to widen its housing portfolio.
28 New Homes are being built on the site of the former Council Offices to be let on a private basis through ARCH housing and will be ready from October 2014.

Since Labour took over the administration of Northumberland County Council in May 2013 they have embarked on the creation of a quality mixed housing market place to expand the opportunity for people to get a sound roof over their heads. They have almost 100 new Council Homes ready to let with more in the construction phase and a good range of sites through planning and in the pipeline, the Council are also working with several housing associations to develop additional social housing to satisfy need and have had a good look at the private let market.

Councillor Allan Hepple, Policy Board member for Housing and Regeneration said "In the private let market field we have some very good landlords who manage their housing stock very well but we have encountered problems with a number of absentee landlords and a lack of investment by some landlords in the buy to rent sector. We have embarked on the formation of a 'Quill' a Quality Landlord List to promote good practice among landlords, we have begun promoting those landlords letting's through our arms length choice based lettings scheme 'Northumberland Homefinder'"

Councillor Gordon Webb, Chairperson of the Housing Working Group said"
I'm pleased the Council's site at Seaton Delaval has begun as there is a prime need for quality rented accommodation in that area. The Quill will lead on to us Licensing landlords in areas where problems of low quality and low investment is affecting or running down communities. Those landlords who are already members of the scheme don't need to worry as they have attained the status Council requires to offer good homes to tenants. Those in need of a home should register with Northumberland Homefinder through Northumberland County Councils website using the housing link or visit one of our One Stop Shops"