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?

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