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”.