Monday, March 24, 2014

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

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"

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Let me begin by thanking you for all your efforts and hard work over the last year. As you will be aware, Northumberland Labour Group will shortly set its first budget proposals before council.

Dear Colleagues, Let me begin by thanking you for all your efforts and hard work over the last year. As you will be aware, Northumberland Labour Group will shortly set its first budget proposals before council. These proposals have been developed in the context of a £130M Coalition Government revenue cut over the next four years, a 30% reduction in our budget. To say cuts of this magnitude won't affect service delivery or local businesses and communities would be ridiculous, but Labour Group members in Northumberland have decided to use our first budget to protect as many front line jobs as possible in order that we safeguard the local economies we serve. Although the background to our first budget is one of bleak austerity, we have agreed to challenge the way we provide services and address future changes sitting just on the horizon such as those required through the Coalition Governments 'Care Bill' shortly to become the 'Care Act'. We want to ensure that we plan for more than just the short term, and to develop a genuine long term strategy for our services. Since we were elected in May we have begun to change the way the Council thinks of itself and have begun our move from departments towards integrated workstreams through changes at the top of our organisation. We are working with your Trade Unions on all issues and are about to begin a return to town centres from a centralised County Hall system that has failed the County over the last five years. This will revitalise our ability to support Northumberland’s towns and their local businesses. Those of you who have worked there will know just as well as me that County Hall as a building requires a fortune spent on it just to keep it up to the most basic modern workplace standards. The current revenue position of the Council does not allow us to service the kind of debt we would take on to do that work, so much cheaper options will be sought to re-house our workstream teams. Our commitment to attack the Housing Crisis is still strong with hundreds of new Council houses in either the planning, building or about to be let stage. Our consultation on the Local Development Framework that will protect 96% of our green belt for the next 20 years is going well and is being accepted by all but the most negative commentators. Streetscene services are working ever more closely with Town, Community and Parish Councils to deliver the services local people want the most on the ground and raise our standards to the pre 2009 level. We could not address these challenges without your support. There are some disappointments that we will have to tackle without having cash available. We have been told we must improve our education system without the benefit of being able to drive through a sponsored structural change for staff, parents and children to work towards. We have soldiers and their families rebasing to Albemarle barracks without the benefit of any additional MoD assistance to aid that resettlement. The pressure on school places and services in such a rural area will be immense and the much vaunted Community Covenant scheme can't be accessed by Local Authorities to aid the situation. Northumberland is the most sparsely populated county in England yet the Government’s sparsity offer is to invest in rural services today in order that we cut them next year. It’s much more difficult and costly to deliver services in very sparsely populated rural areas, as many of you who live and work here will know. To be faced with the choice of removing or cutting them is evidence that London based ministers have lost touch with societies such as ours. I want to be able to promise you, as our workforce, that we will work with you to enable all of us to address these challenges. Can I add one final request to you all? If you’ve had an invitation to take part in our Employee Survey, and you haven’t yet done so, please take fifteen minutes out of your day to do so. We value your opinions, and we know that we can’t take on the challenges we face without your support and engagement, which is why we want to address any issues that arise from the survey. Let me close by wishing you a Happy New Year, with my hope that we can all work together to meet the challenges we face, Regards Cllr Grant Davey

Monday, January 07, 2013

Berwick Chamber of Trade back ‘fair parking in Northumberland’ petition. Shops in the town to collect signatures before 26 February 2013 deadline




                                                                                        
Ian Swithenbank, Chairperson
Grant Davey, Leader
Val Tyler, Deputy
Robert Arckless, Secretary

County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland NE61 2EF
Telephone (01670) 533000
Fax (01670) 533072

Press Release
Berwick Chamber of Trade back ‘fair parking in Northumberland’ petition
Shops in town to collect signatures before 26 Feb deadline
Berwick Chamber of Trade have become the first major Chamber of Trade in the county to back the petition to introduce a ‘fair parking system across Northumberland’ and have agreed to start collecting signatures in the shops of the town.
The petition closes on 26 Feb and will lead to a debate on car parking charges across Northumberland after closure at the council’s Petitions Committee chaired by Councillor Ian Swithenbank. It is hoped that the public campaign and renewed discussion about the issue of parking charges which Labour have branded ‘a parking stealth tax’ will send a strong message to the Liberal administration as it considers, what could be its final budget.  
Labour councillors have highlighted that the petition would be a ‘very visible way to send a message to County Hall’ about the current inequality which underpins parking charges across the county.
For instance, visitors to Morpeth, Berwick, Alnwick and Hexham have to pay parking charges while areas like Blyth, Cramlington and Ashington pay nothing. This raises between £1.96m and £5m in income from charges and fines but Labour disputes the figure. Labour also dispute reasons given by Lib Dem Cabinet member Andrew Tebbutt that ‘charges are needed to deal with congestion’ pointing out that there is no evidence that the council have undertaken any recent study into problems of congestion in Northumberland’s towns.  

Berwick Chamber of Trade’s John Haswell said

‘After printing out the petition form today, I have personally collected just over 280 names and signatures in one afternoon. It didn't take long and it wasn't hard to do, Berwick's residents are more than ready to put their name to this partition as they feel this town has been milked to the hilt and it’s about time it stopped. This petition will send out a strong message to the council that it must do more for traders and the residents in Berwick in these tough economic conditions. We will be making the petition available through the local traders and shops of the town so don't hold back, get in and sign it’.

 

Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘I hope the council will take notice of the campaign to highlight the damaging inequality in car parking charges across Northumberland’.
End



Sunday, January 06, 2013

'Bullied' Tory councillor to fight seat as Independent

'Bullied' Tory councillor to fight seat as Independent

  • by Paul Tully, The Journal

  • Jan 5 2013

Councillor Anne Dale and Councillor Ian Hutchinson (inset)

A LONG-STANDING Tory councillor has quit the party after a bullying row and will contest her seat as an Independent at the next election.

Anne Dale, who has represented Stocksfield and Broomhaugh ward in Tynedale for 18 years, left the Northumberland Conservative group after alleging she had been victimised by a senior colleague in a council chamber exchange.

Planning Committee chairman Coun Ian Hutchinson had to stand down after being found guilty by a standards panel of bullying Coun Dale during a committee meeting in June.

Coun Dale has now resigned from the Conservative party, and last night said: “I have quit the group and am hoping to stand as an Independent in the local elections in May. My honesty and integrity was at stake and I am not prepared to tolerate that for the sake of party politics. After serving for 18 years, I hope to continue doing so.”

Northumberland Conservative group leader Peter Jackson said there had been too many policy differences for Coun Dale to continue as a party member.

Coun Jackson said: “There are a series of policy differences going back three or four months. One was about saddling the new Prudhoe school building with a mountain of debt. She also refused to support our policies on control of wind farms, the Whittonstall opencast and our objection to it, plus free car parking before Christmas.”

But Coun Dale hit back: “There are no significant policy differences at all.

“There was one legal motion on wind farms that a lot of us didn’t vote on, but Peter Jackson has been singling me out.

“And on the issue of free computers at Prudhoe, I was not voting against that – I insist there were no significant policy differences.”

The split in the party has run for more than a year since it was announced that Coun Dale had been de-selected from the list of county election candidates.

Then in June she complained about Coun Hutchinson’s behaviour towards her during a planning committee meeting in Hexham.

Coun Dale took her case to the county council’s standards board and after a lengthy hearing, Coun Hutchinson, of Haltwhistle, was found guilty of bullying and apologised then stepped down as committee chairman to be replaced by Coun Edward Heslop of Wark.

Afterwards, Coun Dale resigned the party whip, though she is currently serving out her time on the authority.

Coun Jackson added: “She has kept on repeating that the group investigation into the bullying incident was not satisfactory, but that is wrong.

“The group did find that there had been a breach of the written code of conduct and Coun Hutchinson had to make a written apology. He then stood down as planning committee chairman.

“Most of the members of the group thought the matter had been handled satisfactorily – and that there should have been an end to it a long time ago. It doesn’t surprise us that Coun Dale has left the Tory group, because she effectively has not been a member of it for months now.”

Coun Dale’s place as a Conservative candidate in the May local election has been taken by Dr Paul Vickers of Stocksfield.

Coun Jackson said: “We are very excited that Paul Vickers is an excellent candidate who will bring a fresh view.”


 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grant Davey’s Christmas message to the Trade Unions

 Dear All
I’m going to make no apologies for the sentiments expressed in this year’s Christmas message given the very difficult years ahead of us and the strains and stresses many of our members are facing because of the actions of the coalition government.
This message is going to be political and I’m going to give you food for thought.
I’ve always been aware that Labour politicians sometimes have to say things which put strains on our fraternal relations but we’re comforted by the recognition that we’re all on the same side, campaigning to make the country a fairer and more equal place to live.
Looking at Northumberland over the last four years of Liberal Democrat decisions and direction, we’ve seen the loss of 1500 jobs directly and 1000 jobs indirectly, the removal of £105m from the Councils budgets and the absence of a proper plan which heaped unnecessary strain on services already creaking under the pressure. Working under the uncertainty of privatisation and not knowing the real direction of travel of your employers isn’t the way to encourage people to give their all.
The general lack of communication and ‘misinformation’ about the Liberal plans for the council hinders good working relations and 2012 will go down as the year before the ‘storm’.

My background and beliefs may be a little different to the politicians you have lived with in Northumberland, as I am a Trade Unionist at the core. I want to work with Trade Unions because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve spent 23 years as a Branch Secretary and I’m proud of that. My colleagues within Labour Group have also grown up as Trade Unionists; many are also members of the Co-op party and from these backgrounds have fought against this administration and the second administration the Tories run through the scrutiny process.
What I’m saying is I want to see an authority that is ‘at ease with itself’ and one that sees its workforce as partners and people not ‘cogs in a machine’ to be manipulated and cast aside.
We recognise we’re in a minority in this council with a Liberal Democrat majority which is often supported and propped up by the Tories. Not a single Liberal Democrat budget would have passed unless it had Tory support and make no mistake; the Tories are still the ‘nasty’ party whichever way they try to ‘spin the facts’. Next year is a big year. For the first time in 5 years the voters of Northumberland can make their voices heard and we need your help to win where it matters, at the ballot box and by winning the battle of ideas.

In 2013, we’ll continue to campaign to make the economic case for ‘in-house’ provision and will continue to tackle the dogma that lies at the heart of the Liberal Democrat decisions – private is best and public means 2nd class. We’ll continue to campaign on ‘what matters is what works’.
We’ll be launching our manifesto in January 2013 and we can promise it will be underpinned by a partnership between communities and their council. We’ll be setting out our plans to build council houses to tackle a scandalous waiting list, a ‘jobs plan’ aimed at securing good quality council jobs and increasing apprenticeships and the general aim of making Northumberland a fairer place. We’ll be concentrating on getting the basics right by investing in our clean and green services which have been damaged by Liberal cuts.

Labour has a vision for the whole county, and you are a central part of that vision. The last five years have been wasted years.
The people of this County gave a mandate to the coalition parties to make Northumberland a better place to live, work and visit. What the people of Northumberland have got back instead is job cuts in the public and private sector, the imposition of policies from the council’s masters in government, implemented without a squeak of opposition, which have seen working families bear the brunt of ‘austerity’ created in the City by unaccountable bankers and reckless traders and the rise of the ‘stealth tax’ in Northumberland with unfair charges for car parking and rising parish council precepts.

We are able to make the clear case for public services against those who would put their prejudice against public services above the needs of the people and workforce of Northumberland and we can make that case more powerfully by working closely with the Trade Union movement and its members.
Make no mistake, 2013 is a crunch year. It’s decision time for the people of Northumberland, it’s a time when ordinary people will be feeling the ‘coalition crunch’ nationally, it’s the time when the fight back starts.
The spirit of co-operation and comradeship in pursuit of our collective interests has never been more vital. I hope 2013 will be a year for all linked to the Labour movement to look back on with pride and a year we can all say – I was part of the fight back.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

Councillor Grant Davey
Leader, Northumberland Labour Group

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Instead of defending the indefensible, Councillor Tebbutt should stop bandying around ‘voodoo figures’ and enter into a mature discussion about why it’s okay to levy charges for parking in towns like Morpeth and Berwick and not in other parts of Northumberland? His answers so far just aren’t good enough and I hope he takes notice of this petition and campaign. It’s Councillor Tebbutt who makes the decisions in County Hall and he needs to acknowledge the importance of this issue. I’m sure local Liberals and Conservatives will back our campaign and I’m calling for them to support the petition and send a message to Councillor Tebbutt in County Hall.

Fair’s, fair – the free parking petition gets underway
Labour launches car parking charge petition
Labour councillor’s and it’s county party have launched a new campaign ‘fair’s, fair’ to tackle the current council policy on charged parking in Berwick, Morpeth, Hexham and Alnwick which has been branded as ‘unfair’ and a ‘tax on motorists and residents alike’.
Northumberland Labour group are pushing a policy which would give local town and parish council’s, the casting say over whether free car parking would benefit the local economy and environment and have launched a petition on the council’s website aimed at sending a clear message to the Liberal Democrat cabinet which is currently drawing up its budget for next year and beyond. Activists will be collecting signatures around the town and residents and traders can sign the petition on the council’s ‘e-petition' section of the website
The petition will mean that the car parking issue will be subject to a full debate in the council chamber if the website collects over 1,000 signatures. 
MP’s for Wansbeck and Blyth have backed the plan and Labour hope Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith will also back the call for fair parking in the county by supporting the campaign. Labour is also calling for Councillor Hunter to back the campaign to boost trade in the town. 
Labour is also challenging Councillor Tebbutt, Cabinet member for Corporate Resources who claimed last week ‘that removing charges could cost the council up to £5m’. Comments by Councillor Tebbutt (Berwick Advertiser) seemed to indicate the cost of removing charges would cost between £3m and £5m which are contradicted by figures released to the Labour group which indicated ‘an estimated cost would be £1.95m’. 
Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘Instead of defending the indefensible, Councillor Tebbutt should stop bandying around ‘voodoo figures’ and enter into a mature discussion about why it’s okay to levy charges for parking in towns like Morpeth and Berwick and not in other parts of Northumberland? His answers so far just aren’t good enough and I hope he takes notice of this petition and campaign. It’s Councillor Tebbutt who makes the decisions in County Hall and he needs to acknowledge the importance of this issue. I’m sure local  Liberals and Conservatives will back our campaign and I’m calling for them to support the petition and send a message to Councillor Tebbutt in County Hall. 

End
Notes for Editors
Paper copies of the petition can be requested from northumberlandlabour.press@gmail.com