Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There is a fantasy at the heart of these proposals that ‘partnership proposals by Councillor Reid, Tebbutt and Bradbury will lead to more efficient or better services for residents and employees’. You just need to look at the G4S debacle to see that isn’t always the case. We hope that Councillor Reid and his executive will approach this working group in a constructive and transparent way and the ball is firmly in their court”.



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

                                   County Hall                                                                                                         
                                    Morpeth                       
                 Telephone 01670 627000




Press Release

Labour unveils new team on anti – PPP working group

The new cross party working group set up to scrutinise Northumberland County Council plans to ‘privatise’ unspecified council services will see Labour ‘wheel out’ an experienced team consisting of Leader Grant Davey; His deputy Val Tyler, David Ledger and Ian Swithenbank.
The group was set up after proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrat executive member Andrew Tebbutt were circulated to members of the council causing a storm and a cross party motion supported by Labour and Conservative members expressed serious concerns over the plans. His plans were designed to plug a £77m gap in the council’s finances and could lead to over 1000 job losses and a wholesale ‘giveaway’ of council services to the private sector.   

Labour Leader Grant Davey said
"Northumberland Labour Group are determined to turn the spotlight on these ‘chaotic and potentially damaging plans’. We are particularly keen to look at the alternative options available to the Council to fight of this unnecessary back door privatisation. We are fielding a very experienced team of members to ensure the residents and staff can have confidence our team is prepared to ask the awkward questions. There is a fantasy at the heart of these proposals that ‘partnership proposals by Councillor Reid, Tebbutt and Bradbury will lead to more efficient or better services for residents and employees’. You just need to look at the G4S debacle to see that isn’t  always the case. We hope that Councillor Reid and his executive will approach this working group in a constructive and transparent way and the ball is firmly in their court”.


Grant Davey                                                  Home 01670 369725

17 July 2012                                                 Work 01670 543773                                                           


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Northumberland Labour Group have come out in support of Darlington and Durhams Leaders Bill Dixon and Simon Henig’s campaign against the austerity measures by slamming Chancellor George Osbourne and Northumberland’s Coalition led administration for engineering a ‘Perfect Storm’ to hit the Council sometime after the 2013 Local Government Elections


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


Coalition Led Council Supporting £123Billion Cuts

Northumberland Labour Group have come out in support of Darlington and Durhams Leaders Bill Dixon and Simon Henig’s campaign against the austerity measures by slamming Chancellor George Osbourne and Northumberland’s Coalition led administration for engineering a ‘Perfect Storm’ to hit the Council sometime after the 2013 Local Government Elections.

A report has been issued by the Conservative-led Local Government Association (LGA) which claims without immediate reform, a £16.5bn shortfall would appear by 2020.  

Labour Group Leader Grant Davey said “ Were supporting Bill and Simon’s campaign as here in Northumberland we have one of the largest population tilts anywhere in Britain. It is predicted that from its current position of 20.1% our elderly population will swing upwards and 31% of the County’s population will be over 65 by 2033” “As Councils have to plan for a decade or more, services currently enjoyed by our population such as theatre’s leisure centres, parks, highways repairs cleansing and grounds maintenance will have to be stopped to pay for Adult Social Care”. “The Coalition has issued its unfunded localism agenda, the Prime Minister has been bleating on about his unfunded Big Society yet Whitehall wish to manage the run down of all Local Government Services centrally.” “ They need to tell us if their planning to move Adult Social Care into the National Health Service through their reform agenda as that’s the only way Council’s will survive the Baby Boom period without a huge injection of cash.” “The cuts to other services must be slowed considerably before the slippage into a third world type economic maelstrom becomes unstoppable.”

Spending on social care would swallow up 45 per cent of council budgets by 2020, the report claims, and in Northumberland it is expected that over 75% of the total budget will be spent on Adult Social Care by 2033. People haven’t yet realised what the Coalition’s Austerity Measures mean and how the removal of £107M from budgets by Northumberland’s Coalition Led Administration over the last four years is beginning affect their lives.

The lack of cleansing, grass cutting, highways repair etc is accelerating and the austerity measures will begin to hit education, sure start, leisure services, libraries, supported transport and public safety next.




Grant Davey                                                  Home 01670 369725

16 July 2012                                                 Work 01670 543773                                                           


Monday, July 16, 2012

Council puts frighteners on Blyth Crematorium ‘Inaccurate and insensitive comments slammed’



                                                                                              Labour Group

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


Council puts frighteners on Blyth Crematorium
‘Inaccurate and insensitive comments slammed’


Northumberland Labour Group have slammed the comments made by Councillor Neil Bradbury to the West Area Committee that Blyth Crematorium requires £1M spent on it to bring it up to standard.

His comments have raised concerns that the council has plans to close the facility as it battles to save £77m from its budget. It is the latest gaffe by the Liberal Democratic administration which has seen its plans to ‘privatise’ services across the county halted by a coalition of opposition councillors. 


Northumberland Labour Group Leader, Grant Davey, said
"After his recent problems with his leisure centre ‘giveaway’, Councillor Bradbury has once again attempted to score points in rural Northumberland by playing the urban rural card, seeking to divide rather than unite. The truth is Blyth Crematorium has been a cash cow and has benefitted the whole of the county to the tune of £2.50 per household. Councillor Bradbury once again needs to clear up the mess he has created by his incorrect comments and he needs to clarify the situation”.

End


Notes for Editors
·         A report to Blyth Valley and Wansbeck Joint Crematorium Committee on 10th July 2007 did highlight several areas that required attention. Following receipt of that report both Councils took action and funded during 2007/8 new flues, a new waiting room, new burner equipment, including a burner to take larger coffins, the refurbishment of both chapels and fitted a CCTV link between the chapels to assist mourners at highly attended funerals to join in the celebrations of the deceased lives.
·         During 1991 the Secretary of State issued a mandate to the health and Safety Executive to monitor emissions and working practice at Crematoria. If £1M was required to be spent then the HSE would have probably closed down the facility.





Grant Davey                                                   Home 01670 369725

13 July 2012                                                    Work 01670 543773                          

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Northumberland Labour Group cannot believe that Liberal Democrat Councillor Neil Bradbury wishes to continue with his quest to build a leisure facility in Ashington specifically for a private partner. particularly since Council Scrutiny members have 'Called In' his report to a special scrutiny meeting to be held this Thursday

Councillor Grant Davey Leader of Northumberland Labour Group said "Its a pity that Northumberland County Council executive committee is split so badly that they have stopped talking to each other. The new facility in Ashington is but one element of the redevelopment of the Town Centre which in Executive plans will include a Library and a one stop shop, Council offices and possibly a base for core services". 

Council Leisure contracts are developed on a deficit bid basis to attempt to close the gap between the amount of money a Council wishes to spend on leisure and the revenue that a contractor or department can make from the Councils customers. This allows non-profit making sports to be included into Councils plans. In the world of Private Leisure the offer is focused on profit making to ensure shareholders receive a healthy annual return.

"Concentration on the profit making elements of leisure does not assist the Council aims for Social Inclusion, we need to widen the public leisure scope to ensure all age groups are catered for and not concentrate on fitness suites and Zumba classes, as they are currently supplied very well by private providers in the area".

Neil Bradbury report on Leisure privatisation (which he doesn't like that particular 'p' word) has been 'called in' under the constitution by the Conservative group (and we're supporting the call in). Its due to be heard in a public meeting on Thursday at Ponteland. We have some serious concerns about the paper and its ramifications which were discussed and agreed by the Liberal cabinet last Tues (prior to Full Council on Wed).

The main concerns are the 'ramshackle nature of the proposals' which Councillor Bradbury has said will be his contribution to the £77m savings required under Councillor Tebbutt's now infamous PPP briefing paper.  '.Labour group leader Grant Davey said "This proposal put forward by Councillor Bradbury is badly thought out and has serious ramifications for residents and employee's of Northumberland alike. Not only does he propose to giveaway over £20m of council assets to the private sector but he also proposes to effectively tear up the existing contracts with providers at every leisure outlet across the county. That's why it is right to support this call in and to ask the council to reconsider his plans which do not add up".

The meeting at County Hall last Wed was successful from a Labour perspective with both substantive motions on Regional Pay and on Service Privatisation carried with a cross party consensus. Its over 4 years since Labour and the conservative's in the county have joined in such an endeavour and the motions also attracted support from the trade unions.

There is still some confusion given council have called for a halt on the PPP proposals until they are properly scrutinised but there is a serious question over a 'timetable to privatisation' set out in the briefing note by Councillor Tebbutt. We are pressing to find out if this timetable still applies.

Labour group leader Grant Davey said"Its right that the Liberal administration has listened to the barrage voicing concern over the nature of the PPP proposals. I'm pleased that Labour and the Conservatives on the council put aside our differences and came together for the good of the County. There is still confusion at the heart of this policy though and we'd like the council to confirm whether they are still sticking to Councillor Tebbutt's timetable. There is an absolute need for transparency on this policy and its time we had a definitive statement from the Leader of the Council not a series of reactions to news that is leaking out of the authority".

Press Release from Grant Davy Labour Group Leader

Northumberland Labour Group cannot believe that Liberal Democrat Councillor Neil Bradbury wishes to continue with quest to build a leisure facility in Ashington specifically for a private partner. particulalrly since Council Scrutiny members have 'Called In' his report to a special scrutiny meeting to be held this Thursday.  Councillor Grant Davey Leader of Northumberland Labour Group said "Its a pity that Northumberland County Council executive committee is split so badly that they have stopped talking to each other. The new facility in Ashington is but one element of the redevelopment of the Town Centre which will include a Library and a one stop shop, Council offices and possibly a base for core services".  Council Leisure contracts are developed on a deficit bid basis to attempt to close the gap between the amount of money a Council wishes to spend on leisure and the revenue that a contractor can make from the Councils customers. This allows non-profit making sports to be included into Councils plans. In the world of Private Leisure the offer is focused on profit making to ensure shareholders receive a healthy annual return. "Concentration on profit making elements does not assist the Council aims for Social Inclusion, we need to widen the public leisure scope to ensure all age groups are catered for and not concentrate on fitness suites and Zumba classes, as they are currently supplied very well by private providers in the area".
                                                       Todays Article in The Journal
Former Asda store in Ashington which is to become a new leisure centre
PLANS to place all Northumberland’s leisure centres in the hands of a private company have taken a step forward.
Northumberland County Council’s executive has agreed a number of recommendations towards all the authority’s 12 leisure centres being managed by one private operator.
The contract would include a planned new facility at Ashington, which is to be built at a cost of £20m. The council’s Labour group has claimed the proposals are the first step on the authority’s drive to privatise its services.
The authority is currently considering setting up a partnership with a private firm to deliver some of it services, in a bid to make tens of millions of pounds in savings.
Coun Neil Bradbury, executive member for leisure, said: “Currently the majority of our leisure facilities are managed by four external leisure operators, with only two centres operated in-house.
“We are looking to introduce a simplified and consistent approach to leisure management across the county. We propose to appoint just one operator to manage our centres.
“Not only will this offer better value for money and contribute to the efficiency savings which are required across the council, it will also provide a more consistent approach to the quality of our leisure facilities and services across the county.
“The first step in the process will be to soft market test the idea to get proposals and suggestions from interested parties, including all the existing leisure operators.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Labour group on Northumberland County Council is backing Hexham MP Guy Opperman’s opposition to the Government’s plans to introduce lower regional wages.

Political unity over public sector pay

Published on Monday 2 July 2012 19:28
A RARE political unity has been formed between Conservative and Labour politicians over public sector pay in the county.
In a motion to next Wednesday’s full council meeting, members will urge the authority to fight the policy, saying it would harm the North East, depress wages generally and make it difficult to recruit the best teachers and medical staff.
And this has also been supported by the Northumberland Conservative group.
Mr Opperman has said he sees no economic argument for regional pay. He argues that someone working in the NHS in a deprived part of the North East deserves more pay than an equivalent worker in a London suburb.
The Labour group believes that reducing the real-terms pay of the county’s public sector workers, of which there are more than 35,000, will dramatically reduce spending power and have a negative impact on the private sector.
Its Leader, Grant Davey, said: “It’s time for the politicians of Northumberland to put their party politics to one side and to stand up for the people of the county. We agree with Mr Opperman’s position that regional pay ‘will not work’.
“This motion gives all parties in the council chamber a chance to send a strong message to the Coalition in London to say ‘hands off our public services and we say no to a race to the bottom of the pay league’.”
Coun Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland Conservatives, added: “It is wrong to discriminate against workers on the basis of where they live. It cannot be right that workers in Northumberland are paid less than people doing the same job in the Midlands or in the South East.
“Northumberland’s Conservative councillors are delighted to support Guy Opperman, who has led the opposition to these plans in the county.

Labour group leader Coun Grant Davey said: “Once again the Lib Dem administration has been caught trying to slip through plans to sell off the family silver.”

Northumberland Gazzette

Focus falls on future of leisure centres

A new team could be brought in to run all Northumberland’s public leisure provision, including centres in Alnwick and Rothbury.

Leisure chief Coun Neil Bradbury describes the deal as uncontroversial and wants the decision delegated to himself and a colleague without other councillors having a say.
The authority is already seeking a commercial partner to take on services as it faces pressure to save £74million within three or four years, on top of £100million and 1,500 jobs it has slashed already. It argues that will save jobs.
Coun Bradbury’s aim is to cut the £4million annual subsidy by a quarter. He maintains to colleagues that the leisure deal is not privatisation because the old district councils brought in outside organisations to run the sports centres.
Coun Bradbury describes this mixture as a ‘mess of contracts’, but praises the result.
He said: “My strong preference is to use the lure of a brilliant new facility in Ashington as the starter of a contract, where we will appoint a preferred provider who will gradually take over the other centres when the other providers’ contracts come to an end. My aim is to save 25 per cent on the leisure subsidy, but with little increase in prices and no cutting back in service.”
Labour group leader Coun Grant Davey said: “Once again the Lib Dem administration has been caught trying to slip through plans to sell off the family silver.”

Monday, July 02, 2012

Northumberland Labour Group have problems supporting Customer Services Strategy of LIBDEMS CC Neil Bradbury

Northumberland Labour Group have problems supporting the administrations Customer Services Strategy report being placed before the Councils Executive on Tuesday 3rd July 2012 by Councillor Neil Bradbury.

The report has been sold to the public and members of the Council not by consultation but through news reports likening it with South Tyneside's partnership with British Telecom by Councillor Andrew Tebbutt, who is leading on the privatisation of public services across Northumberland.
The report also indicates the Councils intention to move over to additional e-contact.

Northumberland has been serviced through a series of one stop shops formed by the outgoing District Councils prior to 2008. They ensure face to face contact with the public is maintained and that people could meet with advisors who would help them through their problems with reporting highways/street lighting/streetscene repairs, Setting up and taking payments for Council tax and the very difficult task of self identification for housing benefit and Council tax relief.

Labour Group leader Councillor Grant said " South Tyneside has developed an excellent facility in partnership with BT but they are very small Authority with some of the best transport links in Europe into South Shields with Metro, Bus and Ferry Services running close by the Harton Quay site. People both workers and the public can quite easily access their centre. Northumberland is similar in size to Southern Cyprus and our population need to maintain contact with us on a face to face basis therefore Andrew Tebbut's analogy that we should develop a similar partnership is flawed."
"It is the intention of the coalition Government that 85% of contact with public bodies should be through e-engagement by 2013, Northumberland has one of the largest out of balance populations nationally, with a much larger than average aging population. This make e-engagement and call centre operations difficult as most of this age group wish to talk face to face with their Council."