Thursday, November 22, 2012

It seems Councillor Jackson has jumped in and got his sums wrong yet again.

Sir

It’s nice to see in Voice of the North 21 November 2012 that Peter Jackson and his Northumberland Tories wish to degrade public properties and create slum areas on our high streets in order to fund his ill-judged cardboard discs.
Where do we start on the weaknesses of Councillor Jackson’s ‘big idea’ on car parking? 
The administration costs and added bureaucracy of managing an individual per car scheme will be immense and hasn’t been acknowledged by the Tories, he’s ‘flip flopped’ on last year’s ‘big idea’ of a £15 charge ‘for free parking’ and the building asset ‘fire sale’, he describes as funding his basic scheme is on very shaky ground as I’ll set out below.

It seems Councillor Jackson has jumped in and got his sums wrong yet again.
The administration of Northumberland County Council has transferred 50% of building assets out of the Councils budget to a partner provider, lowering the maintenance cost of empty buildings well below the level of savings required to replace car parking revenue.
If he and his chums wish to fund car parking losses from building maintenance then they must be planning to lower the working conditions of staff because that’s the only cost to reduce.
I'm sure he hasn’t consulted staff bodies and trade unions before making his ‘phony pledge’ in print.

Peter Jackson needs to remember that he had an opportunity to vote with Labour to introduce free car parking in a fully costed motion. They sought to vote with the Liberal administration which they are so at pains to distance themselves from to deny free car parking.
If Labour is successful and able to form an administration in May 2012, we’ll introduce a locally determined fully funded free parking scheme in consultation with our Parish partners.
We won’t dictate from high what local people want which seems to be the objective of Councillor Jackson’s Conservatives and our plan isn’t an attempt to score cheap political points.

Grant Davey

Leader, Northumberland Labour Group


‘This shows that the Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Norman Baker has ‘forgotten’ his Liberal colleagues at County Hall with the net effect of leaving our rural communities isolated and without means to connect to the very basic amenities. We’ve been snubbed on the extension to the Enterprise Zone leaving Lynemouth out on its own and now the coalition are taking our busses away leaving communities to their own devices’.

Press Release
Fears over bus changes in Northumberland
‘Northumberland will be left behind under current bus plans as routes changed and downgraded’ - East Chevington Councils Chairperson, Councillor Scott Dickinson
Fears have been raised that changes outlined in Northumberland County Council’s November bus service newsletter will prove the ‘tip of the iceberg’ after it outlined significant changes across the county such as the withdrawal of bus services to Brockwell Health Centre from East Hartford, the X18 Berwick to Newcastle via Seahouses, Alnwick, Amble and Morpeth and the 472 where Shillbottle and Alnwick will lose significant services.
East Chevington spokesperson Scott Dickinson said
"Many local people rely on our ever dwindling bus services to travel to work, shop and for their leisure time and the loss of bus services is a disaster for local communities. It will increase isolation in our countryside and it’s the duty of this council to stand up for local communities on vital bus services. This is yet another example of a Liberal council in Morpeth failing rural communities’.
Labour group leader Grant Davey added
‘This shows that the Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Norman Baker has ‘forgotten’ his Liberal colleagues at County Hall with the net effect of leaving our rural communities isolated and without means to connect to the very basic amenities. We’ve been snubbed on the extension to the Enterprise Zone leaving Lynemouth out on its own and now the coalition are taking our busses away leaving communities to their own devices’.
End
Notes to Editors
  • On 3rd October 2012 the Coalitions Norman Baker MP released his plans to increase bus passenger numbers in England. It had its centre how councils and bus companies should work closely together to improve services boosting passenger numbers.
  • This week, Northumberland County Council issued their November bus service newsletter.
  • In the light of experience gained from the extensive changes introduced by Arriva in September 2012, the operator is introducing further modifications on some routes, mainly to improve the reliability of operation. The details are as follows:
  • X4 Blyth – Newcastle via Seaton Delaval, Seghill, South Gosforth
Buses omit Gosforth High Street and run once again via Haddricks Mill Road into Newcastle; most journeys are retimed. Most journeys also no longer divert into the Quorum Business Park in North Tyneside and call instead nearby on Benton Lane.
  • X5 Blyth – Newcastle via Bebside, Cramlington, Freeman Hospital
All journeys retimed by a few minutes. Most journeys also no longer divert into the Quorum Business Park in North Tyneside.
  • X18 Berwick – Newcastle via Seahouses, Alnwick, Amble, Morpeth
On Mondays to Fridays the bus at 0647 from Alnwick to Newcastle starts 10 minutes earlier at 0637, improving the connection with a train at Alnmouth, and allowing extra running-time into Newcastle to arrive Haymarket bus station at 0851.
  • 43 Cramlington – Newcastle via Dudley, Wideopen, Gosforth
Most journeys are retimed by a few minutes, to improve reliability.
  • 53 53A Cramlington – North Shields and Whitley Bay via Killingworth
Journeys on route 53A run via Weetslade Road in Dudley instead of Fern Drive (Tyne and Wear).
The new timetables on all these routes will very shortly be posted on the county council’s website, on the following page:
Amble, Links Estate and Shilbottle:
The council fully support the service 472 between Alnwick and Amble. We are in discussion with our operator, Travelsure, regarding opportunities to find some running time that could be used to serve Links Estate. We will look at the timetable to try and provide connections with south services. This may have a detrimental effect on parts of Shilbottle or Alnwick.

Hadston

The Council have noted the revised route mentioned above and the implications for the loss of service in Hadston.

At this particular time, there are no alternative options available to the council to reinstate a service. There is no available budget to subsidise such a service.

We would again refer interested parties to the community based ‘Get Going’ fund (see below) and the the WRVS supported ‘Getabout’ voluntary car scheme.


Invitation to hear the latest Arriva changes to their network of bus services:
Arriva will be represented at the North and South East Area Committee meetings where they will give a detailed presentation on further changes they intend to introduce to local bus services in late January. These changes will affect services mostly into the south east where ongoing difficulties with timekeeping etc still need to be resolved.
These are being held on:
NORTH AREA COMMITTEE – Monday 14th January at 6pm: location tbc
SOUTH EAST AREA COMMITTEE – Wednesday 16th January at 6pm: location tbc
Get Going Fund’ – Northumberland Sustainable Community Transport Initiative
There will be a third round of awards considered in January.
We have previously circulated information on the scheme. The closing date for new applications from Community Transport providers, Community and voluntary organisations to apply for funding is:
11th January 2013
Please be aware that there are revised application forms and documents.
Please contact Jan Chisholm at Northumberland County Council for further information.
Applications are processed by Adapt (North East) (call 0845 388 0042)
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