Council News Monitor

Council News Monitor weekly round-up: Treasury in devolution talks

By: Council News Monitor Team
Published: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 16:43 GMT Jump to Comments

Chancellor discloses Treasury talks with West Midlands over devolution deal worth billions; Sunderland claims success on library closures; Norfolk may close small schools

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Top story

Osborne in devolution talks to give West Midlands billions

Birmingham City Council     Source: Birmingham Post

Treasury officials have begun talks with Birmingham about agreeing a major funding deal similar to the £1.2bn package agreed with Greater Manchester, Chancellor George Osborne has revealed. He welcomed the announcement that local authorities in the Black Country and Birmingham are to create a combined authority, and he dropped a heavy hint that he wanted the area to agree to create a directly elected mayor. The news comes as Southampton and Portsmouth council leaders backed a Solent City combined authority, while the leader of East Riding of Yorkshire said negotiations for Humberside should wait until after the election.  Read in full

Scotland

Morrison wins £100m North Lanarkshire schools framework

North Lanarkshire Council     Source: Construction Enquirer

Galliford Try’s Scottish business Morrison Construction has been successfully appointed to North Lanarkshire Council’s Schools and Centres 21 Phase 2 Framework. The deal is expected to produce a pipeline of up to £100m in schools projects over the next four years. Morrison Construction is one of three contractors that will be awarded design and build contracts through a selection process of mini-tenders.  Read in full

Wales

Cardiff faces 5% council tax hike, cuts and raised fees

Cardiff Council     Source: WalesOnline

Cardiff council’s controlling Labour group is recommending a 5% increase in council tax, as well as significant cuts in services and the potential loss of hundreds more jobs. Faced with having to make a further £48m in cuts, the authority says it has no alternative but to examine new ways of working and to encourage community groups to take over the running of some services like children’s play and youth services.  Read in full

Northern Ireland

Relief as dissident death threats to Derry council safety wardens lifted

Derry City Council     Source: Belfast Telegraph

Terrorist death threats against community safety wardens in Londonderry have been lifted. Trade union Nipsa said last night the threats from dissident republicans to the lives of 12 council employees had been lifted. A well-placed source confirmed the issue had been resolved.  Read in full

North east of England

Council hails Sunderland library closure programme ‘a success’

Sunderland City Council     Source: Sunderland Ech

Readers in Sunderland are borrowing more books than before nine libraries were closed in a controversial move last year, council bosses said. A year on from the move, which was intended to save £850,000 a year and left Wearside with just 11 libraries, the closure scheme has been hailed a success by those in power. It sparked protest marches and petitions at the time, along with the formation of the Save our Libraries group. Now, figures in a report to Sunderland City Council’s scrutiny committee show the number of books being issued has risen from 673,568 last year to 689,683 this year.  Read in full

North west of England

£10m council HQ in Carlisle given go-ahead

Cumbria County Council     Source: News & Star

Plans for a new £10m council headquarters in Carlisle have been given the go-ahead. Cumbria County Council’s planning committee has given the green light to the new development, which will house 700 of its staff from other offices, including the authority’s current city base at The Courts.  Read in full

Yorkshire and the Humber

‘No time’ to consult public on Sheffield devolution deal

Sheffield City Council     Source: Sheffield Telegraph

Residents will not get the chance to have their say on a proposed devolution deal on the table for Sheffield – because there is ‘no time’ to do so, the council leader has said. New home rule powers for Sheffield could be agreed within weeks, with the Government hoping to announce before Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement on Wednesday, December 3. Details of what powers will be transferred from Whitehall to Sheffield are still being finalised, but are expected to include greater control on transport and house-building decisions.  Read in full

East Midlands

£70m recycling centre at Bilsthorpe Colliery site given go-ahead

Nottinghamshire County Council     Source: Nottingham Post

Controversial plans for a £70m recycling centre in Nottinghamshire have been approved. The Bilsthorpe Energy Centre will provide 46 jobs and power 24,000 homes, reusing thousands of tons of waste that would have otherwise gone to landfill. The plans for the incinerator were opposed by some residents.  Read in full

West Midlands

100 contractors sign up to Birmingham council 'social contract'

Birmingham City Council     Source: Birmingham Post

More than 100 firms have signed up to a charter promising to ‘buy Brummie’ and pay the living wage. The Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility requires firms to pay decent wages and use local suppliers, create local jobs and apprenticeships, be green and plough something back into the community. Eventually more than 500 businesses, which supply more than £200,000 worth of goods or services to the council per year, are expected to sign up. Professional services firm Deloitte, construction giant Carillion and Enterprise Rent-A-Car are among some of the larger businesses to sign up.  Read in full

East of England

Norfolk councillors to consider plans to close small schools

Norfolk County Council     Source: EDP24

Proposals that could radically re-shape the face of primary education in rural Norfolk could be approved by councillors on Thursday, greatly increasing the number of rural schools at risk of closure. Previously, the council said it no longer supported stand-alone schools with less than 50 pupils, and urged schools to group together in tightly-knit organisations with at least 210 children. The new proposals instead call for individual school sites to have at least 105 pupils, and groups of schools to have 400-600 children.  Read in full

South east of England

Winchester could be split over Solent City combined authority plans

Hampshire County Council     Source: Hampshire Chronicle

Winchester district could be cut in half under plans to form a giant council across south Hampshire. A 'Solent City Combined Authority' representing more than a million people is set to be discussed by local leaders this month but Winchester could be left out or split in two by the project, according to Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry.  Read in full

South west of England

Dorset County Council leader charged by police

Dorset County Council     Source: Daily Echo

The Conservative leader of Dorset County Council has been charged by police with three offences of failing to declare an interest in a property company. The Crown Prosecution Service authorised Dorset Police to instigate proceedings against Cllr Spencer Flower, 72, of Verwood, with three offences under section 31 and 34 of the Localism Act 2011. He will appear before Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court on December 2. The charge comes after a lengthy investigation into Cllr Flower’s involvement with a company called Zebra Property Solutions.  Read in full

London

Newham and Lewisham bottom of English recycling league

Newham Council     Source: Resource

New figures show that local authorities in England recycled 40.4% of household waste in the first three months of 2014, up 1.7% from the same period the year before. South Oxfordshire District Council had the highest household recycling rate at 66%, with over 55% of their recycling comprising of green/organic waste. Newham and Lewisham had the lowest household recycling rates, at 18% in 2013/14.  Read in full

And finally last week...

Plymouth budget hit by unexpectedly well-behaved drivers

Plymouth City Council     Source: The Herald

A black hole has opened up in the council’s budget - due to not enough drivers being fined for using bus lanes. The Herald previously revealed how Plymouth City Council raked in £1m in bus lane fines between August 2012 and April last year. But now it seems the amount made from fines has drastically dropped after the Labour Cabinet announced there is a £395,000 shortfall in the budget due to “changing driver behaviour” meaning less drivers are unlawfully entering bus lanes than originally expected.  Read in full

Council News Monitor is a subscription email service from Public Service Intelligence gathering news articles about, and press releases from, all the top-tier councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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