Council News Monitor

Council News Monitor weekly round-up: cuts foster extremism claim

By: Council News Monitor Team
Published: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 11:17 GMT Jump to Comments

Newcastle leader claims cuts foster extremism; Scottish islands and Glasgow welcome Smith Commission's comments on local devolution; otters crossing in Carmarthenshire

Public Service Intelligence publishes Council News Monitor every weekday, a subscription service focusing on local council news and announcements from around the country, covering every nation and region in every issue. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month. 

Top story

Newcastle leader warns 'impossible' funding cuts foster extremism

Newcastle City Council     Source: The Journal

The leader of Newcastle City Council Nick Forbes says that huge cuts in funding for local services have left councils with “impossible choices” and could encourage a rise in support for extremist political organisations. The council is preparing to launch a consultation over plans to cope with a reduction in funding of £90m between 2016 and 2019. Coun Forbes said: “It is fair to say that the choices we are having to make this year are impossible choices. The level of cuts we see in the future will have a crippling effect on the council’s ability to provide quality public services.”  Read in full

Scotland

Islands and Glasgow emphasise Smith's local devolution focus

Orkney Islands Council     Source: Orkney Islands Council press release

The leaders of Scotland’s three islands councils have welcomed the findings of the Smith Commission. The councils in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles want to take over the Crown Estate’s current responsibility for the foreshore and seabed around their islands, something recommended by the commission's report. Commenting on Smith's emphasis in local devolution, Glasgow's leader Cllr Gordon Matheson said it sowed that "significant additional powers and resources be devolved from both the Scottish and UK governments to our great cities".  Read in full

Wales

Deadline day for Welsh council mergers with just eight signed up

Conwy County Borough Council     Source: BBC News

Wales' 22 councils have until midnight to let the Welsh government know whether they are in favour of merging with other local authorities. Welsh ministers want to cut the number of councils from 22 to between 10 and 12. So far, four pairs of councils say they are in favour of working together, according to BBC Wales' research: Conwy and Denbighshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend, and Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.  Read in full

Northern Ireland

‘No jobs losses, in so far as possible’ with new Fermanagh and Omagh council

Fermanagh District Council     Source: Fermanagh Herald

As far both councils are concerned, there will be no job losses when Fermanagh and Omagh councils amalgamate in April next year. It will be a ‘significant’ employer, according to Brendan Hegarty, its chief executive. The two existing ‘townhalls’ will continue to operate, with 356 staff based in Enniskillen and 383 in Omagh, along with some 33-43 planners. Planning decisions on local issues is one of the extra functions of the new Fermanagh and Omagh council.  Read in full

North east of England

Greenbelt group slams Northumberland’s proposals

Northumberland County Council     Source: Morpeth Herald

Northumberland County Council has come under fire from a group of Ponteland residents after revealing that it is proposing to delete more than 200 acres of green belt in the area. The most recent version of the county’s core strategy – its local plan to guide future development up to 2031 – has been unveiled and if agreed by councillors, it will be open for comments and feedback between December 12 and February 11.  Read in full

North west of England

Wirral plans to increase chief executive salary by up to £40,000

Wirral Council     Source: Liverpool Echo

Council bosses in Wirral have come under fire over plans to boost the pay package by up to £40,000 to attract a new chief. Under the proposals the authority’s new top officer could earn £175,000 a year – plus pension and other costs of 22% or £38,500. Tory opposition leader Jeff Green slammed the rise as “excessive” and said that the combined costs of salary and pension would result in paying “£1m over five years for just one person”.  Read in full

Yorkshire and the Humber

Hull embeds social value into procurement activity

Hull City Council     Source: Hull City Council press release

Hull City Council has developed a set of outcomes that will allow it to consider the economic, social and environmental well-being of the city and its residents when commissioning and procuring goods and services. The consideration of social value is built in to all stages of the Council's commissioning cycle; when reviewing service provision, conducting a needs analysis, consulting stakeholders and/or the marketplace through meet the buyer events, and through specifying the services to be procured.  Read in full

East Midlands

Council plans to give water bottles and pedometers to staff

Leicester City Council     Source: Leicester Mercury

Plans to spend up to £5,000 to give city council staff “a gift” of water bottles and pedometers have been criticised. Leicester wants to buy 3,500 branded water bottles and 3,500 pedometers, which record footsteps taken, as part of its new year workplace health campaign to encourage employees to walk or cycle to work. The council publicised its order on the Source Leicestershire website – where bids for goods can be made – outlining the initiative by deputy mayor councillor Rory Palmer.  Read in full

West Midlands

The £65m cuts no-one in Coventry will be able to escape

Coventry City Council     Source: Coventry Telegraph

Coventry City Council has revealed details of how it plans to cut £65m off its budget by 2017, including ending all £300,000 of funding for school lollipop men and women, reducing the events budget by £300,000 and cutting £500,000 from street cleaning. There’s also a £1m cut planned to the city’s parks budget, a £500,000 reduction in council spending on roads and plans to scrap public cabinet member meetings where important decisions are made.  Read in full

East of England

Work starts on Southend business incubation hub

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council     Source: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council press release

Work has started on a major project to transform the second and third floors of Southend’s former library into a “business incubation hub”. Southend-on-Sea has appointed local contractor A.W Hardy & Co. Ltd to carry out the work, which includes building an initial nine flexible incubation units of 46-115 square metres, at least 34 hot-desks desks and shared meeting and conference space. The £651,325 for the project is coming from a grant from central government’s City Deal Fund.  Read in full

South east of England

Buckinghamshire and Kent set up revenue-earning legal services

Buckinghamshire County Council     Source: Law Society Gazette

The first local authority revenue-earning alternative business structure (ABS), Buckinghamshire Law Plus – a collaboration between Buckinghamshire County Council and the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority – has formally launched after being granted a licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in August. Kent County Council, which is seeking a commercial partner to form a joint venture ABS, into which Kent Legal Services staff would transfer, held a ‘supplier day’ last week with four shortlisted bidders.  Read in full

South west of England

Eight cities share £114m additional funding for cycling

Bristol City Council     Source: Road.cc

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will today announce £214m in funding for cycling at a summit in Bristol. £114m of additional money will go to Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol to continue progress over the three years 2015/16 to 2017/18. The formula for deciding how much each city gets has yet to be announced. £100m of funding is earmarked for the Highways Agency to improve cycling conditions along and across the Highways Agency’s network of major trunk roads.  Read in full

London

City forced to cut rents for £1m council homes at Tower Bridge

City of London Corporation     Source: London SE1

The City of London Corporation has been forced to backtrack on plans to charge a higher rent to tenants of a new social housing block next to Tower Bridge. It had planned to take advantage of the Government's introduction of a new category of 'affordable rent' to charge tenants 40% of the market rent for the new homes – but this suggestion has been knocked back by Southwark Council. Instead, tenants will be charged social rents from £144.60 a week for a one-bedroom flat.  Read in full

And finally last week...

Dyfrgwn yn croesi - otters crossing, warns Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire County Council     Source: WalesOnline

They are the first of their kind to be put up in Wales – and now it is hoped new road signs to warn motorists about otters will pave the way for other authorities across the country. Carmarthenshire council has installed the signs about the protected species after a spate of reported deaths in the county. The UK Wild Otter Trust has welcomed the move, which is a departure for road sign stipulation by the South Wales Trunk Roads Agency.  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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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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