Council News Monitor weekly round-up: Devo-Yorks 'weeks away'
Chancellor fails to devolve power to Yorkshire councils but a deal is close. Candidate for Scottish Labour leadership wants to empower councils, and other devolution news
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.
Councils in England are deciding how to form devolution-ready combined authorities. This news is first reported in the local press, and in Council News Monitor.
Leeds City Council Source: Yorkshire Evening Post
Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement did not include a heavily trailed announcement of devolution for Yorkshire, with sources close to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last night insisting a generational hand over of powers and finance was just weeks away. It is believed the delay is down to the Treasury “dragging its feet” after it was forced by the DPM to drop a plans for a Metro mayor model for Yorkshire. Leeds MP Hilary Benn said: “He has failed to deliver on devolution just as he has failed to honour his promise to balance the books by 2015.” Read in full
Glasgow City Council Source: East Lothian News
Scottish Labour leadership candidate Jim Murphy will today call for "devo max within Scotland", arguing that transferring powers from Edinburgh to local communities can help his party win back trust. With new powers to be transferred to Holyrood as a result of the Smith Commission, set up to look at devolution after the independence referendum, Mr Murphy is pledging to hand over some of them to councils and other bodies. He said that if he was first minister he would devolve the work programme to local communities, and would also give them more powers over welfare. Read in full
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Source: WalesOnline
Only six of Wales’ 22 borough councils had reached to an agreement for voluntary mergers as the deadline placed on them by the Welsh Government expired. The six formal expressions of interest (EOI) were from three pairs of merger partners – Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen; Conwy and Denbighshire; and the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend. Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have agreed to explore a merger, but no EOI has been submitted. Cardiff said it held talks with four neighbouring authorities including Newport but could not reach agreement with any of them. Read in full
Belfast City Council Source: Belfast Telegraph
A small loyalist flag protest in Belfast's main shopping area on a busy pre-Christmas Saturday passed off peacefully. Around 200 people marched through the city centre to mark the second anniversary of the council's decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag from the top of City Hall. Read in full
North east of England
Northumberland County Council Source: Berwick Advertiser
Northumberland County Council has welcomed the announcement that parts of the A1 north of Newcastle are to be dualled. Leader Grant Davey said: “This is excellent news, not just for motorists and residents but also for the economy of the county and the north east. “Since we were elected in 2013 we have campaigned tirelessly for the dualling of the A1. We look forward to seeing a reduction in accidents and delays as well as clear economic benefits.” Read in full
North west of England
Blackpool Council Source: Fleetwood Weekly News
Blackpool’s leader has said he will not rush into joining a combined authority which could see more cash and power devolved to local authorities. Simon Blackburn was speaking after leaders of Lancashire County Council, its 12 district councils, and unitaries Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen met to discuss setting up the system. Coun Blackburn said: “We need firstly to take stock, and examine carefully what the benefits of a formal Combined Authority might be, and reach an ‘in principle’ decision about whether or not it is something we wish to pursue.” Read in full
Yorkshire and the Humber
City of York Council Source: Arts Professional
Two UK cities have been designated Unesco creative cities, with York being named the UK’s first City of Media Arts and Dundee its first City of Design. They join Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bradford and Norwich in representing the UK among the 69 cities in Unesco’s Creative Cities Network. Membership of the network will enable York and Dundee to create new exchanges with other leading creative cities across the world and develop opportunities for their practitioners and researchers on an international scale. Read in full
Nottinghamshire County Council Source: Nottingham Post
Nottinghamshire politicians have until February to submit plans to government for a combined authority that would give the county access to extra funding and power. For Nottinghamshire to benefit, its county, district, city and borough local authorities must agree to work together. Talks have taken place throughout the year, but a special meeting was held in Mansfield on Friday where local authority leaders continued to thrash out the terms and conditions of a possible combined authority for the county. Read in full
Warwickshire County Council Source: Kenilworth Weekly News
The leaders of Warwickshire's urban and semi-rural authorities will meet in Coventry to discuss the government’s idea of devolving wider decision-making powers to “Greater Combined” groups of towns and cities. Manchester has already agreed to the idea and the word is that Coventry is all set to merge with Birmingham and four towns in the Black Country. And Coventry might well like the idea of widening the net still further to incorporate Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth as a way of securing not only far greater powers but a far richer slice of government cash. Read in full
East of England
Norfolk County Council Source: Norwich Evening News 24
Staff will have to pay to park at Norfolk County Council’s headquarters from next year, after cash-strapped council bosses decided to scrap free parking at County Hall. The move has infuriated many of the 2,000 plus staff, who have also been told the number of days they are not allowed to park will increase. Unison leaders criticised the move, which could cost staff up to £690 a year in return for parking at the 830-space car park. Read in full
South east of England
Hampshire County Council Source: Daily Echo
Hampshire has welcomed government funding to address flooding problems across the county. But council leader Roy Perry is disappointed at the number of projects in Hampshire being supported and delays in funding schemes that have already been approved. Cllr Perry said: “This funding will enable us to put in place some schemes to help mitigate flooding in the future, and the county council will continue to press government on delays to funding being available.” Read in full
South west of England
Dorset County Council Source: Dorset Echo
Councillor Spencer Flower has quit as the leader of Dorset County Council. He resigned hours after entering three not guilty pleas through his solicitor at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court to criminal charges of failing to declare interests relating to planning policy in East Dorset. He did not attend the hearing. Today, a special meeting of Dorset’s full council will elect a new leader, likely to be Cllr Robert Gould, the current deputy leader and leader of West Dorset District Council. Read in full
London Borough of Havering Source: Romford Recorder
Cllr Ron Ower has possibly the most convoluted title in local government, but his vision is very simple. The Havering Council cabinet member for housing company development and oneSource management has been tasked with building the local authority’s very own housing company from the ground up. It’s part of a plan to find “innovative” ways to make savings in light of the poorer deal all councils are getting from central government, and it’ll mean building about 1,000 properties in the Romford area over the coming years. Read in full
And finally last week...
Derbyshire County Council Source: Derbyshire County Council press release
Derbyshire residents are being warned not to give their bank details over the phone to people claiming to be from the county's library service collecting overdue fines. The caller says that they are ringing to recover fines from long overdue library books and then asks for the person's bank details in order for the money to be recouped. They may also threaten to visit the borrower's house and collect the books in person if payment is not made immediately. Cabinet member Dave Allen said: "We never have and never will use an agency to recover overdue library fees." 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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