Council News Monitor

Council News Monitor weekly round-up: Devo-Yorks 'weeks away'

By: Council News Monitor Team
Published: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 18:39 GMT Jump to Comments

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

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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.

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Top story

Yorkshire devolution 'just weeks away'

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

Scotland

Murphy vows devo max for Scottish councils

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

Wales

Fewer than a third of Welsh councils submit formal requests to merge

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

Northern Ireland

Small loyalist flag protest in Belfast passes off peacefully

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 welcomes government's A1 investment

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 in no rush to combine with Lancashire

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

York and Dundee named Unesco creative cities

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

East Midlands

Joint authority for Nottinghamshire 'some way off'

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

West Midlands

Warwickshire councils consider joining Birmingham authority

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 council staff will have to pay to park at County Hall

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 leader disappointed at the lack of flood projects supported

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

Charged Dorset leader stands down ‘with immediate effect’

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

Havering Council builds own housing development company

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...

No, we don't phone for your bank details over library fines

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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