CNM Week Ending Jan 16th

Council News Monitor: a weekly round up of UK local authority news

By: Council News Monitor Team
Published: Monday, January 18, 2016 - 12:47 GMT Jump to Comments

This week "biblical" floods in Cumbria, armageddon gridlock in Birmingham, pending devolution in North Midlands, Sussex and Surrey, lollipop ladies in Cambridgeshire, snooping councils in Stoke and Staffs, a rubbish mountain in Bath, voluntary redundancies and 3 million pounds worth of personalised number plates in Scotland.

Moray Council under fire over plans to raise council tax by 18%

The Moray Council     Source: The Press and Journal

Local authority chiefs in Moray want to raise council tax by as much as 18% to help pay for vital services. They could become the first in Scotland to defy the SNP government and scrap the eight-year nationwide freeze on the charge.  Read in full

North east of England

Proposals to cut Newcastle libraries opening hours deemed 'worrying'

Newcastle City Council     Source: Chronicle Live

Opposition councillors said they have been left stunned by proposals which could see the opening hours across Newcastle’s libraries halved. Opening hours at nine libraries across Newcastle could be cut from 469 hours per week to 201 hours should proposals put forward by Newcastle City Council be approved.   Read in full

Website performance data for all UK councils released by Socitm’s Better connected

Northumberland County Council     Source: Public Service Digital

Better connected, the long running survey of local authority web and digital performance has now released data for all councils from its 2015 report. Results published for the first time for the 111 non-subscribing councils show that four of them - Northumberland, Gloucestershire, Nottingham City and Slough - were top, 4* sites when last surveyed.  Read in full

North west of England

1.15 trillion litres of rain fell on Cumbria during 'biblical' floods

Cumbria County Council     Source: News & Star

The unprecedented rainfall which resulted in devastating flooding to thousands of properties across the area amounted to 1.15 trillion litres, it has been claimed. The figures was revealed to Cumbria County Council’s elected members at a full authority meeting.  Read in full

Salford Urban Splash housing avoids over £600,000 planning fees

Salford City Council     Source: Salford Star

The latest Urban Splash proposal for 71 houses and one hundred flats by the River Irwell on Springfield Lane avoids over £600,000 in planning fees, provides no affordable housing and will trash 365 trees. The development, originally earmarked as flats and a new 'beach', then as an 'eco-supermarket' will now be a part-gated housing scheme.  Read in full

Yorkshire and the Humber

Calderdale Council to review housing plans after flooding

Calderdale Council     Source: Halifax Courier

Calderdale Council has confirmed they are reviewing their plans for future housing following the winter floods. The Council is currently considering which sites to include and a report for councillors said the authority “will now need to revisit this exercise because our understanding of risk levels in different parts of the [Calder] valley is very likely to change”.  Read in full


A new, two day, annual event, Better Connected Live will launch May 24 and 25 this year in central Birmingham. The event will include Learning from Better Connected workshops, The Better Connected Awards 2015/2016, workshops, "summits", conferences, un-conferences, WebTV panel programmes, podcasts, Public Service Digital Awards 2016, and a canal-side party catered by four of Birmingham's famous pop-up restaurants. Who should attend? Officers and senior managers from UK local authorities and anyone interested in using digital channels to enable the delivery of key, local authority, frontline services in a time of continuing austerity. If you want to find out what comes after "channel shift" and take your place in the vanguard of local government administration, put the dates in your diary now.

Rotherham council receives £5m boost to improve services and recruit social workers

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council     Source: Community Care

Rotherham council has been awarded £5.2 million in additional funding to help tackle the “unique pressures” it faces. The extra funding, awarded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, will “work to address the weaknesses in our children’s services at a time when the council’s overall budget is again being reduced”, said council leader Chris Read.  Read in full

East Midlands

500 jobs to go and a 4% council tax hike as Leicestershire struggles to balance books

Leicestershire County Council     Source: Leicester Mercury

Some 500 more jobs are to be axed at Leicestershire County Council as it struggles to balance the books. Finance bosses at Conservative-run County Hall today revealed proposals to cut more jobs on top of the 900 that have already been lost over the last five years.  Read in full

Bid for councils in Nottinghamshire to be 'scrapped'

Nottinghamshire County Council     Source: BBC News

District and borough councils should be scrapped and replaced by one authority to save money under plans suggested by Conservative councillors. Kay Cutts, Tory group leader on Labour-led Nottinghamshire County Council, said with the North Midlands devolution deal due to be signed off, the idea needed consideration.  Read in full

West Midlands

Birmingham council leader apologises for traffic gridlock

Birmingham City Council     Source: Birmingham Mail

Birmingham's Labour council leader has apologised to businesses and commuters for the road works and traffic chaos which has gridlocked the city over the last year. Council leader John Clancy told a meeting of business leaders that poor planning and coordination between the city council, Highways Agency, council roads contractor Amey and developers has added to congestion.  Read in full

Councils ‘snooped’ on the public 29 times in 3 years

Stoke-on-Trent City Council     Source: The Sentinel

Council officials have spied on residents and businesses nearly 30 times over the last three years. Stoke-on-Trent City Council carried out covert surveillance on 14 occasions since 2013. Staffordshire County Council has undertaken 15 operations over the same period.  Read in full

East of England

Lollipop ladies will stay after Cambridgeshire agrees to find other ways of saving £171,000 a year

Cambridgeshire County Council     Source: Cambs Times

A county council committee voted today to keep school crossing patrols – landing officers with the job of finding the £171,000 a year that axing them would have saved. The highways and community infrastructure committee agreed to keep the ‘lollipop ladies’ following a recommendation put forward by Conservative councillor Steve Criswell.  Read in full

Southend-on-Sea Council embarks on £1.5m hybrid cloud datacentre refresh

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council     Source:

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is to embark on a £1.5m hybrid cloud datacentre refresh project so it can combine its existing on-premise infrastructure with new services offered through the government’s G-Cloud framework.  Read in full


You can now view and update information about neighbourhood planning activity in your local area online. Go here to view

South east of England

Minister welcomes case for 3SC devolution

East Sussex County Council     Source: East Sussex County Council press release

Leaders behind the devolution bid for three of England’s strongest performing counties have outlined to Government how their plan would boost growth for the region’s residents. Communities Minister Baroness Williams heard the proposals for how East Sussex, Surrey and West Sussex would work together.  Read in full

Taxpayers' money for social care may have been misspent on phone bills and Apple products

Oxfordshire County Council     Source: Oxford Times

Taxpayers' cash for social care could have been misspent on "high" mobile phone bills and expensive Apple products. Money was also spent on utility bills, carers food and household repairs, with two parents also paying themselves "high salaries", according to a report by Oxfordshire County Council.  Read in full

South west of England

Somerset County Council pledges to create 'Somerset University'

Somerset County Council     Source: Western Gazette

Somerset County Council has pledged to create a new 'Somerset University' as it sets out its vision for the next four years. The council's Cabinet approved the proposal on January 11, which seeks to prevent a "brain drain" of young people by offering them access to the training and skills they need to stay and thrive.  Read in full

Bath gets overrun with rubbish after it is not collected for weeks

Bath & North East Somerset Council     Source: Western Daily Press

A council has appealed for volunteer binmen to help clear a backlog of rubbish which is littering the streets of historic Bath. Tourist hotspots where the likes of Poldark and Vanity Fair were filmed have become strewn with refuse bags after waste collectors began strike action in the New Year.  Read in full


North London council seeks £150m building partner

Barnet Council     Source: Construction Enquirer

The London Borough of Barnet is looking for a construction partner to deliver a £150m building programme over the next five years. The Council’s capital programme will include sports and leisure facilities, schools, libraries and community facilities and extensive refurbishment works.  Read in full

Tower Hamlets to cease printing fortnightly newsletter

Tower Hamlets Council     Source: Hold the Front Page

A London council which defied a government order to stop publishing a weekly newsletter is set to change its publication to quarterly. Tower Hamlets has agreed to close East End Life by the end of March, leaving the Royal Borough of Greenwich the only authority in the capital still thought to be publishing a weekly paper.  Read in full

How well is your council website performing?

Socitm, the Society of Information Technology Management, tests and reports on the user experience of every UK Local Authority website. 2014/2015 Surveys, results and star ratings are now online and the first of the the 2015/16 Better Connected results are now being published. Get the full story here


Lord provosts urged to sell car registrations for funds

Glasgow City Council     Source: Daily Record

Lord provosts have been urged to sell their council-owned private number plates to help fund frontline services. Checks on nine of the country’s 32 local authorities show they own registration plates together worth at least £3m.  Read in full

458 Argyll and Bute staff interested in voluntary redundancy

Argyll and Bute Council     Source: The Buteman

A total of 458 Argyll and Bute Council employees have expressed an interest in a voluntary redundancy package as part of the authority’s cost-cutting plans. The number represents around nine per cent of the council’s total workforce of approximately 5,100 people.  Read in full


Monmouthshire council officially out of special measures

Monmouthshire County Council     Source: South Wales Argus

Monmouthshire council’s education services for children and young people no longer requires intensive monitoring after four years of regular visits, the Welsh Government’s inspectorate has concluded. The authority was placed in special measures by Estyn in November 2012 and was subject to four monitoring visits from inspectors.  Read in full

Anger as Welsh Government refuses to cut number of Powys councillors

Powys County Council     Source: Shropshire Star

The Welsh Government will not reduce the number of county councillors in Powys, putting further pressure on the council’s budget. Already in financial crisis, the council was depending on cutting its expenses bill through the recommendation to reduce councillors from 73 to 64 next year.  Read in full

Northern Ireland

Council asked to back £150m cross-border Data Centre

Derry and Strabane District Council     Source: Derry Journal

Plans to progress a £150m Data Centre straddling the Derry-Donegal border have been unveiled. The proposed Data Centre would be located within a Science and Technology Park off the Buncrana Road in the Bridgend area.  Read in full

Councillors raise policing concerns with PSNI

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council     Source: Fermanagh and Omagh District Council press release

A group of Fermanagh and Omagh District Councillors and Council officers met with Assistant Chief Constables Stephen Martin and Alan Todd and other senior police officers to discuss a wide range of issues arising as a result of the implementation of a new policing model in the district since September 2015.   Read in full

And finally…

Alan Rickman performance 'gloriously nasty', says Sheriff of Nottingham

Nottingham City Council     Source: Belfast Telegraph

The current Sheriff of Nottingham has paid tribute to actor Alan Rickman who took on the role in the 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. Mohammed Saghir, who has the ceremonial role as the Sheriff of Nottingham at Nottingham City Council, said: "His sheriff was a gloriously nasty character who it was easy to love to hate and who he appeared to have great fun playing."  Read in full


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