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County Councillor Report (Apr 2021)

by Wendy Pattison

wendy.pattison@northumberland.gov.uk – Tel. 07779 983072

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Colour portrait photo of County Councillor Wendy Pattison

[All text and the above portrait photo provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received on 16 March 2021.]

[Editor’s Note: This will be Cllr. Pattison’s last report in her current term of office. County Council elections will take place on 6 May 2021. In addition, please consider voting in the Hedgeley Parish Council elections that are also scheduled for 6 May 2021.]

Resident concern regarding speeding

A resident of Powburn was concerned at the speed of a passing car in the centre of Powburn Village. After speaking with the Chair of Hedgeley Parish Council it was decided to request speed monitoring strips to be laid in the village in order to gauge the current speed of the traffic entering Powburn.

Northumberland Homes to Receive Free Energy Efficiency Boost

More than 300 households in Northumberland could soon be offered free energy efficiency improvements to their homes in a bid to help reduce fuel poverty and tackle the climate emergency.

Northumberland County Councillors have formally accepted a government grant for up to £3.4m and approved the installation of carbon reducing technologies into 200 private and 140 council owned properties.

The work will be carried out on properties that hold Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings of ‘D’ and below to help these homes move to band ‘C’ and above, lowering utility bills and providing additional disposable income to those households.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Own your home
  • Have a household income below £30,000
  • EPC rating D, E, F or G

Eligible households will be able to apply for the full cost of these works which will be installed by E.ON, but residents do not need to be an existing E.ON customer to benefit from the scheme.

Nigel Dewbery, director of residential solutions at E.ON, said: “Improving the energy efficiency of homes across the UK is key to meeting the nation’s net-zero targets, and can dramatically improve people’s living conditions, by helping to increase their comfort and reduce their energy bills.

“We’re delighted to be bringing these benefits to households across the region, as we work with Northumberland County Council to install energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, solar panels or air source heat pumps, in the homes of eligible residents.”

Construction and retrofitting activities could begin as early as April 2021 and is estimated to be complete by end of September 2021.

This investment has been awarded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of their Local Authority Delivery aspect of the Green Homes Grant. The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme offers households funding of up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the costs towards energy efficiency improvements to their homes, with low income households offered vouchers to cover full improvement costs under £10,000.

Residents can apply online by visiting www.eonenergy.com/home-heating/green-homes-grant or by emailing GreenHomesGrant@eonenergy.com with their contact details, and a member of E.ON’s customer services team will be in touch. Alternatively, residents can call the E.ON Green Homes Grant team on 0333 202 4820. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

To find out more and to read the Climate Change Action Plan for 2021-23 visit: www.northumberland.gov.uk/climatechange

Consultation helps to shape future library service

Northumberland residents’ views on the county’s library service are helping to shape its future, following an extensive consultation.

The consultation was carried out between December 2019 and March 2020 with more than 5,000 people, both library members and non-members, responding.

The findings of the consultation have given a clear insight into the views of not only residents but also staff and stakeholders on the strengths of the service, and areas for improvement.

The County Council will now use the robust consultation to build a library service to meet the current and future needs of residents, developing a strategy for delivery.

The self-completion survey was carried out both online and in paper format. It was supported with information drop-in sessions and telephone interviews.

The results from the different consultation exercises across all audiences demonstrate the important role the Library service plays in the lives of the Northumberland residents, in particular amongst the county’s population of older persons and those who use the service regularly.

In addition to the provision of books, computers and resources, the value of the Library service is that it provides a safe, inclusive, social space which is free to all members of the community. The key findings of the survey showed that:

  • 88% of respondents rated the service as either excellent or good
  • A third (34%) of respondents visit the library as part of their daily or weekly routine
  • For 1 in 10 library users, the library is the main way that they access computers or the internet, and this rises to 46% of those who are out of work and looking for work.
  • Three-quarters of library users with a child under the age of 11 visit the library to spend quality time with their children.
  • 85% see the library as a space the community can use
  • Over 90% of respondents agreed with the following statements
  • The library staff are helpful
  • I feel welcome in my local library
  • My local library is a pleasant place to visit
  • The staff at the library are knowledgeable
  • It is easy to access my local library

Building on the findings of the consultation a redesign of the service was approved by the County Council’s Cabinet this week.

This will include establishing 5 Hub Libraries, serving each locality area. These would be based at Berwick, Blyth, Cramlington, Hexham and Morpeth. The hub libraries would co-ordinate provision based on local needs and demands in each area. Each hub would have flexible community space, offer the full range of IT resources and an events programme suited to the area.

As well as the hub libraries it is also proposed the service will further improve its digital offer. During the Covid-19 pandemic the library service has responded with an enhanced digital offer for members including an extensive online library, as well as the development of virtual groups, events and activities which are helping to tackle loneliness and isolation and the introduction of a Digital Helpline for anyone in the county to use. The establishment of the library hubs will allow more understanding and to better co-ordinate what provision is needed in each area.

Self-service kiosks will now also be rolled out into more libraries, a project which had to be delayed due to Covid-19.

Growing Up in Northumberland

Blue banner with the words 'Growing up in Northumberland'

Young people with special education needs and/or disability growing up in Northumberland can now access advice and guidance to help them get prepared for the next stage in their lives.

From around the age of 14, young people, with their families, peers and teachers start to talk about what they may want to do when they ‘grow up’, and it is around this age that they’ll start to plan for those next steps.

Northumberland County Council in partnership with Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group and Northumbria Healthcare Trust have pulled together a ‘Growing Up in Northumberland’ booklet to help support those decisions, and help young people, their families and carers consider all the things they need to think about and all the avenues they can take.

In consultation with 100 children and young people in years 9 to 12 and a number of parents the booklet has been developed to incorporate a variety of key areas such as independence, friendships and relationships, education and training, money, getting around and support available.

Whilst the ‘Growing Up in Northumberland’ booklet has been created with young people with special educational needs in mind, it can be beneficial for all those in year 9 – 12 as they too begin those vital conversations.

Kate O’Brien, senior head of commissioning for child health, learning disabilities and mental health at NHS Northumberland CCG, said: “We know how important it is to support our young people through every stage of their lives. This booklet will hopefully help them to navigate through some of the difficult decisions they will need to make such as, where to go to college, how to budget and manage finances as well as staying healthy and having an active social life. This has been made with input from our very own young people in Northumberland so that it gets right to what matters to them as they transition into young adults.”

[Editor’s Note: You can download the booklet by clicking the following download button.]

Standard green download button

New online fitness experience launched

Active Northumberland has launched a new online fitness experience which brings professional group exercise classes to your home.

With the help of the latest technology, the new Active at Home sessions allow you to join the fitness team at Active Northumberland for your favourite exercise classes either live or on-demand.

The monthly subscription of £7.99 offers fantastic value for money, launching with over 20 live classes a week and access to workouts you can do at any time, delivered by Active Northumberland instructors.

Classes include Yoga, Pilates, Les Mills Body Combat, Body Balance and Body Step, HIIT and Zumba so there is something for everyone.

Mark Warnes, Acting Chief Executive of Active Northumberland said: “Over the last year, due to the pandemic, residents have increasingly used online platforms for work, social events, shopping and services. While the gyms have been closed during lockdown many of our customers have been accessing exercise online too. This new online monthly subscription membership is separate from our centre membership. It offers an alternative digital solution for residents who want to keep fit, experience professional exercise classes delivered by some of their favourite instructors, but can’t get to the gym.”

For further information on timetables and how to join go to https://bit.ly/ANactiveathom

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