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County Councillor Report (Apr 2023) – Tel. 07779 983072

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Portrait photo of Councillor Wendy Pattison
Cllr Wendy Pattison

[All text and above portrait image provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 24 March 2023.]


The Herbert Protocol

What is the Herbert Protocol? This was established to protect people with Dementia or Alzheimers who go missing. It is a simple risk reduction tool to be used in the event of an adult with care and support needs going missing. It consists of a form that contains vital information about a person at risk that can be passed to the police at the point the person is reported missing. This form can be accessed on the Northumbria Police website.

The Herbert Protocol form records all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, places which may have been previously located, a photograph etc.

Adults that go missing are often a concern for all partners involved within Safeguarding Adult Boards. Going missing can be an indicator that a person may be at risk of harm. The reasons for a person to go missing are complex and could be linked to a range of personal, family or social issues. It is recognised that a person over 18 years may be missing with no risk through their own choice. Their right to privacy must be observed and details of their location not divulged if this is their expressed decision. If there are however concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the person or others, a decision may have to be taken to share the details of the location with relevant agencies and within the context of statutory duties and powers to enable safeguarding actions to be

taken (e.g. assessment under the Mental Health Act (MHA) or Mental Capacity Act (MCA). There are specific concerns for adults who have needs for care and support who go missing and the potential risks of exploitation and significant harm. This protocol has been developed between Northumbria Police and six Safeguarding Adult Boards- Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland. It is designed to ensure a consistent approach across the Northumbria Police Force footprint and recognises that the missing episode of a vulnerable adult requires a multi-agency response. Sometimes this will require a safeguarding adults response, sometimes it will require multi-agency responses outside of safeguarding adults procedures. The protocol builds upon Northumbria Police and partner agency policies and processes and is designed with the intention of reducing missing episodes among adults and improving opportunities to safeguard them. The intention is to provide the best possible service to adults who are missing or at risk of going missing. Multi-agency support is vital for: effective risk assessment; to address the reasons why people go missing; provide the necessary help when it is needed; and reduce the likelihood of future missing episodes.

The Winnie Protocol – Missing Adult Information Form

What is the Winnie Protocol?

The Winnie Protocol is a scheme created by Northumbria Police and the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Safeguarding Adult Boards to encourage carers and professionals to record useful information which could be used in the event of an adult going missing. This will support Northumbria Police and partners to locate and support the individual in the event of a future missing episode and reduce the risk of harm. The Winnie Protocol will be particularly useful for those adults who have repeat missing episodes. The Winnie Protocol follows the same principles of the national Herbert Protocol scheme, which was established to protect people with dementia or Alzheimers who go missing. The Herbert Protocol is still to be used for those individuals. What is the purpose of this form? The purpose of this form is to record important information about the person you support. In the event the person goes missing – the form will be used by the police, care workers and partner agencies to understand the person’s routines, interests and information as fast as possible. The form should only be completed with the consent of the adult, and ideally should be completed with the adult.

Advice to Follow When Employing a Builder 

Building a house or having an extension built is probably one of the most expensive things you will ever do so it is worth taking care when you choose your builder.

Following an increase in the number of complaints about building work in the County, Northumberland County Council’s Public Protection Trading Standards team is offering some advice on things you can do to try and make sure the job goes as smoothly as possible. 

Scaffolding erected around a building
Take advice when employing a builder

Be clear about what you want Write a detailed description of the work that needs to be done as far as you understand it before talking to builders. The more specific you are, the greater your chances of getting an accurate quote for the work. There is also less chance of any misunderstandings occurring between you and the builder.

Nothing beats a good personal recommendation. Do you know someone who is pleased with similar work they have had done? Will they let you come and have a look at it? Talk to them about what went well and any problems they had?

Placing requests on social media may not always get genuine results and it could be the builder responding, their employees or their friends. 

Get references – Ask how long the builder has been trading and what experience they have in the type of build you are after. Get three references and ask to see recent examples of the builder’s work if possible. This is better than just getting written references which might not be genuine. Don’t be afraid to speak to the homeowners to find out how the business interacted with them before, during and after the build.

Check their trading history Check the history of the company or individual. Consider checking whether any County Court Judgements have been awarded against them particularly any that remain unpaid. The Registry Trust website will provide details for a small fee. A simple internet search on their name may also yield interesting information.

Check qualifications Ask if the builder is a member of a relevant trade association (e.g. Federation of Master Builders) and see copies of certificates.

Check whether the builder has insurance Check that the builder has insurance cover and that it won’t run out while they are working. The builder should have public liability insurance which is needed in case someone gets hurt on site. They may also have cover in case there is damage to your property, they go bust or have an accident, so you can pay someone else to finish the job.

Check if you need planning permission Before you start any building work, contact your local authority planning department to enquire about planning permission. If you don’t get planning permission where needed, you’ll be breaking the law and you may be required to pull the building work down.

Check if your work needs to meet building regulations Some building work requires a building regulations application. It may be worth employing the services of a qualified Architect or Building Surveyor, depending on the type of work being undertaken.

Agreeing the building work

Get three written quotes. Make sure these are quotes and not estimates. An estimate is a rough price which could change. A quote is an exact price which can’t be increased later without your agreement.

Get a written contract If it’s a large or complicated job, when you are ready to commit, make sure that there is an agreement in writing for the work that will be undertaken and that this is itemised as to the costs of materials and labour. 

This may seem very formal but reputable builders will understand that it is important that you are careful about such a large investment. Agree costs and how long the job should take Agree as much with the builder as possible in advance to avoid problems later on. It’s best to get this agreement in writing.

Agree a fixed cost, or daily rate of pay, and the number of days the job is likely to take. Make sure you’re clear how many hours work a builder will do a day for the price quoted.

Businesses that are good at their work are likely to have a full schedule and be booked up for some time, therefore you may need to book them in and wait. There may be genuine reasons why some builders say they are able to carry out the work quickly but there is no harm in being cautious. 

Don’t pay upfront before the job starts. Don’t make payments upfront that cover more than the cost of materials for each stage of work. On bigger builds, your agreement should include a payment plan that sets out the intervals at which work will be completed and when instalments will fall due. Never be pushed into making early payments.

If things go wrong. If the business was to go bust, then be prepared. Prior to contracting make sure you know who you are dealing with. Is the business a sole trader, partnership or Limited company? Get names and addresses so you know who you can sue if things go wrong. If a business was to go bust, then it may not be easy to pursue them.

By making even a part payment on a credit card you do get extra protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. However, if the contract is for over £30,000 the finance company will not be liable because it is above the limit of protection.

If things do go wrong with building work or you experience problems with a builder, you should report this to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08082231133. If a business is in Northumberland or you are resident in the county, you can also contact the county council’s trading standards department on email:

Residents who are getting building work done are parting with big sums of money and need to know what to do to protect themselves. Our advice to people would be to always use a reputable trader, preferably someone who has been recommended by a friend or relative, take your time before making a decision and get several written quotes before agreeing to have any work done. Never agree on the doorstep to have work carried out and don’t be tricked into thinking you’re getting a good deal in return for payment in cash or an immediate start to work.

Council Plea Over Harmful Balloon Releases

The release of sky lanterns and helium balloons

Photo of four helium balloons
Helium balloons

Northumberland County Council is appealing to the public to use other alternatives to balloon and lantern releases for events and memorials which can have a devastating impact on wildlife and the environment.

While balloon or lantern releases can be carried out with good intent, they also have a long and devastating impact on the environment – and the council is strongly discouraging people from doing it.

Once released, they very quickly drop back down to earth with their tattered ends and floating pieces being eaten by marine life, or other animals becoming tangled in the debris causing injury, illness and great suffering.

Although biodegradable options are available, these still take months or even years to break down and can still cause horrendous painful deaths to animals. Meanwhile, lanterns set off in warmer months can travel long distances and have been known to cause a fire risk.

The council is encouraging people to use other less damaging ways to pay tribute to a loved one such as planting a tree or flower bed, using jam jar lights, or organising a memorial walk for a chosen charity. 

While many are aware of the environmental impacts of balloons and lanterns, a few well-meaning people and organisations do still release them – but as a council we strongly discourage this.

People can assume the term biodegradable means harmless but this is simply not the case. No balloon is environmentally friendly.

We do appreciate this is a sensitive and emotional issue as balloon releases are often organised to mark the death of a loved one. However we also recognise the concerns of farmers, environmentalists, biologists and animal lovers, and their work to raise awareness of and tackle this problem.

It is council policy to decline any requests from individuals and organisations who contact us wanting to have organised balloon or lantern releases from our parks and open spaces. 

What we are asking is for people to use alternatives which not only create a lasting memory but do so without detriment to the local environment or wildlife.

Northumberland County Council
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