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County Councillor Report (Jan 2023)

wendy.pattison@northumberland.gov.uk – 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: 30 December 2022.]

HEDGELEY PARISH

Photo of fireworks with the words 'Happy New Year!'
Best wishes for 2023

Wishing you all the very best for 2023 and looking so much forward to a new year filled with opportunities for Hedgeley Parish!

Volunteering for Northumberland

Lots of people across Northumberland volunteer. Whatever your age, experience, or background, offering whatever time you can to can have a big impact. It’s a great way to meet other people, learn new skills and make a difference. Volunteering https://www.northumberlandcva.org.uk/volunteering/

Northumberland Communities Together

Northumberland Communities Together was launched in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Today it continues to make sure residents are kept safe and well and provides coordination to support individual volunteers, voluntary groups and communities across our county.

If you’d like to know more or have a chat about volunteering please get in touch and phone the Northumberland Communities Together Response Hub on 01670 620015 9am – 6pm, 7 days a week or email NCT@northumberland.gov.uk.

Leader welcomes government funding announcement

The Leader of Northumberland County Council has given a cautious welcome to the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for the coming year. 

The provisional Government allocation net funding of £52.6m means the authority would be £4m better off compared to its current forecast position in terms of un-ringfenced grants available to support the budget.

Additional funding is also being made available for adult social care to address market pressures and speed up hospital discharges and relieve pressure on the NHS. 

The settlement includes a further £7.4m to Northumberland Schools and a further £2m for High Needs/Special Educational Needs for 2023/24.  Overall year on year for schools this is an increase in funding of 5.57%. 

Warm Welcome poster
Warm Welcome for all

Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “This settlement was better than hoped for and should make our budget setting for the next year a little easier. 

“I was pleased to note the boost in funding for schools, as investment in our young people is critical to the future prosperity of our county.” 

“However, the national financial picture remains very challenging and there will still be difficult decisions ahead, but this government allocation is welcome news.” 

The council is also watching with interest the ‘Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill’ which is currently going through Parliament, particularly around the levels of council tax that can be charged on empty and second homes. The purpose of these measures is to bring homes back into use for local communities. 

If the Bill gets Royal Assent by 31 March 2023 these options can be implemented with effect from 1 April 2024. 

For second homes, which is an issue in some parts of the county, the bill would mean the council could charge up to an extra 100% council tax on them. In the county there are currently 3,502 properties classed as second homes and calculations show a 100% council tax rise could generate an extra £6.5m income for the council. 

Cllr Sanderson said: “It has been a growing concern to local residents that some of our villages have too many second homes whilst at the same time there is a shortage of local affordable housing.   

“We have allocated very significant money to create more affordable housing this year but we want to do more. This proposed change would help bring some balance to local communities.”  

Ahead of the council’s budget setting, the council’s online public consultation is still live and people can give their views on a wide range of budget and Council service issues online via the NCC website.

New North East devolution deal

Plans to bring billions of pounds and more power to the North East have progressed, with Government releasing a press notice outlining a deal on the table for the seven local authorities in the North East.

Local Leaders and Mayors have been in positive discussions with Government in recent months and following successful talks have now been offered a provisional deal which would unlock over billions of pounds of investment and see additional powers transferred from Whitehall to local people.

Negotiations with government over the devolution deal have now reached the stage where all councils and combined authorities can consider the details, before a final decision is made.

The new deal would see the formation of a new combined authority, headed by an elected ‘Metro’ mayor and cover the LA7 area of Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Sunderland, South Tyneside, County Durham and Northumberland.

The deal, which is subject to a governance review and public consultation, offers a potential £4.2bn of investment into the region, made up of elements including:

  • An investment fund of £1.4bn, or £48m a year, to support inclusive economic growth and support our regeneration priorities
  • An indicative budget of around £1.8bn, or £60m a year, for adult education and skills – to meet local skills priorities and improve opportunities for residents
  • A £900m package of investment to transform our transport system, with £563m from the City Regional Sustainable Transport Fund, on top of funding already announced for our buses and metro system
  • £69m of investment in housing and regeneration, unlocking sites to bring forward new housing and commercial development

It is expected to create 24,000 extra jobs, deliver 70,000 courses per year to give people the skills to get good jobs, and leverage £5.0 billion of private sector investment.

Once established the new authority, covering an area which is home to around 2 million people, will have the power to make decisions on areas such as transport, skills, housing, finance and economic development. The potential deal does not involve any changes to existing councils.

A public consultation will take place from early 2023 on the new arrangements which the government have confirmed they are ‘minded to’ approve.
It is expected a Mayoral election would take place in May 2024 and a new authority formed.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), which was set up in 2019 covering Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, and the separate North East Combined Authority (NECA) covering Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead and Durham would no longer exist.

Driving in winter

Road gritting

NCC routinely grit a network of 29 routes to treat overnight frost and prevent ice forming.

This normally takes about three hours and they aim to finish by 8am on weekday mornings. In light snowfalls, or when ice is expected to form throughout the day, they do grit our secondary routes.

These include important bus routes and access roads for communities and residential areas.

The Highways Agency is responsible for ploughing and gritting on the A1 and the A19

Reporting an empty grit bin

There are currently 1600 grit bins provided at selected steep hills, sharp bends and where there are steps, particularly in areas where routine gritting does not happen.

Where the resources allow, grit bins will be replenished during the winter with grit for public use. You can use this grit to clear snow and ice from pavements around your home and those of neighbours who may need help.

Grit provided should not be used for treating private property.

NCC will record and consider your report, although it will be subject to route priority, prevailing conditions and available resources.

Report an untreated footpath

Following normal overnight frost, we will grit footpaths which:

  • Have a steep gradient
  • Have a high risk of ice forming
  • Have a large number of people using them early in the morning

All other footpaths will not normally be gritted.

In continuing severe weather conditions, as resources become available, we will grit main footpaths in town centres, busy urban shopping areas, important pedestrian links and footpaths next to large schools.

NCC will record and consider your report, although it will be subject to route priority, prevailing conditions and available resources.

For reporting purposes, there is a form to complete online on the NCC website or by telephoning the Council 0345 600 6400.

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