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County Councillor Report (Jul 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 the above portrait image by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 25 June 2023.]

HEDGELEY PARISH

Environment taking centre stage on council plans

Photo of pink foxgloves

The council is looking to place a greater emphasis on improving the environment for everyone over the coming years. 

From dealing with littering to creating more green spaces and woodlands, the council will be working hard to ensure the county’s stunning natural resources are protected and enhanced, now and in the future. 

It comes as the council plans to refresh and update the council’s climate change action plan and build on the successful work the council has done since it declared a climate emergency back in 2019.  

Council Leader Glen Sanderson stressed the council’s dedication and highlighted the importance of looking after our local environment.  

He said: “There is a clear need for us to explore new ways we can all work together to create an environment that works for everyone across our county.   

“Already we have taken great strides in achieving our goals, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done as we work towards carbon neutral and our work to refresh the climate change action plan is well underway and will set out our key priorities and areas for the next three years.  

“As a priority I’ve also requested officers to bring a report to cabinet  over the summer looking to declare an ecological emergency, so that we give greater priority to protecting nature and wildlife and enhancing habitats and biodiversity which are all key to our successful future.  

“On a wider environmental level, we have so much to be proud of with our green spaces, spectacular countryside, beautiful coastline, and our amazing wildlife and habitats and as a council we’re determined to protect these areas and make improvements where needed.  

“Everything that people see and touch around them that makes our county so special will be a focus over the next two years.  

“Whether that’s enhancements to our beautiful country parks and increased cycling and walking routes connecting our towns and villages, we will endeavour to make further improvements.  

“And on people’s doorsteps there’s a whole raft of schemes coming forward for our Queen Elizabeth II memorial projects to improve access to green spaces near to people’s homes, there’s new woodland schemes in the pipeline and thousands of residents and community groups have taken up our offer of free trees for gardens and parks.  

“We’ve all got our part to play in improving our environment, whether it’s on a personal level – however small – or county-wide, and we want residents to join us on this journey.” 

Childcare

Information about the different types of childcare support.

Tax-free childcare

You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the cost of childcare.

30hrs free childcare

Claim tax-free childcare30 hours free childcare

Eligible working families in Northumberland with 3- and 4-year-old children can receive 30 hours of free childcare a week.

Visit Childcare Choices for more information

15 hours free childcare

Families in Northumberland who have 2 year old children and are on certain benefits can get 15 hours of free childcare a week.

All families with children aged 3 and 4 can also access 15 hours of free childcare a week.

Visit Childcare Choices for more information
 

Claim back childcare costs

You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit, with up to £646 back each month for one child or £1,108 for 2 or more children.

Find out more about claiming back childcare costs

If you would like to make sure you’re getting the right benefits for your family speak to one of the Northumberland Communities Together on 01670 620015 – 9am to 6pm 7 days a week.

Worried about the immediate welfare of an adult or a child

If you are worried about the immediate welfare (health or well-being) of an adult or a child contact Onecall – 01670 536400 – 24 hour service, 365 days a year.

Apprenticeships

Start your career with a Northumberland County Council Apprenticeship

Northumberland County Council has vacancies for 14 apprenticeships, offering a range of career opportunities for people across the county with applications opening Friday 16 June. 

Cabinet member for Corporate Services, Cllr Richard Wearmouth, said: “Keeping home-grown talent in the region is so important, by providing high-quality career pathways we’re future proofing our own workforce, and creating great opportunities for people to kick-start their careers. 

“Last year alone the Council employed more than 60 apprentices, with almost 100 completing their qualifications from entry level, right up to degree as well as supporting more than 30 staff with upskilling through an apprenticeship.” 

Apprenticeships are open to everyone aged 16 and over not in full-time education. They can take between one to six years to complete, depending on the level chosen and whether candidates have any prior experience, all while earning a wage.  

The Council is recruiting positions across the county from business admin within Children’s Services to heavy vehicle service and maintenance technicians in Local Services and there’s a mix of office-based and trade apprenticeships.  

The Council is also premiering three new highly requested apprenticeship roles; roofing, signage technician and countryside worker in Northumberland’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty teams. 
 
Whether you are looking for an apprenticeship now, or considering it in the future, don’t miss this opportunity to join one of the region’s largest employers.

Applications open 16 June: https://nland.cc/apprenticeships

Plans to improve travel to and from school for thousands of pupils 

Plans to improve the journeys of thousands of pupils to and from school have been welcomed by Councillors.  In Northumberland, there are currently 40,651 students attending 151 schools across an area of 5,013km2. Around 8,000 are eligible for transport support on a daily basis at an annual cost of around £16m.  

After an in-depth review of the service and listening to feedback from young people and families, plans are underway to transform education transport across the county.   

  • A new ‘one-stop-shop’ for school admissions and education transport will make the application process as seamless and straightforward as possible for parents and carers, with children and young people at the heart of all decision making.  
  • A team of independent travel trainers will be appointed to provide one-on-one support to young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who wish to gain more confidence on their journeys, such as using public transport.   
  • A pilot project will take place with two special schools to devolve transport budgets to allow greater flexibility in the way transport can support SEND pupils, schools, families, curriculum and extra-curricular activities. 
  • Increases to Personal Budgets and the introduction of Enhanced Budgets for some complex and long-distance journeys are being explored, with the potential to provide more flexibility and choice. 
  • The future could also see digital mapping of routes, with parents able to see their child’s journey in real-time providing greater peace of mind. 

A total of 36 recommendations were made in the review with 30 underway and the remaining due to begin shortly. An update on the progress of the review was presented to the council’s Family and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  

In carrying out this review, we listened to our children, young people, parents, carers and schools and we believe these recommendations will make the service work better for everyone.  One important area that was highlighted was the desire of young people with additional needs to be more confident to travel independently and our new independent travel trainers will work one-on-one with young people and families and support them on their journey to independence.  

Over the next five years, we are creating hundreds of more places for children and young people with additional needs which will further reduce the need for long journeys. 

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