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County Councillor Report (Jun 2022)

by Wendy Pattison

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

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Photo portrait of Councillor Wendy Pattison

[All text and photos provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 22 May 2022.]

HEDGELEY PARISH

A1 Morpeth to Ellingham

Development Consent Order (DCO) process update

Logo of National Highways

Next decision date – 6 June 2022

In January, the Secretary of State for Transport asked for more information on some aspects of the proposed A1 Morpeth to Ellingham dualling improvement scheme. At that time, he indicated that the next date he would make any comment on the approval, or otherwise, of the scheme would be on 6 June 2022.

What we’re doing to prepare

Although we are not in any way pre-judging what the Secretary of State’s decision will be, we are continuing to finalise our detailed designs. This is so that, should the decision be favourable, we can progress matters more quickly.

Even if the decision is favourable, there are still a few other approvals needed before work can start. We’ll also continue talking direct to landowners, agents, residents and businesses directly affected by our work.

How can you stay updated?

You can sign up for alerts at our webpage –

https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-work/yorkshire-and-north-east/a1-morpeth-to-ellingham-dualling/ follow our Twitter feed @HighwaysNEAST or our FaceBook page – https://www.facebook.com/HighwaysNEast

You can also email us at – A1inNorthumberland@nationalhighways.co.uk and we’ll sign you up to our email mailing list.

How will we let you know what is planned?

Part of our planning is to prepare a series of public information events. These would be held in a variety of settings along the length of the scheme and would cover weekdays, evenings, and weekends, so that as many people as possible can find out more.

We will publish the dates of these events once we have approval to hold them.

The Queens Platinum Jubilee

Events at Northumberland Libraries

Alnwick Library - Jubilee Story & Craft Time

About this event – Contact your library to book in advance

Come along to Alnwick Library to enjoy a royal story and Jubilee-worthy craft! All materials will be provided and all children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Date and time – Sat, 28 May 2022, 11:00 – 12:00 BST – Location Alnwick Library, Bondgate Without, Alnwick, NE66 1PQ

Homes for Ukraine scheme

The Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme allows people to offer Ukrainians fleeing the war a home, even if they have no ties to the UK.

If you would like to find out more about hosting Ukrainians in your home or another property visit the GOV.UK website.

You can visit GOV.UK to find some of the most common queries and some specific guidance which has been issued by the government for hosts: Homes for Ukraine scheme:

Once you have a named contact in Ukraine and have applied:

  • the government will send us your details and your guests’ details
  • we will contact you to arrange checks
  • we will ask you to notify us once you have more details on when you expect your guests to arrive

Once you have been matched with a guest we will contact you to complete the following:

Property inspections

We are required to carry out a check on the property where Ukrainian guests will be living. We will contact you to arrange a suitable time to do this.

Your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition.

If it is a room in your home the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service will complete a Safe & Well Home Safety Check.

If the accommodation is an empty, or self-contained, property then the Private Sector Housing Team will complete an Accreditation Check which will include requesting a Gas Safety Certificate. 

We will share the outcome of the property inspection with the Home Office.

DBS Checks

We are required to complete DBS checks on anyone who has applied to be a host and who has been matched with a potential guest.
 
The guidance says that we can complete a Basic check if there are no children or vulnerable adults coming to stay with you. We have a duty to safeguard our residents and we have made the decision that we will complete Standard DBS checks as we believe this is in everyone’s best interests.
 
If there are any children or vulnerable adults coming to stay with you, we will ask for an Enhanced DBS check. We will ask for checks on anyone in the host’s household who is over 16.

When the property checks are completed, our officers will also collect DBS information for all adults in the host household to enable that process to begin. This will include viewing ID documents, utility bills etc. to prove residency and identification. This DBS check will be paid for by the Council from the funds it receives from the DLUHC.

We must complete a new DBS check for every potential host, and we cannot accept existing DBS certificates. We will share the DBS outcome with the Home Office.

Visas

The Home Office is processing visas for all those arriving to the UK. We are not involved in issuing visas. Currently, there are delays for those arriving through both the Homes for Ukraine scheme and Ukraine Family Scheme. The government is working to resolve this backlog.

Payments to hosts and guests

You must tell us when your guest(s) arrive; email us at asylumseekerrefugeeteam@northumberland.gov.uk

Hosts can opt in to receive £350 a month tax free for up to 12 months. This will be one payment made per address, not per individual. We will pay this one month in arrears once the guest has arrived.

When contact has been made with the guest, the Resettlement Officer will then request the bank account details required for payment of the £350.00 to the host. This will then be arranged via the Council’s Finance Team. 

We will also provide Ukrainian guests with a one-off payment of £200 per person.

Please note that you cannot charge your guest rent.

Your Council Tax whilst hosting

It will not affect your council tax if you are a sponsor registered under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This includes council tax discounts for single persons.

There will be a 50% discount for empty or second homes used to house Ukrainians on the scheme.

Hosting a child

If you are hosting children in need of a school place, find out more at School Admissions
 
Applications:

  • must be made with the consent of the parent or guardian, but you can help them to complete the form
  • can be sent in advance but we will not process them until we have all the documentation

School Admissions will need:

  • copies of their entry visas as soon as they are available
  • something from yourself as the host to confirm the family is living with you
  • a utility bill to confirm your home address

School Admissions cannot guarantee that school places will be close to the host’s accommodation. Places will be given based on availability within schools.

What to do if you are concerned about something

If you are concerned about the welfare of a vulnerable adult, you can find more information on our Safeguarding adults web pages.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or young person, you can find out what to do on the Safeguarding Children in Northumberland website.

Guests no longer arriving

If your guests are no longer arriving and you would like to host another Ukrainian guest or family we recommend you use the Reset Homes for Ukraine matching service.

Further Advice – If you have any further enquiries please email asylumseekerrefugeeteam@northumberland.gov.uk

Morpeth car park set for September completion

Councillors in the new carpark being built at Goosehill in Morpeth

Good progress is being made on constructing a new car park for Morpeth town centre.

The Goosehill carpark, on the site of the former first school, will contain 128 standard parking bays, eight disabled bays and six electric charging bays. When excavations started, a number of issues were discovered that led to delays including the need for a redesign of the proposed drainage system and electric cables found not buried to the right depth. These issues are now resolved, with the works to the existing culvert line complete and all hazardous waste now removed from the site. 

A retaining wall will start to be constructed later this month. Once complete the team will be moving to the final stages of construction, including surfacing the car park and the installation of electric vehicle charging points. The work is set for completion in mid-September.
Work is now continuing at pace, with the finished car park, including EV charging points, set to be ready in the coming months, which will provide some much-needed extra town centre parking for Morpeth.

Walking for health

May has been Walking Month and Northumberland County Council is encouraging residents to continue to lace up their shoes and take up the challenge of 20 minutes of walking as part of daily exercise every day (and beyond)!

Now the evenings are lighter for longer, it is the perfect time to head outdoors. Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council, said: “Walking can lower blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure which will lower the risk of heart problems and help to prevent all sorts of other diseases like cancer and stroke. If you are new to exercise, or maybe trying to lose weight gradually, then walking is a great form of exercise for you. It boosts your circulation and increases the oxygen supply around your body, which in turn will keep you feeling alert and awake.
“It is also great for lifting your mood and it can really make a difference if you are suffering from depression, anxiety or feeling stressed. Walking with a friend is even better because you get the added benefit of connecting with someone else” 

Northumberland County Councillor Wendy Pattison, cabinet member for Adult Wellbeing, said: “After the last couple of years, we are appreciating the chance to get out of the house for a walk more than ever.
“It’s so important to keep being active. A brisk walk every day is an easy way to improve your health. Whether you head out at lunchtime, or start your day with a walk, why not try it and feel the benefits for yourself.” 

There are free health walks available in the county too where trained walk leaders and safe walking routes will help to get everyone on their way to a healthier lifestyle. Suitable for all levels of ability, they take between half an hour and an hour and a half. Those who wish to get involved are encouraged to turn up at one of the venues wearing sensible footwear and appropriate outdoor clothing and bring a drink if it is hot. For further information about organised health walks, log on to: https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Care/Integrated-Wellbeing-Services/Health-Trainers.aspx#organisedhealthwalks 

Or if you would like to contact the Health Trainers with questions about the walks, please email: healthtrainers@northumberland.gov.uk or call 01670 623 840. 

Active Northumberland also organise weekly health walks. For full details of their walks, times and distances go to: https://www.activenorthumberland.org.uk/HealthWalks or call 01670 620 200.

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