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County Councillor Report (Mar 2021)

by Wendy Pattison

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

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

County Councillor Wendy Pattison Northumberland

[All text and the above portrait photo provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received on 23 February 2021.]

Coastal Path Funding Gets the Green Light

A grant of £100,000 has been formally accepted from Natural England to start work on the latest phase of the England Coast Path between Amble and Bamburgh.

Bamburgh Castle

The approval from the County Council’s Cabinet marks the latest phase of an ambitious government plan to create a continuous walking route around the entire coastline of England and Wales.  

Known as the England Coast Path, work on the Northumberland coast section started five years ago and the stretch between Amble and Bamburgh was given national approval in July 2020.  

While Natural England have done the research and consultation work themselves, the county council will create the path and be responsible for ongoing maintenance – largely funded by the Natural England grant. 

Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Local Services Councillor Glen Sanderson said: “We’re so proud to have the most beautiful coastline in the country and this will be another magnificent addition to the Coast Path in Northumberland with the sections from Old Hartley up to Amble having already been established. 

“This latest stretch will take walkers past some of the county’s most iconic landmarks and is sure to be a great attraction both for local residents and visitors to Northumberland.” 

The next and final phase of the scheme in Northumberland will run from Bamburgh right through to the Scottish border and is still to be fully agreed. 

Everyone will benefit from Census 2021 

Households across Northumberland will be asked to take part in Census 2021 in March. 
The census, run by the Office for National Statistics, is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941. 

Understanding the needs of the nation helps everyone from central government to organisations, such as councils and health authorities, plan and fund public services across England and Wales. Census outputs inform where billions of pounds of public funding is spent on services like transport, education and health – on cycle routes, schools and dental surgeries.  

Information from the census is also important in helping lots of other people and organisations do their work.  

Charities and voluntary organisations often use it as evidence to get funding. It helps businesses to understand their customers and, for example, decide where to open new shops. Plus, those doing research, like university students and people looking into their family history, use census data. It provides important information on population diversity, allowing organisations to know whether they are meeting their responsibilities and triggering action where necessary. 

Census 2021 will be the first run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets. 

Census day will be on March 21, but households will soon receive letters with online codes explaining how they can take part. The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“The census provides a unique snapshot of our communities,” Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at ONS, said. “It benefits everyone. Based on the information you give, it ensures millions of pounds are invested in emergency services, mental health care, school places, hospital beds, houses, roads, GP’s and dentist’s services. 

“No-one should miss out. Everyone can complete on online with a new search-as-you-type ability and paper forms for those who need them.” 

Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.  

For more information and advice on how to answer the questions, visit census.gov.uk

Leaders welcome cautious approach to easing lockdown

The region’s leaders have welcomed the cautious approach to the easing of lockdown in England.

In their latest joint statement they say: 

“The government’s announcement of a cautious approach to easing lockdown is sensible but it needs to be kept under constant review.

We understand the desire of businesses and our residents to see restrictions lifted so we can get back to something like normality.

But while the infection rates continue to fall, they remain high, with many people still in hospital and too many of those are sadly still dying as a result of COVID 19.

The threat of new variants is something we are all wary of so as the vaccination programme continues, we all must remain vigilant and continue to follow simple the rules we have become used to.

Our immediate focus is to do everything we can to support our schools to fully reopen on March 8.

It is important to remember all our school staff have been working hard throughout the pandemic, teaching vulnerable children and those of key workers face-to-face while providing resources and online lessons for those at home.

They have done a magnificent job in the most trying of circumstances, as have parents and carers who have home-schooled their children and we must do everything we can to support a safe return to the classroom.

Many of us have missed physical social contact so the opportunity to hold the hand of a loved one while visiting them in a care home or meet outdoors with one other person for a chat is a welcome step forward, with the prospect of wider meetings and outdoor sports resuming on March 29, but again only if the conditions are right.

What is certain is further delay to the reopening of non-essential retail until at least the end of next month and beyond for hospitality, leisure, tourism and our cultural venues.

While this cautious approach is the right one, the Chancellor has an opportunity in his Budget next week to widen the packages of support to these businesses and communities– along with support for individuals who have to self-isolate.

Not to do so will lead to much higher costs in the longer term of businesses closing, higher unemployment, a greater risk to public safety and more people struggling both financially and with their mental health.

We also need greater clarification as to how we will control future outbreaks. Unless Test, Trace and Isolate are all strengthened further and businesses in areas affected are given full financial support, adherence and compliance will be undermined because people will fear losing out financially.

What today’s announcement doesn’t change for now is the need to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons, including staying local when exercising, maintaining social distancing at all times, wearing face coverings and continuing to regularly wash our hands.

We urge everyone to take up the vaccine when offered and to those in the priority groups who may still not have had their first dose to come forward. There is growing evidence that the vaccines are highly effective in protecting our communities from COVID, having a significant impact on the risk of serious illness and reducing the risk of infection, giving us great reason to be optimistic.

In the meantime, we continue to be in regular dialogue with government, the region’s MPs, and other partners to secure the best possible deal for the North East as part of the levelling up agenda.

We have lived with restrictions for almost a year now – there are still a tough few weeks ahead – but thanks to the incredible efforts of our NHS, key workers, volunteers and the North East public we are as close as we have been since this pandemic began to finding a way through it.

Let’s not blow it now. Thank you for everything you are doing to beat Covid.”
 
Cllr Simon Henig CBE, Leader, Durham County Council   
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council  
Cllr Nick Forbes CBE, Leader, Newcastle City Council  
Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council  
Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader, Northumberland County Council  
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader, South Tyneside Council  
Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader, Sunderland City Council   
Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor  
Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

Countryside volunteering in Northumberland

There are opportunities to volunteer at our country parks, local nature reserves and other countryside sites.
If you would like to help out with practical tasks, or simply report problems or wildlife sightings, please email neil.dawson@northumberland.gov.uk

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