County Councillor Report
by Wendy Pattison
firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel. 07779 983072
Damage to Roads and Potholes
This winter has been very hard on our roads and pavements as you know. The combination of wet weather and frosts resulting in repeated freeze/thaw cycles during November to December has created a much larger than normal increase in potholes and road damage this winter, with over 40% more potholes being reported by January 2018 than at the same time last year.
NCC acted to address this and in early February and took the decision to use £420,000 from Council contingencies which, together with £930,000 of Government money, enabled increase in efforts to help deal with the problem.
However, the ‘Beast from the East’ snow events in Feb/March hit Northumberland particularly hard, have created even more damage and will cost much more to deal with. Already we know the number of pothole reports in February has increased by 75% compared to the same month in the previous year, and we expect that many more reports will come in over the next few months.
Unfortunately, nearly all of the Longhoughton Ward village roads are in a long standing and poor state of repair and many potholes reported weeks ago have still not been filled. Because of this I have written to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Peter Jackson and the Cabinet member responsible for Highways, Cllr Glen Sanderson to express my concern on lack of action and I am to meet very shortly with Cllr Glen Sanderson to request immediate action and resources.
Northumberland Local Plan – Spring 2018 Consultation
NCC is preparing a new county-wide Local Plan. To inform the draft Local Plan the Council is inviting views on your preferred locations for housing and employment development and the key planning issues the Plan should consider. The timetable for the preparation of the Plan is set out in the published Local Development Plan.
The consultation runs from 28th March – 2nd May 2018 and is taking the form of an online spatial survey using an interactive map. You will be asked to mark on it where you feel are the most appropriate places are for housing and employment. http://bit.ly/NCC-LP-Spatial-Survey
Area Council (North) Meeting dates 2018/19
New Initiative Will Bring More Empty Homes into Use
Homeowners or landlords seeking to carry out major works to a property are now being offered a council tax discount from Northumberland County Council.
From April 1st, anyone who is undertaking major refurbishment work or structural alterations to a property could now receive a council tax discount for up to 12 months. For a Band D property this would be a saving of up to £1,743.96.
The discount will act as an incentive to property developers to take on major works and bring more empty homes back into use.
The amendment to the policy follows feedback from landlords and property developers, who were often discouraged from buying empty, derelict properties due to the financial pressures they faced.
Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for housing at the council, said: “Our aspiration as a council is to not only have more rentable accommodation in the county but also to raise the standard of that accommodation.
“This discount will act as an incentive to landlords and people planning major work on their property, who can be safe in the knowledge that they have up to a year where they will not have to pay council tax.
“We have spoken with a number of landlords who have explained the constraints and pressures they faced previously. We have listened and made the change, and we now hope that this will encourage more people to take on major refurbishment plans and help to improve our towns and villages.”
For more information on the policy or to find out if your scheme falls into this category please contact NCC on (01670) 624884 or go to www.northumberland.gov.uk
Weed Control and Blue Weeds
Effective weed control in public places is challenging and there has to be a certain amount of weed growth before it can be treated. In recent years it was nationally decided that decades of residual weed killers which by their nature are highly toxic led to a build-up of chemicals in rivers and water courses. As a result, EU rules and legislative changes in the UK meant that residual herbicides were withdrawn leaving local authorities with the option of using only ‘contact’ treatments, so that only authorised products which are predominantly glyphosate based and are only effective on actively growing plants. In order to deliver improvements to weed control operational resources will be increased with 2 additional seasonal employees in all five Area Council areas. As part of the weed control activity NCC will be adding blue dye (harmless) to the herbicide used. This is completely non-toxic and provides visual assurance to everyone that the weeds have been sprayed and no areas missed. The dye breaks down over time and is no longer visible. This approach has been used successfully by Durham County Council for the past 5 years
County Councillor Member’s Allowance
All Councillors get £15,000 to spend on their Communities. Since I was elected in May 2017 I have donated the following amounts from May 4th 2017 until March 31st 2018.
- Contribution towards construction of new toilet facilities at Howick Village Hall – £2,000
- Contribution towards the installation of new drainage at St John the Baptist Church, Edlingham Village – £2,000
- Contribution towards Traffic Calming (design) B1339, Main Street Embleton 20mph speed limit/zone – £2,000.
- Contribution towards footpath resurfacing and reconstruction works at Boulmer Village and at Heugh Wynd, Craster – £9,000.
With lighter nights approaching officers are taking action to tackle changing crime trends. As the clocks go forward, lighter nights and warmer weather historically sees a rise in anti-social behaviour, thefts and burglaries. But Northumbria Police are reassuring the communities they serve that officers are getting ready to tackle the changing crime patterns and continue to keep people and property safe. Officers across the Force will be carrying out initiatives and operations to prevent these types of crimes and ensure those caught committing offences are brought before the courts. Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton said: “Neighbourhood Teams across the force have launched a number of operations to ensure residents have the correct crime prevention advice and proactively target those suspected of being involved in such crimes. With the lighter nights and warmer weather, it’s a timely reminder to be vigilant. “I want to reassure the public that officers and staff are working hard to investigate crimes and proactively target criminals.” Chief Superintendent Hutton added: “As the nights get lighter, criminals look to take advantage of people enjoying the weather. Thieves will target open doors, windows, sheds and garages, hoping for a quick and easy steal. Our advice is to not leave valuables on show and if you’re in the back garden, make sure doors and windows are locked. Don’t become an easy target.” Operations are planned across all three of Northumbria Police’s Area Commands. Officers will be working closely with partner organisations, local authorities and communities to help prevent crimes and address any concerns. Residents are also urged to continue to report suspicious activity by contacting police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. For further crime prevention advice, visit the Northumbria Police website: https://www.northumbria.police.uk/advinfo.
All text and portrait image of Wendy Pattison provided by Cllr. Wendy Pattison and used with permission.