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County Councillor Report (Oct 2020)

County Councillor Report

October 2020

by Wendy Pattison

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

And now on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

County Councillor Wendy Pattison Northumberland

[All text and images provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received on 27 September 2020.]

Hedgeley Parish

Affordable Community-Led Rented Housing

It is vitally important that local people, both individuals and families have access to stable, high quality, affordable, rented housing.

Approximately two years ago, the idea was formed at a meeting of the Embleton Joint Burial Committee to renovate the former Cemetery House which is located at the entrance to Spitalford Cemetery, near Embleton, to make this property into a high quality, rented, Affordable Home for a local family. Local Parish Councillors were very much aware of the need for decent, rented, affordable housing in the area. This initiative was a Community LED Housing project which can be run by small individual community groups such as the EJBC. Community-led housing is where people and communities play a leading role in addressing their own housing needs. Support for this project was given by Community Action, Northumberland.

Spitalford Cemetery and Cemetery House (now renamed Gatehouse Cottage) belong jointly to Craster, Embleton and Newton by the Sea Parish Councils. The former Cemetery house had fallen into disrepair and it needed complete renovation.

The EJBC comprises of the Chairman, Cllr Terry Howells, Embleton PC, Cllr Andrew Chillingsworth, Embleton PC, Cllr David Cooper, Embleton PC, Cllr Margaret Brooks, Craster PC, Cllr Elizabeth Pearson, Craster PC, Cllr Derek Gerrard, Newton by the Sea PC and Cllr John Roper, Newton by the Sea PC. 

As this kind of initiative is so very important to our area, I wanted to convey my thanks to the Embleton Joint Burial Committee and also show my appreciation for the incredible support given towards this project by three small, coastal Parish Councils, Craster, Embleton and Newton by the Sea.The former Cemetery House is now ready for occupation and tenants will be found via Northumberland Homefinder.

9 Parishes Meeting

A meeting with MP Anne Marie Trevelyan took place on Friday September 11th   at Brownieside.

Due to concerns regarding the new Government regulations which were due to come into force on Monday, September 14th for 6 people only allowed to meet together, parish member numbers attending the meeting were lower than expected.

Matters Discussed at the meeting were as follows;

Lack of a mobile phone signal at Craster and surrounding area

Anne Marie was surprised that this issue had not already been addressed and promised to look into this further and speak with phone companies/providers.

Holiday Lets and Small Business Rate relief

If you own a property in England and it is available to let for short periods that total 140 days or more per year, it will be rated as a self-catering property and valued for business rates. The Valuation Office works out the rateable value of the property based on its type, size, location, quality and how much income you’re likely to make from letting it. If you only let out one property and the rateable value is less than £15,000, you may be eligible to claim small business rate relief.

This means that you may not have to pay any Business Rates or Council Tax! 

Parish Councillors and residents have expressed concern that this situation is unfair to local residents mainly because the property owner is not paying anything towards local facilities/services in the villages /towns and which are all completely free and this benefits not just the owner of the property but the numerous visitors who stay at the property (this does not include trade refuse). Anne Marie will look into the concerns arising from this.

Concerns regarding trade refuse provision not being paid for by the property owner, were allayed by NCC Officer, Mr Paul Jones.  It is NCC’s policy to charge self-catering accommodation owners for any waste collection services provided to them as they are legally categorised as a commercial waste producer (The Controlled Waste Regulations 2012). NCC charge full commercial waste rates that would look to charge any other business, which includes both collection and disposal costs and Duty of Care administration fees. There are internal arrangements in place to ensure that any new business rate registrations for holiday lets are notified to us so that people who purchase a domestic property and use it for holiday lets are listed.

Longhoughton Division Coastal Summit

I expressed my concern to NCC Cabinet Colleagues about our small coastal villages being completely overwhelmed by visitors during the summer and the ongoing and problematic parking issues. The format of the summit is currently being discussed and more information on the date etc will be given shortly.

Anne Marie was very interested in the plans to hold a Coastal Summit possibly in November and extremely keen to be involved. Northumbria Police have also expressed interest in joining the summit.

Alnwick Library

Select & Collect Service; Time-Limited Browsing /Access to Public Computers

From 1/10/2020 – To be confirmed

I have provided a link below which gives further details about the above provision which I hope you will find helpful:

https://northumberland.spydus.co.uk/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/MSGTRN/WPAC/HOME

Whilst library members can access time-limited browsing ‘on spec’ as it were, in order to avoid queuing, it may be prudent for them to contact the relevant library in advance to arrange a convenient time.

Northumberland’s First Local COVID-19 Testing Centres Set to Open

The County’s first Local COVID-19 Testing Centres are to open in Ashington and Blyth.  

The Centres, at the People’s Park car park in Ashington (NE63 8HP) and the Marine Terrace car park in Blyth (NE24 2LL) form part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for communities. 

These Local Testing Sites are semi-permanent facilities, and can be accessed on foot, as opposed to the three Mobile Testing Units in the county which can be moved around to other areas and are drive-through only. 

The sites and the booking process to make appointments for a test at these sites are run by the Government’s Department of Health and Social Care, as part of their drive to improve the accessibility of COVID-19 testing for communities. 

Only those with coronavirus symptoms should book a test. Tests MUST be booked as soon as symptoms begin at nhs.uk/coronavirus 

Residents MUST book at test to attend either of these sites – these are by appointment only. 

Testing at the new sites, chosen due their easy walking access, will start on Saturday, September 19, when Ashington opens, with more appointments available each day. Blyth is set to open early next week. Testing is available for everyone who has symptoms, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.   

Anyone that tests positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.  

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book at test only if they develop symptoms. 

Public Health Consultant, Jim Brown said: “These testing sites are purpose-built locations where people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested for the virus.  

“These are walk-through sites which means they are accessible on foot, as opposed to by car, but we must stress appointments are still required before attending to ensure that sites have enough capacity to meet demand and prevent them from becoming overcrowded.” 

 The Department of Health and Social Care are responsible for the operation of the site, and any appointment slots must be booked online via nhs.uk/coronavirus 

Disabled Parking Bays

If you’d like to request a new ‘on-street’ disabled parking bay introduced at a public building or home address, email highwaysprogramme@northumberland.gov.uk.

To qualify for a residential disabled parking bay near your home, you must be a blue badge holder and:

  • demonstrate a genuine need for the bay requested
  • not have access to private parking within or near the premises
  • receive the higher rate mobility component of the disability living allowance
  • drive your own car or nominate a carer who drives you and resides at your address
  • provide copies of your driving licence and vehicle registration documents displaying your name and address

The application form also needs to be signed by a doctor or occupational therapist.

Applications for new bays take a minimum of three months. We will deal with applications as quickly as possible.

However, creating new parking places involves consultation with the local community, which can take time.

COVID-19 Update – Informal childcare

Some of you will be aware that the restrictions on the north east did at first prevent “informal childcare” arrangements where grandparents or other non-household members help out with looking after children outwith a formal childcare setting. An exemption has now been agreed to allow for the informal care of under-14s and vulnerable adults.  This allows for household mixing if it is necessary for the care of children to allow parents to work, where they otherwise would not be able to. 

Face Coverings

The Prime Minister has announced that face coverings will now be compulsory for passengers in taxis and private hire vehicles, and for customers in restaurants and bars until you are seated at your table. Staff in retail and hospitality settings will also now be required to wear a face covering.

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