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Old July 16th, 2013, 10:57 AM   #1
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POLITICS in Northumberland - Local Politics, Local Politicians, Local Political Activities, Protests & Demonstrations, etc

From today's Journal Live, copyright of NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...es-set-5105918

Free Northumberland car parking plan proposed

By David Black - 16th July 2013


Morpeth chamber of trade members John Beynon and Charles Robinson, with Medi Parry, manager of the Sanderson Arcade shopping centre

A major change has begun in Northumberland which will see controversial car parking charges scrapped – apart from in those communities which want to keep them.

Drivers visiting popular market towns will be able to park free for the first time in many years if long-running campaigns by traders for the removal of charges are supported by councillors and residents.

The Labour administration on the county council is delivering on its pre-election pledge to allow local communities to decide if they want to have parking fees or not.

Initial meetings are being arranged with town and parish councils in places where charges are currently in force – including Morpeth, Rothbury, Corbridge, Hexham, Berwick, Holy Island, Bamburgh, Seahouses, Beadnell and Alnwick.

These will lead to the development of community-based parking plans, including the option of getting rid of charges unless local councillors believe they should stay for traffic management purposes.

The process is aimed at ending what many claim is the unfair current system, which involves charging in rural communities and free parking in major towns such as Ashington, Blyth, Bedlington and Cramlington.

Charles Robinson, who chairs Morpeth Chamber of Trade’s car parking working group, said he was hopeful the abolition of charges was now in sight.

“Morpeth should have the opportunity to enjoy free car parking, like our neighbours in Ashington and Blyth have done for many years.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...es-set-5105918
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Old July 21st, 2013, 06:22 PM   #2
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I wish Copeland adopted the same approach in Cumbria. Whitehaven town centre is in decline, yet car parking charges are rammed up every year. For an hour you now have to pay a pound in some car parks and this is vigorously enforced, my sister was stung with a £ 50 fine last year for being a minute late in an almost empty car park. Scrapping car park charges would encourage more leisure visits.
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 01:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Aylett 67 View Post
Steve
I wish Copeland adopted the same approach in Cumbria. Whitehaven town centre is in decline, yet car parking charges are rammed up every year. For an hour you now have to pay a pound in some car parks and this is vigorously enforced, my sister was stung with a £ 50 fine last year for being a minute late in an almost empty car park. Scrapping car park charges would encourage more leisure visits.
Yes my impression is that car parking charges are more to do with revenue collection for Councils rather than anything to do with traffic control.

In North Shields there is an ever increase in the number of roads with meters which for many years were free.

Just Council greed.
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 09:04 PM   #4
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Yes my impression is that car parking charges are more to do with revenue collection for Councils rather than anything to do with traffic control.

In North Shields there is an ever increase in the number of roads with meters which for many years were free.

Just Council greed.
Also rigorously enforced by Civil Enforcement Officers with sinister looking helmets with cameras built in. This country really does take parking regulations so seriously to the point where they're harming town centres and also forcing people to park further out, which leads to yet more restrictions. I often wonder if Jeremy Clarkson's call to ban all parking restrictions except double yellow lines and sack all the traffic wardens in their modern form would work.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:05 PM   #5
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Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith stepping down in 2015

From today's Chronicle Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/...-beith-5673471

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith stepping down in 2015

By Adrian Pearson 7 Aug 2013 10:28





Long-standing Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith is to step down in 2015.

The Liberal Democrat will be then have served 42 years as an MP, taking the seat for the first time in 1973.

Sir Alan said: “I intend to continue to be a very active MP over the next two years and look forward to working closely with a candidate for 2015 who will be chosen by all the members of the Berwick constituency’s Liberal Democrat Association.

“This constituency has always been hotly contested between Liberals and Conservatives but it has been Liberals who have represented it for the majority of the years since the modern seat was created in 1885.

“Liberal Democrat commitments to freedom, fairness, representing local communities and helping people to get on in life fit well with the concerns of people in Northumberland.”

There will be events later this year to celebrate Sir Alan’s 40 years as Berwick’s longest-serving MP and the longest-serving Liberal MP since Lloyd George.
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Old August 8th, 2013, 03:55 PM   #6
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Liberal Democrat's face fight to hold Alan Beith's ground

Another piece in today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...t-hold-5678541

Liberal Democrat's face fight to hold Alan Beith's ground

By Adrian Pearson - 8th August 2013

Four decades of Liberal Democrat control in Berwick was in jeopardy last night as Sir Alan Beith announced he will step down in 2015.

The Northumberland MP will by then have served 42 years as the constituency MP, and has over that time built up a loyal following among voters.

But with that personal support now out of the equation, the Conservatives are set to make it a key target seat in the bid to hand David Cameron a majority at the next general election.

In the 2010 election Mr Beith won with a 2,690 majority, but his office received many complaints when the Lib Dems entered into coalition Government with the Tories.

With the Lib Dems at a low in the polls because of their involvement in the coalition, the seat will become a core North East battleground.

The Lib Dems will be desperate to hold on to the seat after an erosion of support in the last few years which has seen them lose control of first Newcastle City Council and then Northumberland County Council.

Announcing his decision yesterday, Sir Alan, 70, said: “I intend to continue to be a very active MP over the next two years and look forward to working closely with a candidate for 2015 who will be chosen by all the members of the Berwick constituency’s Liberal Democrat Association.

“This constituency has always been hotly contested between Liberals and Conservatives, but it has been Liberals who have represented it for the majority of the years since the modern seat was created in 1885.

“Liberal Democrat commitments to freedom, fairness, representing local communities and helping people to get on in life fit well with the concerns of people in Northumberland.”

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...t-hold-5678541
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Old August 9th, 2013, 03:16 PM   #7
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Berwick was always a safe Conservative seat until 1973 when Lord Lambton was forced to resign. While Beith has probably held Berwick by strength of personality, it has always been vulnerable to a Tory swing as Labour are too weak here. A majority of 2700 and Beith's retirement suggest it might go over to the Tories in 2015.
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 11:39 AM   #8
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Sir John Hall hits out at lack of regional leadership

From today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...ts-out-6123779

Sir John Hall hits out at lack of regional leadership
By Adrian Pearson - 2nd October 2013



Sir John Hall has hit out at a “leadership crisis” in the North East which will see the region left vulnerable to a growing Scottish economy.

The MetroCentre developer said the North East has suffered for more than a generation from weak leadership and he says he sees no sign of that changing.

His comments come amid increased concerns that relationships between the two biggest cities in the North East have broken down, with businesses worried that Newcastle and Sunderland are locked in conflict.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Tory party funder Sir John said he was worried that there was nothing to suggest the region had the right political leadership.

“We have had politicians more happy to treat this as a Labour fiefdom than on solving the problems we face and increasingly I think we have to take the politics out of this. Business has to come up with a way of showing leadership here, because the politicians have not been up to it.”

Sir John said he remained unconvinced by the work of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, the council and business body tasked with helping firms grow.

The partnership, Sir John said, was too small to make a difference, and should at least have been merged with its counterpart on Teesside.

“I’m very concerned for the region,” Sir John said. “I wonder where we are going and how we will cope in the future. There have been many, many interventions, many reports, and a lot of money, countless money, and for what? We are still below where we should be.

“Who do I blame? Ourselves really. We have been complacent, we as a region haven’t had the leadership from the politicians here. And we are just a forgotten region here really.”

Sir John said that while the North East floundered with in-fighting and weak leadership, Scotland was preparing to be a major jobs threat north of the border.

“Who would come here if they could go to a Scotland with powers to entice them?” he said. “We will be left as the region which sells itself as a low wage region, and no one wants that, it would be a disaster.”

Sir John was speaking after claims emerged of a difficult last few months for the LA7 group of council leaders from Durham to Northumberland. It is thought a row over skills funding has seen tensions rise, with difficulty even getting two council leaders to meet.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...ts-out-6123779
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 10:21 AM   #9
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Freeze all councillors' allowances in Northumberland, independent panel says

Courtesy of today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...endent-6364381

Freeze all councillors' allowances in Northumberland, independent panel says
By Brian Daniel - 3rd December 2013


Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth

Councillors in Northumberland should be paid the same basic allowance, an independent body has advised.

An independent remuneration panel tasked by Northumberland County Council to report on whether allowances should be changed has concluded that the basic figure paid to all members should remain the same.

Councillors will make final decisions on allowances at a meeting tomorrow.

They were last night urged to reduce their payments by a county resident who pointed to the need for the authority to make savings of £42m this year, and Newcastle City Council’s previous decision to cut allowances by 5%.

County councillors currently receive a basic annual allowance of £12,624.

On top of that, executive members receive an additional £14,850 to reflect their special responsibilities.

Chairs of the area committees and the various scrutiny committees get an extra £12,150, and there are other special responsibility allowances ranging from £1,080 to £5,475.

In June, a month after elections which saw Labour became the authority’s biggest party, the council asked the panel to look at all allowances paid to members - then said to total £1.3m.

The panel has now reported, advising that the basic allowance be left as it is.

It has also accepted the “intention” behind the new governance structures created by Labour leaders and accepted allowances be paid for all posts.

The panel proposes no change to the £27,000 allowance paid to the council leader, or to the £18,090 paid to their deputy.

Policy board members – the replacement for the executive – are recommended to remain on their current figure.

The newly created post of business chairman is recommended to receive the same amount and opposition group leaders £12,150.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...endent-6364381
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Old December 9th, 2013, 02:17 PM   #10
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Council tax to rise 2% as £130m cuts are tackled in Northumberland

From today's Chronicle Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/...2-130m-6384688

Council tax to rise 2% as £130m cuts are tackled in Northumberland
By Brian Daniel - 9th December 2013



Ratepayers in Northumberland are set to be hit with a council tax rise of just under 2%.

Northumberland County Council is proposing to increase council tax by 1.99% as part of its budget for 2014/15, which includes proposed savings of £32.5m this year and £130m over the four years up to 2018.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat opponents have attacked the plan, claiming residents will not get anything extra for their money.

However, Labour bosses say the hike is necessary to help them cover their spending priorities, and at below the level of inflation, “reasonable.”

The proposed rise comes on the back of the authority having frozen council tax the last three years, with it offered government funding to do so.

A report to a meeting of the council’s policy board tomorrow says that “in view of the scale of cuts imposed by the government and the significant resultant savings the council must achieve, freezing the council tax again is considered financially unsustainable.”

It adds: “The process by which councils are actively encouraged to freeze council tax whilst at the same time being required to cope with major reductions in grant funding has stored up both financial and operational pressures for future years.”

The 1.99% increase is proposed with the government having stated that any council seeking to increase council tax beyond two per cent must hold a referendum.

But Coun Peter Jackson, leader of the Tories, said: “The taxpayers in Northumberland are going to get a higher charge and we can see they are not going to get anything extra for their money.

“We can see no reason why council tax should go up as soon as we have got this independent Labour administration.”

Lib Dem leader Jeff Reid added: “They are having to put the council tax up for everybody to pay for a car parking for a few.

Read more @ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/...2-130m-6384688
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Old January 9th, 2014, 09:44 AM   #11
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Northumberland County Council appoints new executive director

Courtesy of today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...-steve-6482738

Northumberland County Council appoints new executive director
By Brian Daniel - 9th January 2014



A council has appointed its head of finance to its new top post.

Northumberland County Council has chosen corporate director of finance Steve Mason as its new lead executive director as part of a review of senior management structure which has seen the departure of chief executive Steve Stewart.

The authority has also hired Geoff Paul, former chief executive of the now defunct Blyth Valley Borough Council, who was given a £268,000 pay off when that council was abolished.

Questions have been asked about Mr Paul’s appointment, although the council has insisted it is only an interim role.

The authority announced in November it was seeking to halve the number of senior management roles from six to three, as it looks to make £32m savings in 2014/15.

Soon afterwards, Mr Stewart took voluntary redundancy along with deputy chief executive Kate Roe and Paul Moffat, corporate director of children’s services. A source at the authority claimed the departures would save it £1m a year. The council has now confirmed that Mr Mason has been appointed to the lead role.

In addition, Daljit Lally has been appointed director of children’s services in addition to her existing role in charge of adult services, and former Newcastle City Council chief executive Barry Rowland executive director of local services.

The review is still to be completed with council services still to be aligned to the new structure.

Meanwhile, the council has confirmed that Mr Paul has been brought in. He was one of five former chief executives who lost their jobs when the county council was created who shared £1.34m.

Coun Peter Jackson, leader of the council’s Conservative group, raised questions about the appointment, claiming it was effectively a fourth executive director and that its creation had not been subject to any formal or informal process.

“I have no idea what the responsibilities of that role is to be.”

A council spokesman insisted Mr Paul is employed on an interim basis.

“Steve (Mason) has brought him on a short-term basis to help with the review of the structure. He is a specialist in organisational change.”

Coun Jackson added: “It has not been explained to anyone how long this post is to be in place for, although the impression with interim roles is that they become permanent.”
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Old January 14th, 2014, 01:37 PM   #12
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Morpeth County Hall could be sold in drive for savings

From today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...d-sold-6504567

Morpeth County Hall could be sold in drive for savings

By Brian Daniel - 14th January 2014



Council leaders in Northumberland have announced surprise plans to sell off their civic headquarters in a bid to tackle a £130m budget deficit.

Labour bosses at Northumberland County Council are looking at selling off County Hall at Morpeth as they seek to make the multi-million pound savings required of them by the Government over the next four years.

The authority is looking at moving staff to up to nine bases around the county, with County Hall set to be sold off, most likely to a housing developer.

However, fears have been voiced in Morpeth that the loss of the council’s base will have a “huge impact” on the town’s economy by reducing the number of people employed there.

Housing development is also likely to be unpopular in a community that is already fighting proposals from large housebuilders keen to cash in on its commuter-belt value.

County Hall opened in April 1981 with a second phase unveiled the following June.

Labour bosses say the building is now in need of more than £10m of repairs to bring it up to “the most basic modern standard as a prime workplace for staff.” The authority says that County Hall’s £450,000 energy bill could also be reduced by moving to nine “huge” town centre buildings.

Labour leaders are now looking into moving the approximate 1,000 staff based at County Hall to a potential nine sites around Northumberland. They have confirmed these would include Prospect House at Hexham, the former home of the now defunct Tynedale Council, which is undergoing a £1.6m overhaul, allowing it to host 100 to 150 staff.

The county has also revealed that Berwick, Blyth and Ashington are being considered as locations. Other buildings belonging to the former district councils in Northumberland could also house displaced staff, including Allerburn House at Alnwick.

The council hopes to recoup the full £130m it needs to make in savings over the next four years from the sale of County Hall.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...d-sold-6504567
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Old January 27th, 2014, 10:30 AM   #13
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Questions over planned sale of Northumberland County Council HQ

From today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...erland-6595908

Questions over planned sale of Northumberland County Council HQ
By The Journal - 27th January 2014



A North council has been asked to prove that the planned sale of its headquarters is “in the best interests” of its people.

As previously reported by The Journal, Labour-run Northumberland County Council is looking to sell off County Hall at Morpeth and to move staff to a potential nine sites around the county.

Now, Morpeth Town Council has unanimously endorsed a motion from its Liberal Democrat member David Parker making a number of requests of county bosses over the move.

Town councillors are calling on the county council to “publish as quickly as possible all existing evidence that the closure of County Hall is in the best interests of the residents of Northumberland.”

They are asking the county council to carry out “a full business case assessment of the closure of County Hall and disposal of the site.”

Councillors are also requesting a meeting with their county counterparts “as a matter of urgency to discuss the effects of this proposal on the local economy” and to “explore fully... ways of mitigating the inevitable negative economic impact on Morpeth.”

The town council is to set up an e-petition on the county council’s website seeking support for its position.

Meanwhile, the South Morpeth Coalition has described as “nonsensical and a physical impossibility” the authority’s previous estimate that the County Hall site could accommodate 2,000 homes if sold to a property developer.

In a statement, the residents group says the number “does not make sense when compared to strategic housing ambitions for the town.”

It adds: “The core strategy target proposed by county for the next twenty years of housing in Morpeth is 1,500 homes. The administration’s idea appears to be to build almost twenty-seven years supply, all at County Hall.”

The statement says that the land could house a maximum of 370 units.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...erland-6595908
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Old April 9th, 2014, 02:30 PM   #14
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Labour will create a Minister for the North East

From today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...h-east-6934436

Labour will create a Minister for the North East
Apr 09, 2014 09:05 By Jonathan Walker



A Labour Government would bring back the position of Minister for the North East as part of a radical package of measures to devolve power to the regions. And the announcement received a warm welcome from MPs, peers and councillors in the region.

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday said the party’s General Election manifesto would focus on plans for “devolving power from Whitehall to our towns and cities”, to create jobs and “rebuild the middle class”. This included stripping Whitehall of £20bn and handing the money to local authorities to spend on transport, housing, training and programmes to get unemployed people into work. Councils “will receive powers and access to resources from Whitehall the like of which we have not seen in living memory,” he said.

The North East had a regional minister under the last Labour government, with the post being held by Newcastle upon Tyne East MP Nick Brown, but the post was scrapped when the Coalition came into power. Welcoming Mr Miliband’s announcement, Mr Brown said: “Regional Ministers were particularly effective in the Northern English planning regions. Ed Miliband’s announcement today is especially good news for the North East of England. Our region needs a Ministerial champion in Government.”

Under a Labour government, regional ministers would encourage local councils, central government and Local Enterprise Partnerships, the economic development bodies led by the business community, to work closely together.

They would champion their area in Whitehall and ensure that the impact of policy proposals on every part of the country is considered. And they will encourage tourism and act as a visible representative of their region at major events.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...h-east-6934436
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Old April 19th, 2014, 11:42 AM   #15
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Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell defends Northumberland County Council roles

From today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...-roles-7008964

Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell defends Northumberland County Council roles
Apr 19, 2014 10:00 By The Journal



A Northumberland MP has backed the hiring of a new council boss and hit out at critics of his new role.

Labour’s Ronnie Campbell has spoken out in support of Northumberland County Council’s appointment of Geoff Paul, the former chief executive of Blyth Valley Borough Council, to a new £110,000 a year role.

The Blyth Valley MP has also hit out at critics of Labour bosses at the authority, who were angered by the creation of Mr Paul’s role and a second £100,000 plus post following moves to cut its number of senior jobs. He last night insisted Mr Paul had been an “damn good” officer at Blyth and called on Conservative opponents of his role to state how they would come up with the savings which the authority is seeking to make.

The council last week confirmed the appointment of Mr Paul as its new director of planning, economy and housing, on an annual salary of £110,000. The former Blyth council boss had reportedly received a £268,000 pay off when his authority was scrapped in 2009. He had been working at the council in an interim capacity in recent months, assisting its senior management review, although Conservative opponents suspected his role could be made permanent. His role was created, along with a new director of education and skills - to be paid between £100,000 and £120,000, on the back of Labour bosses’ moves to reduce the number of senior posts at the council from six to three. The roles sparked criticism from Tory and Liberal Democrat opponents who said they contradicted the pledge to reduce senior posts, although Labour bosses insisted they were the level below its top jobs.

Mr Campbell has now waded into the row by insisting Mr Paul had wanted to transfer to the county council when the Blyth authority was scrapped, but that its then Lib Dem leaders under Jeff Reid had only sought to take on officers from defunct councils at Alnwick and Berwick.

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...-roles-7008964
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