Police Commissioner asks for views on 7% council tax rise

The police commissioner is proposing to raise the police element of the council tax by 7%. I have some sympathy with his view that if the government cuts funding then requires pay rises for police he has to find the funding from somewhere.

7% is a high percentage and when added to other rises in cost of living it clearly will have an impact on many people.

For that impact to be acceptable we need to see an increase in visible police presence across the County.

Unfortunately I have a feeling that we will not see this.


Press release from the police commissioner Ron Hogg:

In response to pressure from Government, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg has decided to increase the amount of Council Tax which goes to the police service, known as the precept, by 7.09%. This equates to an increase of £8 a year, or 15p a week for a property in Council Tax Band A. Members of the public are being asked to comment.

Ron Hogg said: “The Government has reduced the funding for policing in Durham and Darlington every year since 2010. We now have around 360 fewer officers than in 2010 – a reduction of 1 in 4.”

“I have been lobbying the Government for some years, to fund policing fairly. I did not expect the Government to respond by placing an additional burden on Council Tax payers. However, in my view they are abdicating their responsibility to protect our communities. This has put me in a position where, if I do not introduce this increase, I will be reducing the income of Durham Constabulary this year, and for every year afterwards. It will inevitably mean fewer Police Officers in the community, preventing and solving crime. I cannot do that without risking the safety of the community. The Government’s decision to relax the cap on the precept equates to an extra 15p per week for a property in Council Tax Band A.”

“Durham Constabulary is already the most efficient force in the country according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. That’s a consequence of the force’s commitment to innovation, making the very best use of the money available. We continue to challenge every facet of our business in order to find further efficiencies, but this gets harder every year. I welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of pay rises for Police Officers, but they have not provided me with the funding for this.”

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, Chair of the Police and Crime Panel said:

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“Panel Members understand current financial pressures placed on policing budgets and support the Commissioner’s approach to seek comment from residents on this proposal”


Notes for editors:

For more information or to arrange an interview with the PCVC please contact pcvc.media@durham.pcc.pnn.gov.uk or 07814174417

The public are able to comment on this proposal until Wednesday 31st January 2018. Residents are can provide their views in a number of ways, including:

  •   Through my website www.durham-pcc.gov.uk
  •   Through Facebook or Twitter (search for Durham PCC)
  •   On telephone on: 0191 375 2001
  •   At the AAP Boards during January 2018

o 10th January 2018 – 4together AAP Board
o 10thJanuary2018–MidDurhamRuralAAPBoard
o 16th January 2018 – East Durham Rural Corridor AAP Board o 18th January 2018 – Spennymoor AAP Board
o 22nd January 2018 – Chester Le Street AAP Board
o 24th January 2018 – Teesdale AAP Board
o 24th January 2018 – Derwent Valley AAP Board
o 24thJanuary2018–BishopAucklandandShildonAAPBoard o 30th January 2018 – GAMP AAP Board

  •   At drop in sessions on 19th January at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington 11am-1pm
  •   Additional drop in sessions are planned for Monday 22nd and 29th January 2018 full details can

    be found at www.durham-pcc.gov.uk



Help for homeless and those struggling or in difficult situations over Christmas and beyond

The Council’s housing solutions service provides advice to anyone facing housing problems including:

Anyone who is homeless or sleeping rough

Those who are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent,

Anyone living in unsuitable accommodation

Anyone at risk of abuse or harm

Anyone struggling to keep warm or to pay their bills.

If you or anyone you know is facing any of these issues, contact 03000 268 000. The Council offices are closed from today until 2nd January, however there is an out of hours number for those who cannot wait to get help by calling 01388 722 538.

Members of the public can report anyone who is sleeping rough to the national organisation StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 or at www.streetlink.org.uk

They will try to find the person and offer them help.

Free joinery course for unemployed

The Council is promoting a company called Woodpile over on Dragonville industrial Estate which is offering free 8 week courses in joinery for the unemployed.

If you’re interested or you know anyone who might be contact 01913869735 or email Karen Stubbings at karen.stubbings4050@gmail.com. More info at www.thewoodpile.org

The next course starts 13th February 2018 and places are limited so worth contacting them straight away.


Council Tax discounts

Did you know there are council tax discounts available for special circumstances. Please read below and let friends and neighbours know about this if you think it could apply to them.

Homes which include someone with severe physical disabilities could be eligible for reductions and carers may also be excluded when calculating council tax depending on the circumstances.

Care leavers under 25 who pay council tax or who live with someone who pays council tax are able to reduce the amount they pay by applying for a discretionary reduction.

People living with dementia and those who care for people with a severe mental impairment, such as Alzheimer’s, may also be eligible for a discount or exemption.

Students are also exempt from paying council tax, while those aged over 18 who are the sole resident in a property are entitled to a 25 per cent single occupier discount.

Universal Credit claimants are reminded that they need to make a separate claim to Durham County Council if they are having difficulty paying council tax, as this isn’t included in the housing costs element of the new Universal Credit system.

To find out more about the range of council tax discounts and exemptions available, call 03000 260 000 or visit www.durham.gov.uk/counciltax

Trees – Where do you want them

We have secured a really good deal on 200 decent sized trees and are seeking views from residents on the areas you want them. We already have various locations suggested either by us or residents, so please let us know. Current suggestions are:

Durham Moor Crescent to replace lost cherries.

The green area outside the police houses in Pity Me on the Front St

The bullring at Newton Drive

The playing field on Canterbury Road near Peterborough and the meadow area between Cotherstone and Featherstone Roads.

We have various Cherries, Oaks and fruit trees and a number roof other varieties too.

Shameful action as Durham’s Labour council scraps Gritting route with no consultation with residents or councillors

Durham County Council has scrapped a gritting route in our area. They made this decision because of parked cars blocking the route LAST YEAR.

Yet at no point over nine months did they bother to try and fix the problem by speaking to residents or even letting us as your local councillors know about it.

The route ran around Lindisfarne, Cotherstone and Featherstone Roads.

The Council only told us about the route being scrapped when the gritting season was about to start and after printing the new gritting leaflet. AND THEY STILL HAVEN’T NOTIFIED RESIDENTS DESPITE THE RISK SOMEONE COULD GET HURT. This is a total disregard for public safety.

We have now logged this as a formal complaint after our repeated attempts to get the Council to reinstate the route and try and find a solution were ignored. The Director has said nothing more can be done. We disagree.

We think the council should have consulted with residents 9 months ago and sought solutions through the summer.

They could have tried to get people to park differently so that the gritting wagon could get through and temporarily use a smaller vehicle. We might have been able to find other solutions if we had the time, but when you don’t know about something it makes it rather difficult.

We will update residents on our complaint when the Council comes back to us. If the complaint doesn’t find a solution then we will consider the next possible options.

Potterhouse Terrace missing path fixed

After a real battle with the council I am pleased to be able to report that the missing footpath on Porterhouse Terrace in Pity Me has now been installed.

The short stretch of missing path which I have repeatedly asked the council to intervene and fix for two years was finally done after I raised the issue to the most senior officers in the Council and logged a complaint.

As I see it if you push and push, eventually, if you are right on something you will get it fixed.

Framwellgate School Durham new Sports Hall

At the end of summer we attended the opening of the new sports hall at Framwellgate School Durham. It really is a fantastic facility and is available to the public for use as well.

There is an amazing climbing wall which I was one of the first to try and climb. Making it to the top without falling – although I was attached to wires!

As part of the building work we secured funding for a sculpture from s106 public art funding outside the centre. It really does look great and we would recommend taking a look.