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”

ENDS

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.

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.

20MPH around schools extended thanks to our action

As many of you will know, Labour councillors produced and forced through a flawed report on 20mph zones following our success in getting the Council to change its policies and agree to allowing 20mph zones. Shame on Labour for playing with Child safety. This meant that schools with fewer accidents in areas like Chester-le-Street where the council leader lives were prioritised over our area.

We secured a review and this showed that schools in our area should have been programmed in first.

The Council is now implementing this and is currently finalising consultation on the project. As part of this they did not plan to include schools in Newton Hall. We have used local funding to make sure that all the schools in our area are included.

This means that near all schools in our area from next year there will be flashing signs and 20mph zones at drop off and pick up times and at lunch times where appropriate.

We hope that this will help to bring down average speeds not just at school times but throughout the day making our area safer for pedestrians.

We are working with the Council on additional projects which will enhance the scheme and also help reduce speeds.

Bus shelter repairs, replacements and cleaning

We have secured repairs and replacements for a number of bus shelters around the area.

Many shelters are being cleaned, and damaged perspex and glass is being replaced.

This includes the one at the entrance to Brasside on Finchale Avenue and the one near new college where we have also secured work to improve the crossing point for new college.

The one outside Vets for Pets and those near Beech Close and Priory Road on Finchale Road in Framwellgate Moor are also getting new glass installed.

The old brick shelter opposite the Newton Grange pub is also being replaced with a new clean one which should also deter people taking toilet breaks in it!

 

 

 

All Saint’s Newton Hall Christmas Lights

All Saint’s Christmas lights once again looks fantastic. We provided the Christmas Tree again this year, bought from Pity Me Nurseries with 200 additional trees at a super discount we negotiated. We we are planning to plant the trees around the area so if anyone has a suggestion on where they would like to see some trees we have 200 decent sized trees ready for planting after the new year, weather permitting. Big thanks to the volunteers who put up the lights and tree at the Church.

 

LOCAL ELECTION: VOTE LIB DEM ON MAY 4TH

Next Thursday we are standing for re-election as your Lib Dem County Councillors. Please vote for Mark Wilkes, Mamie Simmons and Amanda Hopgood on Thursday 4th May.

We are getting a great response on the doorstep, with many residents also contacting us by email to confirm they are supporting us.

We also hope to get elected to the Parish Council along with our Lib Dem colleagues Nigel Martin, Grenville Holland, Colin Hillary and Clive Beddoes.

Richmond and Salisbury Play Park drainage / surfaces – Council failure to act

Last summer we asked for improvements to the surfaces at Richmond Park. The Council did replace one piece of old damaged equipment after 18 months of asking however the surfaces have still not been touched.

Following further complaints from the public we have again asked for action including sorting out the drainage. It really isn’t acceptable for Council owned play areas to be left in this kind of condition, especially given that we are told that there is money in the pot to carry out repairs.

We are increasingly concerned that it’ taking far to long for such repairs in our area and have complained again this week.

Over at Salisbury Road Play area, we have had to elevate complaints as well. It’s over 4 months since we asked for remedial action and still the Council has not even ordered the works.

Needless to say we are on the war path over this and will now be chasing the Council weekly for updates.