Metro chiefs are to look at closing ticket stations across the network.
Rail owner Nexus says it is looking at which of its nine ticket offices could be closed down now that it has rolled out new ticket machines and electronic passes.
No decision has yet been made, though it is thought at least some ticket offices will stay open, and that the several dozen staff working at the current offices will be helped to find work elsewhere in the Metro system if possible.
> Note the “ if possible.” Otherwise it’ll be goodbye and a free Metro ride to your nearest jobcentre.
Huw Lewis, head of communications at Nexus, said: “We are witnessing a big change in how people buy and make journeys as we roll-out smart travel on the Pop card and give customers new more flexible ways to pay. We are reviewing what this means for our nine travelshops but it is clear we still want an over-the-counter service for our customers. We have made no decisions, and we would talk to our staff first and consult with service users on any proposed changes.”
> As ever, they’re making cuts because we, the customer, want it. Or do we? Quite often changes in behaviour are the result of earlier cutbacks in the first place.
There are currently nine travelshops, including three in Newcastle city centre at Central, Monument and Haymarket stations and others at Gateshead, Heworth, Four Lane Ends and Sunderland Park Lane interchanges, as well as at North Shields and in South Shields.
Nexus has made changes to its travelshop network before, previously closing shops at Washington, Blaydon and Metrocentre at different times over the last 15 years.
A recent decision to close ticket offices on the London Underground prompted strike action.
John McDaid, for Unison, said they were hopeful jobs losses could be avoided.
He said: “With the new ticket machines coming on there was always the likelihood of this. We are in general consultation about the future of the travelshops. Although the way people buy tickets has obviously changed, we are in talks aimed at looking at other ways we can use the staff involved, and so far we are hopeful that people will not be losing their jobs as a result.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 11 Feb 2014
A huge restructure of Northumbria Police will see more than 400 jobs go and police stations closed as part of ongoing measures to save a total of £104m in response to “relentless” Government funding cuts.
The force will lose 230 members of staff – some by voluntary or compulsory redundancy – and reduce its number of senior officers by 200, through ‘natural turnover’.
They will also close “expensive” police stations, and reduce the number of area commands from six to three.
The restructure plans were announced last night as it was revealed that Northumbria Police has to save an additional £46m by March 2017, having already delivered £58m of savings since the start of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, branded the cuts “unfair” but promised to protect frontline services working in neighbourhoods throughout the region.
> What does that mean ? We still wont see the coppers we already never see, unless speeding past in a car ?
She said: “The Government cuts are relentless and unfair. They impact far more heavily on our police service than on many others. The Chief Constable and I are very committed to maintaining the number of police officers and staff working in our neighbourhoods.
“To achieve this we need to do things differently, use technology more effectively and work from different buildings that are cheaper to run.”
The proposals, which the force stress are in the early stages, will see some “outdated” police stations closed and Neighbourhood Policing Teams relocated to bases within the communities they serve in shared accommodation facilities such as leisure centres.
> A plastic plod in the front of a supermarket, strictly 9-5, and able only to refer you to the police’s website, no doubt
However, a spokeswoman for Northumbria said that no police buildings will close until suitable new locations have been found.
Mrs Baird added: “We will relocate Neighbourhood Policing Teams to bases in the local community, usually shared with other services. We are currently doing this in North Tyneside where we are proposing to have police in the White Swan Centre at Killingworth following public consultation, rather than in an outdated, expensive-to-maintain police station in Forest Hall.
“We are keen to make further savings by relocating other neighbourhood policing teams into the communities that they serve, as this is what local policing is all about. However, we guarantee no police services will be relocated until we have found accessible bases within the community for neighbourhood teams to work from and they are working well.
“I am conscious that local people are feeling the effects of the economic downturn very acutely in our region. We have managed to protect frontline numbers and deliver the savings needed without the public having to pay more.”
> You’d never guess she used to be an MP, would you ?
Another change in the way Northumbria Police operate will be the down-sizing of the current six area commands – Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland – to three.
These will cover existing local authority areas coming under North, Central and South. North will cover North Tyneside and Northumberland, Central will serve Newcastle and Gateshead and South will cover Sunderland and South Tyneside.
> With the possible closure of Sunderland’s city centre Gilbridge police station being mooted – to go with the probable closure of the city centre fire station. How long before someone decides the city doesn’t really need a hospital either ?
The force has said it has made every effort to safeguard the services the public say they value most, which is visible policing in their communities.
> Invisible policing, more like ! Otherwise only seen when there’s a football match on.
The proposed changes, which won’t see any increase in council tax, will not reduce the service to the public nor impact on the force’s ability to reduce crime and disorder, according to Northumbria Police.
> Truth is, the region is never going to be a potential Tory electoral gain (Hexham aside), so why should anyone in government really care what happens here ?
On the other hand, it’s safe Labour seats, so they don’t appear to feel the need to stand up for us either – they take it for granted that they’ll get voted back whatever happens.
Talk about being between a rock and a hard place !
Perhaps, should Scotland go independant, they might consider extending the border down to the Tees…
Source – Newcastle Journal, Sunderland Echo, 09 Jan 2014