> Despite Iain Duncan Smith‘s best efforts, it appears that we’re not yet dying in great enough numbers, so its time for yet more cuts in services….
Up to seven coroners’ offices across the region will be axed, under cost-cutting plans to scrap those where the number of deaths is “too low”.
Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling is considering a proposal for each coroner area to handle 3,000 to 5,000 cases each year – culling at least 24 across England and Wales.
That would mean about seven disappearing in the North-East and North Yorkshire, where coroners are currently overseeing as few as 340 deaths annually.
None of the 12 offices in the region reach the new threshold, according to 2013 figures – with County Durham and Darlington (2,445 deaths) the busiest.
Hartlepool has the lowest number (340), followed by South Northumberland (428), North Northumberland (656), North Tyneside (758) and York (985).
Merging York with the offices in North Yorkshire Eastern (1,040) and North Yorkshire Western (1,038) would just about reach the 3,000 benchmark.
However, bringing together the much-criticised Teesside office (2,398) with Hartlepool (340) – a proposal already put forward – would still fall well short.
The mergers are proposed in an annual report by the newly appointed chief coroner, Judge Peter Thornton QC.
And he wrote: “That number of reported deaths is too low and many areas have only a part-time coroner.
“Each coroner area should have approximately 3,000-5,000 reported deaths each year, with a full-time senior coroner in post.”
The plan, handed to the Ministry of Justice, would see the 99 coroner areas slashed to “about 75 in number, maybe fewer”.
> You can forsee a time when services will have been cut back so much that there’ll just be one coroner for the whole North East. Perhaps just one MP too, as services are concentrated on the London city state.
It is not clear how many coroner courts would close – as opposed to offices – if the merger plan is adopted.
The annual statistics also compare how quickly each coroner’s area completes inquests, on average – revealing Teesside to be by far the slowest still.
In April, 83-year-old coroner Michael Sheffield was finally forced to step down from his role after a concerted campaign by local politicians and others.
Initiatives were launched to clear a backlog of inquests, which take an average of 50 weeks to complete, the annual report shows.
That is much longer than the next slowest area York (36 weeks), which is followed by Newcastle (31) and both services in North Yorkshire (25).
The fastest inquests are carried out in Hartlepool (11 weeks), followed by Sunderland (14), Gateshead and South Tyneside (19) and County Durham and Darlington (24).
Coroners have been reminded of their duty to set dates for inquests at the opening of each case – and for a medical report to be produced within four to six weeks.
They must explain, to the chief coroner, why investigations that have taken more than a year have not either been completed or discontinued.
Source – Northern Echo, 25 July 2014
The Scottish National Party has told the North East an independent Scotland would welcome its workers with open arms.
The SNP said the region should see independence as offering an alternative to London’s dominance over the North East, a claim few of the region’s MPs appeared to agree with.
Instead, there were warnings yesterday of border chaos and towns reduced to “currency exchange kiosks” if a yes vote is returned in this year’s referendum.
Phil Wilson (Sedgefield – Blair’s successor) led MPs yesterday in a parliamentary debate on the impact of independence on the region’s economy.
Citing a Journal report from last year in which First Minister Alex Salmond told the North East it had no better friend than Scotland, the Sedgefield MP questioned the reality of that relationship.
He said: “To the SNP’s internal Scottish audience, the English are those from whom the SNP wants independence, but to the North East of England, according to Alex Salmond, we are Scotland’s closest friends.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I would not close the door on my closest friends by asking for independence from the rest of the UK.”
> Scotland is our next door neighbour – a good deal closer than the London city state.
SNP MP Angus MacNeil denied the possibility that a new border would hinder trade.
He told MPs: “The point of the SNP is to put the Scottish people first, rather than power struggles in London, which, unfortunately, is the point of the London parties.
“It is all about who is in government in London, and that is not for the good of the people of Sighthill, Skye or Lewis.
“That is an awful tragedy. It should also be in our interest in Scotland to ensure that the good people of the North East of England are benefiting as much as those in the regions of Scotland.
“I look forward to the day I witness people from the North East of England finding chances of employment in Scotland, rather than having to go far afield to the South East of England.”
> Amen to that !
Berwick Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith said the fact was that day-to-day trade would be changed if Scotland broke away from the United Kingdom.
He said: “That activity is not impossible with independence, we should not overstate the case, but it would become more difficult and the likelihood of administrative barriers being erected is that much greater.
“There are a whole series of reasons why anyone living near the border, unless they see their future entirely as a town of currency exchange kiosks and smugglers, would think that we are much better together.”
Also warning against a yes vote was Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman. He told MPs: “The boundary between Scotland and the rest of the UK would, by definition, become an international border between two separate states, with everything that entails.
“The evidence locally in the North East, whether from farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce, is extensive.
> farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce… oh yes, very representive of the population at large – and, I suspect, two groups from which Mr Opperman draws his support come election time.
“There is huge concern that this will have an impact on trade, businesses and jobs.
> Bigger than that caused by policies imposed by the London-based ConDem government, unrepresented in the NE except by Mr Opperman ?
The possible problems rising from Scottish independence are conjecture. The problems caused by policies imposed from the London posh boys are REAL.
“I met a number of oil and gas producers, several of whom are building huge sites on the Tyne at the moment. The two biggest construction sites are for construction projects in the North Sea.
“The producers are concerned that, if there were independence, those projects would be affected, and there would be greater difficulties.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 05 Mar 2014
A jobs warning has been sounded as the region is told of the risk of Scottish independence.
As Chancellor George Osborne set out why the UK would not let a breakaway Scotland keep the pound, Hexham MP Guy Opperman has warned of the regional impact of a new international border on the doorsteps of Northumberland.
The Conservative MP said: “If keeping the pound would not be possible as part of a formal sterling currency union; if the SNP no longer wishes to join the euro, which one can see; and if there is no prospect of an independent country with border control—my constituents are somewhat concerned that there might be a rerun of Hadrian’s wall—where are we?”
He said the situation in Scotland was clearly of concern to the North East, adding: “I am speaking as an MP whose area has a border that divides Scotland and England—my local businesses, the North East chamber of commerce and the local authorities have all indicated that there would be a negative impact on jobs, growth and the development of our respective economies in Scotland and England were the referendum to go ahead.”
> Would that be the same jobs, growth and development (or lack of) that makes the North East the area with the highest unemployment ?
He told MPs: “I speak as a Brit, a mongrel Englishman, a lover of Scotland and an MP whose constituency borders Scotland. Were there to be Scottish independence, I have no doubt that tourism and trade would continue, but it would be naive not to accept that trade on a cross-border basis would unquestionably be affected.
“That is not some Conservative Member of Parliamentspeaking; that is the opinion of the chambers of commerce, local authorities and business groups I have spoken to on both sides of the border.”
> All organizations with the welfare of the common man at heart…
In Edinburgh yesterday the Chancellor ruled out a currency union with an independent Scotland after “strong” advice from the Treasury’s leading official, which was published.
Sir Nicholas Macpherson said that unions are “fraught with difficulty” and raised serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s commitment to making it work. Scotland’s banking sector is too big in relation to national income, the UK could end up bailing the country out.
> Perhaps the North East (and Cumbria, for that matter) should apply to become part of an independent Scotland. Until relatively recently the border was pretty fluid, the old kingdom of Northumbria took in chunks of both, and Hadrian’s Wall is nowadays a long way from the current border (although, of course, neither England or Scotland existed when it was built).
But who do we have more in common with – Scotland or the London city state ?
Source – Newcastle Journal 14 Feb 2014