Hartlepool employees will be encouraged to ditch the car to get to work as part of a new green travel scheme.
Hartlepool Borough Council, which is leading the Government-funded sustainable travel scheme, says it will work with local firms to promote greater take up of cycling, walking and public transport.
Where car use is necessary, the scheme will encourage employees to share vehicles.
Sustainable travel officer Tony Davison, leading the scheme, said:
“In particular, the greater use of these forms of travel is crucial to us achieving our economic regeneration priorities for the town in a sustainable way by helping to ensure that developments do not adversely affect local roads in terms of congestion and safety.
“In addition, they can play a significant role when it comes to improving the health of local people by increasing their levels of physical activity,” said Tony who cycles 28-miles a day to work from Coxhoe and back.
Looking ahead the council says it is hopes to develop new cycle routes to key employment sites.
A damning report today reveals the “totally unacceptable” inequalities driving a widening health divide between the North East and the South.
Experts are warning the current approach to tackling the gap is failing, and the situation is only likely to get worse.
According to the report, a baby girl born in Coxhoe, County Durham, can expect to live for 15 fewer years in good health than a baby girl born in Richmond, London.
Public health experts have now highlighted how devolved powers from central government to the North East could play a vital role in helping close this gulf.
Due North: the report of the Inquiry on Health Equity for the North, is the outcome of an independent inquiry, commissioned by Public Health England.
Professor Clare Bambra from Durham University’s Department of Geography and an Inquiry panel member, said:
“The differences in people’s health in the north compared to other parts of the UK are totally unacceptable. Without a radical change to the current approach to health inequality, we are likely to see things getting worse.”
In the North East, 18% of residents are classed as living in poverty, compared to 12% in the South East. During the past 20 years the region has consistently had lower employment rates than the South for both men and women. These factors, among others, have had a subsequent knock-on effect on general health.
In more recent years, massive efforts and tens of millions of pounds have been spent across the North East on schemes aimed at improving wellbeing. Newcastle and Sunderland are just some of areas that have implemented ways of reducing inequality by campaigning for the payment of a Living Wage.
But the report sets out a number of recommendations including the use of devolved powers to ensure decisions about health issues in the North East are made in the North East. It states:
“Devolution is central for addressing health inequalities with the rest of England. Devolution means regions in the North retaining more power and resources to collectively develop solutions that build on the assets and resilience of the North.”
Ms Bambra said:
“Central government takes a ‘one size fits all’ approach to health spending. Devolution would allow us to address the problems we have here. In recent years we have lost our regional agencies in the North East so there is less focus on us.”
The report also recommended “collecting better data on children in the early years” so they can be tracked over time, monitoring inequalities in development.
In Sunderland over the last two years, figures showed 10% of reception-age children are obese, with local variations of 13 to 17% in some areas. By Year 6, the figure is 21% average, with some areas spiking at 26 to 34%.
Just days ago, plans to build a McDonald’s near a Newcastle school were rejected by councillors. Hundreds of people objected over fears the restaurant would promote unhealthy eating to children from nearby Kenton School.
Ms Bambra said:
“Lots of children’s life chances are determined before they are even born. We need to improve peoples’ access to affordable, healthy food.”
Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said:
“This report highlights the need for Government to take action on poverty and the underlying causes of health inequalities.
“Many people in our region also still suffer ill health as a result of our industrial past. Ministers should prioritise those parts of our country with greatest need, not shift resources into more affluent areas.”
However, Coun Lee Martin, leader of Wearside’s Conservatives, said:
“If Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had done exactly what the coalition are doing on jobs, welfare reform, and education then the gap would have closed in the last 20 years. If anything we need to go further in tackling poverty and poverty of aspiration. Some of the North East’s councils adopting the Living Wage would be a start. I’m all for more powers being devolved but let’s have them devolved to people the public can elect directly rather than faceless council leaders.”
Prof Eugene Milne, director of Public Health at Newcastle City Council, said efforts were underway on Tyneside to address some of the most prolific health concerns. He added:
“We know that we have an extensive public health programme which aims to improve the general health of the local population – as a result we have made progress in key areas over recent years.
“However, this report correctly points to a continuing divide across the country, and between the rich and the poor in our society. We welcome that debate.
“Even with the rate of progress that we have, we know that it would take many decades to close the gap between the north and the south. Larger scale action is needed if the problem is to be addressed.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 15 Sept 2014
A long-running campaign to erect a memorial to miners killed in a village’s pits has finally ended in success.
A pit wheel mining memorial has been unveiled on Coxhoe’s village green, eight years after members of Coxhoe Banner Group set out on the project.
Chairman Robert Robinson said: “I was in tears. There were a lot of tears shed that day.
“We’ve had so many knock-backs in those eight years. But we weren’t going to give up – we were going to keep fighting.
“Everything was a blur that morning. I still go down every to see it’s definitely there.”
The Banner Group was founded 12 years ago and its first task was to have a new miners’ banner created for the village.
Once that had been achieved, members turned to the memorial.
They bought a genuine pit wheel from Coal UK in Doncaster but encountered problems finding a site, buying the plot and securing funding, so the wheel remained in storage for several years.
After several different groups started to work together, progress speeded up around two years ago, leading to the memorial being unveiled on the morning of this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala, Saturday, July 12.
North Skelton Band performed, Rev Christopher Wood-Archer led a service and the wheel was unveiled by Jenny Robinson, Banner Group secretary, and county councillor Maria Plews.
The overall cost of the project was about £70,000.
The wheel stands on limestone flagstones and against a limestone wall, honouring the village’s quarries, and includes sleepers, representing the village’s railway heritage.
Mr Robinson, himself a former miner, said: “It’s lovely. A lot of people don’t know that’s where the old Long Row pit houses were.”
In future, the names of men and boys who died in Coxhoe’s three pits, West Hetton, Joint Stocks and Clay Hole, and one drift mine could be added to the memorial and flowers and interpretation boards added nearby.
Mr Robinson also hopes to restore a historic wall which was removed.
Source – Durham Times, 30 July 2014