Tagged: Hartlepool Borough Council

Hartlepool – sustainable travel scheme

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.

Full story : http://northstar.boards.net/thread/160/hartlepool-sustainable-travel-scheme

bannerfans_15660331

Advertisements

Hartlepool council aims to get rid of zero-hours contracts

Hartlepool Borough Council says it does not support zero-hour contracts in principle – and is encouraging its contractors to take the same stance.

The council has considered six key principles, proposed by Putting Hartlepool First, around improving terms for workers on the contracts.

Councillors for the party said they are incompatible with building a loyal, skilled and productive workforce, and make it hard for workers to plan their budgets,

A wider review of the council’s use of the contracts is also ongoing, and is due to be completed by October.

There are currently 22 Hartlepool council workers employed on zero-hour contracts but that number is expected to fall.

But it says they may sometimes be the best way of meeting the authority’s needs.

The council’s stance is to be included in its pay policy, and will state:

“The council does not generally support the use of zero-hours contracts.

“However, there may be circumstances where the use of zero-hour contracts is the most effective and efficient way of meeting the council’s needs, and the assistant chief executive (or nominees) will determine when this applies.

“Where employees are employed on a zero-hours contract they are employed on a fixed or permanent basis, are entitled to request a review of their contracted hours at any time after six months in post and are not prevented from working for other employees.”

Contractors employed by the council will be required to pay workers the National Minimum Wage and also encouraged to pay the council’s Living Wage.

With regard to the use of zero-hours contracts, the council policy states contractors will avoid using them.

A report said some council employees work relatively small hours a year either with or without zero hour contracts.

It stated:

“This type of working pattern would enable employees to be offered a fixed term or permanent contracts ultimately further reducing the number of zero-hour contracts across the council.”

The council will also write to its contractors highlighting its policy. But the council added zero-hour contracts may be the best option where regular hours cannot be guaranteed such as for teachers of courses that only run if there are enough people.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 14 Apr 2015

Hartlepool library services under threat amid fresh cuts

The future of library services could be under threat as the service faces severe funding cuts.

The Government has cut Hartlepool Borough Council’s main revenue grant by £30m in recent years and since 2013 the Library Service budget has had to be reduced by almost 16 per cent.

Despite this savings have been achieved without any direct impact on library opening hours or the branch library network.

But the Library Service now has to find further savings from 2016, and these cannot be achieved without reviewing the whole service, including front-line operations.

 Over the next three months the Library Service is consulting with users, staff, and other interested parties for views on ways of delivering services differently to make savings and also improvements.

Hartlepool has five libraries – the main Central Library in York Road plus the four smaller part-time branch libraries: Headland, Owton Manor, Throston Grange and Seaton Carew.

Among the aspects being looked at in the review are opening hours, whether the branch libraries are still in the best locations to serve the needs of communities, potential for volunteers and external organisations to play an increased role, possible further development of the libraries’ online services and the potential for the libraries to generate additional income.

David Worthington, Hartlepool Borough Council’s head of culture and information, said:

“Hartlepool has an excellent library service and we want to continue to maintain that, but in the light of the massive financial pressures which the council continues to face, we need to find even better, more cost-effective ways of working.

“At the same time, we also need to make sure that our libraries remain in the best position to meet people’s future needs and their changing requirements.

“We’re keen to hear people’s thoughts on some possible ways forward and we would also welcome other suggestions, so I very much hope as many people as possible will take part in the consultation.”

People can find out more and give their views by completing a Library Review Survey online HERE.

Consultation drop-in sessions will be held at all the libraries:

• Central Library, York Road Wednesday, March 25 from 10am-noon and Saturday, March 28 from 10am-noon:

• Owton Manor Library, Wynyard Road, Thursday, March 26 from 3pm-6pm;

• Headland Library, Middlegate Friday, March 27 from 3pm-6pm;

• Seaton Carew Library, Station Lane Tuesday, March 31 from 3pm-6pm;

• Throston Grange Library, Glamorgan Grove Wednesday, April 1 from 3pm-6pm.

People can also send written comments to: The Library Review, Hartlepool Central Library, 124 York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE or email infodesk@hartlepool.gov.uk

The closing date is Saturday, May 23.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 25 Feb 2015

Hartlepool councillors WILL get pay rise to ‘stand shoulder to shoulder with workers’

Councillors say they will show how they “stand shoulder to shoulder” with workers by accepting a rise in their allowance.

A motion proposing councillors to not pick up a 2.2 per cent rise was defeated in a full meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council.

The proposal was signed by independent members Jonathan Brash, Paul Thompson and Pamela Hargreaves and Putting Hartlepool First’s David Riddle and Geoff Lilley.

But the suggestion their acceptance of the funds would be “ill-judged and wrong” at a time when many are seeing their wages frozen and slashed was shunned in a vote.

Several in favour of leaving the allowance at £5,825, rather than the increased amount of £5,953, said they have contacted the council’s finance department to say they do not want to be given the extra cash.

Councillor Brash said:

“I don’t disagree with the pay increase for our staff, it’s a well deserved 2.2 per cent. In relation to cuts, our staff have suffered in recent years.

“It’s wrong to even contemplate a rise in our pay at a time when people are suffering in a cost of living crisis.”

Coun Thompson reiterated his view it would be “abhorrent” to be given the additional money.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, a Labour member, said some should be “ashamed” of their low attendance level at meetings, as did Conservative Brenda Loynes.

She said of the increase:

“It’s £10 a month, £7.50 after tax, it’s not a fortune.

Labour’s Alan Clark, who is a shop steward, said he was among those who believed the rise showed he “stood shoulder to shoulder with my workers”.

Coun Akers-Belcher said no rise had been given to members on two previous occasions in line with a freeze on workers’ pay.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  09 Feb 2015

Hartlepool councillors asked to refuse pay rise

Councillors will be formally asked to turn down a pay rise as more members say they will refuse to accept it.

Eight Hartlepool Borough councillors are backing a motion calling for their colleagues to refuse a planned 2.2 per cent increase in their basic allowance.

The objectors say they do not deserve a rise – linked to an agreed 2.2 per cent wage increase for council staff – and believe the money should go towards supporting services.

But the council’s deputy leader says the increase is lower than what was originally proposed and will be the lowest basic allowance in the whole region.

It was previously reported that councillors Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as Independent on the council’s website, did not want the increase from £5,825 to £5,953.

They have been joined by independent Paul Thompson and all Putting Hartlepool First councillors Geoff Lilley, David Riddle, Steve Gibbon and Keith Dawkins.

Coun Riddle said:

“Certain councillors fail to recognise that the reputation of many of our elected councillors has never been lower.

“If we accept this rise it’ll be like a red rag to a bull, it’s like waving two fingers at the public, I want no part of it.”

Councillor Thompson added:

“In July I stated it was abhorrent we were even thinking about any increase especially in the current climate. I stand by that statement, it was abhorrent then and it’s still abhorrent now.”

The rise in councillor allowances was recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel and was discussed by the full council last July.

A Labour-backed amendment said any rise should be in line with that given to council staff which has since been agreed at Government level.

The motion, which will go before the next full council meeting on Thursday, February 5, states:

“Voting to equate our work and remuneration to that of council staff was ill-judged and wrong.

“They deserve the pay rise and we do not. We therefore call upon all councillors to forgo the 2.2 per cent increase in their allowance, so that the money can go toward supporting services here in Hartlepool.”

Coun Brash said:

“It is important for democracy that the public is fully aware what their politicians are doing.

“Either they think they deserve a pay rise or simply don’t.

“I personally think in the current climate with all the difficulties our residents are going through, to give ourselves a pay rise is totally wrong.”

Deputy council leader Councillor Carl Richardson said:

“The council has received this motion and it will go before the full council at its meeting on February 5.

“As I have said previously, Hartlepool councillors received no increase in their Basic Allowance for four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 and the full council last year rejected the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendation that the Basic Allowance should be increased each year, which would have meant a figure of £6,517 for 2015/16.

“Instead, it agreed an amendment put forward by the Labour Group that councillors should stick to a previous 2013 resolution that they should only receive an increase in their basic allowance in line with any pay increase received by council employees from the Government, as and when that occurred.

“The current increase, which will be payable from January 1, 2015 and will be fixed for 2015/16, will take the councillors’ basic allowance from £5,825 to £5,953.

“It means Hartlepool will still have the lowest councillors’ basic allowance in the North-East – significantly less than the North-East average of £8,965 and way below the highest allowance in the region of £13,300.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  24 Jan 2015

Hartlepool : Forcing bad landlords to clean up their act

A scheme to force bad housing landlords to clean up their act will be introduced after being approved by councillors.

A Selective Licensing scheme will see private landlords in 13 Hartlepool streets require a licence to operate.

It aims to clamp down on nuisance tenants and drive up housing standards for 544 properties.

There were calls from councillors and members of the Public for more streets to be included in the Hartlepool Borough Council scheme.

But officers warned they should only include streets where there was evidence to show there were problems to protect them from a potential judicial review by private landlords.

The council included streets where at least 50 per cent are privately rented and there was a repeat antisocial behaviour rate of 15 per cent.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said:

“If you’ve got bad landlords and bad management agents who don’t do proper reference checking and bung anybody in you end up with problems such as antisocial behaviour and drug dealing.

“This is all about driving up standards.”

He added selective licencing has worked in other areas of the town and elsewhere in the country.

The streets that will be the subject of the new five-year scheme are Cornwall Street, Kimberley Street, Richmond Street, and Rydal Street in the Burn Valley ward. In Foggy Furze ward it includes Borrowdale Street and Sydenham Road.

Five streets in Victoria Ward of Dent Street, Furness Street, Sheriff Street, Straker Street, and Stephen Street.

Burbank Street and St Oswald’s Street are also included in the Headland and Harbour and Jesmond wards.

Julie Rudge, secretary of the Dent and Derwent Street Residents’ Association said she was disappointed other streets around Dent Street were not included.

“I know there are issues in streets you are taking out,” she said.

Councillor Carl Richardson said residents of Belk Street also wanted to be included.

Councillor Pam Hargreaves said: “Picking out one or two streets makes it toothless.”

Officers agreed provide details of other streets that could be included if they lowered the criteria standards at the next meeting.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  19 Jan 2015

Two Hartlepool councillors turn down pay rise – and urge others to do the same

Two councillors have told civic chiefs they do not want an increase in their allowances – and have called on other members to snub the offer.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief finance officer Chris Little wrote to all 33 councillors this week to tell them that their basic allowance of £5,825 was going up to £5,953.

The proposed hike in allowances was recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel, and was discussed by the full council in July.

Councillors did not approve the increases at the time and a Labour-backed amendment was put forward saying if they were to be given a rise then it should be in line with any increases given to council staff.

Since then, a 2.2 per cent rise for council staff has been agreed at Government level, therefore triggering the cash boost for councillors.

But councillors Pamela Hargreaves and Jonathan Brash, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as Independent on the council’s website, said members did not “deserve” a rise.

Coun Brash said:

“Most public sector workers have seen just a 1 per cent rise, making them poorer year on year.

“The idea of local politicians accepting any rise in these circumstances, let alone 2.2 per cent, makes me sick to my stomach. This was a Labour stitch-up from the beginning. Many councillors said it was wrong then and it remains wrong today.

“It’s time Hartlepool had some real Labour principles back in the council chamber.”

Coun Hargreaves said:

“Let us be absolutely clear. Council staff deserve this pay award However, to suggest that local councillors are comparable and deserve the same pay increase is abhorrent and we will not accept it.”

The authority’s deputy leader Coun Carl Richardson accused them of “cheap political point-scoring”.

Coun Richardson, deputy leader of Hartlepool Council, said:

“This is cheap political point-scoring.

“Hartlepool Councillors received no increase in their Basic Allowance for four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 and the Full Council last year rejected the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendation that the Basic Allowance should be increased each year, which would have meant a figure of £6,517 for 2015/16.

“Instead, it agreed an amendment put forward by the Labour Group that councillors should stick to a previous 2013 resolution that they should only receive an increase in their basic allowance in line with any pay increase received by council employees from the Government, as and when that occurred.

“The current increase – which will be payable from 1st January 2015 and will be fixed for 2015/16 – will take the councillors’ basic allowance from £5,825 to £5,953.

“It means Hartlepool will still have the lowest councillors’ basic allowance in the North-East – significantly less than the North-East average of £8,965 and way below the highest allowance in the region of £13,300.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail, 16 Jan 2015

Hundreds gather to protest against the removal of NHS services from Hartlepool

Hundreds of people gathered to protest against the removal of NHS services from a Teesside hospital.

Over 800 people joined forces to take part in the Save Hartlepool Hospital Protest Walk.

The event was organised by Sue Little in response to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s decision to move services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool to the trust’s other base – the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.

Services lost in the town include the children’s ward, maternity and the A&E department, which closed in August 2011 after being declared unfit for purpose.

Now, people with minor injuries are seen at NHS centre One Life Hartlepool and those with more serious cases are taken to Stockton.

And with fears that the ‘super-hospital’ at Wynyard, which was due to replace both hospitals within the trust, will never get off the ground, residents fear the prospect of having North Tees as their local hospital.

Communities in East Durham, as far as Easington, are also affected as patients must travel to Stockton rather then the nearer Hartlepool.

No decision on any of the services is expected before a General Election.

We’re all annoyed about what has happened to our hospital and the services being moved to Stockton,” said Sue, a mum-of-three from Seaton Carew. “This is why we are here.

“We want to send a message loud and clear to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust that we are not going to lie down on this matter. We want our services back.”

The turn out has been fantastic,” she added. “I want the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to see this strength of feeling.”

Saturday’s walk started at Seaton Carew bus station and ended at the hospital.

There were dozens of stewards helping out, as well as a police presence and a support vehicle following the marchers.

Another supporter at the march was Keith Fisher, chair of the Save our Hospital group.

The 72-year-old said: “We are not saying we want services here instead of at Stockton – we want them at both.

“The first march that ever took place was to save our hospital and then we were protesting to keep our A&E. Now we are demanding we get out services back.”

Edna Wright, a former Liberal Democrat representative on Hartlepool Borough Council from 1991 until 2012, has been heavily involved in the hospital fight for many years.

She said: “I have been fighting against this move for 14 years when they first wanted to transfer cancer services to Middlesbrough.

“I said this hospital would go bit by bit, limb by limb and it has.

“North Tees can’t cope by itself and they are not admitting that – this hospital is being used behind closed doors and it needs to be kept open.”

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 Jan 2014

Twice as many jobs lost in North East than forecast and more to come

Almost twice as many public sector jobs have been lost across the North-East under the Government’s cuts than originally forecast, claims the TUC.

And the union organisation is warning of more to come, with councils facing further cuts in the new financial year.

It was revealed last week that Hartlepool Borough Council is to get £8.3million less in the financial year 2015/16 than in the previous 12 months.

The TUC says analysis of the latest figures show there are 59,000 fewer public sector jobs in the North-East than when the coalition came to power in 2010 – almost twice the figure originally predicted when Chancellor George Osborne outlined the planned cuts immediately after the election.

The TUC says Office of National Statistics data reveals the region’s public sector has contracted by an average 1,157 public sector jobs per month since June 2010.

And with more than seven months’ data still to be collected before the end of this parliament, the Northern TUC is predicting the loss of at least 8,000 more public sector jobs in the region.

Northern TUC policy and campaigns officer Neil Foster said:

“The loss of 59,000 jobs from the public sector has been terrible news for services in the region and for the individuals affected. But it has also harmed our region’s recovery and contributed a deterioration of the quality of jobs.

“The cuts have been even deeper here than many expected because the coalition has made bigger reductions to funding for councils in poorer areas in the north than to more affluent parts of southern England. The North-East continues to have the highest unemployment in the UK and double the rate of the South East of England.

“Only a small proportion of private sector jobs created have been full-time, secure or well paid, which is one of the reason why income tax receipts have fallen this last year.

“Women make up two thirds of public sector workers, and so it is not a surprise that the number of women out of work in the North-East has risen by a quarter in the last two years as more and more redundancies have been made. Rather than appreciate the failure of taking such an extreme and damaging path, the Chancellor announced earlier this month that he wants to see even more cuts in the future, which would be devastating for us here.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  29 Dec 2014

Praise for Hartlepool allotment owners growing festive veg for those in need

Foodbank organizers in Hartlepool have praised allotment holders who were asked to pledge some veg after an amazing response.

Growers across the town donated an impressive 55 large boxes of produce bursting with fresh vegetables.

They answered an appeal to donate surplus produce to Hartlepool Foodbank by supporting Hartlepool Borough Council’s Big Christmas Dinner Challenge.

It was also run in partnership with the Allotments’ Tenants Focus Group and the town’s Waverley Terrace Community Allotment.

Kate Ainger, Hartlepool Borough Council environmental projects officer, said:

“We invited allotment holders to ‘pledge some veg’ and the response was amazing.

“We would like to thank everyone who contributed for their invaluable support.

“It is great to know that the Big Christmas Dinner Challenge is really going to make a difference to a significant number of families.”

Empty boxes were donated by Fruit Fayre in Oxford Road and were filled with vegetables including potatoes, onions, carrots, leeks, beetroot, swede, sprouts, rosemary, cabbage and marrows before being delivered to the foodbank for distribution.

Each box also included an information pack with suggested recipes and advice from the Love Food Hate Waste campaign on how to make the most of the produce.

Al Wales, Hartlepool Foodbank co-ordinator, said:

There was a fantastic response from allotment holders and we would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks. It was brilliant to be able to give out fresh vegetables.

“We gave some of the boxes to people who sought help directly from us and others were distributed amongst our partner charities.”

Allotment sites which contributed to the appeal were Nicholson Field, Thornhill, Throston, Chester Road, Briarfields, Burn Valley, Woodcroft, Summerhill, Haswell, Rossmere and Waverley Terrace.

Staff and volunteers at the Waverley Terrace Community Allotment, which offers opportunities to children and adults with physical and learning disabilities, and people with mental health problems, also helped to collect, sort and pack the donations.

Since January, Hartlepool Food Bank, part of the Trussell Trust foodbank network, has fed 4,357 people since it was started. This month alone it has supported 290 people, 89 of whom were children.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  22 Dec 2014