Up to 350 jobs are under threat at North Tyneside Council. Union members were informed this week that the council had submitted an HR1 notification form, detailing potential redundancies.
The authority’s chief executive Patrick Melia said the potential job losses are in light of the council’s budget reducing by up to £50m.
“It is expected that the Council’s budget will reduce by £46 – £50m over the next three years.
“As part of this process we are required to issue an HR1 notice, which is a formal legal document which confirms the possible reduction in posts expected over a period of time.
“We will once again put our efforts into working with trade unions on any measures which will mitigate or reduce the number of compulsory redundancies necessary.”
He added that the council has a good track record in minimising the number of compulsory redundancies and in previous years many redundancies had been voluntary.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Oct 2014
The North East has more than 1,000 fewer police officers than it did five years ago after five consecutive year of job losses.
New figures show that Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham police forces all lost officers last year, and though there were small rises in the force numbers for Cumbria and North Yorkshire, the total number of officers in the region fell below 9,000 for the first time since records began in 2003.
By contrast, there were 10,142 policemen and women in the North in 2010 when the coalition Government came to power.
Among biggest losers in numbers this year was Cleveland Police, which contracted by 5.6% this year, one of the biggest reductions in the country and far more than the 1.3% reduction nationally. 81 officers left the force in the past year – more than three a fortnight.
Northumbria, the region’s largest force, lost 104 officers in the year, a 2.8% drop, while Durham lost 74 officers. Its 5.4% reduction was also one of the biggest in the country.
Police Federation general secretary Andy Fittes said: “The latest police workforce national statistics for England and Wales show that numbers of police workers are now at a 12-year low.
“Cuts to policing have put a strain on all aspects of the service and while officers have been doing an incredible job to bridge the gaps, cracks are beginning to show and they are telling us they are feeling the pressure.
“The nature of offending is starting to change but we have seen many of our specialist teams and units, who work to address these changes, cut or under threat.
“While officers throughout the country continue to work incredibly hard on a daily basis keeping society safe, it would be wrong to assume these cuts aren’t starting to have a noticeable effect.”
Nationally, nine of the 43 police forces in England and Wales increased their numbers between 2013 and 2014. Cumbria added 29 new members of staff while North Yorkshire added 38. The biggest increase was to the British Transport Police, which got 260 new members of staff.
Nobody was available at the local forces for comment.
Source – Sunday Sun, 20 July 2014
Another £20m of cuts will see councils end their historic “paternal provider” role, a chief executive has admitted.
North Tyneside Council’s most senior official, Patrick Melia, has said the nature of local authorities will change to one that “steps in when people fall”.
The council needs to reduce its spending by 2018 by around £20m, and is now preparing to set out three years worth of spending plans as it looks at the next budget rounds.
Mr Melia said that if his £150m budget is “spent wisely we can still do a lot of good with it”.
Alongside that cash comes health spending, and money for schools, homes and building work which will still see some half a billion pounds spent in the borough, something the chief executive says is “a cause for optimism”.
The council official said that while he cannot rule out job losses at the council over the next three years, he could point to a strong record at the council of avoiding compulsory redundancies, and was hopeful to make the process as painless as possible.
He said: “Local government in the North East has been paternalistic. We have always wanted to care for people, with the recession we have had and the way things are we now have to help people to do these things for themselves, but to be there to catch people if they do it for themselves.
“We will be moving away from being a paternalistic provider of services to one that enables people to look after themselves, and reduce demand for services as a result.”
Mr Melia added: “We are working now on a plan that sees us think three years ahead. If our share of local spending is £150m by then how best do we spend that money?
“It means we have to redesign how we deliver services here.
“I think one thing we need to think about as part of that is we often talk of hard to reach people, but it is the council that can be hard to reach for some people.
“I mean the council knows where people live, but some people will just not come through the door of an official council building, so changing how we provide those services is something we will look at.”
Alongside that will come a continued focus on regeneration, with work continuing on the likes of the A19 Silverlink improvements, the redevelopment of Wallsend town centre and the various projects around Whitley Bay and the coast.
“We need to help businesses as much as people, to get people with the right skills to be where they are needed,” Mr Melia added.
Source – Newcastle Journal 16April 2014
A replacement has been found for a police band that quit a theatre show amid vociferous protests over their involvement.
Durham Miners’ Association Band has agreed to take over from Durham Constabulary Brass Band in a production of Brassed Off, at Darlington Civic Theatre, next month.
The mining community, including Durham Miners Assocition itself, had objected to a band with police links taking part in the show, which tells the tale of a colliery band battling for its future amid pit closures and job losses.
Although the police band is made up of civilians, objectors felt its involvement was inappropriate given the resentment that still lingers over the role officers played in the 1984 Miners’ Strike.
Producer Jenny King, of the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, which is staging Brassed Off, acknowledged that it would have been much easier if the miners’ association band had been booked in the first place, rather than the police band.
She said: “We take this show all over the country and everywhere we go, we need local bands, if possible with a connection to the mining industry.
“We have two or three people sourcing bands and we are incredibly grateful to Durham Miners’ Association for coming to the rescue.
“The show will be all the better for it, their commitment will be fantastic.”
Ms King added that all brass bands used in the production are amateurs, as to pay professional rates would fall foul of the Musicians’ Union.
She confirmed that, although expenses are paid, the miners’ association band will not receive a fee for its role in the production, nor would the police band had it taken part.
Source – Northern Echo 22 Feb 2014
More jobs will have to go at Durham County Council as civic centre chiefs look again at one of the region’s biggest series of budget cuts.
Over six years Durham will lose some £224m, and the latest plan to find £100m is seeing the council prepare for further service cut backs.
Council leader Simon Henig said the council has already lost more than £113m, and is well into current plans set to make some 2,000 staff redundant by the next financial year.
But even that total is now likely to be passed as the council look to the next three years of cuts.
After a lengthy consultation process in which the public was asked to use a Monopoly board-style game to identify priorities, the council is now ready to go with further cuts to museums, arts, some library support services and grass cutting.
Mr Henig said: “We are looking at the arts, but no one will see their entire contribution cut. We have a number of facilities across the county, the museum, the theatre and so on, but no one will lose out completely. It could lead to changes such as opening hours, but trying to avoid being too dramatic in these areas.”
Other savings confirmed include a reduction in school crossing staff and the switching off or dimming down of some street lights.
The leader said that, of the new savings identified, many would be met by back office cuts and efficiencies. “But you cannot keep cutting this,” Mr Henig said, “Sooner or later all you are left with is front line services to cut.”
He added: “Next year is when we will have to make some incredibly difficult choices about our services. The Government can’t just keep cutting this. You can’t look for efficiencies each year, they run out and then it is front line that goes. All councils will reach this point. We have been in a better position than some as we are the biggest council in the North East and have been able to find more savings, but we will reach that point next year where it is our front line that has to suffer. It’s inevitable.
“What we have asked for from the Government is fairness, for the North East to face the same reduction as all councils, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
“But we have instead seen councils in the South East and Home Counties having increases in spending powers, on the Government’s own figures.
“If we had the same reduction all round there would still have to be cuts but at least it would be fair across the country.”
> Is he really suprised ? As I’ve said before, neither Tories or Lib Dems, seperately or in unholy alliance, are likely to win power in the North East, so why should they care ? Well, yeah, plenty of reasons, but none that would occur to them.
More to the point, what we want to know is what Labour will do to rebalance things, should they win the next election. Very little, I suspect, but I’m up for a nice suprise. Not holding my breath though…
Council treasurer Don McLure set out the jobs risk of the Government not listening to those concerns.
He said: “The forecast we did on the first plan said 1,950 job losses, and that is likely to be the same as imagined over four years. That takes us up to 2015. There is another £100m to come, we need to look at them in more detail, but we are predominantly an employer, 70% of our budget is staffing we will have to look at that again.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 15 Jan 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