Tagged: museums

Newcastle school pupils support food bank with harvest festival collection

Pupils dug deep to show support for a local foodbank with a harvest festival collection.

West Newcastle Academy held its harvest festival on October 22.

The school’s 40 pupils donated fruit and vegetables along with tinned food, pasta and rice to help those in need.

Rae Lowe, school business manager, said:

“We’re based in Benwell and we’re possibly more aware of some of the challenges people face partly from our children and partly from being part of that community.

“Obviously we wanted to collect food and pass it one of the food banks, we’re aware it’s something that the community needs.”

The school, which has 40 pupils across Reception and Year One, will eventually grow to being a fully-fledged primary school with classes up to Year Six.

Pupils spend time following the National Curriculum but two days a week spend time outdoors either at museums, forests or the coast.

Ms Lowe added:

For us this was very much part of our ethos.

“We want to look after and be part of the community and it is important that we give back.

“We have a holistic approach to education.

“It’s very important that the children learn to read, write and do maths but to learn the holistic approach and learn about the community is vital.”

> If only we had a few holistic politicians…

The food was collected for the Newcastle West End Food Bank, operated by the Trussell Trust.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Oct 2014

North East public sector strike news – 2

SUNDERLAND –

Puplic services ground to a halt across Wearside yesterday as workers walked out in support of the strike. Schools, libraries, leisure centres, museums and other public buildings were shut.

Pickets were in place outside Sunderland Civic Centre.

John Kelly, secretary of Unite’s Sunderland City Council Branch, said: “Unite is proud to be taking part in strike action alongside our fellow trade unions.

“This is a fight for better public services, and for fair pay for those who work hard to deliver those services.

“Council workers have been targeted to bear the brunt of the austerity measures that have been imposed by millionaire cabinet ministers since 2010. Unite fully understand that Labour-run councils like Sunderland City Council are the scapegoats when implementing this Coalition Government’s austerity measures.

“Local government workers and the communities they deliver services to believe that local government workers should have fair pay, not poverty pay.”

Source – Sunderland Echo, 11 July 2014

SOUTH TYNESIDE –

There were pickets outside South Shields Town Hall, the town’s Middlefields refuse depot and at the JobCentre in Chapter Row, and more than half of schools in the borough closed for the day.

All the borough’s libraries were also shut, and all council refuse collections were cancelled, and the crematorium on John Reid Road, South Shields, closed for the day.

Despite the widespread disruption, Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, believes the public remain generally supportive of the action – and the reasons behind it.

Horn-beeping motorists expressed support for the dozen or so trade unionists gathered outside the town’s hall’s Beach Road entrance yesterday and, also on hand to show his support was Labour councillor Ernest Gibson, Mayor of South Tyneside last year.

There were pickets from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Harton Technology College in South Shields.

The school was closed to pupils, although members of other teaching unions and non-union staff did go into work.

COUNTY DURHAM –

Striking workers picketed outside council offices, job centres, tax offices and courts across County Durham and North Yorkshire.

Workers from government agencies including the Student Loans Company in Darlington, the Passport Office in Durham City and the HM Revenue & Customs offices in Thornaby took part in the industrial action.

In County Durham, more than 130 schools closed for the day, although only a handful of Darlington’s schools shut.

Twenty North Yorkshire schools closed and a further 50 suffered disruption.

On Teesside about 35 schools in Stockton were closed or partially-closed.

A survey commission by Unite on the eve of the strike found that 50 per cent of people in the North of England agreed that the local government workers’ call for an £1 per-hour pay rise was justified.

The poll confirms that people across the North support workers who are fighting to end poverty pay in our local councils,” said Mike Routledge, Unite local government officer for the North-East.

Source – Northern Echo, 10 July 2014

HARTLEPOOL –

Picket lines could be seen around the town with the most prominent outside of the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool.

Other’s took place outside Hartlepool Borough Council-run buildings in Church Street, and also in Wesley Square, outside the Jobcentre.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, Labour representative for the De Bruce ward, was also on the picket line to offer his support.

Coun Thomas, who works for Health Watch Hartlepool but took the day off to take part in the action, said: “I’m here to basically show my support to the strikers because I think that the way the Government is treating government sector workers is absolutely appalling.

“The one per cent pay rise they’ve had in the last four years equates to a 14 per cent cut in real terms.”

Teachers were also included in the strike with a number of Hartlepool schools closed for the day.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) also joined forces in the strike action, with crews from Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Stranton Fire Station forming a protest.

Brian Gibson, the FBU chairman for Cleveland, said: “The action we took part in is particularly important because all the unions have got together to show our strength of feeling at getting one per cent pay rises. The FBU’s argument is also with the Government over pensions.”

He added: “We’ve had great public support, all we’ve had is support.

“We’re so pleased.”

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 11 July 2014

MIDDLESBROUGH –

Outside Middlesbrough Town Hall this morning, many office workers arriving for work crossed the picket lines.

Dawn Nicholson, Unison Area Organiser said: “It’s going well.

“Some people are crossing the picket lines but a lot of them are employed by Mouchel.

“Mouchel workers haven’t been balloted and can’t strike but many have signed our petition.”

However as one woman made her way into work she answered calls for her to strike saying: “People are still need to make a living.

GMB union, shop steward, Brian Foulger, said: “We’re quite surprised by how many people, even management, have gone out on strike.

“Since 2010, local government have been putting money away for a rainy day. Well, it’s pouring down.”

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 July 2014

Newcastle Council gives church-goers parking permit at a nominal fee

Newcastle City Council has announced that it will not proceed with its plan to completely withdraw free Sunday parking permits from churches in the city centre. Instead, worshippers will now be charged a nominal annual fee of £20, “to cover administration” while parking charges for everyone else will be raised substantially to bring in an estimated extra £500,000.

Churches had originally been told that the free parking scheme would end in March 2014 but since then the council has met with church leaders to negotiate the nominal fee.

Newcastle Council is making swinging cuts in all other areas of its services, including those for children and the elderly. Libraries, museums, art venues and leisure facilities are also being cut as the Council struggles to save £100 million.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “Although this privilege won’t make a huge amount of difference to the savings that Newcastle is being forced to make, it is still discrimination against every other motorist in the City who has to pay the full cost of parking.

“Many people consider their own Sunday morning activities – whether it is visiting relatives, going to the cinema or out for a meal – to be just as valid as going to church, but they have no alternative but to pay the new inflated costs of parking.

“Treating church-goers more favorably than everyone else is discrimination pure and simple”.

Source –  National Secular Society  18 Feb 2014

http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2014/02/cash-strapped-newcastle-council-gives-church-goers-parking-permit-at-a-nominal-fee

Visitor numbers slump at North East museums as cuts bite

Visitor numbers at museums in the North East have dropped as funding cuts force shorter opening hours and hit exhibitions, new figures have revealed.

Government statistics show that annual visits to the facilities run by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums were down by more than 26,000 in the first nine months of this financial year compared to the same period a year earlier.

That slump included a 17% fall in visitors at Gateshead’s Shipley Art Gallery, a 14% reduction at the Laing gallery in Newcastle and a 10% fall at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum – all of which suffered cuts in opening hours as a result of budget reductions.

The Great North Museum and the South Shields Museum also saw a drop in visitor numbers, though there were encouraging rises at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, both of around 18%.

The downward trend has been attributed to a reduction in museum opening hours in the region, introduced last year as a way of cutting costs.

And last night one former council leader said the region would start to realise the true extent of its cuts.

Liberal Democrat council David Faulkner said the cuts to Newcastle’s arts scene would be damaging.

He said: “The cuts by Newcastle City Council to the museums service was camouflaged last year by all the publicity surrounding Lee Hall and the arts venues. The chickens are coming home to roost now. They had to take their share but we still say that cuts to arts and museums should have been more proportionate and spread over a longer period to allow more time to absorb them.

“Our museums are among the best in the country and attract huge numbers, including many thousands of young people who get an appreciation of their heritage, of science and engineering and of arts and crafts. The value of this work is underestimated by the council, it seems to us.”

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums director, Iain Watson, said: “At many museums and galleries visitor figures will vary year on year and this can be due to a complex range of factors including popularity of individual exhibitions, major programmes in a particular year with significant external funding, particularly successful events, and even the weather.

“In April 2013 opening hours at Discovery Museum, the Laing Art Gallery and the Shipley Art Gallery were all reduced as a result of the very difficult funding positions of the supporting local authorities.

“Not surprisingly this has had an immediate impact on visitor numbers but measures have been put in place to mitigate this. For example, at Discovery Museum, in October we reorganised the weekend opening hours to spread the available hours differently over Saturday and Sunday to make sure that the museum is open at times that best suit our users.”

Tyne and Wear Archieves and Museums said the upward trend of Segedunum was “very pleasing” and that it works hard not just to maximise visitor numbers, but also to ensure that it reaches members of communities who are less likely to use museums.

And commenting on the visitor numbers at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture said: “If we look at figures for April to November there was an increase of over 40,000 visitors compared to the same period for the previous year.

“The Museum and Winter Gardens programmes a wide variety of high quality exhibitions to accommodate the needs of all of our visitors, whatever their interests. All exhibitions are engaging and accessible and fulfil our aim to be a cultural centre for everyone in Sunderland and the North East region.”

Source – Newcastle Journal  10 Feb 2014

More Cuts For Durham County Council

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

On Yer Bike ! The Ghost Of Tebbit Rides Again

Old Tory policies die hard – or perhaps they (like Labour, LibDems, UKIP, etc) just dont have the depth of imagination to think up new innovative ones.

Whatever, another Thatcherite policy rears its ugly head again. All the way from the days when they seriously considered cutting cities like Liverpoool adrift to die, comes a reprise of Norman Tebbit’s “on yer bike” advice.

An article in The Economist titled Some towns cannot be preserved. Save their inhabitants instead  informs us that –

“Middlesbrough, Burnley, Hartlepool, Hull and many others were in trouble even before the financial crisis. These days their unemployment rates are roughly double the national average, and talented young people are draining away. Their high streets are thick with betting shops and payday lenders, if they are not empty.

“Under the last Labour government these towns were propped up on piles of public money. Some built museums and arts centres in an attempt to draw tourists, though this rarely worked. All became dependent on welfare.

“But there is little money for grand projects these days. And cuts to welfare, enacted by the Conservative-led coalition government in an attempt to balance the books, are falling brutally there. In Hartlepool the cuts amount to £712 for every working-age person. In Guildford, a middle-class commuter town south of London, they add up to just £263.”

So, nothing we didn’t already know. Can you guess what the remedy is going to be ?

“Governments should not try to rescue failing towns. Instead, they should support the people who live in them.

That means helping them to commute or move to places where there are jobs—and giving them the skills to get those jobs.”

Ok, right – so that means we all have to uproot and head for the South East ? And, if/when we manage to scrabble to the top of the heap and win the coveted prize of a minimum wage service industry job, where are we going to live ? Some London boroughs are already enacting what amounts to economic cleansing of the poor when it comes to housing.

Still, perhaps we’ll see the esthablishment of squatter camps outside the city limits, from where those with jobs can be bussed in every day to labour for their pennies.

Actually, the article may have been thinking along similar lines – “…new communities can be created in growing suburbs fringing successful cities. It has happened before.”

It certainly has. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Finally, I’d like to quote one of the comments published in response to the article, which I think succinctly sums up the problems that the piece’s author evidently failed to forsee –

“The obvious consequence of this article is that you support the people by moving them from “dead” areas to “live” areas like, er, London and the Greater South East. Obviously in leaving a dead area you will get very little for your house (after all it is being effectively abandoned), so you will have to be subsidised in the South – or live on the streets – something I don’t think the locals in London like.

Then of course the problem is London
– The motorways are clogged (despite having more lanes than anywhere else in the country),

– the railways are apparently a hell hole (despite having better rolling stock than the rail-buses we still have where I live and despite getting the Crossrail investment and tube extensions),

– the airports are apparently even worse (despite or possibly because of a hogging of international connections)

– Housing is a nightmare – made worse apparently by immigrants (you wait until the Northerners arrive!)

– Key workers are not available (probably because they cannot afford to live in central London and cannot afford to travel into London)

– There are water shortages (which will probably get worse when the people from Hartlepool, Burnley, Hull Middlesbrough et al arrive)

Actually being unemployed and living on the Durham coast sounds like quite a good life in comparison – and will probably cost the exchequer less than solving all the additional problems London would have if you moved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people from “dead” areas to London.”

 

 

Economist, 12 Oct 2013 http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21587790-city-sicker