Berwick constituency, vacant following the retirement of Sir Alan Beith (Lib Dem).
►Nigel Revell Coghill-Marshall (Ukip)
►Scott Dickinson (Labour)
►Neil Humphrey (English Democrats)
►Julie Pörksen (Liberal Democrats)
►Rachael Roberts (Green Party)
►Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)
A would-be MP was left red-faced after apparently parking up on double yellows as she launched her election campaign.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Conservative candidate for Berwick, Northumberland, posed for pictures next to a van bearing a Tory party pre-election advert.
But in a snap taken by a political rival, the van appears to be parked over double yellow lines in the centre of the busy market town of Alnwick.
Mrs Trevelyan has now been reported to the local authority responsible for traffic and parking enforcement.
And Labour opponent for the Berwick seat, Scott Dickinson said:
“I know that Labour on the council have now implemented free parking for towns and now country parks despite opposition from Ms Trevelyan’s Conservative party, but that doesn’t mean she’s able to park her expensive poster van anywhere ignoring the rules that apply to ordinary people.
“She needs to be more careful about where she parks for her photo opportunity and while this must be an embarrassment for her campaign, I’m sure she’ll take it in good grace.”
Mrs Trevelyan had staged a media call outside her party’s Alnwick office last week.
It featured a van bearing a poster carrying the Tories’ campaign slogan “A recovering economy, don’t let Labour wreck it,” designed by international advertising agency network M&C Saatchi.
The van is being taken on a national tour at the outset of the general election campaign.
A Conservative spokesman said:
“We would point out that it was the Conservatives who led the campaign for free parking in Northumberland and just wonder if Scott Dickinson is lining up a new job as a traffic warden for after the election, we would be happy to provide a reference.”
A council spokesman confirmed the authority had been made aware of the incident but said a parking ticket could not be given based on photographic evidence.
“Our civil enforcement officers patrol on and off-street parking across the county.
“In order for enforcement action to be carried out our officers need to observe that a parking contravention is taking place.
“In the case of vehicles parked on double yellow lines an officer must carry out at least two minutes of observation to check if loading or unloading is taking place as this is allowed on a double yellow line.
“If there is no loading or unloading taking place then they will issue a penalty charge notice to the vehicle.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 09 Mar 2015
> Another example of local politicians finally catching up with what’s going on. It’s good they’re finally getting the picture, but would have been much better had they noticed over the last 5 years how things were going. Still, I suppose there wasn’t a general election coming up before now…
Councillors have expressed concern over the hidden impacts of welfare reform in Northumberland.
They have pledged to do whatever they can, within their powers, to help and support residents who are affected.
The Government’s ongoing reforms to the welfare system are the most fundamental change to the benefit system since World War Two and are intended to deliver multi-billion pound savings.
However evidence shows that in Northumberland, workers on low incomes and people with a disability are likely to be most affected.
While much of the national focus has been on high profile changes such as the introduction of bedroom tax, two of the most significant issues for Northumberland are the introduction of a 1% cap on working age benefit and changes to the Disability Living Allowance.
Recent research from the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals that the introduction of a 1% cap on tax credits will mean a drop in income for anyone claiming benefits with over half of those affected being in low paid employment.
In Northumberland 32,500 residents will lose on average £823 per household, per year, equating to a total of £26.7million in cuts to the county.
Reflecting the county’s ageing population and industrial past Northumberland also has a higher than average number of households that are likely to be affected by the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance.
The prediction from the LGA study is that 10,000 people in the county will be affected, with an estimated average loss of £724 per year. This will put the county into the top 20% of local authorities to be hit hardest by this particular reform.
Council leader Grant Davey said:
“One of central government’s aims in introducing these reforms was to incentivise work, yet 60% of the losses fall on working households, in particular those on low wages.
“In Northumberland we have a high number of people working in low paid, seasonal jobs who are trying to make an honest living, yet it is these people who are going to feel the brunt of the changes.
“While we cannot change these reforms, we have been working hard behind the scenes to put measures in place to support residents who are affected by them.”
The county council is working to ensure everyone has the entitlements they are eligible for and that monetary advice is available through the support it gives to Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.
The council has also set itself a long-term target to help generate 10,000 new jobs in the county by 2031 by working with local employers, improving education standards, skills training, and job market links. The council’s employability and skills service also delivers a range of support to help get people back into work.
Councillor Scott Dickinson, chair of the county’s Health & Wellbeing board said:
“There is growing evidence locally and nationally that increased financial hardship can lead to ill health, family break-down and social problems which can in turn place greater demands on families, communities and a whole range of public services.
> There is growing evidence ? ! You mean it wasn’t fairly obvious that those were the likely result right from the start ? Something top-level Tories, I’m beginning to believe, well understood and that’s why they’ve pushed them. Social engineering through poverty.
“Given that the reforms are being introduced incrementally means their full impact will not be felt for some time. There is however real concern about the effects these changes will have on residents and the additional pressures placed on local services. It is a situation we are very aware of and one we are working closely with other councils in the region to monitor.”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 28 Jan 2015
The next East Coast trains operator must be stopped from cutting Northumberland rail services, county council bosses have said.
Northumberland County Council has joined a growing number of groups to express concern that the new East Coast franchise could see operators allowed to axe stopping services in the county.
In the council’s formal response to the rail consultation, Northumberland councillor Ian Swithenbank warns of service cuts to and from London which would hit the county if a new big-money operator is not forced to match current standards.
He points out that the new franchise would let operators choose to drop the early morning service from Berwick, Alnmouth and Morpeth, which then calls at Newcastle and straight on to London, bringing a business market to the capital.
The return journey faces similar peril. Mr Swithenbank said the consultation document had: “no mention of any requirement to maintain the existing Friday-only 7.30pm from Kings Cross calling, among other stations, at Morpeth, Alnmouth and Berwick, thus removing an important link from London for weekend visitors and county residents returning late on Friday from the capital.”
There is also no mention of any requirement to provide an evening Monday-Friday departure to Morpeth significantly later than 4pm.
Further service cuts could come on Sunday services to capital. The Government has no requirement for a direct train from Morpeth to London and the number of trains from London to Morpeth is reduced from five to four, a 20% reduction in provision in train service to the county town, which the council says will reduce journey opportunities both for visitors to the county and residents returning from the South.
Backing the council is Berwick Labour candidate Scott Dickinson. He said: “I welcome the intervention of councillor Swithenbank on this vitally important issue for North Northumberland in particular.
“The reprivatisation of East Coast and the decisions taken on the tender specification by the coalition government effectively relegate this important transport link for Northumberland. This will seriously damage our economic prospects.
“The minister needs to answer the questions. My real worry is that the decision to re-privatise East Coast after two private sector failures will end up costing the tax payer more and will lead to a second class service in Northumberland.”
The Department for Transport is set to decide on who should take over the state owned railway this autumn. Bidders include west coast operator Virgin Trains with Stagecoach and a joint bid from Eurostar and French state-backed firm Keolis.
Labour has called for the profitable route to remain in public hands.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 24 June 2014