A community campaigner has become an online sensation by using the power of song to vent his frustration at council decisions.
Hundreds of people have watched tracks that poke fun at Durham County Council, which were written and posted on the internet by comic singer and ukulele player Alan Prudhoe.
The retired local government officer was one of 2,700 people who objected to the demolition of the former Tudhoe Grange School in Spennymoor, County Durham.
They wanted Durham County Council and Spennymoor Learning Community Trust, which owns the site, to try to find a buyer to save the 1912 landmark brick building.
But both organisations said it was unlikely to sell whereas the cleared land would generate cash for education in the town so decided to press ahead with demolition, which is currently underway.
The authority said it would have cost £3m to repair Tudhoe Grange – the same figure it quoted to fix up five care homes it shut, the stately home and former school Windlestone Hall in Chilton which many believe was sold off cheap and the restoration of Wharton Park in Durham which is ongoing.
The 70-year-old, who worked for Durham County Council for more than 30 years, said:
“With the school we felt there was inadequate consultation and public opinion was ignored.
“I’ve lots of experience and feel as a public service the council is totally out of control, decisions about a huge turnover and lots of residents are made by too few officers and cabinet members.
“My songs are a means of communication, I’ve always used comedy to get a message across and this is a way of engaging people and venting my frustration.
“I never want to offend anyone, I don’t think the internet and social media are there to make personal attacks and I never sing anything I wouldn’t say to a person’s face.”
His council jibes are far from his first online musical hit, as there have been more than 5million viewings of his performances on YouTube and he has a significant following in Peru.
Durham County Council chose not to comment.
Source – Northern Echo, 24 Jan 2015
A North-East fire service is proposing to cut staff and review services to fill a £3.6m funding gap.
Spennymoor Fire Station could be operated by part-time firefighters under the plans being considered by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority.
The number of full-time staff in Darlington could also be reduced, while police and ambulance crews could share some County Durham fire stations.
Unveiling the authority’s strategic plan for 2015/16 to 2017/18, Susan Johnson, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, stressed that there were no plans to close fire stations or reduce the number of appliances.
“We have begun this consultation early to provide an extended period of time to speak to and canvass the opinion of everyone affected, from MPs to people living and working in our area.”
The service has already had to find £3.5m of savings over the last three years.
– Sharing Barnard Castle Fire Station with police, ambulance and mountain rescue staff; Stanhope and Crook with the police and Sedgefield with the ambulance service.
– Training firefighters to deal with medical emergencies, including heart attacks, bleeding, breathing difficulties, trauma and strokes.
– Reviewing the staffing of the aerial ladder platform appliance in Darlington, including the possible use of retained staff.
– Reviewing the number of emergency response officers – who respond in cars to take charge of major incidents – employed by the service.
– Changing the staffing at Spennymoor Fire Station for the first responding appliance to retained only, rather than full-time during the day and retained at night and over weekends.
Tony Curry, Durham secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the union was still digesting the consultation document and would respond to the authority formally in due course.
To view the three-year strategic plan document , visit http://www.ddfire.gov.uk/service-plans where there is a link to the consultation questions at http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk//three_year_strategic_plan15-16_17-18
For a hard copy of the document, call 0845-3058383. The consultation will run until December 1.
Source – Northern Echo, 01 Sept 2014
A union official has spoken out about the planned privatisation of a workplace scheme for the disabled.
Ken Stubbs, a branch secretary for the GMB’s Northern region, in Spennymoor, County Durham, is against any privatisation of Remploy which provides jobs for disabled workers.
Plans to sell off Remploy have been announced by Esther McVey, the Conservative Minister for Employment.
The Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) hopes to find a private buyer by March 2015.
Mr Stubbs, who was based at the former Spennymoor Remploy factory, said: “The GMB needs to discuss this.
“The Government probably has someone lined up to take Remploy on.
“I think the Government wants to free up money by removing Remploy in order to raise the funds to run its own Work Programme to get people into jobs.”
> Or, in reality, to continue giving money to Work Programme providers, despite the fact they continually fail to get people into jobs.
Remploy has closed all of its North-East factories which were based in Spennymoor, County Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Ashington and Sunderland with the loss of 170 jobs.
The Government hopes that by privatising Remploy it will allow further funding to be invested into the scheme.
However, a DWP spokesman denied the sale was to raise funds for the Work Programme scheme.
Beth Carruthers, Remploy chief executive, said: “The Government’s announcement provides us with an exciting opportunity to expand and grow and support many more disabled people.
“Moving out of the public sector will give us the freedom to raise funding to operate in a much more commercial and competitive way.”
It is hoped that all current employees of Remploy will transfer to any new company which takes it on.
Source – Northern Echo, 26 July 2014
Reposted from local newspapers
Two more stories here from local newspapers about the inhumane treatment and incompetence by DWP
1) A WOMAN left on crutches by a leg operation has complained that she has no money as Jobcentre staff say she is fit to work.
Pamela Johnson, 56, of Broomside, in Ferryhill, underwent an operation last October which left her unable to carry on working in a fish and chip shop.
Miss Johnson began claimed benefits and said that Jobcentre bosses have now told her to sign on at Spennymoor to claim £57 Jobseekers’ Allowance each fortnight.
She is also angry that the staff in Spennymoor Jobcentre deemed her to be fit to work.
She said: “I had a medical and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) said that my money would stop…
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