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Council News Monitor is curated content pulled together each week by an automated content aggregation programme developed in-house by Boilerhouse Online Publications

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Council News Monitor February 19th - this week's essential Local Authority news stories

County Durham voters back devolution in the North-East, Leeds City Region moves closer to devo deal, Sir Digby Jones considers run for West Midlands mayor but Hampshire and Isle of Wight rejects single mayor; Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Bristol and Swansea finalise budgets; Mid and East Antrim puts up Game of Thrones signs

County Durham voters back North-East devolution

Durham County Council     Source: Northern Echo

County Durham residents have backed the idea of North-East devolution. Of 81,964 voters who responded to a Durham County Council poll, the first major test of public opinion on the Government proposals, 59.5 per cent said devolving some power and resources to the North-East would be a step in the right direction.  Read in full

Tories join Labour to attack Newcastle and North Tyneside merger plans

North Tyneside Council     Source: Chronicle Live

It’s not often the Conservatives and Labour sing from the same hymn sheet, but both parties have criticised “desperate” proposals to merge Newcastle and North Tyneside. Liberal Democrat leaders believe joining the two councils together would save millions of pounds a year, which could be used to make up for cuts.  Read in full

Cheshire West council 'should sell HQ for £20m', say Tories

Cheshire West and Chester Council     Source: BBC News

Cheshire West and Chester Council should sell its headquarters six years after moving in, the Conservatives have said. The authority moved into its newly-built Chester offices in 2010 when it was run by the Tories.  Read in full

Council tax scrapped for Liverpool City Council foster carers

Liverpool City Council     Source: Liverpool City Council press release

Foster carers working directly for Liverpool City Council will no longer have to pay council tax. The council’s Cabinet has today approved plans to exempt all ‘in house’ foster carers who work for the authority, starting from April 2016.  Read in full

BETTER CONNECTED LIVE - GERRY McGOVERN AND AYUB KHAN JOIN SPEAKER LINE-UP

Gerry McGovern, founder and CEO of Customer Carewords and Ayub Khan Customer Services Manager (Face to Face) for Warwickshire County Council and a member of the national executive board of the Society of Chief Librarians will be joining Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, Mark Rogers Chief Executive Birmingham City Council and Dylan Roberts, Chief Information Officer, Leeds City Council, Chair, Local CIO Council, on the Better Connected Live platform in central Birmingham 24 & 25 May 2016

Local leaders responsible for delivering public services are being invited to re-imagine the service delivery possibilities from a devolved and digital perspective at a new, two-day event 24/25 May in Birmingham.

Back-up devolution plan developed as Leeds City Region in pole position

Leeds City Region     Source: Yorkshire Post

Council leaders in North and East Yorkshire are drawing up a back-up plan to secure powers and money from Whitehall to try and ensure they are not left behind if Leeds city region authorities succeed in devolution talks with the Government.   Read in full

Hull to undertake £10m channel shift programme

Hull City Council     Source: PublicTechnology.net

Kingston Upon Hull City Council has launched the search for a supplier to undertake a huge overhaul of its online services. The council, along with other public sector bodies in Yorkshire and Humberside, wants to transform the digital experience for users of its services.  Read in full

 

Swingeing £84m cuts to be scaled back to £65m at Northamptonshire County Council

Northamptonshire County Council     Source: Northampton Chronicle & Echo

Sweeping plans to cut £84 million from Northamptonshire County Council’s budget next year have been scaled back by about £20 million following a public outcry. In December, the council announced a series of draft proposals which included a 3.95 per cent rise in council tax and swingeing savings totalling £77m on top of the £226m already saved since 2010.  Read in full

Leicestershire finalises plans for £26.7 million savings

Leicestershire County Council     Source: Leicester Mercury

Leicestershire County Council has finalised its plans to save £26.7 million of savings next year. The sum is part of the £78.3 million the council has to save over the next four years.  Read in full

Stoke-on-Trent council leaders back £473m spending plans

Stoke-on-Trent City Council     Source: The Sentinel

Council leaders have recommended their new capital spending plans for approval. The coalition leadership of Stoke-on-Trent City Council is looking to spend £473 million on a series of schemes over the next five years.  Read in full

Lord Digby Jones 'seriously considering' running for mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority

West Midlands Combined Authority     Source: Express & Star

Lord Digby Jones says he is ‘seriously considering’ running for mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. The 60-year-old former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) told the Express & Star his passion for the region coupled with expertise and connections in the business world meant he had the right attributes to oversee the combined authority.  Read in full

Tories regain overall control in Suffolk after by-election win at Newmarket

Suffolk County Council     Source: East Anglian Daily Times

The Conservatives have regained their effective overall control at Suffolk County Council after the party easily won a by-election. They held the Newmarket and Red Lodge division with a comfortable majority of 150 in the by-election caused by last year’s sudden resignation of former council leader Lisa Chambers.  Read in full

I'm outraged at Westminster meddling in council affairs

Hertfordshire County Council     Source: The Guardian

Speaking as a local government officer, am I surprised that central government intends to introduce new procurement regulations to prevent councils from boycotting companies we consider to be unethical? No, writes Joanne Fry, senior policy officer for Hertfordshire county council.  Read in full

 

Better Connected Live 2016

The re-invention of local public services
 
Local leaders responsible for delivering public services are being invited to re-imagine the possibilities from a devolved and digital perspective at a new, two-day event 24/25 May in Birmingham.
 
Better Connected Live 2016: the re-invention of local public services will bring together public service leaders at all levels and inspire them to seize the opportunities of digital and devolution to redesign services and support for local communities.
 
The event, which is designed for members of local authority senior teams, digital and transformation leads, CIOs, customer and service leads, and elected members as well as service, digital and customer managers responsible for delivery, features an inspiring and authoritative line up of speakers.
 
Mark Rogers is chief executive & director of economy at Birmingham City Council, and president of SOLACE; Martin Reeves is chief executive of Coventry City Council, and leads for SOLACE on digital; Helen Milner OBE is CEO of the Tinder Foundation, managers of UK Online Centres; Dylan Roberts is Chief Information Officer, Leeds City Council, Chair of the Local CIO Council and a Member of the NHS National Information Board; Gerry McGovern is a worldwide authority on achieving online through relentless customer focus.

 Speakers will focus on:

  • using data to properly understand local needs and resources
  • releasing community assets and co-creating services with communities
  • driving digital inclusion and releasing hidden potential
  • enabling and embedding community and individual self-management
  • standardising and sharing service infrastructure and delivery processes
  • using devolved powers to re-focus on place not providers
  • collaboration with health, housing and other local public and voluntary services

Platform sessions will describe how committed, ‘culturally-digital’ councils can change what and how they deliver, through radically different approaches to local management and leadership.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight councils reject plan for elected mayor

Hampshire County Council     Source: BBC News

Councils have rejected a government call for a directly elected "metro mayor" to be part of devolution for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The 15 local authorities have submitted plans to create a combined "southern powerhouse" to boost the local economy.  Read in full

Call for Oyster-style ticketing on Surrey’s public transport

Surrey County Council     Source: Surrey County Council press release

Oyster-style ticketing that can be used on all public transport should be rolled out across Surrey, according to the county council. The authority wants the company winning the next South Western rail contract to introduce a smart system that also allows passengers to pay for bus journeys.  Read in full

Plymouth City Council approves £80million plans for 5,000 homes and 3,000 jobs

Plymouth City Council     Source: The Herald

Plymouth City Council has approved £80million plans to build 5,000 homes and create thousands of construction jobs. During a cabinet meeting, the council approved the second phase of the Plan for Homes which will see another 1,650 houses signed off and a potential 2,493 'direct' and 479 'indirect' construction jobs for the city.  Read in full

Council tax bills in Bristol set to rise by almost four per cent

Bristol City Council     Source: Bristol Post

Council tax bills in Bristol will go up from April by an average of just under £1 a week. This follows a decision by councillors to press ahead with an additional two per cent increase to raise an extra £3.4million a year for adult social care in the city.  Read in full

Mayor of Newham elected chairman of cross-borough partnership

Newham Council     Source: Newham Recorder

The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, has been elected as the chairman of a cross-borough partnership. The Local London group is made up of seven councils – Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Havering, Enfoeld, Waltham Forest and Greenwich – who have been working together across the past year on a range of issues.  Read in full

The great £209million Camden Council buildings sell-off, but no cash to save services

Camden Council     Source: Ham & High

Camden Council raked in nearly a quarter of a billion pounds from the sale of unwanted buildings last year – but its finance boss warned that it is still not enough to prevent cuts to services. The authority made more than £209million from 50 sales of council-owned property in the 2014/2015 financial year, a 1,000 per cent increase on what it banked the previous year.  Read in full

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNER

You can now view and update information about neighbourhood planning activity in your local area online. Go here to view neighbourhoodplanner.org.uk

Latest round of council budgets sees hundreds more workers caught up in jobs cull

Angus Council     Source: Herald Scotland

Councils across Scotland have confirmed hundreds of job cuts as cash-strapped local authorities set their annual budgets. Angus Council announced 155 full time posts would be lost as it attempts to save £10 million while Falkirk revealed it would be forced to slash its full-time workforce by 256.   Read in full

Glasgow City Council in open warfare as underfire Labour boss McAveety removes spin chief

Glasgow City Council     Source: Evening Times

The deepening rift ripping through Scotland's largest council has erupted as its leader removes one of his senior officers in the clearest sign yet of a civil war tearing through the Labour-run authority. Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council, has forced his director of communications Colin Edgar out the door and into one of the authority's arms-length organisations.  Read in full

'Extra 0.9% council tax rise planned to help protect services you value most' says leader

City and County of Swansea      Source: South Wales Evening Post

Last-minute changes to the budget being put before city councillors next month would mean more services are protected, but a steeper council tax rise. Swansea's Labour administration said it had been listening to the public as part of a budget consultation.  Read in full

Fate of Blaenau Gwent council IT services to be decided

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council     Source: South Wales Argus

Blaenau Gwent council will learn next week whether it can merge its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services into the Shared Resource Service (SRS) used by Gwent Police and two other Gwent councils. The SRS is the ICT provider created by the merger of ICT teams from Gwent Police, Monmouthshire council and Torfaen council in 2011.   Read in full

Green light for 500 student rooms in Belfast but two flats projects put on hold

Belfast City Council     Source: Belfast Telegraph

500 more student bedrooms have been given the green light for Belfast, but two other developments - including a controversial student apartment building - have been deferred. Approval was given for a development that will involve the demolition of the former Belfast Metropolitan College building facing Blackstaff Square.  Read in full

Game of Thrones signs get council nod

Mid and East Antrim District Council     Source: Antrim Times

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is to spend around £2000 on two Game of Thrones signs at Knockdhu and Shilnavogy Valley. The local authority is aiming to have the two signs erected in time for the launch of series six of the blockbuster fantasy epic on April 24, enabling Tourism Ireland to further promote the Game of Thrones product and filming locations in Northern Ireland.  Read in full

And finally…

David Cameron's aunt joins Oxford anti-cuts protest

Oxfordshire County Council     Source: BBC News

David Cameron's aunt has told a protest she is against cuts to services proposed by Oxfordshire County Council. Clare Currie spoke at a demonstration in Oxford that saw hundreds of people march through the city centre. Her nephew's Witney constituency is in the county and he has also voiced opposition to the planned cuts.   Read in full

 

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