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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 - this week's essential Local Authority news stories

Rural councils including Northumberland, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, Devon and Cornwall get shares of £300m government money, but cities such as Derby and Plymouth miss out as Reading leader says plan favours Conservative councils; Cambridge business leaders don't want devolution with Norfolk and Suffolk; Beatles add £82m to Liverpool economy; Scottish councils accept government funding deal: Gerry McGovern and Ayub Khan join Better Connected Live speaker line-up.

Northumberland County Council pour scorn over £3m cash injection from Government

Northumberland County Council     Source: Chronicle Live

A multimillion pound Government cash injection has been met with scorn by council leaders. Northumberland County Council were quick to dismiss a pledge from Communities Secretary Greg Clark to provide an additional £3.14million to the beleaguered authority over the next two years.  Read in full

Newcastle Council: 'New legal high law is urgent'

Newcastle City Council     Source: ITV News

A new law banning so called 'legal highs' needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency, says a Newcastle councillor. Almost 300 calls have been made this year to the ambulance service relating to the issue.  Read in full

Bus lane on Oxford Road to close as final phase of work begins to create Dutch-style 'boulevard'

Manchester City Council     Source: Manchester Evening News

The final phase of work to complete the cross-city busway - and turn Oxford Road into a Dutch-style ‘boulevard’ - has begun. Following the reopening of Piccadilly Gardens’ bus stops, the scheme to make Oxford Road bus, cyclist and pedestrian friendly is underway.  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.

For those interested in the future of digital in local government, channel shift and beyond, demand management in public services and serving the citizen in a time of austerity Better Connected Live will offer more (and better value for money) than any other event in 2016.

The Beatles 'add £82m a year to Liverpool economy'

Liverpool City Council     Source: BBC News

The legacy of The Beatles adds nearly £82m to the Liverpool economy each year, new research has suggested. The band's impact also supports 2,335 jobs in the city, claims the report commissioned by Liverpool City Council.  Read in full

Doncaster Council to spend council tax levy cash on footing national living wage bill

Doncaster Council     Source: The Star

Doncaster Council is set to spend the cash generated by a council tax levy – intended for adult social care services – on covering a national living wage bill instead. The local authority is proposing to use the £1.7 million brought in by a two per cent levy on council tax, as mandated by central government, on covering the additional amount it will have to pay in wages after the NLW’s introduction this year.  Read in full

Wakefield council leader says fracking decisions should be taken locally

Wakefield Council     Source: Yorkshire Post

Wakefield's council leader has defended the right of local authorities to decide fracking applications as it emerged proposals to use the controversial mining method in North Yorkshire face fresh delays. Councillor Peter Box warned Government ministers would create a “democratic deficit” if they step in to take planning decisions over fracking out of local hands.  Read in full

BETTER CONNECTED LIVE

A new, two day, event in central Birmingham 24 & 25 May 2016. Better Connected Live includes learning from better connected workshops; The Better Connected Awards 2015/2016; workshops, "summits"; conferences; un-conferences; WebTV panel programmes; podcasts; Public Service Digital Awards 2016;  and a canal-side party catered by four of Birmingham's famous pop-up restaurants. Who should attend? Officers and senior managers from UK local authorities and anyone interested in using digital channels to enable the delivery of key, local authority, frontline services in a time of continuing austerity. If you want to find our what comes after "channel shift" and take your place in the vanguard of local government administration put the dates in your diary now.

Lincolnshire to get £7.7m extra cash from the government over next two years

Lincolnshire County Council     Source: Lincolnshire Echo

Lincolnshire is to get an extra £7.7 million cash boost from the government over the next two years. Lincolnshire County Council is one of the many across the UK which have been hit the hardest by cuts in government funding.  Read in full

Row after Derby City Council gets nothing from £300 million council relief fund

Derby City Council     Source: Derby Telegraph

Most of a £300 million relief fund for councils was given to Tory authorities to keep them and their local MPs "on-side", the leader of Derby City Council has claimed. But South Derbyshire Conservative MP Heather Wheeler said the cash was divided up in a way aimed at "rebalancing the books" so rural authorities get a fairer deal in comparison to urban areas.  Read in full

All of Coventry's bin crews return to work after strike

Coventry City Council     Source: Coventry Telegraph

All of Coventry’s bin crews have returned to work. More bins could have been left unemptied in Coventry after refuse workers walked out in protest following the suspension of a colleague.  Read in full

Shropshire Council company ip&e facing the axe

Shropshire Council     Source: Shropshire Star

Controversial Shropshire Council company ip&e looks set to face the axe, fewer than four years after it was set up. The company, which was set up by the council's former leader Keith Barrow, has been under review since he was replaced by Councillor Malcolm Pate in December.   Read in full

More cash for East's rural councils after government U-turn

Hertfordshire County Council     Source: BBC News

It's not often that the government appears to listen, think again and then dig a little deeper into its pockets - but the announcement over council funding appears to be an example of just that. When this year's local government spending settlement was first announced back in December there was an outcry.  Read in full

Cambridge’s business leaders round on ‘very ill-founded’ devolution plan with Norfolk and Suffolk

Cambridgeshire County Council     Source: Cambridge News

Business leaders have rounded on a Government devolution plan that could see Cambridgeshire partnered with Norfolk and Suffolk. Public bodies from across Cambridgeshire have linked up for their vision of a devolution deal to get more money and powers from Whitehall.  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

Massive £48 million Hampshire County Council funding gap set for discussion

Hampshire County Council     Source: Get Hampshire

Hampshire County Council is set to discuss the ‘massive funding gap’ after £48 million was slashed from its Government grant for 2016-17. The council’s cabinet will consider how to balance the revenue budget to cover the cost of providing services in the wake of deeper funding cuts – the recent provisional settlement was £29 million worse than anticipated.  Read in full

Reading's Labour leader says Government cash favours the Tories

Reading Borough Council     Source: Get Reading

An 11th hour cash hand-out from the Government to help councils balance the books shows a clear bias towards Conservative authorities according to Reading’s Labour leader. Leader of Reading Borough Council Councillor Jo Lovelock accused the Government of continuing to switch funding away from Labour authorities towards “leafy Conservative boroughs”.  Read in full

Government is behaving like an evil Robin Hood, fumes Plymouth finance boss

Plymouth City Council     Source: The Herald

Plymouth’s finance chief has accused the Government of “behaving like some sort of twisted, reverse Robin Hood” as more cuts to the city’s funding were announced. While Devon and Cornwall councils see grant rises of £11million, Plymouth will receive £6,000 less, causing the furious reaction from Councillor Mark Lowry.  Read in full

Bristol City Council inks deal with NEC over 'open programmable' cities

Bristol City Council     Source: PublicTechnology.net

Bristol City Council has launched a partnership with NEC to help speed the progress on creating the world’s first “open programmable city”. Dubbed "Bristol Is Open", the scheme sees the council collaborate in a joint venture with NEC and the University of Bristol. The JV will support the creation of innovative new smart services for people, business and academia.  Read in full

Brent Council teams up with Harrow and Buckinghamshire in £8m ‘sharing scheme’

Brent Council     Source: Brent & Kilburn Times

A shared service between Brent, Harrow and Buckinghamshire councils to provide a “Procurement Shared Service” (PPS) was agreed at a cabinet meeting. The service will allow the three councils to use their combined buying power to support any purchases which are above an agreed threshold of £164,000.  Read in full

Council 'on brink' of recouping £4m asylum seeker funding after 'playing hardball' with Home Office

Croydon Council     Source: Croydon Advertiser

Croydon is on the brink of recouping £4 million cut from the funding it receives for looking after young asylum seekers, says council leader Tony Newman. Council and Home Office officials have been locked in talks for more than a month after the latter's original offer fell £1.3m short of fully restoring the grant.  Read in full

BETTER CONNECTED

How well is your council website performing? Socitm, the Society of Information Technology Management, tests and reports on the user experience of every UK Local Authority website. 2014/2015 Surveys, results and star ratings are now online and the first of the the 2015/16 Better Connected results are now being published. Get the full story here

Every Scottish council accepts government funding deal

All Scottish councils     Source: BBC News

All 32 local authorities in Scotland have accepted the Scottish government's funding deal worth £10.3bn. Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed the settlement which will mean the council tax freeze continuing for a ninth year.  Read in full

200 jobs to go as Dundee City Council announces £11 million of cuts over next two years

Dundee City Council     Source: The Courier

Dundee City Council has announced £11.649 million of savings that will be made over the next two years. That will bring to £25 million the savings made by 2017/18.  Read in full

Cardiff, Newport and Bristol could together become Britain's next economic powerhouse, claims report

Cardiff Council     Source: WalesOnline

The three cities of Cardiff, Newport and Bristol could drive a regional economic powerhouse to rival those being set up elsewhere in the UK, according to a report launched today. The report commissioned by the Great Western Cities says that the Severn region has the potential to become Britain’s next major economic ‘powerhouse’.  Read in full

Wrexham’s council houses to benefit from £54m investment

Wrexham County Borough Council     Source: Wrexham.com

Council houses across Wrexham are to benefit from an investment of over £50m which will see improvement works on homes in the County Borough continue. Members of Wrexham Council’s Executive Board yesterday approved plans to push ahead with a £54m Housing Capital Programme which will see thousands of homes across the County Borough benefit from new kitchens, bathrooms and central heating systems.  Read in full

Reprieve for troubled Exploris as council agrees £1.5m funding

Ards and North Down Borough Council     Source: Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's only aquarium has been saved, and will reopen soon with an unexpected new operator - the company responsible for the success of Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast. The good news comes after Ards and North Down Borough Council approved a £1.5m rescue package for Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry.  Read in full

Mid Ulster pushes rates rise through after warnings that leisure centres might close

Mid-Ulster District Council     Source: Mid-Ulster Mail

Ratepayers’ bills in the Mid Ulster District will rise by 1.95 percent after the council agreed to make more money available to minority languages and local arts and sports organisations. However, the rise means that some ratepayers such as those in the old Dungannon District will see a hike of 2.5% in their bills due to the rates harmonisation process.  Read in full

And finally…

Council IT system goes berserk, packs off kids to the wrong schools

Herefordshire Council     Source: The Register

Families waiting to find out if their kids have been accepted into their secondary school of choice were bamboozled on Thursday by a computer blunder. Herefordshire Council's systems sent out a wedge of emails to parents offering their children places for the new school year – but the information was wrong.  Read in full

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