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Promoted by R Gambba-Jones & C Lawton on behalf of South Holland and The Deepings Conservative Association all of Office 1 10 Broad St Spalding PE11 1TB. Original printed by Welland Print Limited of West Marsh Road Spalding PE11 2BB
When total funding is calculated per head, English councils are once again worse off.
“What these figures show is that when there is real power over public spending choices outside of Whitehall, it makes a difference” Jo Miller, Solace president
In 2018-19 English councils are receiving, on average, £1,423 to spend on services per person. This is more than a third lower than what their counterparts in Wales and Scotland are given to spend per person this year – £2,309 and £2,237 respectively.
While the amount of per capita funding made available to councils in Wales and Scotland has increased by 5.2% and 0.2% respectively in absolute terms since 2010-11, England has witnessed a 29.8% reduction in the last eight years.
Commenting on the findings, Jo Miller, president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers, who writes on the issue for LGC today, said: “What these figures show is that when there is real power over public spending choices outside of Whitehall, it makes a difference. With a comprehensive spending review on the horizon, and the need for a preserved union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland post Brexit, the case for genuine devolution within England grows ever stronger.”
Both the Treasury and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government declined to comment on the findings.
However, in his Budget speech last month chancellor Philip Hammond said English local government had “made a significant contribution to repairing the public finances”. He pointed to £1bn extra funding for social care, and the removal of the housing borrowing cap, as proof the government was giving councils “more resources to deliver high quality public services.”
Mr Hammond also said “longer-term funding decisions [for English councils] will be made at the spending review.”
In an interview with LGC, local government minister Rishi Sunak said he did not recognise the national disparities highlighted by our analysis but added “we have a devolved country so whatever Scotland and Wales want to prioritise is up to them. It’s not for me to tell them what to do.”
Mr Sunak said that while he preferred to “focus on outcomes, not necessarily just inputs”, the extra money in the Budget amounted to a “pretty serious statement of intent”.
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said its councils had been “protected from the worst effects” of austerity. She added: “We value local government services in Wales and believe in strong local government. We recognise their importance, particularly for some of the most vulnerable in our society, and the role these services play in enabling people to achieve their potential and to live independently, in supporting safe and prosperous communities and in building local economies.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We have treated local government very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK government.”
My only disappoitment with this comment piece, is that Tom Welsh talks more about cars, that most of us use no more than 5% of the time we own them. Even when he refers to roads, it’s about problems fitting the moving cars on to them.
He does however get on to the auwful boxes we are forcing our young people to put their hearts and souls into and maybe even raise a family in, if then priced out of the market for larger properties. Here’s where the roads come into play, with the narrowness of those now built in residential developments, turning pavement parking into the standard practice.
Comment piece from Sunday Telegraph 9th September 2018
Much about modern life seems designed to provoke fury. Sinks in hotel bathrooms are too tiny to fill up even the miniature kettles they provide. Household goods are too complicated to fix without the services of an expensive expert. Now we have statistical confirmation of another failure by design that drives people mad: parking spaces are too small for today’s cars.
This is largely because cars have expanded in size. The most popular models have widened on average by 17 per cent since the late Nineties, to provide more room for passengers and to cram in all the technology that regulation and drivers demand. Roads and parking spaces haven’t widened to accommodate them, however.
Many streets have in fact become narrower to fit in bus and cycle lanes. Dents, scuffs and even bad backs from drivers angling themselves awkwardly from their vehicles are the sad consequences of too-small parking bays. Terrible drivers who feel the need to park across two do little for societal calm, either.
The broader problem is an obsession with rationing space. Britain feels overcrowded partly because the population has grown strongly, but also because the authorities are determined to squeeze as much as possible into as little room as they can, a perverse fixation on ever greater density. This leaves passengers on trains uncomfortable, new-build flats and houses barely inhabitable and much smaller than older properties, and a trip to the shops by car far more stressful than it need be. Ironically, cars are one of the few things that have changed to meet a natural demand for more comfort. Meanwhile, council car parking spaces rigorously stick to the minimum size permitted by law in order to cram more vehicles in.
Policy changes could fix all of this, of course, and release some of the fury that is built into our daily lives. Land is expensive, and should ideally become cheaper. Travel costs on rail are already high, so operators attempt to pack more into commuter trains. But they could avoid proposed measures like the outrageous scrapping of first class carriages, which enable people to escape the packed-in discomfort we are expected to put up with.
But would any of this get a fair hearing today? Politicians and regulators are wedded to three principles that conspire together against public comfort. First is an unhealthy belief in targets, which sees 200,000 homes built a year as a triumph, even if they’re just inner-city box flats and not the family houses people actually want; and which trumpets unusable bays as meeting demand for parking.
Second is a blind faith in regulations, wherein things are designed to meet regulatory criteria, rather than to satisfy consumer demand. Third is a skewed mania for equality – exacerbated by snobbery – in which those who choose to take up more room, whether by buying a family car or wanting a family home, are deemed to be offending against efficient use of space. It isn’t the owners of large cars we should be fuming against
Recently the local press published a letter suggesting that South Holland District Council could somehow have required the rail companies to do something other than what they eventually did with the line through Spalding.
I did send the newspaper a response, as the writer did raise a number of valid questions that needed answering. To date, this has not been published.
Further to Mr Delve’s letter re traffic grid lock in Spalding being caused by increased use of the rail line. He refers to a rail loop proposal and asks why the council didn’t require Network Rail to build this, rather than carry out the upgrade work that allowed for the increased rail traffic.
If only it were that easy. The ‘rail loop’ he refers to, was in fact a protected corridor identified by the district council in an early plan. Its inclusion was more in hope than anticipation, that the rail company would see the logic in bypassing a town centre with four level crossings and no bridges, at some point in the future.
As the local planning authority, South Holland would never have been under any illusion that it could compel Network Rail to do anything other than the Railways Act allows it to; upgrade the existing line, whatever the impact. Even our encouragement for the development of a Rail Freight Interchange, failed to prompt the company into becoming more engaged.
Since the original upgrade proposals became known to South Holland DC, the council has made every effort to reduce the impact. First in meetings with Railtrack, when proposals included the potential for level crossing closures of up to 40 minutes in the hour. We also looked at the potential for a road bridge on Winsover Road. Then with Network Rail, a company that regrettably, has been somewhat less forthcoming.
We are now working in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council and local developers, to progress the delivery of the Spalding Western Relief Road. This road is one of only four strategic road projects in the county council’s local transport plan.
Working with LCC we successful bid for £12m from central Government, to support major housing delivery projects, a crucial element of Spalding Western Relief Road scheme.
Cllr Roger Gambba-Jones
Cabinet member for Place
South Holland District Council
Unfortunately, Stagecoach have chosen the wrong target when trying to find somebody or something to blame for this problem. It’s not the planning rules, it’s the lack of them. The drive for deregulation across many areas of government, has seen minimum road widths disappear and developers allowed to get away with doing the absolute minimum. The only rules that seems to apply these days are those about visibility splays, to ensure that views are sufficient for a driver to pull out into traffic safely.
once again the politicians have allowed the developers to hold sway over common sense and good planning, creating blighted estates for generations to come.
Copied from The Times online
Narrow roads squeezing buses out of new estates
Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
July 31 2017, 12:01am,
Stagecoach says high-density developments are being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators need 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors
Stagecoach says high-density developments are being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators need 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors
RICHARD MILLS FOR THE TIMES
Residents on newly built housing estates are being cut off from the bus network because developers are failing to construct wide enough roads, according to public transport bosses.
One of Britain’s biggest operators warned that buses were being forced to avoid many estates amid concerns over narrow roads, sharp bends, overzealous traffic calming and parked cars.
Stagecoach said that high-density developments were being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators needed 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors.
It blamed planning rules that have cut road widths or pushed the layout of sharp bends to keep car speeds down.
The company also said that national guidelines introduced by Labour 17 years ago intended to clear roads of cars by providing less off-street parking had backfired, with many motorists leaving vehicles on the street.
Stagecoach has issued its own guidance to councils, urging them to build roads at least 6.5m wide, with sweeping bends and off-street parking provided.
It also said that “shared space” schemes that seek to declutter streets by stripping out kerbs, road markings and traffic signs should be redesigned to “avoid buses straying into areas intended mainly for pedestrians”.
Nick Small, Stagecoach’s head of strategic development for the south, said examples included the Shilton Park estate in Carterton, Oxfordshire, where the company could not operate a full-size bus, and the Kingsway development, Gloucester, which had areas “impenetrable by buses”.
Daniel Carey-Dawes, a senior infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Bad design will lock our towns and countryside into toxic congestion and car dependency for decades.”
Martin Tett, housing and transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “We will be looking closely at this blueprint and continuing to work hard to deliver places where our communities can thrive.”
As always, leaflets from the opposition are essential reading, if only to understand where they are coming from campaign wise. In the case of these two, there are few if any surprises. There are however some clear misunderstandings when it comes to what can and cannot be achieved as a district councillor, but given that they are new at this, it’s understandable. I am however, not so understanding as to allow them to pass without comment, this is after all politics and there’s an election to win.
I’ll deal with their suggested policies first, before dealing with the ever present irony that is the ‘Independent Group’, to which they have attached themselves.
These are from the first ‘independent’ candidate’s leaflet.
1. A temporary cut in business rates to encourage small businesses.
Setting the business rates is not a district council function and cannot be done. The best we can do, is offer discretionary relief to a limited range of activities, such as the only pub in a village, a small village shop, or a non-profit making social club venue.
2. Waste and recycling collections to stay weekly
This has been the Conservative group’s position since it took control in 1999 and this has not changed. Neither can it change in the near future, as we accepted grant funding from central government on the basis of retaining weekly collections for at least 5 years and we’ve no intention of giving back the £1.7m received!
3. A really good garden waste collection to serve gardeners in the town.
You wouldn’t intentionally offer a really bad garden waste collection, would you?
Only in the town, what about everybody else? What about every other town come to that? This independent candidate is beginning to think and sound like a parish councillor already.
We are already working on a paid for green waste collection. This needs a significant outlay in capital and a more detailed survey, to identify potential users, will be carried out soon.
4. Make our environment as litter free as we can …….not just in run up to election…
Can you call a campaign that has been running for nearly 9 months, an election ploy? I think not. Had central government confirmed the local government finance settlement at the normal time and not the eleventh hour and 59th minute, as they did, we would have been able to start the South Holland Pride campaign some 12 months ago. This was the plan, but we could only find enough funding to appoint a part time enforcement officer at that time.
5. Better community policing
Yet another area over which the district council has no control. Lincolnshire Police raise their own precept via the council tax. This year that was increased by 1.9% to £197.64 SHDC’s council tax take was reduced by 0.5% to £154.84 for a band D property.
6. Better value for money when looking at provision of services….
I’d love to comment on this one, but I haven’t got a clue what its referring to!
7. More thought to planning applications, so that they benefit the town and not just the applicant…..
This is another one that’s got me guessing at to its meaning, let alone its ambition. The planning system isn’t there as a way of getting goodies, from the people who apply for planning permission, unless those ‘goodies’ are essential to making the application acceptable in planning terms.
Moving on to the second ‘independent’.
This one makes some pledges which reflect some double standards and a clear misunderstanding of what the overall role of a district councillor is.
1. I will not have any hidden agendas
My personal experience says otherwise.
2. I will work with any councillor…………..acting in the best interests of Wygate Park and Spalding!
Just because the ward is called Spalding Wygate, doesn’t mean it just covers the Wygate Park area, where this candidate happens to live.
As well as being limited to half the ward, the horizon of this independent only stretches as far as the boundaries of Spalding it seems.
As a district councillor, your role, first and foremost, is to represent the interests of all South Holland residents, not just those who voted for you, or happen to live in the ward you represent. This applies even when a decision might have a negative impact in your ward.
Some of the issues this candidate will support.
3. Pride in South Holland. My answer to this claim is the same as for the other independent and our manifesto actually contains a commitment to continue the campaign.
4. Highways – poor state of some pavements. This is a county council function. You don’t need to be a district councillor to get these fixed. Just report them on line, I do so regularly.
5. Road safety – road markings. Again, a county council function, not the district.
I submitted a defect report on these makings over 12 months ago. The answer from highways was very clear. It is not their policy to maintain any form of road markings within residential estates, when those roads only serve residents and have no other purpose, as this would not be a good use of their limited budgets. The road marking in question were put there by the developer, during initial build and were never a requirement of the detailed plans approval, or of the highways adoption process.
6. Community – Support for events…………Nothing new here, as all Spalding councillors have made financial contributions to such events.
7. Traffic – Stating the blindingly obvious here. Again, something only the county council can rectify. Spalding Town Forum are already extremely active in pressing for a solution.
8. Planning – local services must keep pace. Nothing offered here, other than a statement of wishful thinking. The planning system has no powers to require developers to provide funding for local services as a matter of law. Everything we achieve, outside of the planning policy requirements, is done by active negotiation and persuasion.
9. Licensing policy changes – another piece of wishful thinking, without any consideration of the reality. Like planning, the licensing system is controlled by national laws and policies, that offer the district council little leeway when it comes to resisting the granting of new licenses.
Now turning back to the various claims made about being unfettered and un-whipped independents.
The back of both very similar looking leaflets, has the same heading and the same piece of text, ‘A message from Angela Newton……..Independent Councillor and Leader of South Holland the Independent Group.’ ……………….
So, having declared themselves as intending to be, ‘Independent Councillors’ (sic) and not tied to any Political Party (sic) (they do like their capital letters don’t they!), they willingly attach themselves to somebody stating that, they are actually the leader of a group of independents. Using the word group and independent in the same sentence is an oxymoron isn’t it?
Splitting hairs, you could argue that Angela Newton is not leading a recognised political party, but it is very clearly a group involved in politics, making it, at the very least, a political group and therein lies the irony of the claims trotted out be these so called independents.
Just to add insult to injury. This non-group, group of independents, hold group meetings before full council meetings, in exactly the same way as the Conservative group do, but somehow they manage to make them last even longer than ours and there’s only twelve of them compared to 25 of us!
It must be all the effort required to be totally independent of each other, that makes their ‘group’ meetings last so long.
One of the reasons given by David Cameron for his year on year increases in the Overseas Development budget since 2010 – well beyond that of any other European country – is that it will make our country a safer place, by helping those in foreign countries, improve their lot and become less radicalized by political extremists. It has in fact, done nothing of the sort and will never do so, as long as we give the extremists reason, in their eyes, to see our country as their enemy and oppressor.
Some might suggest that our history as a colonial power, exploring and exploiting the world over many centuries, had already done the damage, but I don’t believe that, given that many of our previous colonial conquests, remain members of the Commonwealth. What has done the real damage and made us especially vulnerable, is our much cherished special relationship with the USA and our willingness to march shoulder to shoulder with them, into recent middle eastern conflicts.
Whilst successive Westminster leaders of all political persuasions, have viewed this relationship as the Holy Grail of international politics, giving the UK much great influence and kudos than it might otherwise have, I see it more as putting a target on the backs of every British citizen living and working in some of the most volatile areas of Africa and the Middle East.
Multiculturalism, a legacy of the Blair years, but again eagerly pursued by virtually all administrations, has opened our doors and left us vulnerable within our own boarders, something the Americans have bent over backwards to eliminate, post September 2001. Live and let live, when those you are letting live in their own extremist ways – Sharia law is a very good example of this, along with female genital mutilation, is an irresponsible and ultimately dangerous political doctrine to pursue.
The upshot of this government’s single minder pursuit of international glory, often described as, ‘punching above our weight’ – a rather unfortunate term to use when you are supposedly trying to be everybody’s friend – is that an increase in spending in one area, has to be matched by a decrease elsewhere. This applies even more so, when you are in the middle of a global financial crisis, but still determined to spend, spend, spend! Which brings me to my point and the reason I have borrowed the article below.
Before anybody starts telling me that, despite all the cuts in local government funding, taxpayers haven’t noticed any reduction in services, I’d like to put that in some context.
Yes, most, if not all the essential services have been maintained to a good standard and residents won’t have seen their bins left un-emptied, streets knee deep in litter, or grass too long see over, let alone walk through. Council houses are still being allocated and maintained and benefits are still being paid out on time.
However, what is suffering and will be cut even further in years to come, are those things we call discretionary – the things councils do because they believe their residents would like that service to be provided, even though the law doesn’t require it. Leisure centres, youth clubs, play equipment, sports pitches, libraries, public toilets and maybe even usable, or at least affordable, burial grounds, could all disappear from localities, as cuts in local government funding continue for years to come. Remember, all this is being done under the banner of deficit reduction, whilst the overseas aid budget continues to grow and grow, year on year.
Copied from Local Government Chronicle – 23 August 2014
Author – Tony Travers, director. Greater London Group, London School of Economics
The government will soon be spending twice as much on international development as councils can on highways
Under cover of mid-summer, the government has published two sets of figures about public expenditure.
The Department for Communities and Local Government revealed local authority revenue spending and income totals for 2014-15, while at the start of this month the Treasury belatedly released the annual Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses volume. Together these publications show how the years of austerity have affected individual services.
Although some parts of central government, notably the Home Office, defence and transport, have seen reductions of 100/o or more in their cash budgets, all the biggest programmes have been protected. Council spending, by contrast, has been forced down at a remarkable pace. The UK government will soon be spending twice as much on international development as English councils can afford to spend on highways and transport. Housing, roads, environment and planning have seen their cash expenditure fall by almost 30% in four years. In real terms, the cut is over 40%.
Council productivity increases must be among the greatest ever achieved by the public sector. Planners appear to be processing as many applications in 2014 as in 2010 with barely half the resources. [What the planners are probably doing, is giving up the fight to maintain standards, given that the NPPF was written by developers, for developers and just passing applications to meet the targets set by Whitehall].
The government and opposition have no choice but to find additional money for the NHS: fear of public opinion will open the Treasury’s vaults. Pensions, as the biggest part of social security, are triple-locked into inflationary increases. Schools cannot be denied cash.
By 2020, many council spending programmes will have been halved within a decade.
CENTRAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SPENDING CHANGES
|2010-11 £millions||2014-15 £millions||Change %|
|Highways & transport||
Environment, planning, culture
Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Councillor pensions may come back to bite MPs
26 March, 2014 | By Nick Golding
Not content with merely stripping local government of its powers and finance, many central politicians appear intent on removing the livelihoods of its members too.
The decision to introduce legislation to remove councillors’ access to the local government pension scheme constitutes another reason not to stand for election, represent a community and take difficult decisions with the intention of improving lives.
There can be no greater service to the community than sticking one’s head above the parapet to be accountable for the destiny of residents – and face the consequences if one’s ideas are rejected or lead to problems. But applauding public service should not be used to justify any argument that those who perform it should be entirely selfless and receive little reward.
While there may be many good councillors who regard themselves as altruistic volunteers, along the lines suggested by Conservative chairman Grant Shapps, it is not necessarily desirable or wise to give responsibility for huge budgets to people whose only qualification for the role is being an enthusiast or volunteer.
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dem) points out that he receives just £28,000 annually to run an authority with a budget of £520m. Without intending to cast doubt on Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s capabilities, this sum is generally insufficient for anyone with a professional background to seriously consider local politics as an arena for their talents.
As the Co-operative Group has found, well-meaning but non‑specialist individuals are not necessarily conducive to ensuring vast organisations are well governed and look after the interests of those dependent on them. Far better to pay competitive wages or allowances – which in the case of councillors will always be less than those offered by large private organisations – and give yourself the best chance of avoiding scandal or incompetence.
The LGA’s 2010 census of councillors found their average age was 60. Just 12% were under 40. This is hardly representative of the population and potentially means that the needs of young people and young families are not understood. Local democracy becomes meaningless if only certain sections of society are represented so it is essential that council chambers become more than the preserve of the retired. High-profile councillor positions should offer a full-time wage and others some reward to augment the inevitable reduced working hours elsewhere.
It is entirely legitimate to query whether pensions constitute the most cost-effective means of encouraging people to become councillors. More generous allowances could provide a greater inducement. But to simply do away with a big incentive with no consideration of alternatives will be seen by councillors as a slap in the face.
Any parliamentary decision to end councillor pensions may come back to bite MPs when they seek the help of party activists – many of them councillors – in election campaigns. Ironically MPs defeated as a result would retain a highly generous pension.
Nick Golding, editor, LGC
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