Reports from our County Councillors Jan/Feb

Posted on 16th February 2011 | in Heritage & Tourism , Northumberland County Council

Budget process
This has been the most tortuous Budget process ever.  The County Council is due to finalise a Budget on February 23rd and we are now faced with a ridiculously short time scale for consultation and for Parish and Town Councils to consider options.  According to officers this is the most challenging budget scenario for Northumberland in over 30 years and the impact of that fact will be enormous, probably a combination of higher costs, a shift in Council Tax burdens to parish level and the removal of yet more services.  The Coalition Government’s decision to eliminate the deficit in four years and to front load cuts on to local authorities will have serious consequences.
Add to that the fact that information has been drip fed over weeks rather than in a clear settlement and I think you will understand just how challenging the situation is.

Longbenton Foods
As this saga has unfolded I have tried to offer support and advice where I can and have been regularly briefed by officers.  At the invitation of the Trades Unions who have members caught up in this awful situation I have written to the workforce and highlighted help and support which is available.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of all this a loyal workforce deserves a great deal better than what has happened to them.  I hope it will still be possible to reach a positive conclusion although the current situation is very worrying.

Hauxley traffic management scheme
I have been working with officers and Hauxley Parish Council to develop a scheme to meet the concerns of villagers regarding traffic problems in High Hauxley.  A scheme has been worked out and will go out to consultation.  Please respond if you get the chance.  I have confirmed support for the scheme through the Council’s Local Improvement Schemes funding.

Robert Arckless
Telephone: 01665 711938

Making cuts in County Council services is never going to be popular but neither are increases in Council Tax, so Northumberland County Council is struggling, trying to find an acceptable way to balance the huge reductions of Central Government grants made to Northumberland and maintaining its front line services.

The truth is it cannot. Northumberland residents will inevitably have cut backs and changes in the way things are done. Like it or not, that is what is going to happen, and anybody who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.

The problem that we (Councillors) face is exactly how and where we agree that the savings are to be made and it is that question that is causing difficulty between the political parties. For my part, I am considering every suggestion put forward at budget consultations and judging each one of them, without party politics affecting my view, firstly, by the effect that it will have on the residents of the Ward and secondly on the residents of the rest of the County. As you probably know I am not a member of the controlling administration but I can assure you that I am making my voice heard and am being listened to by the Council’s Executive as I continue to search for the best (or least worst) options available for cost reductions.

Although at the moment most of the Council’s activities are being directed towards finance. There are still other things going on and I am pleased to inform you that the Library service is coming up with some good ideas for the continuation of the facility in Amble and I hope that a firm plan will be announced shortly.

The new lay-by on Rotary Way at the Northern entrance/exit to Amble that Warkworth Parish Council instigated, should be completed by the time you read this and it will greatly improve the ability of motorists, both visitors and locals alike, to enjoy the magnificent views of the estuary. I have always felt that our area has the potential to attract more tourism income and projects like this are so important to improve and make the area more attractive.  As we already have an attractive entrance/exit at the Southern edge of town, overall visitor impression will have been greatly improved. I am pleased to have been associated with this project.
I am as ever available to you on 07554114933
And by email at
Jeff Watson

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