Newcastle eFocus 2nd February 2015 - more news, more quickly, for the great city of Newcastle upon Tyne
Welcome to the first eFocus from the Liberal Democrats in Newcastle upon Tyne
TRAFFIC LIGHTS v ROUNDABOUTS
An analysis of the impact on traffic handling volumes, relevant in the context of the changes on the Great North Road..http://jalopnik.com/this-test-proves-roundabouts-are-better-than-four-way-s-1447987773
ULTRA FAST BROADBAND TRIAL FOR GOSFORTH FIRST IN NEWCASTLE
Recent article in The Journal http://www.thejournal.co.uk/business/business-news/ultrafast-broadband-comes-gosforth-bt-8547121
ENVIROCALL - THERE TO CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Matters of local environmental concern can be reported directly to Newcastle City Council's Envirocall. You can contact them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 0191 278 7878 and ask for 'Envirocall', or by putting Newcastle Envirocall into your browser to find the online form. (Note the reference number -it will be asked for if you ring back for a progress report
NEW ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR POWERS
The Coalition Government has brought in new powers to deal with anti-social behaviour. Cllr Nick Cott says : " These powers are simpler, more flexible and more effective than the laborious and complicated arrangements under the previous government. Ward Committee meetings have heard the police say that they were already putting them into effect in our area and finding them much better than what was available before".
Powers include injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance; immediate dispersal powers for individuals and groups; new community protection notices for police, council officers or social landlords to deal with persistent problems; public space protection orders; closure powers for particular properties; stronger eviction powers for landlords faced with serious anti-social behaviour by tenants.
"It's also good that the Government has brought in powers for victims to demand action by authorities and to have a say in the type of out-of-court punishments" says Nick. More information athttp://www.police.uk/news/new-anti-social-behaviour-powers-come-effect/
BIG BROTHER OR USEFUL TOOL?
CCTV images can help journey planning -still images from the region's Traffic Management CCTV cameras are now available in a "video wall" format at www.netrafficcams.co.uk (a number of them cover the Gosforth area - see their page 4 onwards)
The images typically update every 1-15 minutes and can be filtered by district. Cameras of interest can be viewed on the "My Camera" tab, or selected from a map and filtered by distance from your current location or postcode. This enables users to view traffic or weather conditions at points of interest which may affect planned journeys, and where necessary make changes to their route or way of travelling.
Further traffic and travel related information can be found at the Tyne and Wear Travel website
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT CUTS
The Labour Council still has plenty to spend but doesn't make the right choices. They're always complaining about a raw deal - but Newcastle's Labour Council still has £800m to spend each year on its running costs - and over half a million pounds of it comes in money from the Government.
We all know that the previous Labour Government left a huge and growing deficit to be tackled. Health and education spending and pensions have been protected by the Coalition Government, the low paid lifted out of tax, record numbers are in work, two million apprenticeships started, and inflation is at a 12 year low.
Despite what Labour would like you to believe, Newcastle's grant cuts have been less in percentage terms than places like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and many London boroughs.
And how about this? - Referring to the millions of pounds of spending reductions by the City Council over recent years, the Council budget report for 2015/16 says: "Many of the savings have been achieved with minimal impact on services by finding alternative and more cost-effective ways to deliver the same level of service or by improving efficiency without any detriment to service delivery". Quite.
Of course Government cuts have been painful and are unfair, but North East Councils still get much more cash per head than their counterparts in the south - and they've been far less willing to share services with each other than many councils elsewhere. We say it's time to give up the empires; end the duplication; cut the costs. Cllr Robin Ashby will be proposing a motion to Full Council on Wednesday calling for greater impetus to share services with other local authorities, increasing efficiency and saving our money.
Lib Dems in Newcastle also proposed reductions in the number of councillors; council elections every four years instead of annual; reductions in the numbers of political staff - increased under Labour. All these ideas were turned down by the Labour Council who were still cutting funding for libraries, swimming pools, youth services, parks, neighbourhood cleaning services and more.
And we all pay "precepts" for the running of police and fire authorities which bump up our council tax bill. Why are there four fire authorities in our region when there is only one for the whole of Scotland, a far larger area with twice as many people? Why three police authorities? - all with their own managers, specialists, IT systems and overheads? We support local station and the frontline staff not the management and overheads. There are lots of savings still there for the taking without hitting frontline services. WE SAY: Stop complaining and get on with the job.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
If you have a spare 20 minutes, this short film (no narration) shows a day in the life of Newcastle city centre from August 1973. Apparently it was commissioned by - and rejected by the council...
MEANWHILE, IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS:
Local Government Finance Settlement - Motion to Take Note (22 Jan 2015)http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2015-01-22a.1444.0&s=speaker%3A25000#g1469.0
Lord Shipley: I declare that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association. The very first paragraph in DCLG's guide to the local government finance settlement in England says: "Local government finance in England is..