Bullying and sexual harassment are both abhorrent. We can all agree to that.
We need to understand however that the two things need to be separated as resolution is controlled in different ways .
Bullying happens over time and is victimisation by way of differences, which could be anything from where a person lives to the size of their feet.
Sexual Harassment is defined as unwanted sexualised behaviour that offends, humiliates or intimidates a person and targets a victim on the basis of a characteristic such as gender, race or ethnicity.
Bullying and sexual harassment need to be separated because they have access to different remedies.
Workplace bullying is a health and safety issue but is not a legal term. Health and Safety Rules demand that employers have a duty to provide a safe work place for employees to work in even if a victim does not complain. Bullying is not a legal term but Health & Safety Rules places responsibility on employers to stop the bullying happening again.
However, Sexual harassment is a legal term and it is against the law. Sexual harassment is discrimination against an individual - particularly towards girls and women and the LGBT community. Sexual harassment complaints are remedied by law because it is controlled by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 tries to resolve the complainant’s issue by taking their viewpoint and trying to keep them in their job.
Bullying and sexual harassment therefore need to have appropriate and separate complaint procedures as they stem from different issues. To recognise this is to protect victims and make them confident in coming forward when problems occur, knowing that they will be listened to and also for the smooth operation of the day to day running of the council. Northampton Borough council needs a policy on sexual harassment because sexual harassment will be affecting their Councillors and their staff. Only with a specific policy will victims dare to come forward.
Bullying and sexual harassment are both abhorrent. We can all agree to that. We need to understand however that the two things need to be separated as resolution is controlled...
Dissatisfaction around the service from Northgate Bus Station has been well reported and documented over the past four years.
Talking to drivers and regular users it is simply not big enough. There are 12 departure bays in the bus station and a further 8 for southbound journeys in the Drapery. This means that two thirds of the passengers have to wait in the Drapery for their bus. These departure points are not reasonably protected from adverse weather conditions Many of our residents using the buses are elderly with reduced mobility, or young families with buggies and small children. It is not right that they wait for buses in the open.
During the peak hours of 12noon to 1pm there are approximately 100 departures. From 7am to 6 pm there are on average 80-100 departures an hour. 1,200 is a huge number of traffic movements per day . The subsequent congestion and gridlock in Bradshaw Street and Greyfriars regularly brings traffic to a standstill. There has been a series of collisions involving cars and buses on surrounding roads and it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.
The design of the bus station -DIRO (Drive in Reverse out) is ill suited to such high level frequency services, resulting in hazardous tailbacks. Manouvering space is required for vehicles entering and leaving. Wide spaces are needed and the drivers' view is that the bays are only marginally wider than the buses. Reversing is tight with little space before the run through where buses wait for a vacated bay.
I believe that Northgate is not sufficiently large to this to happen safely
With all this traffic comes dangerously high levels of pollution which has been found to be 25%higher than the legal limits. The EU upper limit for nitrogen dioxide is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Around the bus station 53 micrograms per cubic metre has been found. NBC pollution monitors have recorded illegal limits 80% of the time. In Northampton 6.1% of fatalities every year are believed to be premature deaths caused by air pollution. This is a Public Health emergency. Who would want to shop, or work in such an environment.
Declaring a single AQMA for the town centre is a move to monitor air quality but will not tackle the inherent problem of high traffic along the Drapery and the bus station. A Low Emissions Strategy will take a long time to make a difference to this area.
We ask for an independent and comprehensive Health and Safety inspection of the movement of traffic in and around the bus station and the levels of pollution. Then we need to look at ways to reduce the traffic, to ban illegal traffic along the Drapery, and perhaps consider re-locating part of the bus station to another part of town.
Dissatisfaction around the service from Northgate Bus Station has been well reported and documented over the past four years. Talking to drivers and regular users it is simply not big...
Northampton -a Unitary Authority.
This Council has agreed that a Northampton Unitary Authority is the way forward and a goal to aim for in the near future. The leader of the administration says there are discussions with other districts and boroughs and in fact Northampton is the chair of those meetings. I know that we have had an update from this administration, that this council is determined to enter a bid to become a Unitary Authority and what that might mean. I know as well that combining the 7 districts and boroughs might save the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government billions of pounds. And it is my opinion that this would still be catastrophic for the residents of Northampton.
It is clear discussions about Northampton becoming a Unitary Authority have been going on for some time with no obvious progress. Given that a meeting with Deloittes is tomorrow, I thought it essential to remind the administration that:
- becoming a Unitary Authority is a vital step, making one accountable Nothampton Council responsible to our electorate. It should also lead to greater proactive, efficient, transparent and accountable decision-making processes. Joined-up decisions means doing away with expensive duplication of services
- our determination to make Unitary happen. We need to express our determination and show our the residents of Northampton we are serious about regenerating services. This will come through building for need (schools, a new hospital, houses), providing high quality jobs, income generation and making sure people have money in their pockets to spends in the town.
Recent statistics show people who live in the borough of Northampton are amongst the lowest wages earners in the country and not surprisingly, Northampton has the highest personal debt in the country. This shocking situation explains why hard-working families find themselves in working poverty, standing in food bank queues and struggling to pay their way. We, the Labour Group, need to remind people this would not happen under a Labour government and administration. We need to take our and their future inhouse and bring about sustainable development for our town. It can be done with vision and innovation. Which brings me onto the implosion of the Tory run County Council. I know colleagues will say that the problems encountered by the County Council are, in the main, due to the 50 percent cut in Tory Government funding to local authorities over the last 8 years. I know borough colleagues will say they are doing everything they can to achieve the Unitary goal, but we are where we are. So, lets think about Ella.
Ella is a charming, bright and clever 12 year-old sassy young woman who attends a local school and who wants to go to Oxford to read Law. Ella’s aspiration doesn’t end there. She wants what we all want. Access to world class education and a good career, excellent job opportunities which will mean she can afford to live in her home town, access to proper healthcare free at the point of delivery and to own her own home. Also, if the time is right and its right for her, to nurture and encourage her own family in the way her mum and dad are doing for her right now. We must create a town where each and every resident of Northampton can fulfil their personal aims and aspirations and achieve the priorities in their lives because those priorities should be our priorities. That’s what we have been elected to do.
Unfortunately some things just don’t charge – we are still the largest town in the country with the grubbiest, litter-strewn streets, poor street lighting, crumbling social housing stock which suffers from a cavalier attitude to the environment and maintenance of those estates. We are still owed tens of millions of pounds because of poor due diligence and decision- making processes. We still have clogged roads and streets with poor and at times, illegal air quality. There are still small business and shops closing around the borough. In my ward alone there are 10 empty shops; a worrying rise in serious acquisitive crime and a substantial number of asset rich, cash poor older people who are struggling to pay a massive increase in council tax.
Being a unitary authority will enable this Council to make good the hopes and dreams of our residents and to give each one a decent home to live in and the means to pay for it. However, there must also be a framework to achieve good Unitary based decisions:
- Innovative and focused, adaptable and flexible cost effective financial structures that will allow Northampton to continue to grow decades into the future
- Recognising and responding to the needs of the people of Northampton, one of the fastest growing regions in the country
- Recognising our town’s borders need to change so that we are not subject to rushed, ill thought through planning decisions which means revenue generation schemes such as new housing and developments are on the wrong side of our boundary, but we are left to deal with increased traffic congestion and everything that means
- Open, clear and transparent decision-making processes which means the Council will never again find itself being owed millions of pounds
Labour can and will make a success of building a strong, vibrant, solid Unitary authority with resilient and cohesive communities, wealth creating commercial opportunities and empowering individuals to achieve and contribute to their society.
Northampton -a Unitary Authority. This Council has agreed that a Northampton Unitary Authority is the way forward and a goal to aim for in the near future. The leader of...
County in melt down Feb 2018.
It was odd seeing new and young conservative Councillors in shock at the financial meltdown at the county. Their distress was real. They were elected to represent their constituents and get the best possible services for them and here they were being required to vote for a budget that is cutting £40m of services. Three voted against and one abstained.
How odd they haven’t identified the Conservative government as the architect of the problems in Northamptonshire. The Government has incrementally withdrawn the Rate Support Grant from Local Authorities and capped Council Tax. The NHS is underfunded. Adult Social Care is underfunded. Children's Services are underfunded. The latest comment on Children's Services from Government was that with good leadership childrens services will be fine. This is so not true. All our services need investment and the difficulties we face in Northamptonshire are being replicated across the country. Demand is soaring. Resources are diminishing. Central Government clearly does not value local government. The outcome is services that cannot cope with demand and children becoming less and less safe. Vulnerable adults becoming less and less safe. This is ideologically driven. The only real alternative is an early election and the return of a Labour Government.
County in melt down Feb 2018. It was odd seeing new and young conservative Councillors in shock at the financial meltdown at the county. Their distress was real. They were...
I am here to put the case for the libraries in the urban areas of our town which have no Parish Council to support them - St James, Far Cotton, Abington , Kingsthorpe.
I am speaking particularly about Kingsthorpe. This is the library used and loved by the communities I represent.
Kingsthorpe Library is ideally situated in the heart of Kingsthorpe local shops. There is easy parking and a vibrant retail offer of supermarkets, banks, chemists, newsagents, hair dressers, cafes and restaurants. Kingsthorpe Library is easily reached by bus from Pitsford, Boughton, Welford , Kelmarsh and the new housing developments at Buckton Fields. The residents of these communities would also be affected by the closure of Kingsthorpe Library.
Kingsthorpe library serves a wide demographic. Communities which fall into 10% ofthe highest deprivation indices in the country for Education, Skills and Training, also Health, Deprivation and Disability live within easy walking distance of Kingsthorpe library. These are people who are living in poverty, with ill health and rely on the library to make their welfare applications and job searches using the library IT services.
Educational attainment in Northampton is well below the average. We need to increase levels of literacy and learning for our young people to ensure better futures for them and their families. A local solicitor told me how he did his homework in Kingsthorpe library .In a family of five children there was nowhere quiet for him to work. A young mum tells me how she is with her children during the week. At weekends she goes to Kingsthorpe library to study for her accountancy qualifications.
Like many libraries Kingsthorpe is a vibrant community hub - busy with parents and young children, craft and hobby groups, health visitors, and book borrowers. It is a social centre reducing isolation and loneliness and enabling people to make friends. This is the glue which keeps communities and neighbourhoods strong and resilient. Faced with such a reduction in public services this becomes ever more needed.
Kingsthorpe is in a unique position in that the building is neither owned by the Borough nor the county. The private landlord granted a 99 year lease in return for a peppercorn rent of £15 333 a year, this includes rates. How much would it cost to terminate the lease with approximately 60 years remaining?
Of the libraries retained under Option 2 At 56 hours, Kingsthorpe has longer opening hours than Irthlingborough, Brixworth, Brackley, Oundle, Burton Latimer and Duston. The property costs are lower than Burton Latimer, Oundle, Brackley, Brixworth, Weston Favell, Corby and Irthlingborough. Kingsthorpe is classed as a medium library. Two other medium libraries in Northampton ,retained under Option 2 are Duston and Hunsbury. Both with Parish Councils and both with Tory councillors. Are these more valid than Kingsthorpe?
I recently cut the ribbon to open a new library in a converted classroom in Kingsthorpe Grove Primary School. To see the excitement on the children's faces as they saw the brightly painted room with pictures of their favourite storybook characters. the colourful cushions and shelves of books was an absolute joy. Every child should have access to such pleasures. There was a large collage on the wall - Reading Gives you Wings. How true is that!
Tomorrow, March 1st, is World Book Day. It is the biggest celebration of reading, marked by over 100 countries over the world. If today you turn the key and lock the door of libraries such as Kingsthorpe you will be making life and the future just that bit more bleak and hard for the local communities. Teresa May talks about the 'just about managing' families I would describe the some of the residents I represent as the 'already struggling'
I am here to put the case for the libraries in the urban areas of our town which have no Parish Council to support them - St James, Far Cotton,...
I would like to talk about the effects of the proposed funding cuts to the voluntary sector. After six years of austerity and vast cuts to public services and welfare we have seen a new era of poverty with evictions, hunger and debt.
The proliferation of food banks and 'pay as you feel' cafes in the town are evidence of hungry families. The homeless are visible on our streets and families are far too long in temporary accommodation. Northampton has one of the highest levels of personal debt and in the Domestic Abuse court up to 20 cases a day are heard.
These are all symptoms of our communities under stress. The reality of this is, that we are facing a scale of hardship that is teetering on disaster. The collapse of services provided by the County Council will only add to the demands on the voluntary sector.
In this climate this administration is proposing a cut of £94,000 to the voluntary sector, CEFAP budget. Added to this £70,000 is to be removed and allocated, at the discretion of the Cabinet. A further £30,000 is to be removed to be spent on the Festive Road. Funds available to local groups this year have been reduced to a third of what was available last year. From a pot of £100,000 it may be only 6 or 7 groups are funded.
These local organisations can often offer better value and greater flexibility in responding to changing local demands. Grants are an investment in the community, which can be used to attract other resources, such as volunteers, as well as further funding, including donations and other voluntary income. Without organisations supported by these grants people will suffer, and long term problems facing our communities will never be resolved
It is clear that without greater levels of investment the voluntary sector organisations simply cannot adequately support or empower the people they work with. With the prospect of our communities increasingly needing strong and robust partnerships perhaps it is time to reinstate the Neighbourhood Co-ordinators. The demands of funding for the voluntary sector will only increase..
New sources of income must also be found. A greatly undervalued asset is the building we are all sitting in tonight. We have a building which provides a unique and splendid backdrop for events, ceremonies and special occasions. It is truly magnificent . Do we exploit its commercial potential to the full extent? I think not. A proposed 4.9% increase on an already very modest room hire charge is neither realistic nor responsible. The use of our wonderful parks and open spaces by commercial companies, at no charge, is an insult to rate payers who are paying £5 to park their car on the Racecourse.
I have talked about the impact of reduced funding to the voluntary sector. Let us not forget that these relatively small grants of £10 -20,000 , fund valuable projects which is where expertise and knowledge is often developed. These projects will sustain neighbourhood infrastructure and build social capital so our residents are in a position to look after themselves and others for longer. This is excellent value for money.
As forecasts go, it's acutely grim. Over the next five years , British families face a worse squeeze on their living standards than after the global financial crash.
We must do all we can to provide a safety net to prevent the risk of betraying the most vulnerable in our communities. The generation of funds by realistic commercial income from the Borough's assets would be a good place to start.
I would like to talk about the effects of the proposed funding cuts to the voluntary sector. After six years of austerity and vast cuts to public services and welfare...
- I am concerned about three things to do with this contract. One is the budget. The conservative Borough Council is proposing to spend £6 million pounds more in the first year of the contract. This is £12 million pounds! On a revenue budget of £28 million! This is likely to bankrupt the authority and divert funds from other essential services. The authority is proposing to spend £3.4 million pounds more, year on year. This is £10.34 million a year plus inflation. This is over a third of our revenue budget. Over 10 years the cost to the public purse will be in excess of £116 million pounds. This is not sustainable and is not value for money.
- My second concern is the chosen bidder. Veolia does not have a good reputation in the town for its commercial waste collection. But also – it is a French based company which means profits will be taken out of the town.
- In my book a good contract is value for money. A good contract has good outcomes- a clean and tidy town. A good contract should contribute to the regeneration of the town by paying good wages to local staff and keeping profits in the town.
I am concerned about three things to do with this contract. One is the budget. The conservative Borough Council is proposing to spend £6 million pounds more in the first...
Labour Group Budget Statement Feb 26th 2018
This year our group are not presenting an alternative budget. We are presenting a statement which seeks to do three things.
- A commentary on the budget before us.
- An alternative view of how we should be addressing the finances of this authority.
- A vision of how things can be done differently.
The commentary is our view on the deliverability and the impact of the budget you propose to set. The other offers up alternatives for you to consider, if not now, then in the future.
Commentary on the budget
We are living in tough times with a government seeking to shrink the local state, cap local government resources, and prevent us from exercising much income generation power. Yet we are seeing our town grow faster than any other in the UK, with an increasingly elderly population, a hugely increasing demand, for housing and other services.
We are witnessing a melt down at the County. A combination of Government austerity measures and financial mismanagement has brought the county to its knees. We need to learn lessons from what has happened there.
There are indications that this authority is going down the same path as the county. Our accounts have still not been signed off by the external auditors. We were given an adverse judgement for Value for Money last year. We still have the missing millions to pay back. We still have too many interims, too many vacancies where we need expertise and commitment, we are using reserves to balance the budget.
We agree with the proposed rate of Council Tax increase. Residents of the town are telling us they would rather pay more for essential services but the deal is that the rate of increase has to be proportionate and the services excellent.
The parking proposal will raise revenue, increase pollution and does not guarantee footfall.
More needs to be done to provide an integrated transport service.
At a time of growth and increased demand our budget is shrinking. There is too little provision in the budget for growth in income, income generation. This is not a sustainable position.The new contract for Environmental Services , contracted to a private provider over ten years, is eye wateringly expensive. In year one this is almost 43% of our total revenue budget. The percentage is set to rise as inflation rises. This is not a sustainable position.
The budget is being balanced by using a forecast reduction in staffing of £350,000. £320,000 is an assumption of savings made through service redesign. Our new CEO may have other ideas. He may understand that in a situation of growth and increasing demand we need more not less staff. We need permanent not interim staff. We need properly paid qualified staff, not consultants on inflated daily rates. This budget proposal is high risk and may not be deliverable.
£30,000 is a cut to the Guildhall staff under the heading of events. The Guildhall is our most treasured asset. We should be making money from events. Instead we have outsourced catering and the bar so private companies take the profit while we set up for them, clear up after them and just about break even or at best make a small profit. This is deliverable but it is not sustainable.
In order to deliver the growth we need, we have to have a strong and robust partnerships with other districts and Boroughs and above all else with the voluntary sector. Yet your budget is cutting the budget for the voluntary sector by £94,000 and redirecting another £70,000 for the Cabinet to spend. What is going on here? These proposals may well be deliverable but they are creating an unsustainable situation for our voluntary sector and our communities.
£18,000 is being cut from Bloom. This rather begs the question of what the total bill for Bloom is? Was anyone else embarrassed with Bloom this year? All the valiant work by communities and by our staff with wonderful displays, but in a context of filthy, littered streets, knee high weeds, and choking gutters. Perhaps this all needs a serious rethink.
Doing the budget differently
Labour would approach the budget quite differently. First we would zero base all budgets to get an understanding of need and the cost of meeting need. Second we would apply Smart Budgeting principles. This is an efficient use of budgets pooled across departments for particular outcomes, avoiding duplication and producing savings. Third, we would be looking for growth through a number of ethical commercial opportunities. This would mean having a robust investment strategy to include selling assets that cannot be exploited, exploiting assets where we can, joint commercial enterprises with other authorities, joint projects with the voluntary sector and if appropriate, private sector partners, and selling what we do well to other organisations.
Leeds has commercialised what it provides in house and is already good at. This City sells it’s services in catering, cleaning, property maintenance, fleet management, legal services, business support to other organisations such as the NHS, the Ambulance service and other LAs.
Many LAs are turning to commercial enterprise to raise revenue. Corby has a factory in Derby that they are already making an income from. Corby with Kettering are investing £20m a year for three years to develop warehousing and have in the first year made £650,000.
Changing our Practice
As County services contract, as life gets harder for our communities in the urban areas and in the rural areas, we need a rethink about how we deliver services. We need to put people and families at the heart of what we do.
Neighbourhood infrastructure is key. We should buildsocial capital in our neighbourhoods so our residents can look after themselves for longer and look after each other. But this comes at a cost. We need to bring back Neighbourhood Co-ordinators, increase the number of wardens and develop outreach services. We need to work more closely with the voluntary sector, with health, the police and other agencies.
The One Stop shop is brilliant, but it’s no good to a single parent in Briar Hill or the Eastern district with no transport and no childcare. I estimate that putting this in place in just one area as a pilot would cost around £120,000 in the first year- less than the cost of one consultant on working 4 days a week for 6 months. (125,472). A good coordinator-as we know- having employed them in the past, is able to bring in new money and cover their own costs over time. So the cost of Neighbourhood working would decrease over time while the value would go up.
Robust Neighbourhood working would have a strategic development function with multi agency partnerships. The help and support that they can put into neighbourhoods will reduce demand, further down the line, for expensive and scarce resources. Those partnerships are then able to co design and co deliver services, an efficient and effective way of providing and attract new money from Big Capital and Social Investment bonds.
It was agreed at Cabinet to develop a three pronged strategy for housing development in the Borough. It is an approach the Labour group wholeheartedly endorse. This is about us building for mixed tenure to provide for diverse needs. In our view we need to be bolder and set our sights on building more than 100 homes a year. It should be at least 200, half of which should be social housing.
We need to look to other LAs for good practise. Electric Corby has won awards for its work to deliver a greener more sustainable town. Working with local businesses to reduce its Carbon footprint by 50% it has provided jobs, energy efficiencies and saved £1000s.
86% of businesses in the town are SMES, many with a turnover of less than £50,000 a year.
They need our help to start up, to cut costs, to be sustainable.
In summary, our view is that this budget is a high risk. It does not tell us what the real costs of services are, what the demand is and is forecast to be. It is not providing a strategy for real growth. We recommend an alternative approach that puts people and families at the heart of all we do. We need to zero base our budgets. A budget that is evidence led and outcome focused. That looks to build revenue, brings in new money and builds social capital.Just to underline what I am saying I am going to quote from two organisations that support Local Authorities.
A report by Localis published in 2015 talks about the rise of entrepreneurialism in Local government
Launching the report, Alex Thomson, chief executive of Localis said:
“Councils have borne the brunt of austerity, but they have responded with striking innovation to minimise the impact of cuts on their residents. In particular, our research shows councils becoming ever more commercially savvy, bringing in money to support vital local services.”
The Local Government Association offers for support to councils wanting to grow to meet demand and they say:- As funding shrinks exploring new ways to maximise incomes is essential. In order to protect valuable frontline services and ensure positive outcomes for local communities councils are increasingly thinking through a more commercial approach to their activities.
These innovative councils are using their assets wisely, trading services with others across the public and private sectors, and selling commodities to generate income.
Shared Services-my view is that if an in house service for waste collection and environmental services was too risky, we should have shared the risk with other authorities and gone in with e.g. Corby and Kettering.
Other LAs are selling tree pruning and gardening services. Others, that manage their own waste collection services, offer a commercial waste collection to businesses and raises considerable revenue. We have lost that opportunity by outsourcing our service. There are lots of opportunities if we think bigger, if we think how to exploit what we have, if we grow the talent and expertise of our staff.
Examples are -we bought Albion House and maybe we should sell it!
We sold Fish Street and maybe we should have developed that ourselves. We have sold buildings on Guildhall road. Maybe we should have been more business minded and sought to exploit those assets ourselves. With the future move of NPH from Westbridge and the possible relocation of the waste depot on the site, we have an opportunity to redevelop Westbridge to meet the need for light industrial units, to generate rents, rates and if we provide shared services, then charges for that.
We have lots of other opportunities-Greyfriars for example. I am glad that the use of this site is being reviewed and I hope that we will be at least a partner inn that development.
Labour Group Budget Statement Feb 26th 2018 This year our group are not presenting an alternative budget. We are presenting a statement which seeks to do three things. A commentary...
NCC Labour Group Statement
The issuing of a section 114 notice clearly shows that the current conservative administration is not fit to govern this County of ours. We have a failed Conservative administration and a Government that does not seem to care about the effect their decisions are having on our communities. 70% of our financial problems are down to the Government austerity cuts, but the NCC Cabinet have to take responsibility for the other 30% which is down to mismanagement and costly decisions.
This has not happened over night- the Labour Group has been warning about our poor financial state for the last 5 years and moved a vote of no confidence in the cabinet only 3 months ago. Today we are told that this current year’s budget is looking at an overspend of £21.1 million.
We have yet to see the results of the Inspectors report, but it is clear that we cannot go on as we are. The Cabinet should resign and let those with the ability take over. In doing so the primary task should be to make sure we are able to carry out our statutory and safeguarding responsibilities towards children and vulnerable adults and then to put together a sustainable financial plan to bring about financial stability for our County.
In contrast to the County, Labour has shown that we can work in partnership on a win win basis and Corby Borough Council is an excellent example of this, building resilience and serving its community.
Councillor Bob Scott
NCC Labour Group Leader
NCC Labour Group Statement The issuing of a section 114 notice clearly shows that the current conservative administration is not fit to govern this County of ours. We have a...
What we did well in 2017 and what we need to do better
I began thinking about my annual state of Northampton address thinking I wouldn’t be able to find much to be positive about. After all, the Labour groups experience over the year has been one of unrelenting case-loads. Evictions, homelessness, overcrowding, debt, domestic violence, crime, fly-tipping and littering and parking, antisocial behaviour. Violent crime is up. Domestic violence - up. Figures for those experiencing loneliness – up! Human trafficking - up.
We know the figures for children living in poverty have gone from 10,000 in 2013 to 15,000 now. We know that for the first time in a decade, mortality rates are increasing; meaning life expectancy is falling for the most disadvantaged.
The growth in HIMOs has unbalanced our housing market taking family homes out of supply and creating unprecedented churn in our communities.
Our retail offer is in decline with more shops closing and our market yet to be revived.
As Labour Councillors we know more and more working households and families with children are using foodbanks.
The near collapse of the County is going to impact on our residents. And we will have to pick up the pieces
Life can be pretty grim out there.
But we have indeed got a good news story to tell as well. The Errol Flynn second cinema has been a resounding success- adding to our cultural offer. The Night Shelter with its army of volunteers has been a success. As well as meeting a need this strategy is building social capital.
Last year we continued to offer town wide events that create a sense of place. Events in the Guildhall have been thrilling. Whether it’s the job fair, or weddings or Xmas parties. Our staff do the most amazing job, are beginning to make a profit, and we applaud them.
Plans for Delapre Abbey, the Museum, the Vulcan works have often been frustrating but are there and going ahead. The move of the University to the Waterside looks as if it is going to complete in time. One Angel Square has brought more workers into town. We have the wonderful new St Crispin’s community Centre. The Enterprise Zone and our work with SEMLEP is contributing to growth.
I want to applaud NPH. Their strategy for working intensively to build and renovate on a patch by patch basis is having huge benefits. As well as leaving the housing offer better than it was before, they are leaving the outside environment better than before and building social capital in neighbourhoods. That cannot be underestimated.
I want to also applaud our wardens and housing officers. These are visible representatives of the Borough and the work they do has a huge impact.
So in 2018 what do we need to be doing?
People and Place
Can I say, for me, our number one priority is staffing? We have a problem with unfilled vacancies, staff retention and too many interim staff. We need to put in place Senior and Permanent members of staff with the skills we need. And who will deliver value for money.
We welcome the move back from 40 to 37 hours a week for staff.
We need staff who understand partnership working, how to build social capital, who will address our housing shortages, the imbalances in the housing market, enforcement and protections for our neighbourhoods.
We need a regeneration plan for the Eastern district.
We need to be more proactive around all those regeneration sites that are lying fallow across the town- Greyfriars, the Chron and Echo site, St Edmund's hospital. There are 9 altogether. We know where they are.
We need to urgently address the issue of air pollution. The latest figures produced by the Chronicle and Echo are horrific. Some sites-like the Drapery - are showing twice permitted levels.
We need to look at our infrastructure needs, - roads, homes, transport. We need more new schools, a new hospital. We need to fight for Unitary status.
We need creative solutions to regenerating the town centre and increasing our cultural offer.
We need to recognise the importance of creating a sense of place. Guildhall events, town wide events help us do that.
We need to develop a forward looking, anti –poverty, growth strategy and we need to get our town clean, safe and green.
What we did well in 2017 and what we need to do better I began thinking about my annual state of Northampton address thinking I wouldn’t be able to find...