Cathrine's Blog

My speech to the Special Council meeting May 14th   

I went shopping on Saturday at Waitrose and while I was there I asked the manager how many people he would expect through door over a usual weekend. He reckoned around 2000 people would come into the shop during that time.

So this is the number of people you and I see usually when we shop. If half that number of people changed their vote to Labour we will no longer have two conservative MPs in Northampton at the next general election.

These MPs, together with the imploded Tory-run County Council which has devastated the services paid for by tens of thousands of tax payers, have let Northampton down. Bankrupt both financially and in many other ways, our MPs have failed to stand up for a Unitary Northampton which is the only fair solution of our crumbling local government. They have failed to defend a Northampton Unitary and have sought to protect their political heartland by standing back and allowing the Secretary of State for Local Government to make far reaching and life changing decisions affecting these tens of thousands of tax paying resident without proper consultation - so far.

So, Labour will challenge this and right now I am putting the Tories under notice.

Labour will show the residents of Northampton borough that their views are important and which, so far, have not been taken into account by Central Government; that their MPs do to appear to have challenged Central Government’s decisions. Labour will campaign to raise awareness about this democratic deficit. Labour will be out on the streets, door knocking, meeting voters at residents meetings, taking this lack of democracy to the electorate so that if and when there consultations in the coming months, voters will understand their choices and know what to do to bring about the changes they want to seen in the town we all love.

Labour for Northampton

My speech to the Special Council meeting May 14th    I went shopping on Saturday at Waitrose and while I was there I asked the manager how many people he would...

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.

An Extended Unitary Northampton

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...

Labour Motion on Resourcing Private Sector Housing

I welcome cross party support for this motion and am pleased to accept the administrations amendments to the motion.

It shows we are on the same page with this issue and that can only be good for our residents.

We know we must understand the housing market.

We have to understand what the housing need is.

We need to be able to intervene.

In order to intervene in a way that is helpful to our residents we need more enforcement.

Some developers and some landlords only see the opportunity to make money out of our housing crisis. This is not good enough.

We need developers and Landlords who also have an ethical framework and who want to contribute to the well- being of our town.

We have seen some of those Landlords and we applaud their efforts.

Absent landlords, rogue landlords, who provide an inferior service must be challenged.

Human trafficking must be identified and stopped.

We know we have many more HIMOs in the town than are registered.  They blight our communities. We need to  put that  right.

The private sector team do an amazing job.

They need our support.

They  need more resources.

 Please let’s do this by passing this motion.

Private Sector Housing

Labour Motion on Resourcing Private Sector Housing I welcome cross party support for this motion and am pleased to accept the administrations amendments to the motion. It shows we are...

Here is somehing I written for readers of my blog. Recently Labour's Cathrine Russell, Councillor for Kingsley Ward joined East Midlands Housing to celebrate the completion of 38 new affordable homes in her ward.

Working in partnership with Westleigh Developers and Northampton Borough Council, the £4.5 million scheme was funded by EMH Group and built on the former site of a primary school which means the new development is in the well established residential area of Kingsley, close to local amenities.  Of the thirty eight new homes twenty five were available at affordable rents.  This included two-bedroom maisonettes and bungalows as well as two and three bedroom family houses.  The 13 shared ownership homes, (also two and three bedroom family houses) are being offered for sale and will allow residents to buy a share of their home and pay rent on the rest. The homes have been designed specifically with first-time buyers, couples and smaller families in mind.

Cllr Cathrine Russell said

“I was delighted to see such high quality homes, thoughtfully designed and built to a very specification in my ward and which have been made available to local residents.  Some of the local residents told me this was the first opportunity they had to buy their own home.  It was also a great opportunity to meet with residents, new to in my ward and share their pleasure in their new surroundings.” 

New Homes In Kingsley

Here is somehing I written for readers of my blog. Recently Labour's Cathrine Russell, Councillor for Kingsley Ward joined East Midlands Housing to celebrate the completion of 38 new affordable homes...

Lloyds Banking Group has announced the closure of their branch in Kingsley Park Terrace, Kingsley on 28 July 2016 and suggested that customers can use the nearby Royal Mail post office to conduct their financial business; check, withdraw and deposit their money.  Cllr Cathrine Russell has received a number of complaints and representations from both local businesses and residents expressing their concern at the closure of this branch.  So she recently wrote to Lloyds Banking Group to express her disappointment, on a number of levels, with this decision.

 

Cllr Cathrine Russell, Kingsley Ward, said:

 

“In my objection I outlined a number of major issues around the closure and the suggestion that customers could use  the local post office across the road.  It is my experience that this Post Office is usually busy, often with customers waiting to be served, in an environment that at times, is crowed and uncomfortable.  There are no ramps for wheelchairs or babies buggies and no evidence of any provision for disabled or elderly people who find the entrance difficult to manage or to be comfortable while waiting to be attended. 

 

If customers prefer to use a banking hall to conduct their financial business, there is the sheer inconvenience of traveling to an alternative Lloyds Bank branch, having to establishing new relationships with Lloyds staff as well as practical issues, such as the amount of time it can take to find a parking in the town centre, paying for it, trailing a young family, babies in buggies or having to take time away from a busy working day just to deposit small amounts of cash or meet with an advisor or manager. In addition, there are a number of small traders on Kingsley Park Terrace who sometimes have to deposit large amounts of cash and I am concerned about their ability to remain safe and their cash secure when travelling around the town. 

 

I am also concerned about the staff who work at the Kingsley branch.  Change of employment circumstances often translates to changes in contracts, employment rights (holiday, time off etc) and possible redundancies.  All of this in a highly pressurised work environment which is not of their choice. Staff members will also have to deal with differing transport issues, parking and the impact these changes make on their personal work/life balance.

 

This decision has been taken to suit Lloyds Banking Group and has nothing to do with consideration of its customers or staff and I urge Lloyds Bank to reconsider their decision to close the Kingsley branch of Lloyds Bank.  I await their response with interest as their initial announcement made it clear this decision is final and not open to consideration.”

 

Branch Closure

Lloyds Banking Group has announced the closure of their branch in Kingsley Park Terrace, Kingsley on 28 July 2016 and suggested that customers can use the nearby Royal Mail post office to conduct...

Hi, my speech to the budget.

 

Thank You Mayor,

Recently Labour councillors visited Stevenage Borough Council and saw all the good work they are doing. One particular aspect of the work that impressed us was their status as a Dementia Friendly Town. They had signed up to the Dementia Friendly Communities Programme.

This programme focuses on improving inclusion and quality of life for people with dementia.  The Alzheimer’s Society has a five year strategy to work with people affected by dementia to define and develop dementia friendly communities.

Many councils are already working in partnership with their local communities to develop innovative ways to enable people with dementia to take part in everyday activities and retain their independence for as long as they are able. Examples include developing dementia friendly streets, where as a result of simple adaptations and awareness raising among staff working in shops, shopping becomes easier for people with dementia Simple changes to existing services, and awareness raising for those who come into day-to-day contact with people with dementia such as staff working in libraries or in leisure centres, also help people with dementia feel more confident and welcome in using council services.

Let’s be part of this initiative in local government.

My budget speech

Hi, my speech to the budget.   Thank You Mayor, Recently Labour councillors visited Stevenage Borough Council and saw all the good work they are doing. One particular aspect of...

Please see below my speech seconding the motion on overcrowding put by Cllr. Asraf.  Thank You Mayor,

I support what Cllr Ashraf has said. I have seen examples of people living in cramped housing conditions when people, including children, are forced to share a small amount space. Overcrowding is a big issue and as my colleague Cllr Ashraf points out it the statutory definition is just too weak. We need to look again at our Allocation Policy and all Councillors should be able to have an input into this.”

Seconding motion on Overcrowding

Please see below my speech seconding the motion on overcrowding put by Cllr. Asraf.  Thank You Mayor, I support what Cllr Ashraf has said. I have seen examples of people...

Hello.  I have, at last, had a chance to get in touch with you! As you can imagine it has been an extremely busy six months for me having been elected as Borough Councillor for Kingsley in May this year. It is the first time I am serving as a Borough Councillor and it has been a steep learning curve! I thought you might like an update of what I have been doing so far. In May I was elected Whip to the Labour Group as well as nominated to a number of committees and representative to some external organisations.  I have:-Attended all the community events to which I have been invited, all of which have been most enjoyable! Attended every Cabinet and Full Council meeting this year (with the exception of September when I was on holiday) Had two 'Get to know your local Councillor' stalls on Kingsley Park Terrace during the summer. Met with the PCSO for Kingsley to discuss the problems around cyclists in that area.  Continued to hold two advice surgeries every month in the Kingsley ward - first Friday is at the Pioneer Pub, Hazeldene Road, Kingsley between 5:30 to 6:30 and the first Saturday of every month at the Kingsley Methodist Church, Milton Street, between 10:30 and 11:30.                                  

I have also delivered a 'Thank You' leaflet and have a really interesting newspaper which should be on your doorstep in the coming weeks. I continue to attend the Constituency Labour Party Meeting (GC- third Thursday of every month) to ensure Kingsley is represented. Attended the Regional Labour Party Conference in October and undertook the role of Chief Scrutineer to announce newly elected officers to the region.                              

 I attended the Women's Conference in Derby in October.  I am appalled at how much rubbish and fly tipping there is on our streets and I am very keen to set up a Community Action Group to try to counteract the inadequate rubbish / street refuse collections we currently have to put up with.                          

The Tory Administration says it is investigating how to improve the situation and this could take several years to finalise! The impact of the current disastrous arrangement to keep our streets clean simply can't continue which is why I want to work with the residents to improve our environment. Please get back to me if you have any suggestions or would like to work with me and other community activists to make Kingsley an area to be proud of.  I would love to receive any suggestions you may have to improve my work as a Councillor and hope you may find you have a couple of hours to spare and volunteer to support the Labour Party in any way you can. I can always do with some help to delivery leaflets and newspapers as well as run street stalls in different areas of the ward. I hope you got my Christmas card and I look forward to either hearing from you or seeing you soon. 

Yours 

Cathrine Russell Councillor for Kingsley Ward.

Mobile: 07484 312305

Message to Kingsley Ward members

Hello.  I have, at last, had a chance to get in touch with you! As you can imagine it has been an extremely busy six months for me having been...

Help for rough sleepers during freezing weather

Emergency support is provided to rough sleepers as temperatures drop below freezing. 

Northampton Borough Council has a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) project supporting Northampton Association for the Accommodation of the Single Homeless (NAASH) and the Hope Centre in protecting vulnerable people and keeping them safe during spells of severe weather. 

The SWEP partnership agreement between provides a warm place for rough sleepers to spend the night when the temperature falls below freezing for three consecutive nights.

The SWEP was activated on Thursday night last week (14 January) and will through to the evening of Wednesday 20 January into Thursday morning. On Thursday night 21 people used the service, 15 on Friday night, 14 on Saturday night, 12 on Sunday night, and 15 on Monday night.

Rough Sleepers should attend Oasis House during the day for an assessment. Shelter will be provided in the Hope Centre at Oasis House between 10pm at night and 7am the next morning, including bedding and food to support them through the cold weather.

When the weather improves, help will continue to be provided to those people to find homes or other assistance they need.

Know of or see anyone who could benefit from the SWEP project, please contact NAASH on 0845 206 8646.

Emergency Shelter in Freezing Weather

Help for rough sleepers during freezing weather Emergency support is provided to rough sleepers as temperatures drop below freezing.  Northampton Borough Council has a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) project...

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