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  1. Local people are being asked for their views on the county’s highways and transport services – from the condition of roads and footpaths to the quality of cycling facilities. Their answers will be compared with the views of other members of the public across England and Scotland, thanks to the National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction survey. Northumberland County Council is one of 112 local authorities to sign up to a standardised survey that will ask members of the public exactly the same questions, whether they live in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire or Northumberland. The survey, which is being run for the tenth year, is the largest collaboration between local authorities offering the opportunity to compare results, share in best practice and identify further opportunities to work together in the future. The questionnaire will be sent to a random sample of at least 3,300 of the county’s residents from 19th June, followed by a reminder, with local and national results to be published in mid-October 2017. Since the survey is based on a sample, residents that receive a copy are being urged to take part. Residents that receive the questionnaire can complete the survey online if they prefer, a short link will be printed on the front of the questionnaire and they will be required to enter a code before completing the questionnaire. The results will enable the council to find out what people in Northumberland think about these important services. The County Council has been doing the survey since it started and the feedback sits alongside other engagement it carries out via town and parish councils to help it determine and prioritise future works and improvements. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “As one of the country’s largest counties with over 3,200 miles of road, we fully understand the importance of maintaining and improving our network. “This survey is another way for us to get a greater understanding of residents’ views on a range of transport and highways issues and enable us to work together to improve the lives of our many communities. “Residents views are extremely important to us so I hope very much that people are able to find the time to fill it in and let us know their thoughts.”
  2. A new system of local democracy will allow communities across the county “to create their own futures”, the new administration has pledged. Northumberland County Council has implemented a restructure of committees across Northumberland which will give town and parish councils a more active role and a greater say in what happens within their local areas. The restructure of committees to create five new local area councils across Northumberland will see the return of democracy and accountability to local areas, allowing them to decide and determine their own futures, based on the needs of the local community. The new local area councils will include; North Northumberland, Ashington & Blyth, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale and Cramlington & Bedlington and will meet bi-monthly to consider planning applications, road spending and petitions. The introduction of the local area councils will allow local people across Northumberland to have a greater influence on the decisions that directly affect them and their communities. Council leader Peter Jackson said: “We want to work with communities to help them create their own futures, rather than impose large projects or developments on them. “These new Local Area Councils are one way to develop a better future for the whole county. For example in north Northumberland we would fully expect the local area council to work very closely with the major towns of Alnwick and Berwick on local development plans for those communities. “We want to be clear this is not a return to district councils, but about bridging the gap between an autocratic, centralised county council and communities. “We value the work that town and parish councils are doing and wish to work closely with them, bridging the gap with a county council some see as distant and unengaging.” “And not only will the restructuring of the committees ensure the County Council’s policies take into account the needs and aspirations of local communities, it will also provide savings of £250,000 over the next four years from reductions in allowances, which can be ploughed back into essential daily services.” To find out more information and times and dates go to the ‘meetings’ section on the front page of the council website at www.northumberland.gov.uk
  3. The new leadership at Northumberland County Council is putting plans in place to improve communication and engagement with local communities. One of the first services to introduce changes to the way it operates is the highways department which will be bringing local town, parish and ward councillors into the heart of its decision making process. In future, these stakeholders will be fully informed and consulted when highways improvement schemes, or Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) are being considered in their community to ensure that all parties are fully aware of the issues and the proposed work. Northumberland County Councillor, Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment & Local Services, said: “We have listened to what residents have been telling us and want to ensure that local people have more power and say in decisions that directly affect them and the communities in which they live.” At the start of each highways improvement scheme, the County Council will draft a brief and this will be discussed with these local community representatives to ensure that the issue of concern has been fully understood and that the problems that need to be resolved have been identified. If a scheme requires a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), the local town, parish and ward councillors will be consulted, followed by consultation with statutory consultees and any residents directly affected. The new arrangements also seek to improve upon the existing arrangements for involving local communities in the preparation of the highways investment programme. Council officers will write to local town, parish and ward councillors annually to share the issues that have been raised within their community and to agree local priority projects for the following year. Subject to funding and eligibility criteria, these projects will then be incorporated into a draft programme which will be reported to the new Local Area Councils for final local comment, before being formally approved. The new council administration at Northumberland County Council is to introduce five Local Area Councils: North Northumberland, Tynedale, Castle Morpeth, Ashington & Blyth and Cramlington & Bedlington to replace the previous four Area Committees. These area councils will meet monthly, have added responsibilities and aim to bring decision making closer to local communities. Councillor Sanderson added: “The introduction of five local area councils and improved partnership working with local communities will help ensure that our investments in highways improvement schemes are tailored to meet the needs of the community and deliver better all-round results. “With over 3,000 miles of roads connecting hundreds of communities, ensuring that we provide the most effective highway improvements with the funding available is a priority for this council.”
  4. Votes have been counted and MPs declared for the four parliamentary constituencies in Northumberland. The candidates declared as MP for each of the constituencies are as follows: Berwick-upon-Tweed - Anne-Marie Trevelyan, The Conservative Party Candidate Blyth Valley - Ronnie Campbell, Labour Party Hexham - Guy Opperman, The Conservative Party Candidate Wansbeck - Ian Lavery, Labour Party The elections were run by Northumberland County Council and all four counts took place overnight last night at Blyth Sports Centre. The turnout for the Northumberland constituencies was 71.5% for Berwick-upon-Tweed; 67.1% for Blyth Valley; 75.1% for Hexham and 68.4% for Wansbeck. Click here to see the declartion of results
  5. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service is running a pilot initiative aimed at offering further support to former students from the Prince's Trust Team programme. Five students who still wish to improve their confidence and deal with low levels of self esteem and feelings of anxiety and depression are meeting every Thursday afternoon for twelve weeks to share their experiences and to discuss and practice strategies for overcoming personal challenges which affect their health and well being. The students have been influential in the design of the programme by identifying the key areas they want to focus on as well as the duration of the course and frequency of meetings they feel will work best for them. Some examples of topics which have been covered so far are negative thinking, assertiveness, mindfulness and health and well being. In between each session the group practice techniques they have discussed as a group and record how it has made a difference in their own personal workbook. The group are currently focusing on employability skills and how their increased confidence and coping strategies can help them in the process of applying for jobs and increase job satisfaction. Leanne from Seaton Delaval said "This course I have attended has been really helpful for me having more of a positive attitude and being more assertive I have managed to express when I have not wanted to do something outside the group ,without the group I would not have been able to confidently do this". Chief Fire Officer as Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Paul Hedley has supported the project, noting "Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service has identified an opportunity to re-engage with young people and offer a more bespoke programme of support which has involved listening to what young people feel the issues are for them and acting on it. In view of National SAFE Week I think this type of provision is important to consider. Addressing the health and well being issues which affect our young people can help them lead happier and safer lives".
  6. Polling stations across the county are open today, Thursday 8 June, for the UK Parliamentary General Election. The polling stations will be open from 7am - 10pm at 228 community venues across the county so if you are eligible to vote, make sure you go along and cast your vote - it can really make a difference. Over recent weeks, polling cards have been sent to residents through the post informing them of their elector number and their local polling station. While it is helpful if the card is brought along when residents vote, it is not essential, so if you’ve mislaid it, you can still vote, as long as you are registered and eligible. If you are unsure where your local polling station is you can log on to the Northumberland County Council website www.northumberland.gov.uk and type your home postcode into the My Place box on the top right hand side of the home page. This will bring up details of your nearest polling station. Will Booth, elections manager at Northumberland County Council said: “By casting your vote you will be helping to decide how the UK is run. Voting enables you to help decide who represents your local area in parliament and it is their job to raise local issues and support you as much as they can.”
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    Book of condolence for London.

    Northumberland County Council has opened a book of condolence following the terrorist attack in London The book is available to sign at the reception area in County Hall, Morpeth, from today (June 6th). Daljit Lally, Interim Chief Executive of Northumberland County Council said: “Again the events in London at the weekend were truly shocking and I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in Northumberland in sending our condolences to all those affected by all these terrible events. “We stand together with both London and Manchester, the victims and their families. Terrorism will not win”. #westandtogether
  8. A campaign to raise awareness in the North East about protecting vulnerable people from abuse and harm is returning for its fourth year. SAFE week, which will take place between June 5 and June 11 this year, has previously raised awareness of protecting vulnerable adults, but this year’s campaign will also focus on safeguarding children. The broader scope of the campaign is reflected in the new campaign name – Safeguarding Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) week. To mark SAFE week, activities will be delivered in three local authority areas: North Tyneside, Newcastle and Northumberland. Key landmarks around the region will be lit up purple in honour of SAFE week, including St Mary’s Lighthouse, in North Tyneside and Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge. There will also be white flags raised outside buildings across the local authority areas to highlight issues around domestic abuse. Cllr Carole Burdis, North Tyneside Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Everyone deserves to live their life free from harm and abuse but sadly that isn’t always the case. “Events like SAFE week are a great way for us to highlight this issue and let people know that it is okay to speak up. We have a great range of support across our region and they can help you get through any problems you may have.” As the lead organisation in safeguarding adults and young people at risk of harm, North Tyneside Council organises SAFE week in conjunction with multi-agency partners from health, police, Newcastle and Northumberland local authorities, as well as a range of voluntary and private providers. Veronica Jones, Cabinet Member for Safeguarding at Northumberland County Council said: "We are proud to support SAFE week and raise awareness regarding the messages and support available for anyone who is or knows someone affected by these issues. "Safeguarding is everybody's responsibility and the events throughout SAFE week and beyond highlight the important role we can all play to promote safety." Chief Inspector Steve Hails from Northumbria Police's Safeguarding Department, said: "We are pleased to support our partners in helping to keep people safe in Northumbria. "Victims are our absolute priority and we are working with some fantastic organisations and partners to be able to provide a full wrap-around of support for those who have been affected by abuse. "We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of domestic or sexual abuse - recently or in the past - to come forward and report it to police. Our specialist safeguarding officers are here to support victims and each case is treated in a highly confidential and sensitive way, with the welfare and safety of the victim being of paramount importance. "We want to stress that everyone has a part to play in tackling abuse and we would ask if you witnesses something that doesn't feel right with an adult or child, please report it to police. Safeguarding really is everyone's business." Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, said: “People of all ages often don’t realise when they are vulnerable and they can get into situations through no fault of their own. Northumbria Police has a duty to look after them, whatever the circumstance, and working with partners and ensuring our officers are doing everything they can to protect vulnerable people is a top priority of mine. I congratulate this campaign, which is highlighting some very important issues such as domestic abuse and sexual exploitation, and I give it my full support.” Abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, institutional, discriminatory and neglect. Signs of abuse may include: Multiple bruising or finger marks Injuries which cannot be properly explained Deterioration of health for no apparent reason Loss of weight Inappropriate or inadequate clothing Withdrawal of changes in usual behaviour An unwillingness to be alone with a particular carer Unexplained shortage of money
  9. Polling stations will be open on Thursday 8 June across Northumberland for the UK Parliamentary General Election.
  10. With just a few days to go until the UK Parliamentary General Election, postal voters are being urged to return their ballot papers.
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    Council issues tumble dryer warning

    Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards service is warning residents of a new recall on tumble dryers, this time of those sold under the trade names Beko and Blomberg.
  12. Northumberland County Council has been utilising their parking enforcement vehicle to help improve road safety outside schools in Northumberland.
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    Letting agents invited to forum

    Private letting agents are being invited to a forum next week to share best practice and get an update on any industry changes.
  14. Widened shared paths along the A192 to the south of the town and to adjacent housing estates; Crossing improvements on Stobhill roundabout; and An upgraded ‘toucan’ crossing point opposite Sainsbury’s that allows use by people on bikes and detects people waiting to cross. It is being implemented by the council and has been wholly funded by a £600,000 award through the North East LEP from the Local Growth Fund, part of the North East Growth Deal.
  15. Cath McEvoy, Children’s Service Director at Northumberland County Council: “This was a great event which allowed the participating groups to get really creative about generating products that would sell, developing creative and entrepreneurial skills. The results of the sales were fantastic and each participating group should be very proud of their effort and contribution.”
  16. Northumberland County Council Chief Executive Steven Mason is leaving the organisation to pursue fresh challenges. Steven has been with the council for nearly 15 years, working in a number of financial roles, and has been chief executive for the past three years. Speaking about his departure, Steven said: “It is with sadness that I have decided to leave the Council after nearly fifteen years service to the residents of Northumberland. “During my time the Council has faced many challenges, most notably local government reorganisation and the impact of cuts in local government funding over an extended period of time. “The Council’s approach and direction will change significantly following the recent County Council election and it is an appropriate time for new managerial leadership at a time when the political leadership has changed with a radically different agenda.” The Council Leader, County Councillor Peter Jackson, thanked Steven for leaving a strong and stable organisation which would give the new administration time to agree new priorities. The current Deputy Chief Executive Daljit Lally will be the interim Chief Executive. Following the formation of a new administration at full council yesterday it has been agreed Steven can leave immediately to allow a smooth transition to a new Chief Executive.
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    Manchester book of condolence

    Northumberland County Council has opened a book of condolence following the terrorist attack in Manchester. The book is available to sign at the reception area in County Hall, Morpeth, from today (May 24th). Daljit Lally, Deputy Chief Executive of Northumberland County Council said: “The events in Manchester were truly shocking and I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in Northumberland in sending our condolences to all those affected by these terrible events. “We stand together with Manchester, the victims and their families. Terrorism will not win”. #westandtogether
  18. Historian and broadcaster John Grundy has been announced as the presenter at this year’s LOVE Northumberland Awards. The annual celebration of projects and initiatives that improve the county’s environment culminate in an event at The Alnwick Garden and, this July, John will be announcing the winning entries on the night. All shortlisted entries in seven categories are invited to the celebration event, and the winners are presented with their awards by Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland. John Grundy has written and presented a variety of architectural and history programmes for both radio and television, and in the late 1990s co-wrote and edited the new edition of Niklaus Pevsner's ‘Northumberland’. He has introduced thousands of people to the unique and often breath-taking architecture of the North and has become one of the most popular presenters on local television. He is chair of the Friends of Beamish Museum. John says: “I have a huge love of the North of England, and Northumberland is a special favourite of mine. These awards are a fantastic way of helping to celebrate the work and commitment of community members in improving their local areas - for the benefit of all. I very much look forward to hearing about all the shortlisted projects - and announcing the winners on the night.” Paul Jones, director of local services and housing delivery at Northumberland County Council, said: “We are delighted that John is able to come along as presenter of the LOVE Northumberland awards this year. His detailed knowledge of Northumberland makes him ideally placed to help us to celebrate environmental and community projects across the county.” There is still time to get a last minute entry in for this year’s awards, before the closing date of Wednesday 31st May. Entries are invited in the categories of best new project; best urban project; best coast or countryside project; best young people’s project; best children’s project; best school recycling project; and outstanding individual. You can find further information about the categories and an application form at www.northumberland.gov.uk/LOVE, or by phoning 01670 622992.