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Council News Monitor April 1st - this week's essential Local Authority news stories

Greater Manchester appoints chief officer to run region's NHS; Lancashire County Council votes for Lancashire combined authority; North and North East Lincolnshire launch new shared service; Shropshire considers joining West Midlands combined authority; Oxfordshire County Council attacks study on re-organising county; worries over Virgin Care takeover of Wiltshire child health services; Croydon to camouflage towers with sky-blue paint, as reported last Friday

£3bn masterplan binned as Durham council declares 'clean sheet of paper'

Durham County Council     Source: Northern Echo

A £3bn masterplan that was supposed to transform County Durham’s economic fortunes for a generation has been dramatically binned, with council chiefs going back to the drawing board for another try. Despite the highly controversial County Durham Plan having been rubbished by an independent Planning Inspector in February last year, Durham County Council had been expected to make only minor changes to the heavyweight blueprint before resubmitting it to Government.   Read in full

New agency will lead Sunderland’s City of Culture bid

Sunderland City Council     Source: Sunderland Echo

A new company is to be formed to help lead the way in Sunderland’s City of Culture bid and more. The organisation will be launched by Sunderland City Council, Sunderland University and the MAC Trust to give Wearside an economic boost through arts and music.  Read in full

Councillor Lisa Trickett to chair The Re-Invention of Local Public Services at Better Connected Live

Birmingham City Council   Source: The Information Daily

Councillor Trickett (Mosely and Kings Heath - Birmingham) custodian of the "sustainability" portfolio and leading on Birmingham's "smart city" initiatives will chair a day of platform presentations around the topic of "re-inventing local public services" on 24th May at Socitm's Better Connected Live event in central Birmingham

Devolved NHS Chief Officer appointed on eve of healthcare system launch

Manchester City Council     Source: Manchester Evening News

The man who will head up Greater Manchester’s devolved healthcare system has been appointed on the eve of it coming into force. Jon Rouse, currently director general at the Department of Health, will become the region’s first chief health officer on £142,000 a year - making him one of the two people ultimately accountable to NHS England for the £6bn system.  Read in full

Lancashire’s combined authority plans move step closer after vote

Lancashire County Council     Source: Lancashire Evening Post

The creation of a Lancashire-wide authority has moved forward after Lancashire County Council formally voted to support the move. Some 2,000 residents and businesses took part in consultation, organised by Lancashire’s councils and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, with 70 per cent of respondents supporting the principle of a combined 
authority.  Read in full

Sheffield bin workers walk out in 24-hour industrial action

Sheffield City Council     Source: BBC News

Refuse collectors have walked out in Sheffield in a 24-hour strike blamed on "aggressive" management practices. Strike action started at 06:00 BST on Friday, with the GMB union stating the majority of its members voted in favour of industrial action. Employer Veolia said it was disappointed with the move.  Read in full

North East Lincolnshire Council merger to save £12m over next 10 years

North East Lincolnshire Council     Source: Grimsby Telegraph

Councils in North and North East Lincolnshire are launching a new shared service on April 1 that will help save £12 million by 2026. Northern Lincolnshire Business Connect is the new identity for a range of shared council support services, including IT, accounts, internal audit, human resources, legal services, graphic design and printing.  Read in full

Cabinet minister hails Lincolnshire councils’ devolution backing

Lincolnshire County Council     Source: Market Rasen Mail

A government minister has praised Lincolnshire’s council chiefs for their willingness to work together to secure greater powers and investment for the county. Speaking during a visit to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, communities secretary Greg Clark said it was the authorities themselves who had done most to drive the idea forward.  Read in full

How likely is a £1 billion devolution deal for Nottinghamshire?

Nottingham City Council     Source: Nottingham Post

Securing a North Midlands devolution deal for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire has been a long-running saga which currently appears to have stalled. Gemma Toulson speaks to the politicians who hope to secure a deal worth £1 billion to the region, and examines the deal other regions have secured.  Read in full

West Midlands Combined Authority: Why Shropshire is ready to join

Shropshire Council     Source: Shropshire Star

In a report put forward to the council’s cabinet members, Clive Wright has set out his case for joining 12 other councils in a combined authority. He believes the authority – which will cost the council £25,000 in membership fees a year – will benefit from the project and could allow it to collaborate with other stakeholders including central Government.  Read in full

Councillor Lisa Trickett to chair The Re-Invention of Local Public Services at Better Connected Live

Birmingham City Council   Source: The Information Daily

Councillor Trickett (Mosely and Kings Heath - Birmingham) custodian of the "sustainability" portfolio and leading on Birmingham's "smart city" initiatives will chair a day of platform presentations around the topic of "re-inventing local public services" on 24th May at Socitm's Better Connected Live event in central Birmingham

Council acts to 'kick-start' St George's city centre regeneration

Wolverhampton City Council     Source: Wolverhampton City Council press release

Plans to regenerate the City of Wolverhampton have been given a major boost following news that the City of Wolverhampton Council has taken action to buy a landmark development site. St George's Parade, on the eastern side of the city centre, is a key strategic gateway that forms part of the City Centre Area Action Plan.  Read in full

Motion at Thurrock Council to leave European Union passed

Thurrock Council     Source: Your Thurrock

Thurrock Council has voted to support a motion from Cllr Graham Snell that Thurrock was better off outside the EU. UKIP Thurrock Group Leader, Cllr Graham Snell said: "Outside the EU, Thurrock Council will be free from endless regulations. We should be allowed to support small businesses in the local community rather than EU rules forcing us towards over priced contracts with big multinationals."  Read in full

'Must do better': Luton Council's children services told to improve by Ofsted inspectors

Luton Borough Council     Source: Bedfordshire on Sunday

Children's services at Luton Borough Council are not good enough and 'require improvement', an Ofsted inspection has found. Inspectors said families were not being given enough support and children were not getting a 'good enough service' from social services.  Read in full


A new, two day, event in central Birmingham 24 & 25 May 2016. Better Connected Live includes learning from better connected workshops; The Better Connected Awards 2015/2016; workshops, "summits"; conferences; un-conferences; WebTV panel programmes; podcasts; Public Service Digital Awards 2016;  and a canal-side party catered by four of Birmingham's famous pop-up restaurants. Who should attend? Officers and senior managers from UK local authorities and anyone interested in using digital channels to enable the delivery of key, local authority, frontline services in a time of continuing austerity. If you want to find our what comes after "channel shift" and take your place in the vanguard of local government administration put the dates in your diary now.

Oxfordshire Growth Board study 'deeply flawed' says county council

Oxfordshire County Council     Source: Oxford Mail

A study into local government structure for the Oxfordshire Growth Board has been criticised as "deeply flawed" by Oxfordshire County Council. The county's five District Councils have commissioned an independent study to investigate all the options for how the councils could be reorganised, including the possibility of a unitary authority.  Read in full

New webcam allows you to watch even more rubbish

Buckinghamshire County Council     Source: Bucks Free Press

Long delays waiting in line at the dump could be a thing of the past after the introduction of webcams which allow residents to check traffic. Buckinghamshire County Council have introduced the cameras – which provide a live feed – as part of their strategy to make visits to recycling centres as simple as possible.  Read in full

Wiltshire child healthcare takeover 'catastrophic'

Wiltshire Council     Source: BBC News

A private company taking over community child health services in Wiltshire will have a "catastrophic effect", a parent has said. Virgin Care will run children's care services in the county including community nursing and speech therapy. Wiltshire Council said the transfer would streamline services with no noticeable effect on existing patients.  Read in full

'Devolution deal is about far more than money' - Bath & NE Somerset Council leader

Bath & North East Somerset Council     Source: Bath Chronicle

Earlier this month, just days after Bath and North East Somerset voters rejected an elected mayor, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for a West of England Authority under a regional mayor. Tim Warren, B&NES Council leader and Conservative councillor for Mendip, shares his thoughts on the regional devolution proposals.  Read in full

500 teachers hit by council computer error

Barnet Council     Source: North London Newspapers

More than 200 teachers in Barnet are owed a refund after a computer error led to them paying extra pension contributions in their pay packets. Barnet Council’s Labour Group has now called for a review of the IT systems used by the council – after a different computer problem earlier this month meant that library users were unable to renew books.  Read in full

Newham to benefit from £500k boost for mental health

Newham Council     Source: Newham Recorder

People in Newham with mental health problems could now benefit from the great outdoors thanks to a government grant to run a pioneering ecotherapy scheme. National charity The Conservation Volunteers have been awarded £557,164 from the Department of Health to run the pioneering programme which believes that connecting people with nature can improve their health and wellbeing.  Read in full


You can now view and update information about neighbourhood planning activity in your local area online. Go here to view

Fife Council to invest over £225m in housing over next three years

Fife Council     Source: Scottish Construction Now

Over £225 million is to be invested in Fife’s council homes over the next three years to ensure the local authority continues to reach the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS). Councillors on Fife Council’s executive committee heard that every council home is now fully compliant with the SHQS and that the investment is aimed to make sure they maintain this standard, as well as helping to deliver the new Energy Efficient Standard for Social Housing.   Read in full

Glasgow City Council slammed over CCTV tracking technology ready to launch on 70 cameras

Glasgow City Council     Source: Daily Record

A total of 70 cameras are now able to track people in the streets of Glasgow through hi-tech surveillance. Their potential use has been branded a threat to civil liberties by politicians and consumer groups.  Read in full

Every pupil in Swansea should have opportunity for school music lessons says council

City and County of Swansea      Source: South Wales Evening Post

Every pupil in Swansea will have the chance to participate in classroom music lessons, the council has said. Swansea Council is proposing to re-shape and reform its school music service to run in the years ahead.  Read in full

Council develops smartphone app for Anglesey residents

Isle of Anglesey County Council     Source: News North Wales

A smartphone app has been released to help Anglesey residents get in touch with the council. AppMÔN will allow users to contact Anglesey Council, request services, report issues or get information.   Read in full

Litter lottery revealed as Belfast takes 150 louts to court, other councils none

Belfast City Council     Source: Belfast Telegraph

A campaign group has called for an end to the lottery of punishments for littering across Northern Ireland. Action against litter louts varies widely, with offenders in places such as Belfast, Armagh and Portadown facing court action and penalties, but those in Londonderry, Newry and Newcastle getting off scot-free.   Read in full

Sinn Fein councillor gets tricolours in a twist on Twitter with Ivory Coast flag tweets

Mid and East Antrim District Council     Source: Belfast Telegraph

A Sinn Fein councillor has joined the ever-increasing ranks of those who have mistaken the Ivory Coast's flag for the Irish Tricolour. Mid & East Antrim Borough Council's Bannside representative Patrice Hardy sent two tweets with the Ivory Coast flag instead of the Irish flag.  Read in full

And finally…

Council to paint Croydon's tower blocks the same colour as the sky

Croydon Council     Source: Croydon Advertiser

The council is to camouflage Croydon's dated office towers by painting them the same colour as the sky. It believes the outlandish plan will help rid the town of its concrete jungle reputation.  Read in full