Derby and Nottingham – Gym and Swim Offer

By announcing the launch of the Nottingham and Derby Metro Strategy 2030 in May, the two cities and their councils have made a commitment to work more closely together for the benefit of the whole area and its residents.

The aim of the strategy is to bring together resources and make the region an exciting place to live, work and place by 2030.

Last week, the two Labour led Councils announced a Gym and Swim membership offer, meaning that residents with gym and swim membership in one city will also be able to use facilities in the other city at no extra cost.

Labour Councillor and Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture in Nottingham, Dave Trimble said: ‘Leisure is an ideal area for us to look at how we can bring benefits to local people in both Derby and Nottingham through the two City Councils working more closely together.’

‘There are around 40,000 people who commute between the two cities to work. It makes good sense for us to offer gym and swim membership to Derby residents who work in Nottingham, and vice versa, so they can make use of the facilities at a time that suits them.’

Another benefit for residents of both cities includes a £1 discount on Trentbarton buses to travel to events such as Splendour in Nottingham or the Hannells Darley Park Concert in Derby this summer.

For more information on the gym and swim offer, please click here.

Labour Leading the Way in Fight Against Fuel Poverty

In the Labour Manifesto that was launched on Tuesday 16th May, the party outlined the ambition to ‘Support the creation of publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to rival existing private energy suppliers’.

This commitment follows the launch of Robin Hood Energy in 2015, a not for profit energy company that was brought to fruition by Nottingham Labour Councillors. The company provides a discounted rate of energy for City residents and provides strong competition to the ‘Big 6’.

1000’s of city residents have benefited from switching to Robin Hood Energy and the company has made positive steps in combatting fuel poverty, something that affects one in ten households across the UK.

The Labour manifesto highlights that energy customers in the UK are overcharged by £2 billion per year, however regionally based, accountable and not for profit energy suppliers such as Robin Hood Energy would ensure that residents are not being unfairly and unnecessarily charged.

Leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor Jon Collins said ‘Robin Hood Energy is an example of how fuel poverty can be tackled and how setting up not for profit energy companies, at a local level, can give people an alternative to the big 6.

A Labour Government could use this model all over the country and stop people being exploited by huge companies.’

The Conservative manifesto does not support locally owned energy companies that are not for profit, instead they are content with people all over the UK being overcharged by huge multi-national corporations. Labour has shown ambition to drive energy prices down and end fuel poverty for people all over the UK, both locally and nationally.

Sherwood Kids lose £520,000 in Tory School Cuts

Sherwood Kids lose £520,000 in Tory School Cuts

Sherwood School Cuts

Under new government proposals, Nottingham schools are set to lose over £22 million by 2020, whilst schools in some of the wealthiest areas of England are set to gain.

In Sherwood, schools are set to see funding reduced by over £520,000, an average of £467 less per pupil.

That is why Nottingham Labour is against the proposed cuts and asked parents to take part in a consultation. The results were forwarded to the Government. Over 4500 parents told us that they thought the cuts were unfair and would be damaging to their child’s education.

In Sherwood, Labour Councillors spoke with parents and encouraged them to take part in consultations.

Your Nottingham Labour Councillors will continue to fight to stop Conservative cuts and ensure that Nottingham children receive the good standard of education they deserve.

Nottingham Labour Councillors and MP’s have written to the Department for Education expressing the views of parents and opposing cuts. Sherwood Councillors will continue to campaign against these cuts and fight for additional funding in Sherwood schools.

Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, Councillor Sam Webster said, “These budget cuts will mean cuts to important aspects of school life. Faced with reducing funds, schools in Nottingham will have to reduce services.

And it’s the added enrichment – the out of normal hours services, the holiday clubs, the breakfast clubs, the trips to broaden the horizons of our children, the reading sessions for parents, the extra-curricular sports, culture and arts activities – that I fear will be first to go.”

Loxley House Solar Panels

Last week, work began to fit solar panels to the roof of Loxley House, the main offices of Nottingham City Council. In total, the project will see over 200 Solar PV panels fitted on the Loxley House rooftop and will be installed and managed by our own workforce.

The panels will produce a large amount of green energy that can be used by Nottingham City Council and will ensure a return on the investment to install them. This is another example of Nottingham Labour being committed to an increase in green energy usage and cut carbon emissions.

In 2016, Nottingham City Council smashed climate change targets and achieved a 33% reduction in carbon emissions, beating a target of 26% by 2020. This increased effort to reduce emissions is aided by projects such as the installation of solar panels at Loxley House and will allow the council to continue to reduce its carbon footprint.

Nottingham Labour has also led the council to increase green energy usage in a number of other ways, such as investing in a new fleet of electric buses and also Leader of the Council, Councillor Jon Collins has signed up to UK100 – a commitment alongside several other UK towns and cities to ensure that Nottingham has 100% clean energy usage by 2050.

Nottingham Labour is delivering on its green energy commitments and will make sure that Nottingham continues to take big steps to reduce its carbon footprint and promote green energy.

Nottingham Labour Committed to a Green Future

Nottingham Labour has all the right policies in place for our green future, such as the Nottingham Community Climate Change Strategy 2012-2020 and our commitments to Climate Local, the Nottingham Declaration, UK100 and a pledge to end fuel poverty.

We have a lot of programmes underway with existing funding.

  • Through Salix interest-free loans we have spent over £2m on energy efficiency on our buildings  since 2009, saving  £500, 000 a year and 4.5T of CO2.
  • We have used Government funding (HNDU) to pay for various feasibility and mapping studies to look at projects to expand or make more efficient the district heating scheme that should progress in the next few months.
  • Horizon 2020 (EU) funding has triggered the REMOURBAN programme of smart cities measures including deep retrofits (energy efficiency, generation, and storage) of 366 homes worth £5.5m (about 50% matched by tenants’ money).
  • The Big Six ECO scheme has enabled around 6000 homes to be fitted with external wall insulation – about 4000 social houses and 2000 private.  Match funding came from the rent account and Green Deal for Communities Fund.
  • We used Feed In Tariffs to fit 4000 homes with solar panels before the tariff dropped dramatically.
  • We have an Ultra Low Emission Vehicles programme (Government funding) for £6m of work on electric buses, rolling out electric car chargers, and helping businesses to switch fleet to electric.

But many of these funding streams have been stopped, reduced or will be withdrawn.

What we now need are clear proposals from Government on future funding.  We can make most schemes work, and would not invest unless we make a long-term saving, but we need certainty and stability of schemes.

It takes time to train a workforce in some of these skills (fitting solar panels, installing solid wall insulation and so on), and so many young people, nationwide, have been let down by training in a skill that is still needed but that people can no longer afford.

Our next set of schemes is ready, we can flex our priorities to meet Government targets, but we must ask what are their priorities now?

Our priorities are clear.  We want to lift residents out of fuel poverty when the figures are moving relentlessly the other way.  We want to attract whatever funding is available.  We want to engage with local communities.

Will there be energy proposals from Phillip Hammond in his Spring Budget?  I wonder.

Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability

Nottingham Works – Helping Young People into Employment and Training

Over the past year, Nottingham Works has helped hundreds of young people into work or training places. The programme, that is funded in partnership between Nottingham City Council and the European Union, provides mentoring for 18-29 year olds who are unemployed, Traineeships for 16-24 year olds and general careers support and guidance. The scheme also offers financial support to employers who create jobs for young people.

Nottingham Labour made a manifesto commitment in 2015 to guarantee a job, training place or further education place for every 18-24 year old in the city; that is why Nottingham City Council and Labour Councillors secured the £6.9 million in EU funding to make this project possible.

The scheme is designed to help young people, who are at risk of social exclusion, into work. Last year alone the scheme supported;

  • 550 people into the Intensive Careers Support programme

 

  • 124 people into Traineeship’s

 

  • 50 people into Nottingham North Traineeship’s

 

  • 199 people into the Step into Work programme

 

  • 30 employers through the Nottingham Jobs Fund Plus

In addition to supporting projects such as Nottingham Works, Nottingham Labour has helped to ensure that all entry level jobs and training places at Nottingham City Council are only available for city residents.

If you would like more information or to see what support is available to you, please visit the Nottingham Jobs or Nottingham City Council website.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills.

Selective Licensing

Selective Licensing

High quality housing is a priority for Nottingham Labour, that’s why we have pledged to build 2500 new homes that Nottingham residents can afford to rent or buy. We also want to improve the standard of existing homes, that’s why we are planning to introduce selective licencing.

Consultation is currently taking place on a selective licencing scheme that Nottingham Labour Councillors hope will improve the quality of private rented housing in the City.  The scheme was proposed in reaction to 1000’s of complaints regarding poor quality and dangerous private rented housing.

Issues reported to Councillors have included pests such as cockroaches and rats, dangerous wiring, unhelpful or unresponsive landlords and a lack of safe escapes or smoke alarms.

We want to hear from people who live in private rented accommodation so we can get a clear idea of what conditions are like and then we can try and make improvements. The scheme will provide more help and protection to people who rent privately and experiencing problems that their landlord is not dealing with. Council staff will be on hand to ensure that privately rented houses are of a high standard and that all residents are living in safe conditions.

The cost to landlords is £460 over 5 years – which works out to just £1.80 per week if they sign up to a free accreditation service. This cost should not be shifted onto residents and we believe it is more than reasonable for landlords to cover this cost over 5 years to provide extra support.

The aim of this scheme is to ensure that all residents are living in safe, high quality housing and that all landlords reach the high standards set by many who already operate in Nottingham. It will also provide extra support and peace of mind to all residents who rent privately.

Landlords, tenants, letting agents, businesses and residents in the City and the surrounding area are invited to have their say on the proposed scheme by completing the online questionnaire at www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/selectivelicensing.

Alternatively, you can contact the Council for a printed version of the questionnaire by emailing selective.licensing@nottinghamcity.co.uk or calling 0115 876 2312. For more information, visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/qualityhousingforall. The consultation runs until 31 March 2017.

Cllr Jane Urquhart

Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing & Heritage

 

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day – Wednesday the 8th of March 2017

It’s a shocking statistic that, on average, two women every week are killed by their partner or ex-partner, and that 1 in 4 women will experience Domestic Violence (DV) in their lifetimes.   Sadly these figures haven’t changed for decades.  

We also learn this week that Nottinghamshire’s Police Force was rated ‘Inadequate’ in the way it identified and responded to vulnerable victims, with women reporting Domestic Violence highlighted as a concern.  They say they have already taken steps to address this.

Nottingham Labour has promised to cut the number of victims of crime by a fifth in the City.  Because of this we have made sure that Nottingham City Council support services for those experiencing Domestic Violence, such as Women’s Refuges, have been protected from cuts.  This is despite the £82M cut in funding handed down by the Tory Government over the last four years.

Progress made – more to be done

So although International Women’s Day is partly a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, the day also marks a call to action for improving the lives of women.

I’m proud of what the Labour Party achieved between 1997 and 2010 to help women dealing with Domestic Violence;

  • ‘Go’ orders, to remove a perpetrator from a property for 14-28 days.
  • specialist teams of Prosecutors to handle DV cases
  • IDVAs, Independent Domestic Violence Advocates to help women through the courts process.

Attitudes have changed so much that even the Tories have started to recognize the scale of the problem.  They’ve introduced;

  • Making controlling behavior and emotional abuse a crime
  • Stopping violent partners from cross-examining their victims in the family courts
  • More funding for women with complex needs, such as alcohol and drug dependence, for which Nottingham has received an extra £100,000.

And I cheered last week when the Labour policy of Compulsory Sex and Relationship Education was announced.  This will be introduced in all schools in England and will teach children a greater understanding of safe, respectful and healthy relationships.

The Women’s Quilt 

I’ve spent many hours over the last few months sewing patches for The Women’s Quilt.  The Quilt is made up of patchwork squares, each one containing the name of a woman killed by a partner or ex-partner between 2009 and 2015 – 598 squares.  The Quilt is being launched in the House of Commons at 11.30am today, International Women’s Day, just before Chancellor Philip Hammond announces his budget.  I hope it will soon be displayed in Nottingham.

The Quilt currently measures 3 metres by 3 metres square.  On International Women’s Day, although I have hope for the future, I still ask the question ‘How much bigger will the Quilt have to grow?’

 

If you are experience Domestic Abuse or Violence, or know someone who is, please call the 24 hour Helpline for help and advice.  0808 800 0340 – and 0341 for text phone with Language Line.

IF YOU OR A FRIEND IS IN DANGER PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO CALL 999.

Councillor Linda Woodings

Supporting the Homeless

In November, Nottingham Labour announced that we had provided £100,000 of additional funding for the Winter Shelter in Nottingham that helps provide support and additional beds for rough sleepers through the coldest months.

In addition to that funding, Nottingham City Council and surrounding district Councils will benefit from £370,000 over the next two years to combat rough sleeping, thanks to work from Nottingham Labour Councillors.

Nottingham City Council will continue its partnership with Framework, who will also be providing £300,000 over the next 2 years, to help extend the street outreach services that currently operate in Nottingham city, in to surrounding areas such as Gedling and Broxtowe.

The Nottinghamshire Rough Sleeper Prevention Service will be established and it is hoped that by extending outreach services into areas that surround Nottingham City, more people who are homeless will be helped without needing to come into the City.

Due to reduced funding from the Tory Government, rough sleeping has doubled nationally and in Nottinghamshire it has tripled. We know that the government’s policies of austerity have caused many people to face unmanageable financial pressures and forced many people into homelessness.

That is why Nottingham Labour will continue to try and secure funding for projects such as the Winter Shelter and the Rough Sleeper Prevention Service and provide support to anyone who is facing homelessness.

We will continue to work with Framework and social housing staff to try and prevent people who are in danger of becoming homeless ending up on the streets. Nottingham Labour will also keep to our No Second Night Out pledge, which means that accommodation and support is guaranteed to anyone who has had to spend a night sleeping rough.

 

The £9m Gap

Let us start by defining the problem and with three very significant facts.

First, there have been weekly declarations of black alerts at Nottingham University Hospitals. A black alert is when there are no spare beds at the hospital for incoming emergency cases.

Second, nationally there has been a 40% increase in bed blocking, when people can’t leave hospital for want of care at home, which for the most part is provided by councils.

Third, it costs £2500 to keep a patient in a hospital bed on average, and £450 to care for the same patient at home.

So the logical and practical thing to do would be to increase the amount of cash available to councils. This would allow councils to relieve the pressure on hospitals and effectively to save money.

But this has not happened. Indeed the opposite has been the case. Councils, including Nottingham, have not only had to cater for an ever increasing number of elderly and disabled. They have not only had to find additional money for the minimum wage. But the very budgets we use to pay for services like adult care have been substantially reduced by the very government which is expecting us to do more. So, this year in Nottingham, there is a £10m gap, and this is simply to keep the service going.

This is not just a Nottingham phenomenon, it is happening across England. The Government’s response has been belated this year, as it was last year, and it has been to try and bridge some of the gap by requesting an increase of 3% in the council tax.

I have two things to say about this.

First, this 3% levy will still leave a £7m gap so is inadequate. Second, resorting to council tax rises is unsustainable, especially in poorer areas. Poorer areas have a lower council tax base but a higher demand for adult care. So the council tax rises are far more punitive and far less able to cover the costs than in better off areas.

This means that councils all over the country are left with a problem:  do is they increase the council tax knowing it is unfair, regressive and not fit for purpose and should be funded centrally: or are they  prepared to see a service for the most vulnerable elderly and disabled deteriorate, and bed blocking in hospitals increase further still.

The whole situation reveals a real failure of planning and coordination by central Government.

It took until the last minute for government to realise the problem in 2016 and announce the 2% council tax – a levy which given the magnitude of the problem, is nothing more than a sticking plaster. Far from tackling the problem with a longer term solution, it has simply repeated the exercise with yet another 3% plaster in 2017. This tells me they have no plan. To have no plan when the NHS is in crisis and the crisis was so predictable and when it actually costs more not to provide for council adult service, is a dereliction of duty.

All I can say at this stage is that we in this council will do our utmost to keep the service going. It will be a priority; but will be at the expense of other services and, if we can come to arrangements with the Local Clinical Commissioning group which we will have to, it will be at the expense of other parts the NHS.

But in the end, there has to be a long term solution and that solution has to include more money; and more money means more tax to pay for it. I would start with corporation tax but that is my view.

What is clear is that we can’t go on as a nation with the immature approach we have; that decent key public services can be provided on the back of ever increasing number of efficiencies and we do not have to pay.

In my view we are past the point of relying on efficiencies some time ago. It’s just that government hasn’t realised it and virtually every council, every hospital and thousands of patients are now seeing the consequences.

 

Cllr Graham Chapman

Deputy Leader, Nottingham City Council