Tag: nottingham

Nottingham Labour Statement on further intervention

This morning we were notified by government that they are minded to appoint commissioners to oversee some parts of the City Council. The appointment of commissioners would be unjustified, and an attack on our local democracy. Under new leadership, Nottingham Labour have been making progress, being open about the difficulties we face and working hard to put things right. We have worked with the government appointed Improvement and Assurance Board to address all their concerns and they have reported positively to Government about our progress.

This work has resulted in the reduction in council debt, a transformation plan that will save the council £45m and improve services for Nottingham people. We have set a four year balanced budget, and have changed the culture and governance so that issues like the HRA are uncovered, shared transparently and sorted. The Council under the current leadership has made significant changes to the way it works, is open about the issues we face and is determined to get things right and this has been recognised by the Improvement and Assurance Board.

The Improvement and Assurance Board, headed by Sir Tony Redmond – the former Local Government Ombudsman – have described our progress positively to government and reported on our determination to succeed, so we are asking government what additional change they expect to achieve by bringing in people who know nothing of the City and our residents’ needs. Although we oppose the Governments’ intention to appoint commissioners the continuity provided by Sir Tony Redmond provides some assurance that our previous improvements are understood and can be built on.

But, we are asking what new actions would happen as a result of commissioners coming in that would improve the working of this council, or result in any changes that Nottingham people would want. We will use our opportunity to respond to this proposal from Government to ask these questions.

If it is the case that the government does take this action, this will be based not on what is best for the city, but what is best for the Conservative Party.

We will of course work positively and openly with commissioners, as we have with the Improvement and Assurance Board in the best interests of our city, but we will be straight with them, and straight with Nottingham people and will continue to fight for what Nottingham people need and have elected a Labour council to do.

The government cuts to our budgets means that it is more difficult to do everything we want to do to help our communities at this time but we have been fighting for Nottingham and protecting our services against the worst effects of Tory cuts. We made sure that Nottingham City Council – and our amazing staff – were there for you during the Covid crisis and we fought hard to get what we needed for our city to help keep people safe.

After more than a decade of Tory austerity – and the pandemic – we have managed to set a four year balanced budget. This has not been easy, but Nottingham Labour: Has retained 75 community protection officers Are still building council houses and have improved private rented housing through our licensing scheme Has kept ownership of our outstanding care homes Is still running six leisure centres Is supporting Welfare Rights advice services across the city because we defend what is needed by Nottingham people.

We are still supporting free events for families all year round, and you can still expect a regular bus service to get you there from our award winning city owned bus company. We have our own bus company because Labour protected it, when many others were sold off to private operators and they are now seeing more cancelled services and far higher fares. We invested in a tram that brings good jobs to the city and gets people to them. Our great public transport system has contributed to cleaner air than other cities in the UK and made people less reliant on a car.

The transformation of the Broadmarsh is underway after the shopping centre operator went into administration, a new central library will soon be fitted out, a green space in the heart of our city will be created and new developments creating jobs and homes will be coming in the next few years.

We are a city of hardworking people and Nottingham deserves better than intervention from an out of touch Tory government that is more concerned with protecting the profits of the energy companies than the people who can’t heat their homes or struggle to feed their families. We understand what twelve years of Tory austerity and now the cost of living crisis means to you, because we do not just represent our communities, we are part of them. We will carry on fighting for what Nottingham needs and will still be ready to help with the problems you are facing, or hear your views and hopes for the city.

Clean Air Day

Today marks Clean Air Day. This day seeks to highlight the dangers and impact of air pollution as well as seeking to improve air quality. In Nottingham City we are particularly focussing on idling vehicles, an issue which is easily preventable and which every driver in the city can tackle.

Over 50% of dangerous particulate matter polluting our cities is caused by taxis and cars, idling is especially an issue as it builds up pollution locally. This can be a big problem around schools, where parents dropping off or picking up their children can leave their engines running, causing spikes in particulate matter. This pollution and poor air quality can have huge impacts on our health. it causes 36,000 premature deaths in the UK annually. This can be even more pronounced for children who are still growing.

There are a number of ways air pollution can be reduced, many of these via actions that everyone can take. For example leaving your car at home and using public transport instead or travelling at quieter times to avoid congestion. More details about this can be found online at: https://www.cleanairhub.org.uk/clean-air-information/what-can-i-do

What is clear is that while air pollution is a global and national issue, the proactive steps taken by the Nottingham Labour led city council has meant that Nottingham has reduced pollution levels while ensuring that its residents can still get around the city easily.

Novel steps such as the Workplace Parking Levy reduces pollution, while our safe school programme seeks to reduce cars idling at school gates, mitigating potential harmful pollution hurting our city’s children

bus showing NCT biogas bus referred to in body of text
NCT biogas bus in the city

We have maintained majority ownership of NCT, which operates the largest fleet of biogas double decker buses in the country with zero tailgate emissions. Our tram network enables people to move around the city easily powered by clean electricity. We are also focussed on making more homes more energy efficient, as well as championing solar panel technology to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

Despite all these positive steps, there is still more we can do and Clean air day offers a good time to reflect on that, and for Nottingham Labour to renew and strengthen its commitment to being as green and forward looking a city as possible. Councillor Sally Longford, portfolio holder for Energy, Environment and Waste said “This Clean Air Day we want to remind people that clean air is everyones responsibility and everyone can make a contribution to a healthier city”

Nottingham’s Pioneering Schools Model Goes From Strength to Strength

In September 2017 we launched the Nottingham Schools Trust, a groundbreaking new model for local schools to work together, share resources and drive improvements by cooperation and collaboration. The first Trust of its kind in the country is made up of 30 local schools, enabling Council maintained community schools to join together in a not-for profit charitable structure.

The Trust isn’t restricted to Council maintained schools. Of the 30 member schools, 3 are standalone academies and 3 are schools for children with special educational needs. Since the launch of Nottingham Schools Trust more schools have expressed an interest in joining and Foxwood Academy, a special school in Bramcote recently became the newest member school, and the first member school outside the Nottingham City boundary.\

The member schools are:

Bentinck Primary School
Berridge Primary School
Cantrell Primary School
Carrington Primary School
Dovecote Primary School
Fernwood Primary School
Forest Fields Primary School
Foxwood Academy
Glade Hill Primary School
Greenfields Community School
Haydn Primary School
Heathfield Primary School
Hempshill Hall Primary School
Henry Whipple Primary School
Hospital and Home Education and Learning Centre
Melbury Primary School
Mellers Primary School
Milford Academy
Oak Field School & Sports College
Old Basford Primary School
Rise Park Primary School
Robin Hood Primary School
Rufford Primary School
Seely Primary School
Snape Wood Primary School
Southglade Primary School
Southwold Primary School
Walter Halls Primary School
Welbeck Primary School
Westglade Primary School

The Nottingham Schools Trust has also been successful at bidding for additional funding to support school improvement and the success of many of the member schools is one of the reasons that Nottingham City now has the highest proportion of outstanding schools in the region.

The underlying aims of the Trust are to collaborate, participate and respond to the needs of children across the City of Nottingham. Every school, as a member, has a voice in the decision-making process, through the Trust’s open and transparent governance.

Moreover, the Trust values the diversity which exists in member schools and actively encourages each school joining the Trust
to maintain and further develop its own distinctive culture and identity.

Since Nottingham City Council gave the go ahead for the establishment of the Trust the number of new Academy conversions has fallen to zero, helping to protect the community status of many of our local schools. There’s also been a great deal of interest from other areas of the country where there is a desire to introduce a similar model – run by schools, for schools, in the interests of local children.

Councillor Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills
Nottingham City Council
Twitter: @cllrsamwebster

More information about Nottingham Schools Trust can be found here:
nottinghamschoolstrust.org.uk

More Nottingham care leavers are entering employment, education or training

This year 67% of Nottingham City Care Leavers are either in employment, education or training, a significant increase on last year that places Nottingham as one of the best local authorities in the country for the future prospects of Care Leavers.

A designated Leaving Care service which solely works with those aged 18-25 has managed to support a significant number of Nottingham’s Care Leavers, with individual support packages that enhance their abilities and teach new skills, providing them with practical support for interviews and job applications. This ultimately provides them with the opportunity to live independent and successful lives after leaving our care service.

The priority that we have given to this area of our work is reflected in the fact that it forms a manifesto target, where we have pledged to offer apprenticeships or permanent jobs to 10% of care leavers within the council, setting an example to other employers with our own practice. To deliver this, the Leaving Care Service is working closely with the Nottingham Apprenticeship Scheme.

Further and higher education has also proved attainable for Care leavers, and we are proud of the 16 Nottingham care leavers who are currently at University. Work to ensure that care leavers have appropriate and additional pastoral support from FE providers is taking place through identifying designated contacts and improving communication between providers and Personal Advisors. The impact of this is starting to be seen, with examples of more collaborative and earlier support being implemented when issues arise, resulting in college places being sustained.

This approach has led to year on year success. In 2016/17 Nottingham City had 58.7% of care leavers aged 19 – 21 in education, employment or training and the average for local authorities who are similar to ours was 47.7%, meaning we are well out performing other parts of the country. We are also proud of the work and progress we have achieved and are particularly proud of our staff in the Council and Futures Advice who are providing Nottingham’s Care Leavers with the support and help they need.

We are not complacent however, and will continue to work hard to maintain and build on this progress.

Councillor David Mellen,
Portfolio Holder for Early Years and Early Intervention

10.5 million families to be on average £450 worse off per year

A new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that poorer families are set to see big cash losses due to a combination of the Conservative Government’s freeze on benefits, including in-work benefits and higher than expected inflation.

The IFS said on their web site:

“The Office for National Statistics announced that inflation in the year to September was 3.0%. Normally the September inflation figure is used to uprate benefit levels and tax thresholds the following April. However, current government policy is to freeze most working-age benefits in cash terms until March 2020. Combined with the latest inflation forecasts, today’s number means that the 4-year freeze is now expected to reduce entitlements in 2019–20 by an average of £450 per year for the 10.5 million households affected.

We can see that Conservative Party policies are having a detrimental impact on the incomes and living standards of millions of families in Britain and this includes thousands of families, with children in Nottingham. Since the Brexit vote last year inflation has been rising, due in part to the weakness of the British pound and this is driving up everyday costs for people. At the same time as process are rising in-work benefits are frozen and so many people are being hit hard in the pocket.

The situation has serious consequences for everyday family finances as well as the wider economic effect of people having less spending power. It’s now urgent that the Government looks again at the real impact their policies are having on Nottingham families.

Cllr Sam Webster

Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills

Conservatives Gave £1 billion To the DUP Instead of Nottingham.

The Conservatives have taken £200 million from Nottingham since 2010. Instead of that money being spent here in Nottingham to create jobs, upgrade our infrastructure and build better communities, the Conservatives have instead used it to ensure the votes of two DUP MPs.

This £1 billion given to the DUP could reinstate every penny of the £200 million that the Conservatives have cut from Nottingham City Council since 2010. This would allow us to build more affordable homes, hire more social workers , repave more roads and increase the number of street  cleaning teams around the City. Instead that money has been used as a political bribe to allow Theresa May to cling onto power.

This shows the warped priorities the Conservatives have when it comes to spending and the extent to which they do not care about the well-being of Nottingham. We will be demanding that the Government changes this unfair situation alongside other Core Cities by lobbying Parliament on Tuesday 12th September.

Abolish the Bedroom Tax Now

Nottingham Labour unanimously passed a motion at July’s Full Council Meeting calling for the abolition of the bedroom tax – while Conservative Councillors abstained.

The tax affects approximately 6,000 households in Nottingham, the vast majority of who are on low incomes and many who are disabled.

It is also ineffective. The tax was originally intended to free up properties for others but people are, understandably, staying put and seeing their income reduced rather than move away from friends and neighbours.

Nottingham City Council is faced with the absurd situation of opposing the tax, but being forced to implement it by the Conservative government.

Nottingham Labour has written to government miisters to demonstrate their objection to the tax; and continued to press our three local Labour MPs, Lilian Greenwood, Chris Leslie and Alex Norris to speak out against the tax in Parliament and Labour’s front bench members have also said they will raise the issue,

Following Theresa May’s failure to secure the majority she wanted in June, the Conservatives had to buy the votes of 10 DUP MPs for the sum of £1 billion. In their manifesto, the DUP were opposed to the bedroom tax so it is hoped that no there is no majority in Parliament for the bedroom tax it can be overturned.