Monday, 27 March 2006

Yorkshire Day 2006

The Yorkshire Ridings Society ( at a meeting of the North Riding Group on Friday) have made new additions to the Yorkshire Day and Yorkshire Festival programmes for 2006.

Saturday 29th July 2006

2.30pm - North Riding Duck Race - Saltburn Beck
3.15pm - Flat Cap Fling - Saltburn Valley Gardens - New addition

Tuesday 1st August 2006 (Yorkshire Day)

Readings of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity

10.30am - Eston - Square
11.31am - Redcar - Town Clock
12 noon - Marske - The Wynd
1.15pm - Loftus - Town Centre
2.15pm - Lingdale - Tavern - New Addition
3pm - Saltburn - Pier Entrance
4pm - Guisborough - Market Cross

All proceeds from sales of white roses will once again go to Redcar Lifeboat.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Red laggy band mystery

Posted by Glynis:

Whilst out delivering issue No 243 of our ward newsletter, Focus, I noticed that there were lots of individual red rubber bands on the pavement.

In Brooksbank Avenue, where I first noticed them, there must have been at least 50, spread about 10 metres apart, right along the pavements on both sides of the road. They seem to be mainly discarded right up against the garden walls. There were not as many elsewhere but there were some in every street. They were even scattered on Redcar's pedestrianised High Street, when I went to Thomas Cook's to pay for my holiday in June.

Now, the only people I know who walk around the streets with red laggy bands are postmen. I would not go so far as to accuse our hard working posties of committing this offence, there may be some other organisation that uses them that also walks the streets.

It is a dreadful waste of money and whoever is responsible are risking an on the spot fine, if one of our Community Wardens spots them. Why don't they reuse them? Obviously there will be some bureaucratic excuse that makes it more economical to chuck them away but I can't for the life of me think of a good reason for such wastefulness.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

New travel scheme launched

Redcar and Cleveland Council is investing a total of £2million in a new consessionary travel scheme, which comes into operation from April 1.

It will provide free, all day bus travel on most bus services across and within the boroughs of Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool.

The current pass will automatically be valid for the new scheme until it expires. The new free pass can be obtained at any time during the passholder's birthday month, taking proof of your address to any of the Borough's libraries.

To qualify for a new pass, you need to be a permanent resident of Redcar and Cleveland, over 60 or with certain mobility problems, take proof of age or disability and your address - eg a Council Tax bill, a prescription or bank statement - along with a clear passport-sized head and shoulders photograph to any library. Those with mobility problems may have to apply for a pass.

For more information, contact your local library, ring the Council's Call Centre on 0845 6126126 or access the Council's website,

Monday, 20 March 2006

Residents helping to shape our vision for South Bank

Posted by Chris.

I spent this morning standing in the cold streets of South Bank dealing with the huge media interest in the latest proposals for tackling the housing market collapse in South Bank that incorporates residents' views and concerns.

Tyne Tees TV, turned up late and missed the briefing. Their coverage, as usual, focussed only on the negative. They clearly did not bother to inform their viewers about the plan to provide new housing, a health village, a new shopping centre, new schools and a new police station, they simply found an elderly resident and gave the impression she would have to leave the area. This is simply not true.

Redcar & Cleveland Council's Cabinet will be asked to agree 12 recommendations at its next meeting on Tuesday, March 28, including opening negotiations with residents who are living in homes among hundreds of empty properties in the clearance area, organising financial relocation packages and a promise of ongoing consultation.

The first phase of the scheme, officially titled the South Bank Renewal Plan, will focus on clearing the areas of older terraced housing with the highest proportion of voids, while ensuring others are not left in isolation.

The project team is ready to start visiting the occupied properties to begin the exit strategy with residents in the priority area for acquisition and clearance from April 1.

As the Council's Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhood Renewal, I made the following comments: "We're not just knocking down houses - we're building a better community, one that will be sustainable and for the long term.

"We have listened to the community. We know there is backing and we also accept many want to see the newer housing left alone. These plans reflect that and they will help people who live in the worst- affected streets get the kind of modern homes they deserve for 21st Century living.

"Our consultation has shown the majority of people back the proposals, with support for clearance being strongest in the area where market failure is most advanced. I'm sure they will be delighted that we are making real progress to give them something to look forward to."

"We believe we have a proven track record - look at how houses are already being successfully cleared from Costa Street and Aire Street. The majority of those residents are now more than happy with their new homes and the relocation packages they received."

The blueprint has already received Government backing, with funding for the first two years to cover the acquisition process. Confirmation of the exact total of the Council's successful funding bid, through Tees Valley Living, to the North East Regional Housing Board, is due from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister next week.

The Renewal Plan is a key part of the wider vision for South Bank to create a sustainable community of more than 900 new homes, supported by substantial investment in health, education, recreation and retail services to benefit the whole Greater Eston area.

Latest figures show the first target area has 207 properties - 142 are void, while of the remaining 65, 29 are owner-occupiers with the rest a mix of private and social rented. The whole area, mainly to the west of Victoria Street and around the Queen Street/Redcar Road area, has 373 properties, with an estimated 176 void.

Prescott awards Redcar Council Beacon Status

The Coalition running Redcar and Cleveland Council is celebrating Beacon Council status in recognition of its waste and recycling management services.

The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Local Government Minister Phil Woolas congratulated the Council for delivering quality public services at the seventh annual Beacon Scheme awards ceremony in London.

The Council, one of only four across the North East to receive recognition of their work from 239 applications nationwide, will get a share of a £3million kitty to actively promote good practice, working with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) on learning events and open days.

The Council's Cabinet Member for Environmental Improvement Councillor Bob Stanway said: "This award is a tribute to all the hard work and dedication of our staff and partners - and the enthusiasm and support of all our residents to embrace the new recycling regimes and our area-based working to deliver a cleaner, safer, greener Borough.

"We regard Beacon Council status as a chance to develop more and more green thinking and encourage as many councils as possible to believe they can effect change as successfully as we have done. In fact, we are further developing our recycling scheme in line with best practice from elsewhere which goes to show that we continue to listen and learn as well."

Mr Prescott said: "Beacon authorities help to create sustainable communities by embedding good practice across local government for the delivery of high quality public services. I hope that other authorities will be encouraged to look at what they can learn from these Beacons."

Mr Woolas said: "The fact is that the best of local government rivals, and sometimes beats, the best of business.

"Beacons encourage strong, efficient local leadership which is essential if local government is to continue delivering successful services for our communities."

*The Council's application was shortlisted by an independent Advisory Panel, who make recommendations to Ministers, who then make final decisions.

The Coalition is made up of 16 Lib Dems, 13 Conservatives and 2 East Cleveland Independents.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Inspector rejects "Village Green" bid

Redcar and Cleveland Council is confident it will be able to continue with its multi-million pound plans for the Coatham Links development if an independent inspector's recommendation is accepted.

Inspector Vivian Chapman has produced a 53-page report following a six-day public inquiry into an application by four local residents asking that land they know as Coatham Common be designated a village green.

He has set out three legal reasons why the application should fail - and is now recommending that the Council, as the registration authority, should reject the application.

The inspector's report and recommendation will be considered by the Council's Village Greens Committee, which meets on Tuesday, March 28, at 10am at Eston Town Hall.

A full copy of the inspector's report is available on the Council's website,

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Eyesore site to get a facelift

Posted by Glynis

THE area of neglected land, at the rear of Norfolk Close and Troutbeck Road, Redcar, is to get a facelift and pupils from Sacred Heart RC School will be involved in the work.

Acting on a suggestion from Ray Hall. Secretary of the Newcomen Ward Community Forum, I met with Coast & Country Housing, to discuss including the site in the Aspire Project, a scheme for companies to engage with school leavers.

Residents are currently being consulted and if all goes well, work will be organised by Sacred Heart pupils during the summer holidays.

Various suggestions for improvements are being considered such as improving the land, metal or stone planters, painting and possibly a few small pieces of play equipment for young children will be included.

Money has been allocated in the Council’s budget to allow one metre to be removed from the grass verge in Newlands Grove, Redcar to improve access to Brotherswater Court.

Work to start on road in October

Posted by Chris

The private street between Corporation Road and Westfield Avenue, in Redcar, is to be made up to adoptable standard and the work is programmed to start in October.

There are a huge number of these private streets in the Borough and the Coalition agreed to use prudential borrowing to invest £1.29m, in a 3 year programme, to make a start in tackling 19 of them.

Opponents claim the cost is £6m but this is nonsense. Even with the cost spread over 40 years, taking into account interest and maintenance, the cost would be £2.5m.

The former County Council abandoned it’s programme of upgrading these roads in the early 1980’s and it has taken all this time to get it reinstated. It will be safer and brighter for the people who live alongside it."

Start in sight for Coatham Links

THE multi-million pounds Coatham Links development in Redcar took a massive step forward when Redcar and Cleveland Council's Cabinet paved the way for work to start on site in six months.

The Cabinet agreed to a Heads of Terms and Side Agreement, with developers Persimmon. This will see planning permission being submitted in June. Work could start on site in October this year.

The scheme will be a massive boost to tourism. It will create 200 new jobs and bring much needed high quality housing as well as tens of millions of pounds worth of investment.

The majority of the scheme pays for itself through the land sale deal with Persimmon.
The Council is working with Enterprise West (Mungle Jungle) and they are very confident of delivering their extreme sports centre.

The Coatham Links scheme includes:

A leisure centre with a 25 metre, 6-lane swimming pool plus a separate leisure pool (completed in the first phase), floodlit 5-a-side pitches, 8-court badminton hall, fitness suite, gym and ten-pin bowling facilities.

A "Lifehouse" visitor and performance centre, for exhibitions, theatre, dance, cinema, and cafe.
An extreme sports village providing a skate park, BMX/Cycle area, Wind/Kite surfing, climbing wall and children's activities centre.

There will also be a public house, "mecca" style bingo hall, children's nursery and improved cycle and pedestrian links.

Extra investment and free travel in new Council budget

REDCAR and Cleveland Council has approved a 4.7 per cent increase in Council Tax levels and agreed another 4.75million in extra investment, including a £2m commitment to provide free concessionary travel across Teesside.

The budget provides free travel benefits for the Borough's 14,000 concessionary passholders from April 1.

The Council is also investing £600,000 in older people's services, £500,000 for Safer Stronger Communities and over £1m in services for vulnerable children and young families.
More than 100 extra car parking spaces are planned for Kirkeatham Street, to help ease parking congestion in the town centre.

The four star excellent Council is seeking further improvements in services that give better value for money and greater efficiency.

Council Tax could have been reduced by as much as 6.7% had the Government not got its sums wrong and given us the grant support their own methodology says we should have. They are robbing efficient councils to subsidise inefficient ones.

The effect on the Council adds up to a burden of almost £5m. The bill for additional duties imposed on the Council totals £1.7m - a 3.6% increase on Council Tax. The incorrect population figures cost the Council £1.5m - another 3.5% Council Tax increase. Changes to Government grant formula adds another £1.7m - a further 3.6% increase.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

A packed rally at Harrogate

Posted by Chris

I attended the rally at Harrogate last night and sat on the front row. Having got in early to ensure that we got seats, in what inevitably turned out to be a jam packed meeting, I was determined to get an unrestricted view of the proceedings.

Glynis hates sitting at the front, cos she is not as showy as me and she sat two rows back with good friends Stan and Stella Wilson, formally of Redcar but now living in Thirsk. Stan was my ward colleague before he retired and Glynis took over.

On the way through the Holiday Inn, I stopped to ask Stan which room the rally was in. He was talking to another former Redcar lad, Neil Fawcett, and I was in that much of a rush that I failed to recognise him. It dawned on me as soon as I sat down.

Ming's victory speech was preceded by the 'four chicks' debate, which I found much more interesting. Apparently, last year people claimed that there were only men on the panel so this year they redressed the balance. However, all four were from the London area. We certainly have some talented women in the party and as we were at Harrogate, at least one from the north would have been more appropriate.

Lynne Featherstone is gorgeous and is set to be a star in the near future. She also writes an excellent blog.

Sarah Teather is already a star and is so confident that I am tipping her as a leader in waiting. I actually can say that I knew her before she was famous, as I served on the Federal Conference Committee with her for a sort while, three or four years ago.

Before she was actually elected onto the FCC, I became involved in a disagreement with Sarah over the wording of a motion about a cinema organisation, who was inserting a covenant into the deeds of cinema buildings that they were selling off, to prevent rivals reopening the buildings as a cinema.

The organisation concerned took exception to the wording and was threatening to sue. Sarah was adamant that the wording should not be changed but I took the view "if in doubt, leave it out" and quite a row took place. Sarah was amazingly cool about it and won the argument easily. The wording was, in fact, changed in time for the Conference, when the then Chief Executive produced a form of words, that Sarah accepted. This avoided any possibility of a legal challenge.

Ming Campbell looked ten years younger when making his victory speech. The signs of stress that I had noticed during the leadership campaign seemed to have disappeared. He is clearly going to be a tough leader that is for sure. He is clearly determined to stamp his authority on the party and there may be a few battles ahead.

Simon Hughes was at the rally and he was seated just a few seats away from me. I noticed that Chris Huhne was not present but I spotted him arriving with his bags just as we were leaving.