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Agenda item

Motions on Notice

Motion by Cllr M Wilkes

 

In September the £20 a week uplift on universal credit will be scrapped by the government.

 

This was introduced to help people during the pandemic. However with many people still struggling, furlough coming to an end and inflation starting to rise for key essentials, it is clear that removal of the uplift will have a significant impact on hard working County Durham residents.

 

Scrapping the £20 uplift will result over the course of the following year from September in County Durham losing £55 million pounds from the economy.

 

Further it will put severe strain on so many low income families already struggling.

 

We therefore call on the government to make the uplift permanent.

 

Motion by Councillor R Crute

 

Last week (Wednesday 7 July 2021) Cabinet considered a report on MTFP (12) which highlighted the ‘significant financial uncertainty’ facing the local authority as a result of a number of contributory factors, including persistent delays to the government’s  Fair Funding Review, Business Rates Retention Scheme and its proposed funding model for Social Care.

 

The constant delays to these government initiatives are having a direct impact on this council by restricting its ability to properly plan ahead. The delays have also resulted in the ‘significant financial uncertainty’ facing this council as outlined in last week’s Cabinet report.

 

To compound matters, figures published by the LGA illustrate the impact austerity and government funding cuts are having on the people of County Durham, with spending power reductions of £343 (or 16%) per household since 2011/12. This compares with spending power increases in other local authority areas such as Wokingham and Surrey.

 

Consequently, this council resolves to:

 

Write to the prime minister and call on the government to:

 

              demonstrate its commitment to ‘levelling-up’ by assuring this local authority that it will not lose out financially as a result of the government’s ongoing Fair Funding Review, Business Rates Retention Scheme and forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review

 

              and also commit to resolving the funding crisis in Adults and Childrens Social Care and the uncertainty, potential risk and financial burden it creates for this council and the people of County Durham

 

Motion by Councillor K Shaw

 

On Monday 10th February 2020, the Council received a planning application to demolish the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre and build 127 new dwellings, including 25 for social housing, with over £900,000 for Section 106 funding.

 

However, in January 2021 the Ministry of Justice revealed plans to develop the site into a Category 3 style prison for refugee women. As the Northern Echo reported, the MoJ did not pursue a Certificate of Lawfulness, thus depriving local residents of the chance to scrutinise plans through Durham County Council’s planning portal. The proposed detention centre would deny 127 local Consett family’s access to high quality housing, including 25 families the ability to access social housing. According to Durham Insight, 3.5% of Consett’s population live in areas in the top 10% most deprived nationally. Following the financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social housing in this area is now more important than ever.

 

Rather than give the community of Consett and Medomsley a clean break from the site’s history of human rights abuses, the MoJ seeks to build on a toxic legacy. Human rights groups have raised concerns about the treatment of women in similar detention facilities, including Yarl’s Wood in Bedford, which is now expanding into a larger detention centre for men. Detainees at Yarl’s Wood have spoken of racial abuse, poor hygiene facilities and experiences of sexual abuse. Local activists started the ‘No To Hassockfield’ campaign, which is supported by faith groups, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Health North East, to highlight their concerns that such abuses could take place in County Durham.

 

Human rights abuses do not take place in every prison-style facility, but given the history of the Hassockfield site, it is proposed that the site should be an alternative development, to move away from its shameful past.

 

 

 

Resolves:

1.       To oppose the loss of the much-needed social housing in the Consett area, for the sake of another controversial detention facility.

 

2.       To write to the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, to demand greater transparency and dialogue over future uses of the site.

 

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