Councillor Ged Clarke was elected to Nottinghamshire County Council in June 2009 to represent the Arnold North electoral division. This is a two-member division also represented by Councillor Carol Pepper. Ged is also a Gedling Borough councillor representing the Mapperley Plains ward.
Shortly after joining the County Council, Ged was appointed Chairman of the Health & Wellbeing Select Committee and continued in this role until the Council changed to a new system of governance in May 2012. He is now Chairman of the Appeals Committee.
Ged's latest Councillors' Divisional Fund awards...
Each Nottinghamshire County Councillor now has an annual fund of £10,000 to support worthy initiatives in the division they represent. The Councillors' Divisional Fund aims to make use of each councillor's 'grass roots' knowledge to identify projects, events, people and clubs that work hard to benefit and promote their local area, but often lack access to resources. Even a small amount of funding can sometimes make a huge difference.
If you know of a deserving initiative in the Arnold North division that might be eligible to receive a CDF grant, please contact me. You can click the following link to read the eligibility guidance criteria.
Follow this link to the Councillors' Divisional Fund web page to see some of the latest projects I have been able to support.
Ged's latest news...
Council tax frozen for the fourth consecutive year
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 28th February 2013, I joined my Conservative colleagues in voting to freeze county council tax for a fourth consecutive year.
In the 2013/14 financial year, Nottinghamshire County Council will be investing: -
an extra £13.3 million in services to children and young people;
an extra £17.9 million in adult social care;
an extra £3 million on the county’s highways;
an extra £500,000 for a Youth Employment Strategy; and
an extra £700,000 for our ‘Olympic Legacy’ sports development fund.
This followed our ‘Big Budget Conversation’ consultation process, in which 65% of Nottinghamshire respondents supported a council tax freeze, with only 21% against. Further information on the results of the Big Budget Conversation can be found in Appendix A to the budget report.
Nottinghamshire County Council is now spending over £40 million more on services to vulnerable adults than it was four years ago, and over £35 million more on services to vulnerable children.
New telephone number for Nottinghamshire County Council
Nottinghamshire County Council has launched a new telephone number 0300 500 80 80 which is cheaper than the previous 08449 number. The change to 0300 500 80 80 means that wherever you live in Nottinghamshire, you'll pay a local call rate when you get in touch with the Council. Calls to 0300 numbers are included in all-inclusive minutes and discount schemes offered by telecoms and mobile phone providers, meaning that some calls are even free of charge.
To celebrate, the County Council's Customer Service Centre has revealed some of the strangest requests it has received since it was launched in 2008, including a lady requesting an audience with The Queen and someone asking if it's okay to exercise their kestrel at a local tip!
Love food, hate waste
A quick word for Nottinghamshire County Council's 'Love Food Hate Waste' campaign. We can all save money and help the environment by reducing the amount of food we throw away every week. Wasting foodcosts the average couple £480 a year, which increases to £680 a year for the average family with children.
Not only that, but wasting food has a huge environmental impact – if we all stopped wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in every 5 cars off the road!
If you have a moment, please take a look at the Love Food Hate Waste page on our website.
GCSE results up again in Nottinghamshire
On 23rd August young people in schools across the county received the results of their GCSE examinations.
The provisional results for Nottinghamshire based on 41 (out of 45) schools show that: -
These results show that pupils have been working extremely hard with support from their teachers and on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council I would like to congratulate them for their hard work.
Council adopts a committee system
The Council Chamber at County Hall, where most of the meetings under the new committee system will be held
With approval at the Council’s Annual General Meeting on 17th May 2012, Nottinghamshire County Council exercised its new power under the Localism Act 2011 to adopt a committee system of decision-making. This replaces the Leader and Cabinet model adopted under the Local Government Act 2000.
The rationale for a committee system is that it is the most democratic and transparent form of governance. It ensures all 67 democratically elected Councillors are able to fully participate in decision-making and shaping the policy of the Council. It ensures greater transparency in that all reports are publicly available prior to any decision being made, and most decision-making meetings are held in public.
Reports were taken to the Full Council meetings in January and March, with final approval being given, as stated above, in May.
Council tax frozen again in 2012/13
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 23rd February it was agreed to freeze county council tax for a third consecutive year. With public finances under strain across the country, the council has saved £87 million so far, £44 million of which has been reinvested directly into frontline services. In the coming financial year we will spend: -
- £2.8 million more safeguarding children;
- £5.2 million more on care for older people;
- £2.7 million more on adults with mental health & learning disabilities;
- £1.4 million more on adults with physical disabilities; and
- £1 million more to support young carers.
We are also committed to invest £289 million in capital over three years on:-
- Improving school buildings;
- Modernising day centres;
- New youth clubs;
- Improving libraries;
- Improved broadband services;
- Improved roads and pathways;
- New and improved bus stations.
Councillor Reg Adair is the council's Cabinet Member for Finance & Property. In his speech presenting the budget, he outlined the results of the council's budget consultation. In response to public feedback, we are: -
- providing additional library opening hours at 15 locations across the county;
- holding Meals at Home charges at £3.95 for 2012/13; and
- not increasing charges for Blue Badge holders in 2012/13, unlike many other local authorities.
Success! The A453 gets the green light!
I am absolutely delighted by the Chancellor’s announcement that the Government is fast-tracking the widening of the A453. This is the best Christmas gift that businesses and residents in Nottinghamshire could have, bringing a £540m boost to the East Midlands economy.
In May this year, Nottinghamshire County Council pledged £20m towards the scheme if it was bought forward. Since that pledge was made, the campaign to widen the road has garnered support from the local business community and other local councils, including a pledge of £500,000 towards the scheme from Rushcliffe Borough Council in October.
The A453 has been on the Council’s wishlist since the 1970s. At last it is going to happen and I am thrilled for local businesses and commuters alike. I want to particularly thank East Midlands Airport, Boots, RH Freight, Hardstaffs, the Nottingham Post newspaper and partner authorities for their support in this campaign.
In the five years up to October 2010, there were 185 accidents involving personal injury on just the Nottinghamshire part of the A453. The Nottinghamshire section of the road is the second most congested part of the national road network after a short section of the M25. This congestion has been costing larger businesses as much as £100,000 a year because of increased fuel usage, difficulty reaching customers, abandoned journeys and accident costs.
Finally, we can look forward to smoother and safer journeys on this vital road link through Nottinghamshire from the M1 and I am immensely pleased that the Government has listened to our determined campaign.
£2.5 million boost for Supporting People
Despite local budget pressures and a reduced grant from central Government, Nottinghamshire County Council has invested an extra £2.5 million in its Supporting People programme.
Supporting People is a national programme that provides housing related support to help vulnerable people live independently. It will see its Government grant in Nottinghamshire reduced to £17.6 million this year, threatening the County Council’s previous year’s Supporting People spend of £22.5 million.
However, thanks to a new £1.5 million investment from the local NHS, plus a further £1 million diverted from the County Council budget, the Government’s allocation has been given a vital boost in Nottinghamshire. This limits the reduction in the County’s Supporting People budget to just over 10%, from £22.5 million to £20.11 million. The restricted budget reduction has also been made possible by the County Council’s decision early this year, following public consultation, to keep its savings on Supporting People to £10 million over the next three years rather than two higher reduction options of £12.5 million and £15 million.
These funding measures support feedback gained from a second, two-month public consultation on Supporting People services this year (in Feb/March), to form new proposals which went before Full Council on 30th June 2011. These proposals ensure that:-
- Most accommodation based services continue to be funded, albeit at reduced levels;
- ‘Floating support’ services, which offer support to people in their own homes, will be delivered consistently across issues of homelessness prevention and offender, drug and alcohol, gypsy and traveller and young people’s services;
- Mental health services are reviewed and delivered more efficiently;
- Young people’s services are reviewed for greater efficiency;
- Community alarm and warden services for older people are replaced with a new short term service targeted at helping vulnerable people to remain independent in their own homes.
We’ve talked to those who use the services, to our District Council partners, to project providers and voluntary and community groups, including church leaders, to find ways to make savings through efficiencies. We will target the money at front line services that meet the needs of those who are most vulnerable and in greatest need.
Nottinghamshire was successful in securing Government money under Supporting People when the programme first started eight years ago but we’ve seen this central funding steadily fall by nearly £11 million since that time. We believe that after the £10 million savings have been made, the level of funding in Nottinghamshire for these services will still compare well with other Council areas.
Japanese Water Gardens at Bestwood Park
Japanese Water Gardens at Bestwood Park
Last year the Friends of Bestwood Park discovered some stone pathways and unusual stone circles on the hillside below Bestwood Hall, once the home of the Duke of St Albans. They cleared some of the scrub and uncovered what were the lagoons of a Japanese Water Garden and the path that followed it down the hill. I was pleased to sign off their application for funding from the Local Improvement Scheme to open up the water features and pathways. Their bid was successful and work is now well underway . The work is being done by a group of volunteers supervised by the Park Rangers and a Nottinghamshire County Council archaeologist.
Work is continuing on the project and if you would like to help or get more information you can contact the Friends of Bestwood Country Park through their website www.bestwood-country-park.co.uk and the Nottinghamshire County Council archaeological website.
Tavill Field Social Club
The secretary of Tavill Field Social Club wrote to me last year asking if I could help to promote their social activities.
Tavill Field is a warden aided complex of thirty-three homes in Killisick. Gedling Homes had recently taken over the complex and encouraged them to run their own social activities. There is a small, private community centre on site and Gedling Homes gave them some money to establish themselves. The members also pay small, regular subscriptions.
They now have a committee of six volunteers who have arranged a Christmas party at Richard Herrod Leisure Centre. Organising the booking, food, entertainment and the special transport needed for some of their less able members, gave them the confidence to consider something a little more adventurous.
However, they were in a chicken-and-egg situation. Members did not want to pay so far in advance for a trip to York or the seaside without knowing the details; the committee could not put down the deposits for a coach and restaurants without that commitment. That was when the secretary asked me if I could help.
I met members of the Club. The committee was obviously working hard on their behalf and I was delighted to present them a donation from my Councillor’s Divisional Fund (CDF). With money in the bank they can now confidently plan a variety of activities and outings. They are hoping that this will also encourage more residents to become members and enjoy the social life the Club offers.
I wish them all well and will visit them again to see how they are getting on.