Public service quality will depend on area's wealth, Durham council leader warns as cuts bite

The Northern Echo: Durham County Council leader Simon Henig Durham County Council leader Simon Henig

THE leader of the North-East’s biggest council has ramped up his war of words with the Government, claiming in future the public services available will depend on the wealth of the area in which you live.

Durham County Council Labour leader Simon Henig said whereas until now a national quality standard has been maintained, in future, local government services will reflect the prosperity of the local area – meaning many in the North-East will fall further and further behind richer southern shires.

And, turning the screw on Conservative ministers, he told a cabinet meeting at County Hall: “This is a massive change in public policy. And I think some ministers don’t understand what they’ve done.”

Councillor Henig was speaking as his cabinet debated plans to cut another £23m from its spending in 2014-15, taking its total savings since 2010 to £155m, a total set to rise to £242m by 2017.

Pointing to figures showing while Durham will lose 6.3 per cent of its spending power over the next two years wealthy Surrey will actually gain three per cent, he said: “If we’re all in this together, we should genuinely be all in this together and those figures should be the same.”

He said measures to equalise local authority spending power, taking into account council tax income and local needs, were being eroded for the first time since they were introduced by Tory heavyweight Michael Heseltine in the early 1990s and ministers’ claims the difference could be made up through business rates were “fantasy”.

Coun Henig was part of a North-East delegation which went to London to lobby local government minister Brandon Lewis on the perceived unfairness last week.

But deputy leader Alan Napier said: “We’ve been banging at the door, but it appears there’s no-one in, or no-one’s listening.”

Much of this year’s savings at Durham are set to come from back-office and staffing cuts. But Coun Henig said budgets were going to get harder and harder and frontline services would be at risk from next year.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes claimed Labour was hiding millions of pounds in future income to exaggerate the severity of the cuts needed and denying opposition members the opportunity to debate the figures.

The council will set its budget on Wednesday, February 26.

Comments (9)

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3:39pm Wed 22 Jan 14

settheworldonfire says...

SIMPLE !!!!!.......
Stop the workers taking vehicles home and picking everyone up at their homes for work....
Stop the hair brained idiot who sits behind a desk and decides to put plants on all roundabouts....
Stop the relocation money being paid to council workers in the county....
Stop buying bedding plants 5 times a year for all areas...
Stop having a manager, who has a manager, who has a manager, with another manager........
Stop the council workers from skiving whilst hey hide away in their work vans in woods and laybys.....
Stop council staff using taxis when public transport is there to be used....
and the list could go on and on and on....
SIMPLE !!!!!....... Stop the workers taking vehicles home and picking everyone up at their homes for work.... Stop the hair brained idiot who sits behind a desk and decides to put plants on all roundabouts.... Stop the relocation money being paid to council workers in the county.... Stop buying bedding plants 5 times a year for all areas... Stop having a manager, who has a manager, who has a manager, with another manager........ Stop the council workers from skiving whilst hey hide away in their work vans in woods and laybys..... Stop council staff using taxis when public transport is there to be used.... and the list could go on and on and on.... settheworldonfire

3:49pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Durhamite1979 says...

This is the guy who wants to set himself up at the head of yet another tier of money-sapping 'government' as some sort of north east assembly. Can you imagine? Parish Council, County Council. NE assembly; all of them shoving their nose in and run by self-serving cretins like this? Why doesn't this paper publish where money is spent by Durham CC - staff, services, etc so we can judge what a good job they're doing instead of it descending to party politics?
This is the guy who wants to set himself up at the head of yet another tier of money-sapping 'government' as some sort of north east assembly. Can you imagine? Parish Council, County Council. NE assembly; all of them shoving their nose in and run by self-serving cretins like this? Why doesn't this paper publish where money is spent by Durham CC - staff, services, etc so we can judge what a good job they're doing instead of it descending to party politics? Durhamite1979

4:08pm Wed 22 Jan 14

sineater says...

Well just ignore the millions cut by government for the council,you can't do anything without any money,of course if we all voted tory there would be much more funding-black mail or what ? The government are spending 5 times per pupil at the free school in Gilesgate than is spent in state schools,but do we have any comment from the usual council knockers not a single chirp.
Well just ignore the millions cut by government for the council,you can't do anything without any money,of course if we all voted tory there would be much more funding-black mail or what ? The government are spending 5 times per pupil at the free school in Gilesgate than is spent in state schools,but do we have any comment from the usual council knockers not a single chirp. sineater

5:01pm Wed 22 Jan 14

sleeping dragon says...

settheworldonfire wrote:
SIMPLE !!!!!.......
Stop the workers taking vehicles home and picking everyone up at their homes for work....
Stop the hair brained idiot who sits behind a desk and decides to put plants on all roundabouts....
Stop the relocation money being paid to council workers in the county....
Stop buying bedding plants 5 times a year for all areas...
Stop having a manager, who has a manager, who has a manager, with another manager........
Stop the council workers from skiving whilst hey hide away in their work vans in woods and laybys.....
Stop council staff using taxis when public transport is there to be used....
and the list could go on and on and on....
why the change of user name?
[quote][p][bold]settheworldonfire[/bold] wrote: SIMPLE !!!!!....... Stop the workers taking vehicles home and picking everyone up at their homes for work.... Stop the hair brained idiot who sits behind a desk and decides to put plants on all roundabouts.... Stop the relocation money being paid to council workers in the county.... Stop buying bedding plants 5 times a year for all areas... Stop having a manager, who has a manager, who has a manager, with another manager........ Stop the council workers from skiving whilst hey hide away in their work vans in woods and laybys..... Stop council staff using taxis when public transport is there to be used.... and the list could go on and on and on....[/p][/quote]why the change of user name? sleeping dragon

5:51pm Wed 22 Jan 14

burnboy72 says...

Cuts to front line services are already happening, those who work for DCC have seen little evidence of similar cuts to the "back office". Why is DCC not using some of its vast cash reserves to protect these front line services which are vital to the most vulnerable in this region.
Cuts to front line services are already happening, those who work for DCC have seen little evidence of similar cuts to the "back office". Why is DCC not using some of its vast cash reserves to protect these front line services which are vital to the most vulnerable in this region. burnboy72

7:00pm Wed 22 Jan 14

budgiegirl says...

We SIT in our vans in woods and laybys to stop idiots pointing at us saying "look at those council workers having a skive"....its because we have nowhere to go thats warm and dry to have our UNPAID BREAKS.......and yes I am stopped from going home where it is warm and dry using the works van to have my unpaid break .... and I would love to have a manager who has not got a manager and another manager and probably another manager twice over.....and relocated? I should be so lucky......SIMPLE...
.not.
We SIT in our vans in woods and laybys to stop idiots pointing at us saying "look at those council workers having a skive"....its because we have nowhere to go thats warm and dry to have our UNPAID BREAKS.......and yes I am stopped from going home where it is warm and dry using the works van to have my unpaid break .... and I would love to have a manager who has not got a manager and another manager and probably another manager twice over.....and relocated? I should be so lucky......SIMPLE... .not. budgiegirl

9:42pm Wed 22 Jan 14

peter laidler says...

This guy Henig has got me totally confused! He's talking about treasury money being allocated in relation to the prosperity generated within the area. He then creates consternation by claiming we shall suffer because we are outside the affluent south east, and yet just months ago his cronies approved outlying planning permission for even more homes to be built on what little green land survives around the city namely, Mount Oswald, whereon the Council announces as part of the development twenty odd dedicated plots which they themselves are already nicknaming 'Millionaires Row'. Mr Henig you must think the people of County Durham are idiots? Don't blame the people whom you serve or the treasury for your own inadequacies
This guy Henig has got me totally confused! He's talking about treasury money being allocated in relation to the prosperity generated within the area. He then creates consternation by claiming we shall suffer because we are outside the affluent south east, and yet just months ago his cronies approved outlying planning permission for even more homes to be built on what little green land survives around the city namely, Mount Oswald, whereon the Council announces as part of the development twenty odd dedicated plots which they themselves are already nicknaming 'Millionaires Row'. Mr Henig you must think the people of County Durham are idiots? Don't blame the people whom you serve or the treasury for your own inadequacies peter laidler

8:44am Thu 23 Jan 14

Nicholas_Till says...

To judge by the way Durham has already been benighted by public figures earning a mere £200-300K, I don't think I want millionaires.
To judge by the way Durham has already been benighted by public figures earning a mere £200-300K, I don't think I want millionaires. Nicholas_Till

7:25pm Sun 2 Feb 14

seaangler says...

DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL
COUNCILLORS' ALLOWANCE SCHEME FOR 2012/13

BASIC
ALLOWANCE £1,668,797
SPECIAL
RESPONSIBILITY
ALLOWANCE £287,491
DEPENDANTS'
CARERS' £0
ALLOWANCE
TRAVELLING £82,239
EXPENSES
SUBSISTENCE
EXPENSES £5,328
BROADBAND
ALLOWANCE £5,040
* contribution of £7 per
month paid to
Councillor's who are
using their own home
broadband facilities for
DCC matters
Chairman's/Vice
Chairman's
Expense
Allowance £9,645

TOTAL
£1,668,797 £287,491 £0 £82,239 £5,328 £5,040 then you have councillors wages on top what will 2013/14 expenses be
DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL COUNCILLORS' ALLOWANCE SCHEME FOR 2012/13 BASIC ALLOWANCE £1,668,797 SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY ALLOWANCE £287,491 DEPENDANTS' CARERS' £0 ALLOWANCE TRAVELLING £82,239 EXPENSES SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES £5,328 BROADBAND ALLOWANCE £5,040 * contribution of £7 per month paid to Councillor's who are using their own home broadband facilities for DCC matters Chairman's/Vice Chairman's Expense Allowance £9,645 TOTAL £1,668,797 £287,491 £0 £82,239 £5,328 £5,040 then you have councillors wages on top what will 2013/14 expenses be seaangler

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