St James Residents' Association

For The Residents And Workers Of St James

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Monday, 31 October 2011

Councillor David Mackintosh, leader elect of Northampton Borough Council, has unveiled his new cabinet today (Monday 31 October).


The Cabinet contains a number of new, unsalaried, support appointments to strengthen the Borough Council’s leadership and drive the improvement agenda forward.
 
Councillor Mackintosh said:  "I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to lead a great team of people at such a challenging but exciting time for Northampton.

New council leader says forget city status for Northampton for time being

The new leader of Northampton Borough Council says there will be no bid for city status in the foreseeable future as it would be a “distraction” from the regeneration work in the town.
Councillor David Mackintosh, who took over on Friday, said he wants to focus on building projects such as the new bus interchange and redevelopment of the railway station. The new Guildhall leader has also written to the chairman of the Saints, Leon Barwell, and chairman of the Cobblers, David Cardoza, to ask for an early meeting with them to express his support for their expansion plans. Councillor Mackintosh said: “There has been a lot of speculation about a bid for city status but I don’t think there will be a bid in the foreseeable future. There are a number of regeneration projects in the town that we need to focus on. I think it would be a distraction considering the cost involved of putting in a bid. “Northampton is fortunate to have sports clubs which put the town on the map nationally and internationally, and bring thousands of visitors to the town and millions of pounds into the local economy. I look forward to meeting them as soon as possible.” Councillor Mackintosh also announced he would stand down from his role as Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for community services next month: “It has been a great privilege to serve as a cabinet member on the county council. These are challenging times and we have faced unprecedented cuts in funding and many difficult decisions so the work has never been easy but we have always worked well together as a team and I look forward to continuing to work with the county council in my new role.”  He will be confirmed as leader of Northampton Borough Council at a meeting on Monday, November 7. He will remain a backbench county councillor for Ecton Brook and Rectory Farm.

Five-year tenancies would only work for 'one in 10'

Only 10 per cent of social housing tenants who have been living in their homes for five years would be able to move out of the sector, a new report has found. Family Mosaic carried out a survey of residents who began their tenancies in 2006 in a response to government proposals to introduce minimum five-year tenancies as part of the Localism Bill.

Remembrance Day parade and service 2011

The Mayor of Northampton Councillor Jamie Lane will lead a procession of councillors from the Guildhall to All Saints' Church as part of this year's Remembrance Day parade and service on Sunday 13 November. The main parade will form in two parts on the Market Square.  The Northampton Pipe Band will lead the first part of the march at 9.30am and will be followed by the second part led by the Air Training Corps Band at 9.35am.  The parade will join with the Mayor's procession at All Saints' Church for the Divine Service which starts at 10am. After the Divine Service the parade will assemble outside the memorial gardens in George Row.  They will be joined by clergy, the choir of All Saints' Church and the Salvation Army Band.  The traditional two minutes silence will begin at 11am at the first stroke of All Saints' clock.  The laying of wreaths and the Remembrance Service will then follow. After the service the parade headed by the Northampton Pipe Band will make its way to the Guildhall to make the salute before progressing up St Giles Street, into Fish Street and then reaching its final destination in Abington Street.
The Mayor of Northampton Councillor Jamie Lane said: "I hope very much that the people of Northampton will join us as we pay our respects to those who have sacrificed their lives in serving our country.  Many brave men and women are serving our country today and this day is also an opportunity for us to think of them.”

Friday, 28 October 2011

Two-horse race to run Northampton Borough Council following resignation of former leader via Twitter







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THERE will be a straight fight between two Conservative councillors to be the next leader of Northampton Borough Council tonight. The authority’s current cabinet member for housing, Councillor Christopher Malpas (Con, Billing) will take on the current cabinet advisor, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm) for the top spot at the Guildhall. The battle follows the resignation of former leader, Councillor David Palethorpe (Con, Billing) who announced his decision to stand down on Twitter on Wednesday evening claiming there was “disloyalty and self interest” among some members of his party. Councillor Mackintosh is believed to be the front-runner to take over the top job because of his experience as a cabinet member on Northamptonshire County Council and the close links he developed with Conservative Party big-hitters during his time working in the party’s central office. He said: “Obviously, we would never like to have a leadership contest in the current circumstances, but we’ve got to think about the leadership of the town.
“We want to take the town forwards and I hope that if I am elected leader, I can do that.” The contest will be decided during a meeting of the Conservative group at 5.30pm tonight. Councillor Mackintosh has said that if he is elected, he would stand down from his position as the county council’s cabinet member for community services and take a back bench role at County Hall.

Councillor Malpas, who is also a back-bencher on the county council as well as a cabinet member at the Guildhall, said that if he was chosen as the next council leader he would also fight to push the town forward.
He said: “I think it’s very much a case of we need to look at the good things we’ve done in the past six months and go forwards. “Unfortunately we’ve hit a blip at the moment. We’ve got to overcome that and repair the damage with the public. “And despite what has happened this week, the group is actually quite united. They had some reservations about David Palethorpe’s leadership style, that was all. That could have been overcome, but unfortunately he didn’t want to overcome it. “So the group has got a choice now and whatever choice they make, I will support it. “I’ve got total confidence in David Mackintosh and I hope he would have total confidence in me if I was elected.”

Following his shock resignation on Wednesday, Councillor Palethorpe spent yesterday writing on his online blog. In articles about housing developments and politics in Northampton, he rounded on his Conservative colleagues on Northamptonshire County Council, labelling their behaviour “arrogant” and claiming they wanted to merge the county and borough councils.

Government set for ombudsman complaints u-turn

The government is set to backtrack on plans to bar tenants from taking their complaints to the Housing Ombudsman Service.

The government on Monday will seek to amend the Localism Bill to allow tenants to approach the ombudsman with their complaints in some circumstances.
As it stands the Localism Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, would prevent tenants from taking their complaint to the ombudsman.
Instead, tenants would have to approach a councillor, MP or tenant panel, known as the ‘democratic filter’ with their complaint, who could then refer it to the ombudsman.
On Monday communities and local government minister Baroness Joan Hanham will move an amendment to the bill which will allow tenants to take their complaint to the ombudsman without using the democratic filter if eight weeks have elapsed since the landlord’s internal procedure has been exhausted.
The amendment will also allow tenants to go the ombudsman if the ‘democratic filter’ does not refer the complaint to the ombudsman.
The move is a victory for tenants who feared they would be effectively barred from taking their complaints to the ombudsman.
Rafael Runco, deputy ombudsman, said he was pleased with the amendment. He said: ‘This clearly means that a complainant will have control over their case, apart from the first period of eight weeks.’
Emma Burnell, campaigner for the National Housing Federation, said: ‘We are delighted that the government has listened to the concerns of tenants and the federation and has ensured there is still the ability for tenants to directly access the ombudsman.’
Labour peer Baroness Dianne Hayter will seek to change the government amendment to reduce the period after which a direct complaint can be made from eight to six weeks.

Northampton Borough Council news release: Home swaps become 'just a click away'

Housing Minister Grant Shapps launched a new national scheme that, for the first time, will allow social housing tenants wanting to swap their home to see every available property in the country.
And Northampton Borough Council is one of the twelve councils in England who will be testing innovative and cost-effective ways of supporting mobility.

'HomeSwap Direct' will give tenants who want to move house - to be closer to a new job, their family, or to a property better suited to their needs - greater choice over potential swaps by allowing them to see a much wider selection of properties than ever before.
Until now tenants have been restricted to swapping properties with other tenants in the scheme chosen by their landlord - effectively meaning only a partial swap scheme existed. 'HomeSwap Direct' will instead give tenants access to properties nationwide and boost their prospects of moving.
And as the scheme will be online, it will make advertised swaps much more accessible for tenants and the possibility of moving house 'just a click away'.
Grant Shapps MP, Minister for Housing said: "I am pleased that Northampton Borough Council is one of 12 councils sharing £1million funding to help make a real difference to the future of social housing and trying new innovative ways of supporting their tenants. 
"They will help make it much easier for tenants that want to move to do so, whether for jobs, to be closer to family or to homes better suited to their needs.
"This is a great opportunity to see what more we can do to increase mobility in social housing and I look forward to hearing about the progress they make, and that can be used around the country to improve the lives of all social tenants."
Portfolio holder for Housing, Councillor Christopher Malpas said: "This is great news, the ‘HomeSwap Direct’ scheme will make it easier for our tenants to move around.
"We look forward in working on initiatives that will help improve the social mobility for our residents.”
So from next April, new requirements will mean that all social housing landlords will have to ensure that they make properties from across the UK available to their tenants looking to swap their home, giving them the opportunity to move anywhere in the UK - including Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The reforms are part of the measures included in the Localism Bill to give social tenants far greater freedoms and flexibilities and make better use of social housing.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Down Your Way, for Mon 31st October


The consultation on the future of our library service closed on 30th Sept, a report was produced, dated 30/09/11 barely enough time one would think to collate effectively all the information sent in, particularly as many comments were sent late on Friday the 30th. That report has now been approved by the County Council Cabinet, at the meeting held at Silverstone on 11th October. It makes one suspicious as to the purpose and validity of the consultation when only 1555 people took part ( County Council now say over 1600 took part) and answered loaded questions, then the report is produced in record time to be ratified by the County Council cabinet barely two weeks later. It makes you wonder whether the Council are confident in the results of their document? Further, to find any information about the consultation results you have to go to the Cabinet meeting agenda webpage, it was buried where no one would obviously find it. There is no link from the homepage of the Council website, for example, however you can read them on the SJRA website www.sjra.info . As expected the proposal was “nodded” through far from the majority of the enquiring public, whom found it difficult to get to such a hard to reach location. So much for transparency and democracy! Three members of the public (myself included) did address the Cabinet to object to the documents as did several councillors, although not all councillors were against the proposal.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Survey reveals councils' fears for vulnerable

Almost nine in ten councils have acknowledged that cutting their housing related support will put vulnerable people at risk, according to a survey.

A report from the Local Government Information Unit and housing association Circle surveyed 139 councils about their Supporting People services. 87.7 per cent of respondents said that reducing the availability of housing related support ‘will put vulnerable people at risk’.
Nine in ten respondents said that reducing the availability of housing related support ‘will create more costs elsewhere in the system’.
The ringfence on Supporting People was removed in 2009 by the then Labour government. In October’s spending review, chancellor George Osborne said the budget would be reduced by 11.5 per cent, to £6 billion until 2014/15.
Because there is no ringfence on the money, councils are free to raid it to support other services. More than half of the local authorities surveyed had cut their Supporting People budgets by more than 25 per cent.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Jack and the Beanstalk panto tickets now on sale

Tickets are now on sale for a fun-packed Jack and the Beanstalk panto showing at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery this Christmas.
Join Jack in his race to the top of the beanstalk in this traditional pantomime performed by the Looking Glass Theatre company.  Daisy the cow, Rapscallion the runner bean and the Giant will all be there, encouraging the children to join in the fun and sing-along in true panto style.
Jack and the Beanstalk will be showing at the museum at 10.30am and 1.30pm on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 December.   Tickets priced £3.50 for children and £5 for adults are available in advance from the museum shop or by calling 01604 838111.

Advertising Space On The SJRA Web Site


If you have a local business and you want to advertise your company why not think about letting us do it for you. The SJRA wish to help local businesses advertise their company for very competitive rates. To find out more why not drop us an email at stjamesra@phonecoop.coop or go to our web site http://www.sjra.info/.

Chair - SJRA

Free half term craft activities at Northampton museum


Abington Park Museum will be holding free drop-in arts and crafts workshops for children during October half term.
On Thursday 27 October children can take part in autumn inspired craft activities and on Friday 28 October there will be activities with an Ancient Egypt theme.  Sessions on both days run from 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm.  Entry is free but there may be a small charge for some of the activities on offer.
For more information or details about other museum events call Northampton 838111.



Down Your Way, for Mon 24th October

The Doddridge Centre has applied to the NatWest bank’s Community Force award scheme for funding of £6,000 but the bank will not just be giving it away they need people to vote for the centre. If you have ever needed Doddridge Centre, they hope they can call on your support now.  They need your vote to win £6,000 so that they can offer a Community Force Resource, providing free meeting rooms and support to small, new, and unfunded groups.  If they win, the project will be funded by Nat West Community Force. 
In the current financial climate this type of project will be essential to groups at risk because of funding cuts. To vote for us:
Go to the Nat West web page or copy this link; http://communityforce.natwest.com/project/4905, view our profile, tick the box next to “Accept terms and conditions” (if you do!), register by entering your email address and a password, Nat West will send you a verification email, VOTE !!!!
Please tell people about this, because if the bid is successful it will help a lot of people in the community. So get voting!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Reported Three Times!


This Garage has now been reported three times to the Borough Council. As of 15/10/11 it was still a fire hazard.


101 - The new number to call to contact your local police.



A NEW non-emergency number for Northamptonshire Police is being launched next week, providing county residents with a new way to get in touch about incidents and other enquiries that do not require an immediate response.

The 101 number comes into effect on Monday (October 17) as part of a national drive to make it easier to contact the police and report crime and disorder.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Down Your Way for 17th October




The consultation on the future of our library service closed on 30th Sept, a report was produced, dated 30/09/11 barely enough time one would think to collate effectively all the information sent in, particularly as many comments were sent late on Friday the 30th.

That report has now been approved by the County Council Cabinet, at the meeting held at Silverstone on 11th October.

It makes one suspicious as to the purpose and validity of the consultation when only 1555 people took part ( County Council now say over 1600 took part) and answered loaded questions, then the report is produced in record time to be ratified by the County Council cabinet barely two weeks later. It make you wonder whether the Council are confident in the results of their document? Further, to find any information about the consultation results you have to go to the Cabinet meeting agenda webpage, it was buried where no one would obviously find it. There is no link from the homepage of the Council website, for example, however you can read them on the SJRA website www.sjra.info As expected the proposal was “nodded”through far from the majority of the enquiring public, whom found it difficult to get to such a lhard to reach location. So much for transparency and democracy! Three members of the public (myself included) did address the Cabinet to object to the documents as did several councillors, although not all councillors were against the proposal.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Garages

Sadly this is becoming more and more the picture you are likely to see these days when you walk into a block of Council owned garages. Why is the Council refusing and neglecting to do their jobs and weed and maintain what people pay good money for!

Reported Twice!

Sadly even though this garage was reported to the Borough Council on two occasions including to the Housing officer, it has still been left unattended. Let see if contacting them again will make any difference.

Pathway Being Made Safe

The SJRA were very happy to see work commencing on the footpath to make it safe. Let’s hope the roots from the nearby trees don’t come back to soon.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Libraries Consultation and Strategy Document Proposals


Dear Mr Harker,
We write on behalf of the St. James Residents Association and the Friends of St. James Library Group in reference to the above.

We are very dismayed at the way the recent consultation on the future of the Library Service has been carried out. We note that only 1555 people took part in the process and answered what were, certainly in the case of the first question, loaded and suggestive questions. The first question; “People have said they don't mind paying for the service. How much would you be willing to give?” gives an unfair slant to the process and leads people to believe that they should give something too because others have said they would. It is misleading because no information is given as to what people or how many have actually said such things. A figure of 1555 is no basis to claim that the populace has spoken and the vast majority of Northamptonshire people are all in favour of the County Council suggestion of paying twice for a service they already receive, and certainly no basis to make policy on.

It is not surprising that the results of the consultation were in favour of donations and volunteers, for after all, the way the questions were phrased left the respondents completely unaware about the Council’s intention to cut public funding and to axe full time permanent staff. Therefore, library users quite innocently responded without knowing the underlying context of the questions and could have conceivably given a different response had they of known.

Down Your Way, for Mon 10th October

The Doddridge Centre has applied to the NatWest bank’s Community Force award scheme for funding of £6,000 but the bank will not just be giving it away they need people to vote for the centre. If you have ever needed Doddridge Centre, they hope they can call on your support now.  They need your vote to win £6,000 so that they can offer a Community Force Resource, providing free meeting rooms and support to small, new, and unfunded groups.  If they win, the project will be funded by Nat West Community Force.   In the current financial climate this type of project will be essential to groups at risk because of funding cuts. To vote for us:
Go to the Nat West web page or copy this link; http://communityforce.natwest.com/project/4905, view our profile, tick the box next to “Accept terms and conditions” (if you do!), register by entering your email address and a password, Nat West will send you a verification email, VOTE !!!!  Please tell people about this, because if the bid is successful it will help a lot of people in the community. So get voting!

Cabinet to discuss new bus interchange proposals

Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet is to consider proposals to locate the town’s new bus interchange on the site of the old covered market (Fishmarket) when it meets next week. (October 12). Creating new bus and passenger facilities is a key part of the regeneration plans for the wider town centre. A number of possible options for a new site have been considered over the past few months, in consultation with partners and user groups.  As a result of this work, the Fishmarket site is now being recommended as the preferred location.  One of the main benefits of this site is its central location, which would bring bus passengers right into the heart of the town and give them easy access to shops, the Market Square and facilities including the Guildhall, County Hall, the Royal & Derngate and Castle Station.

Free car parking in time for Christmas

Cash conscious shoppers and visitors to Northampton town centre will be happy to hear that the cost of car parking in Northampton is being cut in time for Christmas.
As of this Sunday (9 October):
  • Parking on Sunday will now be free in all car parks
  • A stay of up to an hour in the town’s St John’s, St Michael’s and Mayorhold multi-storey car parks will be free of charge with two hour stays reduced by 25 per cent
  • The price of parking for two hours in Northampton’s premier surface car parks and the Grosvenor Centre car park will be reduced by 25 per cent.
Visitors and shoppers are, however, reminded that parking reductions do not apply to on street parking spaces as these are managed by Northamptonshire County Council and are outside of the borough’s control.

St James End before 1965

St James End before 1965

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