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Parish councils funding to continue

COPELAND Council will continue funding parish councils.

The council’s executive committee decided to continue the £67,000 funding for 2015/16.

The council had the option to reduce the grant by 30% - the same percentage as the council’s grant from central government has been cut - to assist with budget savings of £1.65m.

“We listened very carefully to our parish councils on this and they told us they did not want the grant to end, so we have decided to retain it.

“As one of the hardest-hit councils in the country this was a difficult decision, as we have considerable savings to make, but in the end we decided not to pass on the cuts to the parishes.

"They do an excellent job in delivering services that enhance the quality of life in our communities."

– Cllr Gillian Troughton, portfolio holder for finance and HR

Finance Secretary to announce changes to Scottish stamp duty plans

Finance Secretary John Swinney will announce to the proposed new tax rates today Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Finance Secretary John Swinney will announce changes to the proposed new tax rates for buying a home when the Budget is debated at Holyrood today.

Mr Swinney announced at the weekend that he would reconsider the bands and rates for the new devolved Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) set out in October's draft 2015-16 Budget.

The levy will replace stamp duty in Scotland from April.

It has been branded a "tax on aspiration" by the Conservatives who have criticised it for imposing higher rates on properties at the top end of the market.

They wants to see the proposed 10% rate on homes between £250,000 and £500,000 halved as they claim it will hit middle-income families.

The review follows an overhaul of the UK stamp duty system announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement Credit: PA

Mr Swinney's review follows an overhaul of the UK stamp duty system announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

The Finance Secretary said that at the time of his original proposals, 90% of homebuyers would have been better or no worse off in the new Scottish system, but this has now dropped to 80%.

Under the current plans, someone buying a home worth £350,000 would pay £12,300 under LBTT, compared with £7,500 under the stamp duty system.

Mr Swinney will announce the conclusions of his review to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament before a Stage 1 debate on the Budget Bill.

Speaking ahead of the debate, he also reaffirmed the Scottish Government's commitment to increased funding of the NHS.

"Spending on Scotland's health service will increase in real terms next year, taking Scottish health spending above #12 billion for the first time. "The overall increase of #380 million in health resource spending will take the total health budget to record levels.

"The Scottish Government's commitment to increase the NHS budget demonstrates a continuing commitment to protecting the health service, and keep it in public hands."

– John Swinney, Scottish Finance Secretary
Will Rennie will use the debate to call for the NHS, mental health, Childcare and colleges to be put at the heart of the budget Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will use the debate to call for the NHS, mental health, childcare and colleges to be put at the heart of the Budget.

He has written to Mr Swinney setting out the party's proposals, which include emergency funding for the NHS, equal treatment of mental and physical health and extending free childcare provision to more two-year-olds.

The party also wants "fairer" funding for colleges and for the threshold for the repayment of student loans to be raised.

"Our hopes for the 2015-16 Budget centre around proposals that will help build a stronger economy and a fairer society. Importantly they are about providing opportunity for everyone to get on in life."

– Will Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

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Referendum could decide the fate of Carr House

Local people could vote on whether Mr Hoyle can live in Carr House Credit: ITV Border

A long running planning row in Cumbria could be settled by a public vote.

It would be one of the first cases of the Localism Act 2012 in action.

Eight years ago, Adam Hoyle renovated Carr House, situated in Mallerstang, near Kirkby Stephen.

The property had been redeveloped as an eco house, unconected to the national grid, with its own mini hydro electric plant.

However, to Mr Hoyle's surprise, Eden District Council told him he didn't have the necessary planning permission and ordered him to undo the work.

"Yeah I couldn't believe it, compete surprise.

The house has been here way back to the 1700's. It's called Carr House and it gives you an indication of what it is.

It's a house, it's not a barn or a new build it's an old house, it should be lived in I think."

– Adam Hoyle, owner of Carr House

To complicate matters further, Adam cannot undo the repairs because the roof has bats roosting inside, and they and their habitats are protected by law.

Now the issue is whether or not he can live in the house.

To try and reach a resolution, it is possible that around 4000 people in Kirby Stephen could be asked to vote on the matter.

New localism laws give people the power to have a referendum on this issue and if the new process goes ahead, the fate of Carr House could be decided by a public vote later this year.

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Region's first female MP

The region could see its first female MP elected on May 7th.

Five female candidates have been announced so far, with some party representatives still to be named.

At least three constituencies have female candidates running in the 2015 General Election.

Lee Sherriff, Labour candidate for Carlisle Credit: ITV Border

Labour's Lee Sherriff (above) and UKIP's Fiona Mills (below) are two of the candidates going head to head in Carlisle.

Fiona Mills, UKIP candidate for Carlisle Credit: ITV Border
Rozila Kana, Conservative candidate for Workington Credit: ITV Border

Workington will see Rozila Kana of the Conservative Party (above) and Jill Perry of the Green Party (below) compete for votes.

Jill Perry, Green Party candidate for Workington Credit: ITV Border

Dr Ann Myatt, of the Conservative Party (below) will run in Westmorland and Lonsdale.

Dr Ann Myatt, Conservative candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale Credit: ITV Border

At the moment, only 148 out of 650 members of parliament identify as female.

The Border region has never had a female MP, but with a relatively high number of female candidates, this could be the first year the region adds to the number of women in the House of Commons.

Drop-in sessions for investment in Lakes

Cumbria County Council has organised two more drop-in sessions for people to discuss its plans for £2 million of investment on roads in the Lakes.

People can give their views and ideas at events being held on:

  • Tuesday 20 January, 11am-2pm, at Windermere Room at Brockhole, Lake District Visitor Centre.
  • Wednesday 21 January, 12noon-3pm, at Bowness Bay Information Centre, Glebe Road, Bowness on Windermere.

The council says the plans will affect four "key locations": Glebe Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, and the A591 at Brockhole, Low Wood Bay, and Town End, Grasmere.

The council is keen to hear public feedback.

“The response from local communities to the first round of community drop-in events was encouraging, with many sharing their views.

"We want to hear what people have to say about these locations, to help us design effective improvements."

– Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for transport

Anyone unable to attend the latest drop-ins can view the plans on the council's website, and should email kelly.alty@cumbria.gov.uk by the 31st of January.

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