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Alston school closure threat

Concerns over falling pupil rolls in schools Credit: PA

A consultation has been launched into proposals for a radical restructure of schools in the Alston area.

The schools affected are Samuel King’s High School and Nenthead and Alston Primary schools. It follows concerns over falling pupil rolls for several years.

Current information indicates pupil numbers will continue to fall with projections showing the combined roll at the primary schools will dip to 98 by January 2018 with Samuel King’s falling to around 75 pupils by this point.

“Clearly, the current situation in Alston is not sustainable given the falling numbers of pupils so we have to look at alternative arrangements."

– Councillor Clare Feeney-Johnson

Cumbria County council is putting forward the following three options for consultation:

  • Option One – closure of Samuel King’s School This would remove secondary education from Alston, but would offer pupils an education in a sustainable school environment with a balanced curriculum in another area. Transport to other secondary schools, under Cumbria County Council’s Home to School Transport Policy, would be available to those who are eligible.
  • Option Two – federation A federation involves a shared leadership structure amongst a number of schools. A single governing body would oversee all schools in the federation and would have the option of operating under a single headteacher. All three existing schools could stay on their individual sites or could be located on a single site. The Alston Moor Federation already exists in the area. The federation involves Alston Primary School and Nenthead Primary School. This option would see the inclusion of Samuel King’s to broaden the federation to include the secondary phase of learning. At this stage the Alston Moor Federation has formally stated its wish not to pursue this option (the county council has no power to bring about a federation; only school governors can bring forward these proposals).
  • Option Three – an all-through school An all-through school option would involve the co-location of Samuel King’s, Alston and Nenthead schools on either the Samuel King’s School, Alston Primary or Nenthead Primary School site. Following initial feasibility studies Samuel King’s site appears most suitabledue to its size. Alterations to the school layout and facilities would be made to accommodate both primary and secondary aged pupils.

The consultation, which runs until 24th October can be responded to by completing a questionnaire – either on paper or online – or by writing to the county council.

New £10m proposed council HQ raises concerns

Cumbria Council Council has released plans of the new headquarters it wants to build in Carlisle city centre.

The £10million building will see staff move less than a quarter of a mile to a site on Botchergate. But concerns have been raised about spending so much money on a new building when public services are being severely cut. Fiona McIlwraith reports.

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Council's £10m plan 'a bit ludicrous' says public

Cumbria County Council have put forward planning application for a new £10million HQ to be built in the Botchergate area of Carlisle.

It's a move that is said to save money and help the council work better:

'It makes a lot of sense for us to put all of our staff in the city centre into one base, it will help us to save money and it will also help us to operate more efficiently as an organisation and of course very importantly it will assist with the regeneration of Bothergate.

Obviously we do have to pay for the cost of the building, part of that will be from the disposal of the existing buildings and then we'll have to borrow the balance but the business case has been made that we will be able to afford the repayments and still make a saving because our running costs will be greatly reduced.'

– Cllr Stewart Young, Cumbria County Council leader

However, the plan has been met with mixed emotions from public:

Cumbria County Council names new Deputy Leader

Cumbria County Council has announced its new Deputy Leader following the death of Councillor Jo Stephenson.

Councillor Clare Feeney-Johnson has today become Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council.

She will also be acting as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group until elections are held next month.

Councillor Clare Feeney-Johnson is the new Deputy Leader Credit: Cumbria County Council

Speed limit reviews of Allerdale roads

A review of speed limits in Allerdale have been put forward by Cumbria County Council.

Consultations have been drawn up following on from a scrutiny of speed limits in the area.

Changes could be made to 15 speed limits, with restrictions being both raised and lowered depending on conditions.

Road accident figures, traffic speed and volume figures were all taken into consideration as part of the review.

It also looked at the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders as well as motorists.

Stretches of road which have been looked at include:

  • the A595 between Flimby and Maryport
  • the A594 Dearham to Maryport
  • the A5086 from Gote Brow to Cockermouth
  • the A596 at Northside Road, Workington
  • the B5322 at St Johns in the Vale near Keswick
  • the B5289 between Keswick and Seatoller.

The B5302 at Waverbridge near Wigton, the B5299 between Fletchertown and Watchhill and Syke Road in Wigton are also being considered.

A series of meetings will take place across the West Cumbria over the next few weeks. You visit the Cumbria County Council website for more information.

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Cumbrian schools to close amid strike action

Teachers across Cumbria will be out on strike on tomorrow, Thursday 10 July, forcing the closure of many schools.

They are going on strike as part of an ongoing dispute over pay, pension cuts and working conditions.

For the latest information on school closures, you can visit the Cumbria County Council website by clicking here.

Cumbria County Council controversy over £400,000 retirement pay

The controversy over executive pay has reared its head again, after it came to light that a former leader of Cumbria County Council retired last year with a pay-off of more than £400,000.

Jill Stannard's golden handshake has provoked anger from politicians and union's at the trend for large benefits packages being awarded to top public sector workers.

The council claims its restructuring of senior management taken last year will save it more than half a million pounds annually. Ryan Dollard has more.

Council pay-offs cost over £900,000

Council accounts show that when a former chief executive took early retirement from her £170,000 job in May last year, she did so with a £400,000 benefits package.

That included a lump sum of £87,000 and a pension of more than £290,000.

She was one of four senior executives to leave the council last year at a total cost of over £900,000.

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