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'Dark Times' for public sector

Meeting in Kendal this morning, the county council's cabinet members were in sombre mood. They say these are dark times for the public sector as it struggles to deal with reductions in its budget which mean that 1,800 council jobs will have to go.

The County Council says these are the biggest cuts it's ever faced and they will have an impact on lives, on families and on the local economy.

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'why are we paying someone £700 per day'

Cumbria County Council's facing criticism for spending £700 per day on a communications consultant.

The council is currently facing cuts of about 90 million pounds over three years.

A spokesperson says the external expertise will save money in the long-term but opposition councillors say the cash could be better spent:

New bulbs cast a glow on Cumbria

Cumbria County Council is replacing 13,000 street lights with new energy efficient LED bulbs.

The scheme will cost more than £7.5 million pounds but the council says it will save local tax payers almost half a million pounds a year. Most major routes in Cumbria will benefit from the new lights which are brighter and more environmentally friendly. But not everyone's pleased as Matthew Taylor reports

Find out more about the County Council's lighting schemes here.

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Energy saving street lamps light up Cumbria

13,000 street lights will be replaced with energy efficient bulbs Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Cumbria County Council is replacing 13,000 street lights with new energy efficient LED bulbs.

The scheme will cost more than 7 and half million pounds but will save local tax payers almost half a million pounds a year.

Most major routes in Cumbria will benefit from the new lights which are brighter and more environmentally friendly.

"Technology has been improving over the years and where we've been able to keep pace with that we have done. Now the new LED systems have come into place they are much more efficient. Saving us about 200% efficiency on each light we replace so the next few years will start to see real savings."

– Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council

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.

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:

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