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Soup-er solution for Penrith library users

Penrith library has teamed up with a local business owner to offer an innovative temporary solution to a problem with its lift.

Disabled library users or families with pushchairs faced access problems as the lift to the first-floor library is temporarily out of action. So the Soup Shop opposite the library entrance in the Devonshire Arcade has steamed in with a solution, offering a temporary service from its café.

A selection of books will be offered in the Soup Shop from today (Friday 27 February) and library staff will be on hand to register new customers or fetch items on request. Penrith library will be open for business as usual for people using the stairs.

“This is a great example of how we work with people in the local area to find solutions. We are very grateful to Soup Shop owner Paul Forsyth for his help in ensuring everyone can still have access to the books they love and need. I hope people take the opportunity to enjoy a snack while they peruse our products too.”

– Cllr Ian Stewart, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet Member for Libraries

Cumbria's rail network 'not fit for purpose'

The council has called for improved services Credit: ITV Border

Cumbria County Council is urging the Government to address "years of underfunding" in Cumbria’s rail network.

Tenders will go out later this month to run the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises from February 2016.

The council's calls for an improved service in the new franchises include:

  • greater frequency and capacity of passenger services on the Cumbrian Coast Line
  • an increase in the number of direct services to Manchester International Airport from Barrow, Windermere and from the Anglo-Scottish route
  • Increase in the frequency of trains on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle so that there is a half hourly service

The council has criticised the current franchise, saying that it is 'not fit for purpose' in some areas.

“We are on the cusp of seeing what exactly we’re going to get in our rail services for the next decade. We have been lobbying hard for improvements and telling Government we need to see ambition, incentives for growth and flexibility in those tenders.

"The last franchises awarded in 2004, locked us into a poor quality service which did nothing to encourage investment and could not cope with the growth in passenger numbers. The result is a rail network which in some areas is not fit for purpose compared with other networks across the country,”

– Cllr Keith Little


Council encourages Cumbrians to report potholes using app

A app from Cumbria County Council could make it easier to report potholes Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The council is encouraging Cumbrians to download a free ‘Fill That Hole" app to report potholes.

The app allows users to take a picture of the pothole and report it from the kerbside.

The app then sends that data to Cumbria County Council’s highways teams.

“Whilst our highways hotline is a successful way of reporting potholes, we know that many people use their smartphones more and more these days and we are embracing this culture shift by endorsing ‘Fill That Hole’.

“This app has helped us to identify more potholes that need attention. We are hard at work tackling potholes every day and I encourage people to download the app and report any potholes they see. After all, if we don’t know about them we can’t fill them!”

– Cllr Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Highways

Payouts for potholes rises

The number of payouts for damage caused by potholes increased last year Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The number of payouts for damage caused by potholes went up last year in Cumbria.

272 claims were made against the Cumbria County Council for damage caused to their vehicles, a rise of 22 from the following year.

Only 15% of claims were successful, with the council paying out £16,000 in compensation.

Council gives plain cigarette packets thumbs up

Cumbria County Council has welcomed news plain cigarette packaging could come into force in England by 2016.

Cigarette packets could be plain from May 2016. Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The government has announced MPs will vote on the plan before the General Election in May.

If it passes, the law will mean packets need to be dull brown outside, and white inside.

The legislation won't apply to Scotland - unless Holyrood introduces similar rules.


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 by the 31st of January.

Proposal to widen choices of staying independent

There could be a wider choice of accommodation for those who require care but want to continue to live independently.

Cumbria County Council is proposing the investment of up to £6million in Extra Care Housing, which is similar to sheltered housing.

It is believed this will save £500,000 on more costly care options, such as funding places in residential homes.

“Extra care housing means that more people will be able to live in their own home as their needs change, knowing they have the security of access to on-site care and support.

"For several years, we’ve been responding to the growing demand and different social care needs of older people who want to live independently by investing in extra care housing.”

– Cllr Beth Furneaux, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for Adult Social Care

Each scheme is built in partnership with a housing association.

The council currently supports 12 schemes around the county with four more expected to be completed during 2015/2016.

Council cuts: last chance to have your say

People have just one week left to respond to Cumbria County Council's savings proposals.

The council is inviting people to give their views on issues including the level of council tax and the changes the council should make as it strives to save £213 million a year by 2018.

The council says feedback is important as these changes will impact the public, with the council set to cut 1,800 jobs over the next three years:

"The council has to make tough decisions given the magnitude of the savings we need to find. We have already predicted we are going to need to lose 1,800 jobs over the next three years and the council will be roughly half the size it was at the start of the decade.

"That is going to affect individuals, families and the local economy."

– Cllr Patricia Bell, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member

More than 400 individuals and organisations have responded since the council began its 12 week ‘Secure your future' consultation in October.

Council leaders demand more powers for English regions

The leader of Cumbria County Council has called for more powers to be given to the English regions.

Stewart Young is one of more than 100 council leaders who are demanding changes from the Government. They've written to the Chancellor, George Osborne, following the plans to devolve extra powers to Scotland.

The leaders believe the English regions would be able to manage the cuts to their budgets more effectively and say continuing the current system is no longer an option.

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