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Parents: It's time to talk about alcohol

One report suggests that 57 per cent of young people in the North West believe getting drunk is normal. Credit: PA

With figures suggesting that more young people have relaxed attitudes towards drinking alcohol, Cumbria County Council are encouraging parents to urge their children 'to think before they drink' to tie in with Alcohol Awareness Week.

According to a survey by NHS Cumbria and Cumbria County Council, one in four secondary school pupils have drunk alcohol in the past week and children as young as nine believe that alcohol is a way of forgetting problems.

“Nationally there’s been a rise in the number of youngsters admitted to hospital. Alcohol consumption is a problem for many adults because it starts as seemingly-innocent drinking during their teenage years.

Childhood drinking can be an awkward subject for many parents or friends to approach. But avoiding this subject today leads to early death and massive social problems tomorrow.

There’s a clear link from young people drinking to other issues such as crime, mental health problems, and unprotected sex. Far from helping us forget problems, alcohol causes them."

– Cllr Ian Stewart, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for Public Health

While the number of children drinking alcohol in Cumbria has consistently fallen since 1988, the latest survey results show that the issue is still a cause for concern, with 27 per cent of secondary school pupils saying they had drank alcohol in the week leading up to the survey.

Recent North-West-wide figures show that of the 14 to 17-year-olds who drink alcohol:

  • 57 per cent believe getting drunk is normal
  • 54 per cent binge drink
  • 40 per cent aren’t worried about the long-term health effects
  • 37 per cent drink just to get drunk.

This is underpinned by a national survey of nine to 11-year-olds that showed 60 per cent thought it was normal to drink to forget your problems.

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What will 1,800 job cuts mean for members of the public?

The council says it's having to make savings of £83 million over the next three years, on top of millions of pounds of cuts already made.

But 1,800 jobs is 1,800 households across Cumbria that no longer have that income - which may be the main income for the household. They will then spend less in the shops and so on.

It's worth noting that it's 1,800 jobs now but in the 8 year period between 2010 and 2018 the county council will have lost almost 5,000 jobs, that's around half it's workforce, and interestingly, almost exactly the same number of people in Cumbria who are currently out of work and claiming benefit.

Our correspondent Tim Backshall was at the County Council headquarters today and has the full report.


'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.

'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.

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.

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