Thursday, June 19, 2008

Breaking News on Concessionary Bus Travel

There's some important breaking news on concessionary bus travel in Darlington. The announcement also has implications for the 5 Post Offices targetted for closure by the Royal Mail in the Borough.

Ever keen to ensure the maximum return on Council Tax payers' money, officers have managed to save an extra £200,000 on DBC's insurance bill. The savings have been achieved by effective financial management, including risk management policies and retendering insurance cover.

This is in line with the Council's reputation for achieving value for money - Darlington Council has been awarded the highest marks in this category by the independent Audit Commission.

The figure would meet the cost of allowing Darlington concessionary pass holders to travel free-of-charge all day, every day on local bus services. As I blogged recently, my survey of 100 councils in England shows that nationwide only 1 in 4 have made this level of provision.

At the same time, the Post Office have given their final response to the Council's enquiry about the cost of taking over the threatened post offices in Cleveland Terrace, Croft (Hurworth Place), Heighington, Hopetown and Milbank.

The Council has been told that under no circumstances will the Hopetown post office be allowed to remain open (owing, apparently to the potential impact on other branches nearby). The Post Office will allow the other post offices to remain open, but only if the council hands over around £120,000 annually.

Frankly, I don't think that this is an offer which the council can take seriously, and I'm afraid that it is indicative of the company's attitude that the Hopetown branch was taken off the negotiating table completely.

As you can see from the Council website, Council Leader Cllr. John Williams has tonight issued a statement which expresses his disappointment at the Post Office's approach. It's very positive news, however, that owing to good financial management, a windfall is available which will allow free travel for concessionary bus travel to be fully extended. The Council has been listening to the views of pensioners, for example at Talking Together events, and this announcement is the result.

John will recommend to Cabinet on 8th July that we take forward the free travel initiative. If approved, the change will come into effect on 21st July.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nick, why are you avoiding making a comment on the failing Education Village?,
You seem to have by-passed two threads to post on a matter which should have been granted immediately.
Come on Nick, comment on the FAILING EDUCATION VILLAGE, WE KNOW YOUR AVOIDING THE ISSUE!, WHY YOUR A LOCAL COUNCILLOR??

Pan said...

Where are all the posts on this from the mad dual-personality ‘anonymous’ Hurworth crew… what’s up is it witching hour or something?

Pan said...

Eh… spoke too soon – here they are; welcome loony toons!

Pan said...

[quote]WE KNOW YOUR AVOIDING THE ISSUE![/quote]

Ask yourself this; is that WE as in more than one, or WE as in you, yourself and I? ;)

Darlington Councillor said...

To be honest, I've been too busy to reply to comments generally over the last week or so, Pan, owing to workload arising from my membership of Labour's National Policy Forum. Amendments are coming in thick and fast from Constituency Labour Parties across the North East into my inbox (141 today alone, and rising!)

However, I've seen the goading about the EV and deliberately chosen not to get drawn in. I'm aware of the campaign of hate on the Liar against a number of EV staff, and I deplore it. If any of the personality politics appears here on this blog, I will of course delete it.

But for the record, the EV isn't IMO a "failing school". Exam results this year for 5 grade A - C's at GCSE are predicted to be in excess of 50%. The EV had a difficult heritage, but staff and pupils alike are making enormous strides now. I intend to say no more about this issue.

Anonymous said...

Haughton threatened with closure!,
Come on Nick!!!, failing to achieve the governments target of 30%.

Haughton came bottom out of all the secondary schools in Darlington.

Your frightened to tell or admit the truth,,

Bury your head in shame is right, your not worthy to be a councillor.

Pan said...

Your right not to say any more about this, after all it is praise and recognition teachers and pupils deserve not criticism, especially not from the mad folk of the town liar, who’s comments and thoughts are understood throughout the town as to be nothing more than whimpering dual-personality loaners. They should all hang their own (many) heads in shame. Darlington can see past their self-indulgent arrogant and mostly downright crazy assumption, waves of utter madness.

miketually said...

Go on then, I'll leave a comment that actually relates to the blog post made by Nick!

The 24/7 free bus travel is excellent news for a significant number of people in the town and the right decision has (eventually) been made by the Council. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Assumptions Pan!!! who next Tinkerbell?

maybe you are right, perhaps praise is more welcoming to those that fail, have failed and are failing the children?,

Pan said...

Go away anonymous... go back to whence you derive. Well done miketually - nice to finally have a comment from someone who is himself. Yes it is great news, but, as always there is a but… can the council sustain this commitment year on year or are we actually going to have to pay more in the long run?

Aeres said...

Personally, I think it's highly commendable that anonymous is doing all he can to ensure that the children of Haughton are given a higher standard of education than was clearly afforded to him.

Well done...

Ian White, YEEESSSSSS said...

Pan
Oh no we thought you were gone for good whats rattled your cage after being silent for so many months.
Have the road works at the end of the cul-de-sac woke you back up?

Nick As for the bus pass issue, It was bad managment by this council and its leader, that ashamedly made us one of the few councils around NOT to provide it, and I along with many more think it was the planned protest that has swung JW's mind not some imaginary "windfall tax"!

So for the record are you saying that DBC have given this £200K (or more)to Arriva as no where does it actually say that, it only implys it?

Please tell us how much was actually paid to Arriva?

On a sad note I agree it is bad of the post offices unwillingness to negotiate IMHO soon there will be no PO's left except town centre ones.

Ian White, Hurworth Looney said...

Oh Yes

Pan is it not ironic you "slag off the "looney Hurworth crew" and those from "townliar.com" for being anonymous yet you post as Pan?

I when owner of the TL and now on all sites I visit always post with my real name unlike you who decry others for doing the same with double standards like that you should work for DBC or perhaps see a shrink.... oh but thats another story!

Why not tell all the readers exactly who you are and what you do or did your mother actually christen you "PAN" I think not.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, everyone.

Ian, I'm not sure how this can be said to show "bad management" by the Council. Back in February, a judgement had to be made about saving a significant amount of money whilst investing in key services and keeping the Council Tax below 5%. You'll recall that important areas like environmental health and supported bus services were reprieved in whole or in part. There simply wasn't the money to meet the bus company's demands which would have allowed travel before 9.30am. That's just prudent housekeeping, as Mark Burton demonstrates elsewhere.

(Just to point out one more time, because the Tories are determined to try and confuse Darlington residents on this point, overspends on Pedestrian Heart and Eastern Transport Corridor are nothing to do with the revenue budget from which concessionary travel is funded).

As for the Labour Group being bounced into this decision somehow by a protest next week - well, Ian, I'll let you draw on your experience of us as to the extent to which we are likely to change major policy in the face of an isolated demonstration. I understand that the protest was being led by an older person who wanted to travel to work free - probably the least deserving case that could be made in support of a change. So no, that was certainly not a factor.

Finally, no money has been handed over to Arriva yet because a decision hasn't yet been taken. That will happen on 8th July, depending on the vote in Cabinet. Subject to the usual rules on commercial sensitivity, I guess the new subsidy amount to be paid to Arriva will become public then.

Anonymous, Hurworth Looney said...

FYI

Pan the anonymous coward who slags off others for being anonymous is none other than the psudonym of ....

ADAM WILKINSON
CLYNICAL PSYCOLOGIST
R******** C****
HURWORTH

A general pain in the arse!

dave t said...

Nick, Seems your comment regarding the EV is based upon predictions, how about a comment regarding past history and achievements of the EV?.

Pan said...

The very same Pan IP you banned from TL. And judging by the number of posts Anonymous Hurworth Looney, Ian White Hurworth Looney, Ian White YEEESSSSSS and Anonymous (please note; which are all the same person - perhaps I underestimated dual, I should have said multiple), what I said on TL rings home true here also. Notice how the post brandishing the name ‘ADAM WILKINSON’ comes from Anonymous Hurworth Looney and how Ian White Hurworth Looney is also used. Make up your own minds.

Ian White, Not Anonymous said...

Pan

You were never banned from TL, and there is by your own admission and your professional opinion more than one looney in Hurworth.

But at least us looney's speak up for what we feel to be wrong and once again, I do not post anonymously, I say what I think and put my name to it.

Ps I love the paranoia re the multiple personalities is that why you sign in as Pan? Is this not hypocracy of the highest order, perhaps a bit of self medication is needed.

Make your own mind up!about this Psyco babble bull 5h**.

Pan said...

More Psyco babble?

TownLiar.com, Darlington Co. Durham says... You have been banned from this forum.
Please contact the webmaster or board administrator for more information.

So, should that be; Town Liar or White lies?

Pan said...

Aeres, I take it that you can distinguish between Anonymous and Anonymous?

[quote]Personally, I think it's highly commendable that anonymous is doing all he can[/quote]

‘He’

Aeres, are you one in the same also? Under certain circumstances it can be quite amusing, bizarre or even freakish having a discussion with people of duel or multiple personalities... that is so long as you have comfort in the knowledge that security are close by.

Ian White, I think? said...

Pan

I no longer own the Liar, that would be me, myself, and I.

But see you are still signing in as Pan yet still going on about anonymous posters?

Puzzling!

Ian White said...

So I have had some philological issues, but that’s all behind me now... I’m fairly certain the other anonymous is not me posting.

And the only for sure way I can find out is by leaving myself a note on the sideboard tonight asking myself if it is indeed myself posting reply’s to myself or indeed backing up what me myself and I were thinking. Hopefully I’ll reply to that note and, in doing so, will confirm either way me myself and I might respond depending on who’s in control at that time.

Pan said...

Whoops; the above post was me really!

Pan said...

Or am I really Ian too?

ADAM WILKINSON said...

Ian you have the wrong man... we have spoke of this before, please keep to your appointments and take your medication as discussed last week.

Ian White (one of us) said...

Just took em, we should (all the me's) be Ok now

Note on side board ready...lol

Pan said...

;)

Anonymous said...

Ian white may not be the owner officially now but Michelle Edwards is, his partner. Does she even know it. he still has full contol

But he has about 50 user names on town liar

village liar, justice, worried, as well as all of the horrible ones where he pretends to be someone else. He thinks every is too thick to realise he does not reslise that everyone knows he is just a joke.

Pan said...

Well and truly rumbled - perhaps he should stick to Hurworth Parish matters and keep his thoughts, concepts, misinterpretations, ideas and arrogance to... themselves.

It’s a real shame good websites like this are targeted by these individuals. It’s great to see our local politicians taking time out to keep us informed directly and not just via local media who sadly also have their own agendas.

Does anyone know how many of our towns councillors hold this type of forum?

Anonymous said...

Another load of anonymous unsubstanciated speculation.

Anonymous said...

http://whois.domaintools.com/townliar.com

78.129.134.200

Search terms expressed by owner are; Darlington, town liar townliar, town hall, mayor, springfield school, forum, Darlington, town liar townliar, town hall, mayor, springfield school, forum.

Is springfield school in Hurworth?

Anonymous said...

Yes

Pan said...

The Springfield Primary School address was once Salters Lane South, Darlington. In Haughton West and became part of Haughton EV.

I think you'll find details of Springfield School were added as part of the tow liar site search terms in the hope that people searching information on Springfield School would find this site.

I do have pity for those who might have and gave some thought to this site representing the inhabitants of Darlington.

Anonymous said...

Back in the days of Mary Whitehouse and her wanting people not to watch what she didn't like, she seemed to forget every television set had an on/off button it is the same with websites no one is forced to visit them and should they stumble on them by accident a simple click soon rectifies the situation.
I dont know what you are all making such afuss about, it may not be the most correct site in the world but if it were not for all these little sites our Councils and Governments would go unchallenged like they did until not so long ago.

we do still have freedom of speech in this country dont we?

dave t said...

Nick, Seems your comment regarding the EV is based upon predictions, how about a comment regarding past history and achievements of the EV?.


Thought I'd re-post this just incase Nick looses it in his trawl over the topic

Darlington Councillor said...

Dave - like the Education Village, I'm looking forward not back, and I won't allow on my blog the hotch-potch of allegations and character assassination that you and others have perpetrated against EV staff on the Liar. End of story.

To everyone else: - this thread has got rather out of hand today. You will all know that I'm relaxed about people posting anonymously or under pseudonyms. What I won't tolerate are malicious personal attacks or comments which cause real offence. Consequently I have deleted one comment this evening (and my hand was hovering over the 'delete' key several other times).

I appreciate that the Town Liar arouses strong emotions, and I deplore a lot of what is posted there. I certainly don't want my blog to become a carbon copy of that site, which causes upset to so many people. Please show some courtesy to each other here.

dave t said...

Nick, Seems your comment regarding the EV is based upon predictions, how about a comment regarding past history and achievements of the EV?.


Thought I'd re-post this just incase Nick looses it in his trawl over the topic

Cleverly avoided Nick,
My original post should have read

how about a comment regarding past history and LACK OF achievements AT the EV?.

Looks to me you are burying your head at the EV failings, think if you ignore they might go away?

Anonymous said...

My only thought was how very similar to the 'views' expressed by Councillor Burton to Ian White as if they were written by the same 'pen'(press officer)........

P├ęter said...

I think bus travel for over 60s before half 9 is probably worth more [than 1.7ish times] the POs.

Aeres said...

What? Does that mean that I've been diagnosed as having multiple personalities by a real Clinical Psychologist?
:-(
What makes it worse is that when I told my wife she didn't look that surprised...
:-(
And what makes it worse still is that I was actually making a (pretty lame admittedly...) joke about the anonymous guy in the first place. I wondered if I might get flamed a bit by anonymous (although it was only a joke!), but didn't think I'd be getting a mental diagnosis from the guy I was partly backing up.
:-(
I'm depressed....
:-(

Aeres said...

Oh bloody hell, I've done it again. I didn't mean guy...I meant person.

It was a typo, honest...

(Ps. Sorry your thread has been hijacked Nick. Peter sums up my opinion more succinctly than I ever could).

Chris Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Smith said...

Getting back to the topic regarding the EV (I agree, Dave, it keeps getting buried under a lot of banter)...

Nick - you say you are looking towards the future with regards to the EV. How long a timescale are you willing to allow the current low pass rates to continue?

I do agree that as a new school, it will take some time to settle down and become established. But at what point will you draw the line if the standards are not improved?

It was originally opened in April 2006, and I have been doing some digging around to get the results figures for before and after that date:

2002 - Haughtons GCSE pass result score was 39%, in comparison with a Local Education Authority (LEA) of 48.7% and a National Average of 51.6%
2003 - Haughtons GCSE pass result score was 33%, in comparison with a LEA of 51% and a National Average of 52.9%
2004 - Haughtons GCSE pass result score was 36%, in comparison with a LEA of 49% and a National Average of 53.7%

There are a further 3 years figures to contend with, and also the new Contextual Value Added (CVA) figure, which (to those uninformed) scores a school against a national average of 1000.

2005
Haughtons GCSE score = 39%, and CVA score = 953.2
LEA GCSE score = 57%, and CVA score = 971.1

2006
Haughtons GCSE score = 26%, and CVA score = 992.9
LEA GCSE score = 44.7%, and CVA score = 983.7

2007
Haughtons GCSE score = 24%, and CVA score = 964.9
LEA GCSE score = 46%, and CVA score = 1003.2

Surely, looking at these results, especially after two years of settling in to the new place, the school is failing, and miserably at that? How many more years of students are going to have to suffer with poor education before the place will be sorted out?

Chris (note - not anonymous!!)

Aeres said...

I'm probably being naive here, but if it was opened in 2006 wouldn't that mean its only had one year's worth of results to go on?

If so, then I would suggest that it needs more time if we are to gain a decent statistical picture. That said, I agree that there must be a finite point at which one can say that it is 'failing' - I just don't think we've reached that point yet.

Just to state my own interests - my daughter will be part of the new intake in September this year. Looking at the facilities I'm pretty confident that over a period of 5 years that she'll receive a good education and, importantly to us, she will be with her friends and within walking distance to school. Naturally, the results last year gave cause for concern but as a parent of a child who will graduate in 2013 I'm prepared to put my faith in it over the medium term.

Apologies if I seemed to be flippant previously as it's obviously a serious topic (although not the topic of the actual post!).

Ian

(known as Aeres just because there's 2 other Ian's who post here regularly and it'd be confusing!)

Anonymous said...

ANL says.

Dave T.
In an ideal BNP world there will be no place for mixed race children, Homosexuals or the disabled.
Yet you still splash your support for the BNP accross the pages of the Town Liar web site.

Strange!!

ANL.

dave t said...

ANL,,, My politcal bias is my concern not yours whoever you may be?, Like all parties some of us do not believe in all their policies,
Rememebr Labout have lied to us many times now!.
Do you not think the worrying part of this thread is the fact that Nick is burying his head and ignoring/refusing to comment on the past failings within the EV, The EV has been open since April 24th 2006 almost 27months,, the Executive Director being in place since 2004!!!.
Since 2004 there has been a decline in the schools achievements a trend which surely for the sake of the children must be ended,
Nick responded on this thread stating predictions, was there a predicted fall from the schools management for 2004 to last published reports?. if not, then the managent are to blame surely.
Nick, if you are a caring person and an honest for the people councillor you would be challenging such failure. how long are you going to attempt to support such failigs?, does the current/recent trend of parents removing their children from the EV not tell you that parents are tired of all the spin and failings within the EV?

Anonymous said...

ANL

says...

Dave.

I agree, your political persuassion is for you and you alone to decide on. I am merely pointing out that by supporting the BNP as you have done with vigour, is to support a "party" that has no place for mixed race children.(google mixed race children +BNP) you will be outraged.
These are "your children" they are talking about. show your wife/partner, let her read the comments.
I do not personally know you but if you are the guy the last poster refferred to.
Maybe the judge "was" very perceptive.
Read the links and maybe you may change your political persuassion.

ANL

Anonymous said...

Leave the Ed. Vill alone. If Nick Wallis says that there is a 50% projected a* -c this year, wait and see.Then comment.
My son is in Haughton. He loves going to school. He is happy and is achieving well. He has nice friends.
The children are smart and overwhelmingly polite. There have been problems, year 7 was turbulent at times but year 8 has been a success.Dave T. your reputation proceeds you. It is as well that the children don't look to you for guidance. Button it up.

Paul.

Chris Smith said...

I can understand your point, Anonymous, however what will be said if the results aren't as promised? If it turns out to be another 25%-ish:
1 - will people finally admit defeat, or claim they're still having teething problems?
2 - will the 150-200 or so pupils who have been failed by the school in this year alone be offered the chance to redeem themselves? I admit, some of them may be beyond hope, but I would refuse to accept that it was purely their fault!

ian holme..yes from Hurworth... said...

just a couple of points, which are not persoanlity related but focus on the two principal subjects of this thread;
1- the proposed free travel for the over 65s at any time must be welcomed. Many have called for its implementation and it would be somewhat disingenuous to then attack a council for doing so.

2- we must not whitewash over the very real problems that have occurred at the EV. There are hard lessons to be learned here, espcially as to putting new buildings in place without the necessary supporting skills base. However, action has been taken with additional outside support and we will see the results shortly.
For the future of those Darlington children, I hope to see a very significant turn-around in performance. We will all know very soon.

Anonymous said...

Ian/Chris.

Good points and well made.
I hope you don't think I was being blase. My son is in year 8 and will have three years before his GCSEs. That is no consolation to others who may feel cheated.

The school has a feel, that it is improving, attendance is up, and I know that there is a confidence around this years GCSE results.
I understand a lot of new teachers are now at the EV, that new initiatives are in place and that Mr Farrar from Hurworth has had an input into Teaching and Learning. As parents, we are confident that our son will achieve to his true potential.
The quality of home work this year is high. We have friends who live close whose son finished his GCSEs last week. His parents likewise are confident and can reel off improvements that they have seen.

However Ian. Your point about the structure being in place from 2006 is a point very well made and if those structures were in place, this discussion may not be taking place. Maybe a lesson for future new builds?
We all pay our taxes and our children "all" should recieve the education afforded by Hurworth and Carmel.
Chris, in answer to your well made comments. If Haughton does not improve, as Nick has suggested, then "heads" will have to roll figuratevely speaking. However on the flip side of this if Nick is correct and Haughton achieve 50% or better. Dame Dela and the team should be congratulated.
Dave T would not be content if the results were 99% this year. His past actions are a discredit to the fine pupils of the Education Village.
Ian/Chris. Haughton has been a failing school, Springfield has had some issues but got a good ofsted report. Beaumont Hill, however, is classed as an outstanding school with an excellent ofsted report. Who was the past head? yes Dame Dela.It is unfair to group them together,as all problematic.I await, as you also with interest the August results.

Best wishes

Paul.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks for the comments - particularly the more recent ones which I think have taken the debate forward regarding the Education Village.

Speaking as a councillor for the neighbouring ward, I'm aware that there has been a great deal of good work undertaken in partnership by staff at the EV, both with Hurworth School and the Council's School Improvement team.

As has been pointed out, Beaumont Hill was last assessed as delivering very good education, and Springfield Primary also had a reasonable Ofsted report. There have been historic problems with what was Haughton Comprehensive, and it is these difficulties which are being addressed now. Dealing with embedded problems in a school of this size is no easy task, but the issues are being tackled.

Clearly unhelpful was the naming of the EV as one of the 600 schools nationwide where improvements need to happen immediately. Interestingly, this list has been fairly comprehensively rubbished since it was published, containing as it did a couple of hundred schools where Ofsted had previously said that they were performing well.

Chris asks me when the Council will "step in" if change does not deliver improvements - to an extent, that is where we are now, given the involvement of the School Improvement Service and senior staff from Hurworth. This is, however, very much on a supportive basis, and I'm hopeful that real evidence of further improvement will be seen soon.

Darlington Councillor said...

Final Postscript.

After receiving representations, I have taken down two comments which caused offence. I have taken down a further comment about which no complaint has been made, but which I judged to be potentially offensive.

You will all be weary of reading this, but this blog is not the Town Liar where malicious and unfounded comments are regularly left.

In response to an earlier comment, I cannot block anonymous posts - I can only turn comment moderation on or off. As turning comment moderation off would significantly reduce the interactivity and spontaneity of this site, I will only do this in extreme circumstances. I will continue to delete comments which cause offence, however.

Chris Smith said...

Nick

Thank you for your prompt comment regarding the status of Haughton. I know that when I attended (1990-95), it was in trouble then, and fast going downhill. I can only hope that it WILL turn around, and become the outstanding school it deserves to be - otherwise, I'm going to have to look more closely into moving house! :P

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