Councillor Stuart Wallace was elected to Nottinghamshire County Council at a by-election held on 17th September 2009. On 27th April 2010, he was appointed Deputy Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health. Following Nottinghamshire County Council's change to a committee system of governance in May 2012, Councillor Wallace is now Vice Chairman of the Adult Social Care & Health Committee.
He is available to meet constituents at any mutually convenient time at a suitable venue. His contact details are displayed on the left of this page.
Stuart's latest Councillors' Divisional Fund awards...
Each Nottinghamshire County Councillor now has an annual fund of £10,000 to support worthy initiatives in the division they represent. The Councillors' Divisional Fund aims to make use of each councillor's 'grass roots' knowledge to identify projects, events, people and clubs that work hard to benefit and promote their local area, but often lack access to resources. Even a small amount of funding can sometimes make a huge difference.
If you know of a deserving initiative in the Newark East division that might be eligible to receive a CDF grant, please contact me. You can click the following link to read the eligibility guidance criteria.
Follow this link to the Councillors' Divisional Fund web page to see some of the latest projects I have been able to support.
Stuart's latest news...
Newark couple first to benefit from NCC mortgage scheme
I am delighted to announce that a young couple from Newark have become the first people in Nottinghamshire to be given a mortgage based on the County Councils new ‘Local Lend a Hand’ mortgage scheme, in partnership with Lloyds TSB.
Karl Hopkinson (24) and Lucy Price (23) found it difficult in finding a home together that they both could afford, Karl said: “We have always planned on buying a house together as soon as possible after leaving University but it was a matter of waiting until we saved enough for a deposit.”
Nottinghamshire County Council has set aside £15 million for the new ‘Local Lend a Hand’ scheme, which was launched on 26th February 2013. The scheme will help at least 500 first-time buyers in Nottinghamshire to purchase a home with a deposit of just 5%.
The scheme is open to first-time buyers purchasing a property worth up to £150,000. It enables borrowers to buy their first home with a deposit of less than the 10% or greater, required by most mortgage lenders. The fixed rate mortgage products that will be available during this scheme will also be at a lower rate of interest than would normally be available for this level of deposit.
The ‘Local Lend a Hand’ allows for first-time buyers to pay a deposit of only 5% for their first home, while enjoying the cash benefits as if they were paying 25%. This means their monthly repayments will be around £100 lower than they would otherwise have been, allowing them to focus on the DIY and the furnishing of their new home.
Please click here for more information regarding the ‘Local Lend a Hand’ webpage at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/mortgages.
Council tax frozen for the fourth consecutive year
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 28th February 2013, I joined my Conservative colleagues in voting to freeze county council tax for a fourth consecutive year.
In the 2013/14 financial year, Nottinghamshire County Council will be investing: -
an extra £13.3 million in services to children and young people;
an extra £17.9 million in adult social care;
an extra £3 million on the county’s highways;
an extra £500,000 for a Youth Employment Strategy; and
an extra £700,000 for our ‘Olympic Legacy’ sports development fund.
This followed our ‘Big Budget Conversation’ consultation process, in which 65% of Nottinghamshire respondents supported a council tax freeze, with only 21% against. Further information on the results of the Big Budget Conversation can be found in Appendix A to the budget report.
Nottinghamshire County Council is now spending over £40 million more on services to vulnerable adults than it was four years ago, and over £35 million more on services to vulnerable children.
Bassetlaw Day Service centre revamped
As Deputy Chairman of the Adult Social Care & Health Committee I was delighted to meet service users at the official opening of a Worksop day service building that has received a £1.87m transformation to improve the facilities on offer and make it a more attractive environment for service users. Nottinghamshire County Council has extensively refurbished the Bassetlaw Day Service centre on Albion Close, formerly known as Eastgate Day and Community Support Service, as part of a £6m modernisation of day service bases across the county.
The building has been fitted with multi-purpose activity rooms, an audio sensory room, comfortable lounges, salon and dining area. New toilets, showers and changing facilities with adaptations for use by older people and people with disabilities have also been installed.
The service was previously only used by people with physical disabilities but the refurbishment allows the centre to offer a wide range of activities to older people and people with learning disabilities. Activities include arts and crafts, sports, educational and leisure pursuits, horticulture and community based activities.
The improved centre is expected to be used by an estimated 536 people per week throughout the Bassetlaw district. The building will also be available for use by the wider community, with groups being able to hire rooms for meetings and activities when not in use by the day service.
Nottinghamshire County Council decided to modernise its day services following a countywide review. One conclusion from the review was that the day services were not making efficient use of buildings, which were operating at an average of just 39 percent of their capacity. Following the programme of improvement works across the county, day services will operate from 14 multi-purpose buildings, including Bassetlaw Day Service.
Quality in Care Services
At Full Council on 1st November, in my capacity as Vice Chairman of the Adult Social Care & Health Committee, I seconded a report detailing the work undertaken within the Adult Social Care, Health and Public Protection Department to audit and monitor the quality of social care services provided in care homes and in people’s own homes.
The total budgeted gross expenditure on adult social care in 2012/13 is £300 million of which a sum of £261 million is being spent on care and support services. Of this sum an estimated £226 million (86%) is used to commission care and support services from the independent sector, including voluntary sector organisations and private organisations.
The report provided information about Nottinghamshire County Council’s quality monitoring role, the role of NHS commissioners, the role of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), raised awareness of safeguarding issues and the information sharing processes employed by this Council and its partners to ensure vulnerable people are not placed at risk of harm.
The number of care quality inspectors (known as Quality Development Officers) is high in Nottinghamshire compared to neighbouring County Councils and these officers carry out higher levels of visits to care providers as part of their auditing and monitoring activities. This rigorous inspection regime exceeds the standards required by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and maximises the Council’s ability to escalate actions against providers in the very small number of cases where poor patterns of practice pose a risk to the safety and wellbeing of service users.
The Chairman of the Adult Social Care & Health Committee gave Council an assurance that this Council is being ever more innovative and proactive to ensure delivery of good quality care to our service users throughout Nottinghamshire. Council Members voted unanimously to note the report.
Debit card makes care service payments easier
The 100th Nottinghamshire resident has signed up to a pre-payment debit card which takes the stress out of paying for services and products that form part of a care package. The card is available for older people or people with disabilities who need support and use direct payments to pay. It can be used for direct payments to employ people such as a personal assistant or for a variety of other support services to meet assessed needs such as attending a gym, evening classes or day opportunities.
Nottinghamshire County Council has introduced the card locally which is issued by Advanced Payment Solutions in partnership with the Cooperative Bank. For more information contact the Council on 0115 977 3429 or email email@example.com
Secondary school admissions
The application process for children transferring from primary schools to secondary schools across the county in September 2013 is under way. Letters from Nottinghamshire County Council setting out the procedure for applying, key dates for noting and their child’s unique ID number are in the process of being sent out to parents and carers across Nottinghamshire.
Parents and carers can now start applying for a secondary school place and the Council's committee chairman for children and young people’s services, Councillor Philip Owen, is urging as many as possible to apply online at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/admissions.
The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 31st October 2012. For more information about the application process, schools, the number of places available or how places are allocated, please visit the website at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/admissions or call 01623 433499.
Mansfield Day Service Reopening
As Vice Chairman of the Adult Social Care & Health Committee I'm delighted to report on the official reopening, by the Council Chairman Councillor Carol Pepper, of the Mansfield Day Service on Southwell Road West following a half a million pound makeover of the facility.
Mansfield Day Service Reopening Ceremony
The centre has been redecorated, its facilities upgraded and the layout altered to make the building more flexible for all the people who will use it. The building, which is run by Nottinghamshire County Council, was previously used by people with learning disabilities and older people. After the refurbishment it will also be used also by people who have mental health issues, and people with physical disabilities could choose to attend.
Features include improved hairdressing and beauty facilities along with new toilets, showers and changing facilities. Many of the changes have been based on suggestions from people who use the service and their carers. The refurbished building will also be available for use by the wider community, with groups able to hire rooms for meetings and activities when not in use by the day service.
The Woodland View bungalow on the site, used for horticultural projects, has also been revamped with a new toilet and kitchenette along with replacement floor coverings, new windows and general redecoration. The centre was the first purpose built day service building in the county when it opened its doors in 1964 and was formerly known as the Red Oaks Day Service.
Nottinghamshire County Council decided to modernise day service provision following a countywide review. One conclusion from the review was that the day services were not making efficient use of buildings, which were operating at an average of just 39 percent of their capacity. Following the programme of improvement works across the county, day services will operate from 14 multi-purpose buildings, including Mansfield Day Service.
History comes to life at Newark Castle
History came to life on Saturday 28th July when hundreds of visitors enjoyed medieval sword fights and musket firing mixed with World War II soldiers at Time Travel Trent Vale at Newark Castle. Organised by Nottinghamshire County Council, the event also allowed visitors to access areas of the castle not normally open to the general public, such as the deep dungeons and castle towers. Community archaeologists and volunteers were on hand to tell everyone who made the climb – up or down - the history of the castle.
Re-enactors and living history groups entertained the crowds and enthralled young and old alike with medieval combat and weaponry displays while medieval beggars provided a comic touch. Queen Victoria, along with her Private Secretary, was just one of the “time travellers” at this year’s event. Joining her were also English Civil War re-enactors who treated the crowd to an ear splitting musket firing demonstration.
The event was part of the Festival of British Archaeology, an annual celebration of the very best of British archaeology and the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership (TVLP) which aims to conserve, enhance and celebrate the cultural identity of the Trent Vale between Newark and Gainsborough
Council care homes to be refurbished
Proposals for a £600,000 refurbishment programme of Nottinghamshire County Council’s six residential care homes were agreed at the Adult Social and Health Committee on Monday 2nd July.
The homes are:
- Bishops Court, Boughton Ollerton
- James Hince Court, Carlton-in-Lindrick
- Kirklands, Kirkby-in-Ashfield
- Leiver’s Court, Arnold
- St Michael’s View, Retford
- Woods Court, Newark
The Council agreed to continue to operate the six care homes last September to provide long term care, short term care and also respite care to support carers.
Council adopts a committee system
The Council Chamber at County Hall, where most of the meetings under the new committee system will be held
With approval at the Council’s Annual General Meeting on 17th May 2012, Nottinghamshire County Council exercised its new power under the Localism Act 2011 to adopt a committee system of decision-making. This replaces the Leader and Cabinet model adopted under the Local Government Act 2000.
The rationale for a committee system is that it is the most democratic and transparent form of governance. It ensures all 67 democratically elected Councillors are able to fully participate in decision-making and shaping the policy of the Council. It ensures greater transparency in that all reports are publicly available prior to any decision being made, and most decision-making meetings are held in public.
Reports were taken to the Full Council meetings in January and March, with final approval being given, as stated above, in May.
Council tax frozen again in 2012/13
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 23rd February it was agreed to freeze county council tax for a third consecutive year. With public finances under strain across the country, the council has saved £87 million so far, £44 million of which has been reinvested directly into frontline services. In the coming financial year we will spend: -
- £2.8 million more safeguarding children;
- £5.2 million more on care for older people;
- £2.7 million more on adults with mental health & learning disabilities;
- £1.4 million more on adults with physical disabilities; and
- £1 million more to support young carers.
We are also committed to invest £289 million in capital over three years on:-
- Improving school buildings;
- Modernising day centres;
- New youth clubs;
- Improving libraries;
- Improved broadband services;
- Improved roads and pathways;
- New and improved bus stations.
Councillor Reg Adair is the council's Cabinet Member for Finance & Property. In his speech presenting the budget, he outlined the results of the council's budget consultation. In response to public feedback, we are: -
- providing additional library opening hours at 15 locations across the county;
- holding Meals at Home charges at £3.95 for 2012/13; and
- not increasing charges for Blue Badge holders in 2012/13, unlike many other local authorities.
Newark bus station official opening
I am delighted to report that Newark's brand new bus station was officially opened on Friday 11th November.
Part of the £50m Asda supermarket development on the town’s Potterdyke car park, the new state-of-the-art bus station is fully enclosed and boasts digital information screens, seating, CCTV for added security, toilets, baby changing area, vending machines and a staffed information point.
The new building is jointly owned by Nottinghamshire County Council – which will operate the bus station – and Newark and Sherwood District Council. Both worked alongside Asda on its development.
It has been estimated that there will be around 2,000 bus arrivals and departures a week – with around 25,000 passenger arrivals and departures over the same period.
The new bus station provides a welcoming first impression for anyone arriving in Newark by bus and I am confident that anyone using the new bus station will be impressed by the modern, first-rate facilities it offers. As joint owner of the facility, we are delighted to see it open and become available to residents of Newark and Sherwood. It is a significant part of the regeneration of this part of Newark town centre which will help to maximise the area’s economic potential.
Newark job fair
Newark residents seeking employment were able to attend a jobs fair on Thursday 10th November, where employers were on hand to discuss seasonal and permanent job vacancies and support agencies were available to offer careers, CV and interview advice along with information on volunteering and apprentice opportunities.
The event took place at the Palace Theatre at Appletongate in Newark and was organised by Nottinghamshire County Council (Making the Connection) and Newark & Sherwood District Council in partnership with Newark Jobcentre Plus and Futures Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
£2.5 million boost for Supporting People
Despite local budget pressures and a reduced grant from central Government, Nottinghamshire County Council has invested an extra £2.5 million in its Supporting People programme.
Supporting People is a national programme that provides housing related support to help vulnerable people live independently. It will see its Government grant in Nottinghamshire reduced to £17.6 million this year, threatening the County Council’s previous year’s Supporting People spend of £22.5 million.
However, thanks to a new £1.5 million investment from the local NHS, plus a further £1 million diverted from the County Council budget, the Government’s allocation has been given a vital boost in Nottinghamshire. This limits the reduction in the County’s Supporting People budget to just over 10%, from £22.5 million to £20.11 million. The restricted budget reduction has also been made possible by the County Council’s decision early this year, following public consultation, to keep its savings on Supporting People to £10 million over the next three years rather than two higher reduction options of £12.5 million and £15 million.
These funding measures support feedback gained from a second, two-month public consultation on Supporting People services this year (in Feb/March), to form new proposals which went before Full Council on 30th June 2011. These proposals ensure that:-
- Most accommodation based services continue to be funded, albeit at reduced levels;
- ‘Floating support’ services, which offer support to people in their own homes, will be delivered consistently across issues of homelessness prevention and offender, drug and alcohol, gypsy and traveller and young people’s services;
- Mental health services are reviewed and delivered more efficiently;
- Young people’s services are reviewed for greater efficiency;
- Community alarm and warden services for older people are replaced with a new short term service targeted at helping vulnerable people to remain independent in their own homes.
We’ve talked to those who use the services, to our District Council partners, to project providers and voluntary and community groups, including church leaders, to find ways to make savings through efficiencies. We will target the money at front line services that meet the needs of those who are most vulnerable and in greatest need.
Nottinghamshire was successful in securing Government money under Supporting People when the programme first started eight years ago but we’ve seen this central funding steadily fall by nearly £11 million since that time. We believe that after the £10 million savings have been made, the level of funding in Nottinghamshire for these services will still compare well with other Council areas.
School buildings investment
I am delighted to report that Magnus Comprehensive and Hawtonville Junior in Newark are amongst the schools set to benefit from the first phase of Nottinghamshire County Council's new £100 million programme to refurbish and improve school buildings.
At the Annual General Meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council on 19th May, The Cabinet Member for Children & Young People's Services, Councillor Philip Owen set out the full Schools Capital Refurbishment Programme List, covering three years up to 2014.
In line with the "Three R's" set out by the Government for school building works (Refresh, Refurbish, Re-use), Nottinghamshire County Council has set the criteria to prioritise the schools most in need of improvements for the first year. The condition of roofs, external walls and windows, electrical arrangements and mechanical issues such as boilers have been considered.
More in-depth surveys of the schools in the first year list will take place from June and works on a small number of schools will begin during the summer holidays. The Council started a review of school buildings across the county following the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
The County Council will be funding around £30m of the programme with the remaining money coming from the authority’s Government grant for school maintenance.