Hinterland - 4 September 2018

This week arch controversy over a pub turning into of all things – A NURSERY!!! Some more harrowing angles on serious child related stories due to local authority funding hitting the buffers, a couple of property stories about a Lido and the unintended consequences of “Help to Buy” and an algorithm which has replaced the rural bobby in Norfolk. Read on.....

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‘No one wants it rotting away’: fate of Grange Lido hangs in balance

My neighbor swims in the sea at Anderby Creek- his intrepid middle aged adventures brought this story to my attention. It is an example of how difficult it is in these cash straitened times in Local Government to make the best of our assets without havint to “turn a buck”…It tells us:

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition demanding that a rare art deco lido is not destroyed.

Grange Lido, in the coastal Cumbrian town of Grange-over-Sands, is the only surviving seaside lido in the north of England. Built in 1932, the saltwater pool closed in 1993 but was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 2011, preventing its demolition.

Three years ago, South Lakeland district council, which owns the site, concluded that reopening the lido for swimming was unfeasible and began to explore using the site for other purposes.

It is planning a £2m “light touch” renovation which could see up to five new business units on site in the former ancillary buildings and changing rooms, alongside a landscaped open space in place of the old pool.

But campaigners insist that with the current al fresco swimming boom, the pool could be commercially viable within three years. Some 74% of local residents want to be able to swim there again, they say.

Situated right on Grange-over-Sands Promenade, swimmers in the mushroom-shaped 50m pool would enjoy panoramic views of Morecambe Bay to one side and the Lakeland hills to the other.


Revealed: cash crisis pushing child services to tipping point

This is an awful challenge in prospect and makes me queasy just thinking about the pressure facing a number of our landmark authorities. The story tells us:

Ministers are facing demands for emergency funds to protect thousands of vulnerable children after figures revealed that child social care services plunged more than £800m into the red in a single year.

In the latest sign of the cash crisis engulfing councils across England, senior local government figures now warn that children’s services are reaching a tipping point as the numbers needing help continue to grow and budgets continue to shrink.

The Observer understands that the Treasury was repeatedly approached for more funding by concerned ministers before the last budget, but the requests were turned down. Theresa May has also been warned by MPs that unless action is taken the funding crisis could cause another tragedy like the Baby P scandal of 2007.

Figures show that, last year alone, councils in England had to spend £816m more on children’s social care than they had budgeted for. It means that spending on children’s social care has increased at a faster rate than any other area that councils oversee.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils, there is now real pressure on attempts by councils to keep children safe from harm.

The annual number of referrals to children’s social care has increased by 100,000 children in a decade. The number of child protection plans, which assess their risk of harm and find ways to ensure their safety, is up by 23,000. The number of children in care is up 12,000 in a decade.

The government has been handed an internal report into the causes of the increasing numbers, but ministers have refused demands to publish its findings.


Children forced to travel hundreds of miles for NHS mental health treatment

Ive got a bit of a Children’s services theme going on this week. I suspect the issue described here is felt most acutely in rural areas. The story tells us:

Children and young people with serious mental health problems are receiving treatment as far as 285 miles away from their homes, despite a pledge to end such practice, because bed shortages in some areas are so severe.

Experts say sending highly troubled under-18s to units far from their family and friends can be frightening for them, reduces their chances of recovery and increases their risk of self-harm.

In all, 1,039 children and adolescents in England were admitted to a non-local bed in 2017-18, in many cases more than 100 miles from home, figures collated by NHS England show. Many had complex mental health problems that often involve a risk of self-harm or suicide, such as severe depression, eating disorders, psychosis and personality disorders.

Patients from Canterbury, in Kent, were sent 285 miles for inpatient mental health care, those from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 258 miles and those from Bristol 243 miles.

Bed shortages meant that in 119 of the NHS’s 195 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) at least one patient under-18 was sent out of the area for care last year, the statistics show.


Police criticised for using computer to work out whether to send officers to burglaries

This story is an insight into how IT might not always be the best cost saving response to public spending pressures. It tells us…

A computer programme that calculates whether a burglary is worth investigating, is "insulting" to victims and risks alienating the public, the head of the Police Federation has warned.

Norfolk Constabulary has been trialling a new system which uses sophisticated algorithms to determine whether there is any point attending a break in.

Officers input various details about the offence, such as whether there are clues including fingerprints or CCTV, and then the computer will suggest whether it is worth devoting any police time to.

The system is intended to help police chiefs work out how best to deploy resources as forces everywhere struggle to cope with reduced budgets and increasing demands.

But John Apter, the recently elected chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, warned the introduction of such systems represented a slippery slope which threatened to erode the trust that exists between the public and the police.


Help to Buy scheme facing the axe amid concerns it is pushing up house prices

With increasing numbers of people sleeping rough this story is quite astonishing in the way it reveals perverse public policy juxtapositions. It tells us:

The government's Help to Buy scheme is facing the axe amid concerns it is helping wealthier households and pushing up house prices.

The Telegraph understands that ministers are planning a “fundamental review” of the policy that could see it replaced with a scheme that is "more targeted on those it is meant to be helping."

New research published last week showed that one in five households on Help to Buy have used it to upgrade their homes rather than to get onto the housing ladder.

The disclosure comes as the government faces pressure from developers and mortgage lenders to set out plans to finance the policy beyond 2021, when the current tranche of funding ends.


Fury at plan to turn Grade II listed pub into children's nursery

People in Ley Hill (see below) fear turning a pub into a nursery will be “an absolute nightmare”. I would have thought turning a nursery into a pub might have been more controversial….

A former Mothercare director has sparked fury over her plans to turn a 500-year-old Grade II listed village pub into a children's nursery.

Fiona Murray-Young submitted proposals to change the use of the Swan Pub in Ley Hill, Buckinghamshire, causing concern among some residents who fear excessive noise and swarms of traffic in the village.

Retired medical researcher and resident Sarah Peterson said: ‘‘Everybody is up in arms because the noise that would be generated from having children playing is quite substantial.

"The other thing is, the pub doesn’t have a car park, it will be an absolute nightmare. ‘


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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