Hinterland - 14 August 2018

In Hinterland this week - high rise cairns, the fag end of the Big Society, controversy in rural England wrought by cyclists and gypsies, the unfolding of the grim story of Northamptonshire and rough sleeping as a sign of our “small urban” times. Read on…...

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£100m drive to end rough sleeping in England by 2027

Rough sleeping seems massively more prevalent than a decade ago. I have my suspicions as to why. It is a feature of many rural service towns. I am going to watch the unrolling of this legislative programme with interest. I am also going to watch it with the background thought that radical reductions to social support might be the cause and that this “drive” might just be an attempt to treat the symptoms….

A £100m government drive will aim to end rough sleeping in England by 2027. The new strategy, being launched by James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, on Monday, will offer help with mental health and addictions, as well as targeted support to get rough sleepers off the streets and into long-term accommodation.

Brokenshire acknowledged that efforts to tackle homelessness had “not been good enough” and said he wanted to see quick progress in reducing the estimated 4,751 people sleeping rough on any given night in England.

He told the Sunday Times the growing number of people sleeping on the streets was not consistent with “the type of country, the type of society that I profoundly believe we are”.

Brokenshire said: “To see that number of people on the streets isn’t good enough. We need to make progress quickly with the new strategy.

“We shouldn’t punish people for being homeless. This strategy is about how we can support people, how we can direct, and yes, sometimes challenge, some of those who are living rough to get into those services that will help make a difference.”

The new strategy will take a three-pronged approach of prevention, intervention and recovery. About £30m will be spent on mental health and treatment for the misuse of substances, including the synthetic cannabinoid spice.


Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory

This is like a slow-motion car crash you cant quite take your eyes off however much you’d like to. This story tells us:

Northamptonshire’s cuts will be felt in even its leafiest and most prosperous areas. Dig into the council’s cuts plans and you find an axe taken to highways budgets – less pothole filling, winter gritting and traffic light maintenance. The council expects legal challenges to these, too.

There is the removal of bus subsidies on rural routes connecting the county’s villages, another source of growing anger, and cuts to the county’s museums and heritage sites. If the council can charge for a service, or raise charges, it most likely will. Recycling centres may close; local charities will see grants disappear.

These are just the existing cuts plans: what is required in the next few months will take the council into uncharted territory. The two big areas of expenditure are adult and children’s social care. Expect tighter restrictions on who gets that care. The council has made clear that it will provide the legal minimum, to “those most in need only”.

The council’s Tory leader, Matthew Golby, promised that no vulnerable children would be put in danger despite the cuts and the council would meet its legal obligations to provide core services. Politically, he cannot say otherwise. In the next few months, his assertions will be severely tested.


New 'big society' bid to boost charities' role in public services

I like all of this apart from the “innovation in democracy” bit. There was a time when local government was fully understood and valued as the means of determining approaches to important local issues…….This story tells us:

The government has launched a new “big society”-style strategy designed to enable charities to play a bigger role in the provision of public services, from social care and homelessness to libraries.

Ministers say they want to help the public sector, private businesses, charities and volunteers to work together more closely to solve social problems, build stronger communities and create a fairer society.

“Government alone cannot solve the complex challenges facing society, such as loneliness, rough sleeping, healthy ageing or online safety. Government can help to bring together the resources, policies and people who, between them, can do so,” the strategy says.

It comes out as local authorities – a key source of funding for many local charities – warn that voluntary groups will have to take on the delivery of services that councils can no longer afford because of funding cuts.

The strategy is likely to be regarded with scepticism by many in the voluntary sector who feel that while austerity has driven up demand for charity services, ministers have failed to support the sector financially and sought to silence its views.

Although the paper published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is coy about the big society programme championed by former prime minister David Cameron’s government, it shares many of its objectives.

The new strategy promises £165m in funds taken from dormant bank accounts and charitable trusts to support community foundations, set up organisations to get disadvantaged people into employment, and tackle financial exclusion.

It also includes plans to launch “innovation in democracy” pilots in six regions around the country are also included in the document, to trial ways for people to take a more direct role in community decision-making through possible online polls, apps or “citizens’ juries”.

The culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, and the civil society minister, Tracey Crouch, write in the foreword: “Big societal challenges, including the future of social care, community integration, and housing, are being tackled through solutions that bring together public services, businesses, and communities.

 “New providers are taking responsibility for youth services, domestic abuse services, addiction services, and offender rehabilitation services. New models are developing for funding and running libraries as well as children’s services.”

They add: “All this is happening because of the resourcefulness of the British people.”


Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman hits out at laws treating killer cyclists like dangerous drivers

I have to say I don’t agree with Chris Boardman on this. Surely it’s the actuality of the offence not the frequency of it that justifies the sanction. I often reflect on my car based journeys around rural England that motorists and cyclists need to stop seeing each other as “the enemy” and just concentrate on where they are going!!!!

New laws which could see cyclists who kill treated the same as dangerous drivers have been criticised by Olympic medalist Chris Boardman. The former racing cyclist lost his mother Carol after she was fatally injured following a collision with a car in July 2016.

The 49-year-old, who won gold in the 1992 Olympics, hit out at plans to introduce a criminal offence for causing death by dangerous or careless cycling.

The legislation is being proposed by the Government after 44-year-old mother-of two Kim Briggs was knocked over and killed by a bicycle courier in February 2016.

But Cycling UK head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore described the current system of prosecuting and sentencing for careless or dangerous drivers as "something of a lottery" which leaves victims and their relatives "feeling massively let down".

He went on: "Adding one or two new offences specific to cyclists would be merely tinkering around the edges.

Mr Boardman added his voice to concerns raised by cycling campaigners that the move was not addressing real threats on the road.

He wrote on Twitter the focus was “on a single tragic case”, when around “66 pedestrians are killed each year, on the pavement alone, by drivers, who are prosecuted for careless driving.

He suggested the Government should consult road fatality statistics before deciding “where to focus resources to save most lives” and went on to criticise an official Conservatives tweet endorsing the law change.


Make trespassing a criminal offence to stop travellers moving onto private land, demand backbenchers

It comes to something when these inconsiderate people interfere with cricket…..!!!! This story tells us:

Dozens of MPs including several former Cabinet ministers are demanding that the Government makes trespassing a criminal offence to stop travellers moving onto private land.

The MPs, led by Mark Francois and John Baron, have written to Theresa May and Housing Secretary James Brokenshire urging them to make “acts of deliberate trespass a criminal offence”.

They say that people “have a right to expect that the law should be applied equally and fairly to all and they want to see the authorities given additional powers to deal with unauthorised encampments, which are an increasing problem, particularly in the spring and summer months”.

The news has emerged days after a police force in Surrey failed to take action to remove a group of travellers who had set up camp illegally in a park in Thames Ditton.

The group were eventually evicted by the local council after three days, but left behind significant damage and mess, including "rutted" football pitches from drag racing cars, two dogs, and a water-logged cricket pitch, forcing this weekend's games to be cancelled.

The council also hired a specialist cleaning company to carry out a "cleanse" of the park's playground following their stay.


Stone stacking row as environmentalist says 'epidemic' is ruining scenery - but fans say it boosts mental health

This reads to me like a case of cairns gone mad!!!!

While rolling stones may gather no moss, stones left stacked decoratively on a beach can accrue considerable ill will from nature-lovers.

Environmentalists have provoked ridicule online after demanding a crackdown on beach-goers who pile rocks for artistic pleasure as well as a boost to their mental health.

The Blue Planet Society, an activist group, was accused of giving conservation a “bad name” by claiming the hobby had reached “epidemic proportions” and ruined beauty spots.

Stone-stacking is an increasingly popular past-time which sees practitioners spending hours meticulously balancing rocks on top of one another.

Campaigners claimed the trend had exploded through “increased tourism and social media”, adding the “sheer number” of stacks posed “very real concern for wildlife”.

James Craig Page, an artist from Dunbar, East Lothian, who organises the European Stone Stacking Championships, said the process was meditative and helped children with ADHD.

He dismissed the criticism as “a little bit over the top”, suggesting activists had picked on a group who “love nature and encourage people to look after nature”.


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


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