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Fine Fettle - 👩‍🏫 A chalkboard dust-up

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Fine Fettle is a weekly round-up of Cumbrian news. Send me your favourite stories to be featured: lee
 
February 10 · Issue #8 · View online
Fine Fettle
Fine Fettle is a weekly round-up of Cumbrian news. Send me your favourite stories to be featured: [email protected]

Hiya! Sorry for my slight lateness. Enjoy a round up of what’s gone on this week in the county.
Please stick around till the end because I have questions for you.
Coming up...
  • Carlisle teachers call out the government because there’s not enough money.
  • You’ll be able to get trains on a Saturday again from next week - for now.
Carlisle schools call out cuts
Carlisle headteachers take unprecedented step to highlight impact of school cuts (The Cumberland News) Carlisle headteachers take unprecedented step to highlight impact of school cuts (The Cumberland News)
More than 30 schools in Carlisle have written a joint letter to parents blaming the government for underfunding them and pointing to figures recently published by the House of Commons Library.
But the government has wheeled out its regular line that it is putting more money than ever before into education and that all areas of England are getting an increase in school funding in 2019/2020.
It’s really easy to miss the woods for the trees on this story so hopefully I can try and break it down for you.
It’s completely fair to say that more money is being given to schools because that is happening.
However, schools are having to do more with that money. Ministers decided to increase teacher pay last year, but between a half to a third of that (a 1% rise) has to come from school budgets. Schools are also having to teach more children because more children were born around a decade or so ago, so the money, and any increase, has stretch further.
Interestingly, many of the 32 schools to sign the letter are primary schools, who tend to be smaller and more rural than secondary schools. They miss out on some of the economies of scale that come from, in a sense, being a larger business which is what secondary schools with a 1,000 or so pupils are.
I’m going to keep an eye on the petition which the schools have been promoting to see if it gets more support. It seems to be working, Carlisle has one of the highest proportions of signatures compared to nearly all other English constituencies.

  • One of the dangers of writing copy directly into your publishing software is that when I pulled in the link for this article, the first line of text it found was “NEEDS D of E statement added in”. I’m happy to inform you that the D of E statement has been added in.
Getting back on track
Northern rail: Strikes halted by 'breakthrough' (BBC News) Northern rail: Strikes halted by 'breakthrough' (BBC News)
Finally. After around two years and just under 50 days of strike action it seems there may be light at the end of the tunnel - sorry 🙄
Train operator Northern and trade union RMT just might be able to hash out a deal to end the industrial action which has turned railway travel on a Saturday in the north of England into something deeply unpleasant.
I’ve only had to experience this once so far, on the way back from Manchester Christmas Markets and it was one helluva squeeze in that three-car Transpennine Express train.
The dispute stems from a commitment made by Northern in its franchise agreement with the Department for Transport to introduce Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) meaning it would be train drivers rather than train guards or conductors who would open and close doors at stations.
This isn’t something which the RMT agrees with, saying that it’s a safety issue and that there should be a guarantee of a second person working in a safety-critical role on a train.
It is worth pointing out the obvious, though, that many RMT members would be worried for the medium to long-term future of their jobs if their responsibilities on board are reduced, especially with more unmanned ticket machines, penalty fares, and proposals for smart ticketing across the North of England.
Now, it appears that Northern have blinked first by offering a guarantee of a conductor on all services, including planned new rolling stock, until the end of the train operators franchise period in 2025.
It is worth wondering what exactly Northern would like its “conductors” to do on trains in the future as there’s been no word of them being in a safety-critical role, as the RMT had previously demanded.
The talks, as ever, continue.

In other news...
👃 SCENTED: A good week for the Countess of Wessex who got to visit Kendal’s John Farrer and Co to celebrate their 200th birthday and start its production of an anniversary coffee blend… but she did also judge the annual Westmorland County Agricultural Society silage competition. The sweet smells of success.
💧 TWICE SHY: Frustration for dozens of Cumbrian flood victims who’ve found that their government-funded flood protection measures, like flood doors, are faulty. It’s raising questions about some of the companies that rushed to provide flood resilience measures in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. My friend Bob Cooper told the full story for BBC Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria.
💊 PILL BILL: Who’d have thought that a company was selling toxic ‘fat-burning’ pills from an industrial unit near Wigton station? That’s exactly what Carlisle Crown Court found had happened this week after an investigation by Allerdale Environmental Health. The company was fined £100,000 plus costs and its director was given a suspended prison sentence.
⚽️ ALL KICKING OFF: I can’t promise comprehensive football coverage, but what’s going on at Kendal Town Football Club right now is quite unbelievable. The whole first team squad just up and left in what’s thought to be a huge dispute between the club’s chairman and, well, seemingly everybody else. Kendal MP Tim Farron is backing a consortium’s bid to take over.
Agenda
Monday
Tuesday
  • Senior Copeland councillors consider improvements to cemeteries in the borough at a meeting of the executive.
  • Lecturers take a second day of strike action at Kendal College over pay.
  • A consultation event is being held on closing Kendal Post Office and opening a post office counter in WHSmith. 3:30pm - 7pm at Kendal Town Hall.
Wednesday
Thursday
  • Cumbria County Council sets its budget for the year - and a formal motion that would chastise the government for making councils raise money for adult social care locally, rather than it being paid for centrally.
One more thing
Father's pride as musician Jess Gillam prepares for BAFTA debut (The Mail) Father's pride as musician Jess Gillam prepares for BAFTA debut (The Mail)
Break a leg Jess! The BAFTAs are on BBC One tonight at 9pm.
Something missing?
What do you think about the email’s current format? Is it too wordy - or not wordy enough? Do you want more detail on one or two stories - or maybe more stories and less chat? Let me know!
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