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monthly newsletter

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Now is the time for community-driven, people-powered change in South Tyneside.

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In this issue:

News & Views

Series continues:

What is...South

Tyneside Council?



Citizens' Assembly

South Tyneside

Contact us:




Welcome to your



The START Festival...it's almost


Following the success of last

year’s creative programme

and our family funday at Bilton

Hall, the START Festival

returns across the borough for

August 2022!

This year, we're holding FIVE free creative ‘minifests’ in

community centres across the borough offering you free

performances, interactive tasters, kids’ art club plus a free

inflatable! Not only that but the festival programme is bursting

with creative workshops, art exhibitions, a short film

competition open to everyone and The Big River Makers


Supported using public funding by the National Lottery

through Arts Council England, The Barbour Trust, Sir

James Knott Trust, an ASDA Foundation Under 18s Better

Starts grant and money from South Tyneside Council, the

START Festival has something to get everyone's creative

juices flowing this summer! So help us kick off the START

Festival in style and check out the rhymes and rhythms of

local MC artists, rappers, poets and storytellers at the first

minifest at Clegwell in Hebburn on 7th August!

Check out the full programme and book your workshop place

@ https://southtynesideart.com

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News & Views

CAST gets some fresh air!

Dru Haynes, CAST Chair

It's been a while since there've been any events going on where we can raise CAST's profile

but that's all changed now!

This month - and last - saw us out and about and unveiling the new banner at the Rebel

Town Festival in Jarrow and then at the Durham Miners Gala. Planning Group

members were joined by CAST supporters and we were all encouraged by the

levels of enthusiasm for a fresh, innovative and inclusive approach to the

issues affecting us all. Especially positive (unsurprisingly!) was the response to

the START Festival - this reception was mirrored when we handed out flyers

at the South Shields Parade.

So, take a deep breath, summer's about to get a whole lot busier!

Citizen reporter's corner

Laura Adams:

The impact of maternity provision in South Tyneside goes deeper than just hospital care

Last month, Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC), came in for some criticism on social media

for demonstrating against the loss of maternity services at our only hospital. The main argument was that

South Tyneside Hospital (STH) was attracting new, state of the art services including a new Endoscopy and

an Intensive Care Unit, a new outpatient pharmacy and a £10m Integrated Diagnostic Centre.

Whilst these are undoubtedly fantastic additions to the hospital, they come with significant caveats. Firstly,

they come at the loss of Stroke Services and full Maternity Services including the Special Care Baby Unit

relocated Sunderland Royal Hospital (SRH) and the downgrading of Children’s A&E from a 24/7 service to a

9am-9pm facility. In addition, Phase 2 of the Path To Excellence would see emergency surgery moved

entirely to SRH with STH simply being used for planned procedures.

Secondly, this new diagnostic centre is not NHS. It’s run in partnership with Alliance Medical, part of the

private Life Healthcare Group previously owned by private equity firm Dubai International Capital. This

means that government (ie. taxpayer) money is taken out of the public healthcare system and redirected to a

private healthcare provider and their shareholders.

Thirdly, you have the loss of maternity services – and it’s this aspect which could potentially have a wider

impact on our public service provision. With the midwife-led maternity unit at STH currently closed,

expectant parents are forced to go to a hospital outside the borough. Light-heartedly, this means choosing

whether to have a Mackem or a Geordie baby however it can have more serious implications for future school

place provision.

On a national level, the National Pupil Projection document uses official Office of National Statistics (ONS)

population estimations, birth registrations in England and data from the School Census to create national

projections for the number of pupils in England. On a local level, effective school place forecasting, both

mainstream and specialist, is essential to ensure the numbers of children requiring school places are catered

for. In mainstream school forecasting birth data underpins all forecasts - birth data is collected by the ONS by

electoral ward. Now, just consider how many children will be born in South Tyneside without any maternity


Children living in South Tyneside will be born in Sunderland or Gateshead or Newcastle. What impact will that

have on our school place provision?

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Got an issue? Anything going on in your area and you'd like to spread the word?

Then citizen reporter's corner is the place for you - send us your article and we'll get it out there for you!*

*We will NOT publish anything offensive. Request our Terms and Conditions here

The views and opinions expressed in Citizen's Reporters Corner do not necessarily reflect the views of CAST and/or it's members.

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Each month, our section ‘What is…?’ takes an unbiased look at terms often used

but never really explained. This month, our new series continues:

What is...South Tyneside Council?

Government policy has a considerable impact on service provision as it determines how the council is

financed, this month, we’re looking at...business rates.

Business rates (National Non-Domestic Rates or NNDR) are the taxes paid by businesses on their commercial

properties. Despite being collected locally, South Tyneside Council (STC) has little control over the charge or

how it’s operated – that is decided by the Valuation Office Agency. As a UK government department, they set

the rateable value of premises. Since 2017, rateable value has been based on the valuation date of 1st April

2015 (the next revaluation will be applied from 1st April 2023, based on rateable values from 1st April 2021).

STC has no control over which businesses must pay NNDR or which are entitled to business rate relief (a

discount) as this is also set at national level. In effect, this means that the local authority (LA) cannot use the

rates or discounts as incentives to support particular types of businesses or ‘encourage’ progressive business

practices which would benefit local people, for example, paying the living wage.

So, how does the system work?

Up until 2013, each LA collected the business rates in their area on behalf of the UK Treasury - each area’s

needs were calculated using the Formula Grant Distribution System and money was then allocated back to

each council. In 2013, the business rate system was overhauled and the Business Rates Retention Scheme

(BRRS) came into operation. Using the BRRS, LAs keep 50% of the income from business rates. The Treasury

receives the other 50% which they then apportion back as core grants (see June newsletter). The total given

to each LA is subject to either a reduction (a tariff) or an additional payment (a top up) – these are dependent

on the Treasury’s estimation of the ability of the LA to generate business rates based on their local economic

circumstances. For example, LAs with a greater number of businesses with high property values will collect

more in business rates than ones with fewer, therefore the former will be subject to additional tariffs, which go

towards funding the top-ups of the latter.

Sounds fair, so what’s the problem with the BRRS?

The BRRS recognises that all LAs have different funding requirements, which the tariff and top-up system

attempts to offset. The scheme was designed to increase overall council ‘self-sufficiency’ by increasing the

incentives for LAs to boost their local economies as they keep a greater share of the locally generated taxation


However, there are several factors which mean the link between business rates and ‘reaping the rewards’ of

growth is weak in practice:

The amount each local council can retain in business rates is still fixed at the original 2013 assessment level.

LA circumstances have not been re-evaluated since then, which means that there hasn’t been an

opportunity for any council to move towards the stated aim of ‘self-sufficiency’ in practice.

Using the value of business premises as opposed to their economic activity is not an especially accurate

measure as it doesn’t show actual productive economic value. For example, a large warehouse which pays

its workers minimum wage would generate a significant amount of business rates but little local economic

value whereas a small, highly productive company based in small premises, employing a skilled workforce

and supporting a local supply chain would generate much smaller business rates but much more local

economic value. From this point of view, there are other taxes which would make better determiners for

‘good’ economic activity, namely income tax (based on wages) or VAT (based on transactions).

The fact that relief is available for vacant property means that properties can be left empty when they could

otherwise be in use. On the other hand, the danger of having no relief is that it gives an incentive to simply

demolish buildings. Such issues highlight why it would be much better to have a tax on the value of the land

on which the business sits rather than the rental value of the property.

The reality of the current system is all important. Business rates bring in billions every year and they represent

an easy, dependable revenue stream - this is not something a cash-strapped Treasury is going to jeopardise.

August: how the council is funded continues - don't miss it!

Do you have any terms you’re unsure of?

Let us know here and we’ll take an impartial, honest look into them for you.

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community noticeboard

BLISS=Ability - free kids Summer Holiday Club

BLISS=Abilty are delivering their Summer Holiday Club at Chuter Ede

between 25th July – 19th August. Free places are available for young

people aged between 5-16 who are eligible for benefit-related free

school meals or from a family experiencing financial hardship.

Activities and a free packed lunch are provided but you MUST book a

place - please don’t attend without booking!

More info here

Letters & links:

just click the white link to access!



St Hilda's Pit disaster commemoration event

Local drama group, The HIVE Storytellers, will be performing 'The

Tenth Bord' audio drama at The Word in South Shields on Wednesday

10th August at 2pm.

A commemoration of the St Hilda's Pit disaster in June 1839 this is a

45 minute or so, script in hand performance.

More info here

Assistant Debt Centre Manager vacancy

Do you want to be part of a project supporting local people?

If your answer is yes, Places of Welcome+ have a vacancy for a new

Assistant Debt Centre Manager.

With 21 hours worked over 4/5 days and based in Jarrow and

Simonside this could be just the opportunity you're looking for!

More info here

Closing date: 8th August 2022

Do you have an issue you want to raise or discuss with your

local STC councillor?

Why not pop along to their regular surgery?

To get the dates and times for your councillor, simply select your

ward councillor from this list and scroll down or call the Town Hall

on 0191 427 1717 and ask for details.

Beat the Heat

Hot weather advice flyer

NEXUS Concessionary

Travel Schemes


Save South Tyneside

Hospital Campaign

Facebook page

South Tyneside Tree

Action Group

Facebook page

Got a campaign to publicise?

Let us help you spread the word!

Just drop us a line here


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C A S T N E W S L E T T E R | I S S U E 2 6

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