If this service is not front-line, what is?

WHAT exactly is the definition of front-line in relation to services provided by Northumberland County Council and other public bodies?

We are usually told that the most vulnerable will be protected. Services to those who need it will be provided. How often is that a hollow promise?

I pose the question after hearing the news of an Alnwick woman whose autistic son has lost a vital support service.

At present, the Communication Support Service currently provides a team of specialist teachers who assist children and young people in mainstream schools with spoken language and communication needs, either on a one-to-one basis or in language classes with a teacher and an assistant.

But that service will be gone by April 1, under £10million-worth of cuts to children’s services over the next financial year.

What has annoyed the Alnwick parent, and I am sure many others in the same predicament throughout the county, is that there has been no consultation. Presumably, they were just told the service would be axed.

The decision has been taken even before a special review of children’s services. Local councillors are to take up the cause and I hope they will have success, but I hold out little hope if this is the thinking in County Hall. I had to read the following paragraph in the Gazette twice as I just could not imagine the lack of understanding behind the answer from Coun Richard Dodd, chairman of the family and children’s service scrutiny committee.

He said he would add the issue to the committee’s work programme and for it to be reviewed in six months’ time. Does he not understand that if a child in such circumstances does not get help, they will regress? I am sure, in many cases, families will assist as best they can as they have done most of their lives, but in the end, there is no substitute for professional help.

By the way, councillors and any other members of the county council who might just cast their eye over this column, I would class this as a front-line service.

Children and adults with learning difficulties of any sort can be among the most vulnerable and demanding in society. They and their parents deserve all the help we can give them. Sadly, the county council does not seem to understand this.

That is the sad thing about this and many other similar stories through the years. I am sure that when the Special Review is announced there will be more cause for frustration and anger.

POLICE force manpower is being cut throughout the county and Northumbria is no exception. Yet they produce glossy brochures telling us how good they are and how crime is falling throughout the force area.

Everything is down in the Northumberland Area Command, including overall crime and house burglary. I note also down are detection rates, which have fallen from 41.5 per cent to 40.6 per cent.

In the police force as a whole, the detection rate is up from 39.3 per cent to 39.6 per cent.

Still, it is nice to know that Northumberland is still one of the safest areas in the country to live in.

WHEN I was a young child, one of the great hobbies was to keep albums. While the boys collected anything about footballers to cars, girls seemed to concentrate on film stars and royalty. It was great fun. You got a book and then started to cut items out of magazines, newspapers, anywhere where you could get your subject.

Now I see Northumberland Adult services is hoping to run courses at Alnwick and Amble at NCFE Level 1 for scrap booking (sic) and album making. If you don’t qualify for a free course, the fee for the 15-week session is £115. It would have my parents turning in their grave.