Tagged: Anna Turley

Tees Valley General Election Candidates

Darlington: currently held by Jenny Chapman (Lab)

Jenny Chapman (Lab),

Mike Cherrington (Green),

Anne-Marie Curry (LD),

Peter Cuthbertson (Con),

Alan Docherty (TUSC),

David Hodgson (Ukip)

 

Hartlepool: currently held by Iain Wright (Lab)

Hilary Allen (LD),

Sandra Allison (Save Our Hospital),

Phillip Broughton (Ukip),

John Hobbs (Ind),

Michael Holt (Green),

Stephen Picton (Ind),

Richard Royal (Con),

Iain Wright (Lab).

 

 

Middlesbrough: currently held by Andy Mcdonald (Lab)

Craig Baker (Ukip),

Simon Clarke (Con),

Hannah Grahm (Green),

Richard Kilpatrick (LD),

Andy McDonald (Lab).

 

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland: currently held by Tom Blenkinsop (Lab)

Tom Blenkinsop (Lab),

Martin Brampton (Green),

Ben Gibson (LD),

Will Goodhand (Con),

Steve Turner (Ukip).

 

Redcar: vacant – Ian Swales (Lib Dem) standing down.

Christopher Gallacher (Ukip),

Philip Lockey (North East Party),

Josh Mason (LD),

Peter Pinkney (Green),

Anna Turley (Lab),

Jacob Young (Con).

 

Stockton North: currently held by Alex Cunningham (Lab)

Mandy Boylett (Ukip),

Alex Cunningham (Lab),

Christopher Daniels (Con),

Adrian Sycamore (LD),

John Tait (North East Party).

 

 

Stockton South: currently held by  James Wharton (Con)

Louise Baldock (Lab),

Drew Durning (LD),

Jacqui Lovell (Green),

Ted Strike (Ukip),

Steve Walmlsey (Ind Against Social Injustice),

James Wharton (Con).

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Former Redcar Labour councillors call on Ed Miliband to launch investigation

Former Labour councillors today called on Ed Miliband to investigate after a bitter row in the Redcar party led to the departure of a number of high-profile members.

Former Redcar and Cleveland Council leader George Dunning headed a demonstration in Redcar asking for a full investigation into the party’s “flawed selection process”.

The call came ahead of the Labour leader’s question and answer session at Redcar and Cleveland College.

Mr Dunning’s deselection followed those of Redcar and Cleveland Council cabinet members Steve Goldswain (Eston) and Norman Pickthall (Teesville), the chair of Cleveland Fire Authority, Cllr Brian Briggs (Skelton) and Cllr Olywn Peters (Eston).

The deselections meant Mr Dunning and his colleagues could not stand for Labour in May’s elections and followed claims of bullying and harassment in the local party.

Mr Dunning, who has since quit the party, said:

“I was and still am the longest serving leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council.

“But I was deselected due to the influence of a group within the party who have never been voted for by the public.

“Everybody knows the selection process is flawed from start to finish.

“I’m absolutely appalled by the Labour Party. I’m nearly 65 and this is the first time ever I will not be voting for Labour. It is not a democratic party anymore and it no longer represents the working class.

“I’ve asked the question, will Ed Miliband carry out a full investigation into Labour Party North’s deeply flawed selection process?”

The deselections have seen Labour lose control of Redcar & Cleveland Council.

> Which seems a weird thing to do just before elections….

The upheaval in the Redcar and Cleveland Labour group follows a similar row in the Middlesbrough party last year.

Five councillors were deselected following interviews, and although Cllr Derek Loughborough won an appeal against the decision, he quit the party along with Cllrs Len Junier, Pervaz Khan, Sajaad Khan and John McPartland.

In a statement issued at the time of the deselections, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop and Anna Turley, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Redcar, said it was “time for change”.

Leader George Dunning and deputy leader Sheelagh Clarke have served Redcar and Cleveland with great commitment and have a lot to be proud of,” the statement said.

“However, local Labour Party members have today voted to replace them with other candidates for the ward of Teesville. We have a wealth of talent in the Labour Party and the bar has been set very high this year.

“The people of Redcar and Cleveland deserve the very best representation that the Labour party has to offer in the local community and members have chosen some fantastic local candidates. It is time for change. We are building a fresh, exciting and committed new team.”

The statement was released in the names of Mr Blenkinsop, Ms Turley and John McCormick, chair of Redcar and Cleveland Local Campaign Forum, Neil Bendelow, chair of the Redcar Constituency Labour Party and Bill Suthers, chair of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour Party.

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 06 Mar 2015

Green could be the new red in Redcar

The leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council has hinted that he could stand as a Green Party candidate after being deselected by the Labour party.

Councillor George Dunning, who expects to be removed as leader on Thursday, was one of ten Labour members who last week tore up their party card outside the office of the party’s would-be Redcar MP, Anna Turley.

The veteran Labour councillor was not selected, alongside his deputy Sheelagh Clarke and several members of his cabinet committee, by the party to fight in May’s council election.

Now he said he could stand as an Independent councillor but says several of the members have been approached by the Green Party.

Mr Dunning said:

“I expect to be thrown out as council leader as the Lib Dems move a motion of no confidence in me for a second time, the last time was September 2013. I expect that following Thursday’s council meeting I won’t be the council leader after being the longest serving Redcar and Cleveland Council leader. Options for me, and the other former Labour councillors, will then be considered.”

The news comes as a leading union official announced that he would be standing for the Green Party in the Redcar constituency.

Confirming his selection as the Green Party candidate, Peter Pinkney, the president of the RMT union, said:
“I spoke at the Green Party Conference in 2013, and I was impressed with the ideas that were being put forward. The ideas of the Greens resonated with a lot of my beliefs.

“Obviously the Greens commitment to bring railways back into public hands struck a chord, but also policies to invest in the NHS, build social housing, institute higher taxes for those who can afford it, and put forward progressive policies on immigration informed my decision to stand.

“As a life-long socialist, I could see that most of the policies were what the Labour Party once had, but those days are long gone with Labour.”

Source –  Northern Echo,  09 Feb 2015

Redcar and Cleveland Council deputy mayor is latest to resign from Labour party

The deputy mayor of Redcar and Cleveland Council is the latest to resign from the Labour party after a week of turmoil at the authority.

Ten Labour councillors resigned their membership last week after council leader George Dunning, deputy Sheelagh Clarke and members of the authority’s cabinet were told by Labour that they had not been selected to stand again for their party in May’s elections.

Now Doreen Rudland, who represents the Brotton ward, has confirmed she is the 11th current councillor to leave the party.

She said: “I think it is disgraceful what has happened to those councillors who were deselected by the party.

“Ten councillors resigned last week – and I am supporting them.”

Cllr Rudland, 77, is the authority’s deputy mayor and was elected at a by-election in Brotton more than four years ago.

She confirmed  that she was not planning on standing in the May elections.

“I had already taken that decision, I did not want to stand because of my age.

“I have enjoyed being a councillor, and I have particularly enjoyed my time as deputy mayor.”

On Sunday, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency Labour Party selected its candidates to stand in May’s election.

Current Labour cabinet members Joan Guy and Helen McLuckie were selected to stand again in their Saltburn and Skelton wards, the local party confirmed.

The ten councillors who resigned from the party at a protest outside Milbank Terrace office of Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley last week were: George Dunning (Teesville), Sheelagh Clarke (Teesville) Steve Goldswain (Eston), Olwyn Peters (Eston), Norman Pickthall (Teesville), Mark Hannon (Kirkleatham), Vic Jeffries (Marske), Brian Briggs (Skelton), Carole Simms (Normanby) and Wendy Wall (Normanby).

A vote of no confidence in leader George Dunning has been tabled by the council’s Liberal Democrat group for Thursday’s meeting of the full council.

In the wake of the row, Councillors Steve Goldswain and Olwyn Peters spoke out about alleged bullying in the local party, while the chairman of the Redcar constituency party Neil Bendelow confirmed that Cllr Vic Jeffries had made a formal complaint about bullying.

Cllr Dunning said that the resignations came after a long-running internal dispute in the Labour Party between council leadership, and the offices of Ms Turley and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop.

After Councillors Dunning, Clarke, Hannon and Jeffries joined Steve Goldswain, Brian Briggs and Norman Pickthall in being deselcted by the party, Mr Blenkinsop said that “he wasn’t part of the selection process”.

Ms Turley said in a statement:

“I am sad that the councillors and members who didn’t get selected don’t feel they can continue to be part of the Labour movement without being paid councillors, but the party cannot be held to ransom.

“There were simply other candidates who won their elections and they deserve their opportunity to serve their local communities.”

In response to Mrs Rudland’s announcement, Labour repeated its statement made in the wake of the other resignations that it was “disappointing but unsurprising”.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 09 Feb 2015

RMT Union President: Why I’m standing for the Greens in Redcar

The president of a transport union with roots in the Labour Party will contest a North seat for the Greens.

Peter Pinkney, the highest ranking layperson of the RMT Union, will campaign against Ed Miliband’s party in Redcar, claiming: “The party of the left is now the Green Party.”

The union boss also brands Labour “a sort of reddish Conservative Party” and accuses MPs of betraying working people.

The dramatic political move by the ex-TUC General Council member threatens to derail Labour’s campaign in one of its top target seats.

The RMT boss also revealed the union has donated £7,000 to Caroline Lucas, the country’s only Green MP, after the Greens were supportive of plans to renationalise the railways.

Mr Pinkney said:

“Labour is no longer the working class party. They have betrayed us time and time again. They should remember that it was the unions who formed the ‘party of labour’ not deny our links.

“The radical Labour Party of 1945 is long gone. No longer do they champion nationalisation, social housing, the NHS, education etc, they are a sort of reddish Conservative Party.

“In my opinion the party of the left is now the Green Party.”

Labour hit back last night, saying a vote for the Green Party is a vote for the Tories.

> This is the kind of stupid comment that makes me even less likely to vote Labour.

It’d obviously be a vote against Labour, Tories and Lib Dems… because we have no belief in any of them anymore.

The move underlines a deepening fracture in the relationship between Labour and the RMT.

Predecessors to the RMT were among the unions which founded Labour back in 1899. But after 105 years of history the RMT was disaffiliated by Labour in 2004, after the union rejected an ultimatum to stop supporting the Scottish Socialist Party.

Former General Secretary Bob Crow publicly slammed Labour, which was then led by Tony Blair, for a failure to support members.

The deadlock continued until the 2012 Durham Miners’ Gala, when the then Deputy Chairman of the Labour Party, Tom Watson,  seemed to offer the RMT an olive branch.

He said: “We need the RMT and the FBU back inside the Labour Party – a house divided cannot stand.”

But Mr Pinkney said three months after Bob Crow died the union voted to sever ties with Labour permanently – and today rules out any future affiliation.

“That is not going to happen,” he said.

“It was a unanimous decision to disaffiliate with Labour and our members would never want to go back.

“If Ed Miliband is [more supportive of unions] then he is doing a strange impression of it. He might say that he is to his paymasters at Unite and GMB, who make hefty donations, but our members will not affiliate to Labour or any other party ever again.

“The press calling him ‘Red Ed’ is a joke. A minimum of 75% of people want to see the railways renationalised. He has never once said he would take the railways back into public hands – not even East Coast.”

Labour has named Redcar in its top 100 seats to win in May and has high hopes for candidate Anna Turley.

Vera Baird lost the seat to Lib Dem Ian Swales in 2010 in what was the highest swing against Labour in the wake of the closure of the Teesside Steelworks.

A poll by Lord Ashcroft in September put Labour on 44%, Lib Dems on 18%, Ukip on 23%, the Tories on 12% and the Greens on just 2%.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The choice in front of Redcar people in May is between a Tory or a Labour government.

“For all those passionate about the green agenda only Labour has the record and plans to deliver a green government.

“A vote for the Green Party is a vote for David Cameron to carry on hitting the people of Teesside.”

> Well, don’t they have a sense of entitlement ? Only us or them can be in power – its our right. Two sides of the same coin.

The Saltburn-born rail union boss, who is calling for capitalism to be replaced, said he was inspired by the election of the left wing Syriza in Greece.

He said: “We need to look after our elderly, build social housing, repeal anti-trade union laws, scrap bedroom tax, renationalise railways and utilities (and any profit reinvested), but most of all we should give the young hope.

“We are definitely handing on worse conditions than we inherited. My generation should hang our heads in shame for letting this happen. Instead of complaining about young being on streets, and using drugs, we should be asking why.

“Redcar and Cleveland has seen a massive decline in my lifetime. We need proper investment, and not just paper over cracks. I believe the Greens are only large party (as surely they can now claim to be) that wants to put things right.

“I am a left wing socialist, but I am pragmatic. I have seen what Syriza have done, and we can learn from that.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 07 Feb 2015

Redcar : Council leader tears up Labour Party membership card as bitter internal dispute continues

The future of a Teesside council has been left in disarray after its Labour leader and other cabinet members resigned from the party.

Redcar and Cleveland Council leader George Dunning, his deputy Sheelagh Clarke, the mayor, cabinet members and other senior councillors resigned this morning.

The move is the latest development in a bitter internal Labour dispute and comes after the councillors were not selected by the party in their seats in May’s council elections.

Ten councillors – including more than half of those on the council’s cabinet – staged a public protest outside the Redcar office of Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for the Redcar seat in the General Election.

An informal meeting is taking place today in which the group will speak to cabinet members still in the Labour Party, and also approach independents to debate how the council can continue to function.

The most pressing issue is the need to pass a budget before the end of March, which includes a vital decision on whether to raise council tax.

But the Liberal Democrat group on Redcar and Cleveland Council have now confirmed that they will table a motion at next Thursday’s full council meeting calling for Cllr Dunning to stand down as leader.

Speaking at the protest in Redcar, Cllr Dunning said Redcar and Cleveland residents have “nothing to worry about”.

Cllr Norman Pickthall, cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “The direction of travel is that we will agree the budget, with a 0% council tax rise.

“All the work has been done. Other councillors would be foolish to reject it.”

Asked if he thought Labour would again win control of the council in May, Cllr Pickthall said: “I don’t think so. Not if the councillor who wants to become leader succeeds.”

Cllr Dunning said that South Bank councillor Sue Jeffrey wanted to become leader of the council’s Labour group.

The ten councillors who resigned from the party were Steve Goldswain (Eston), Olwyn Peters (Eston), Norman Pickthall (Teesville), Mark Hannon (Kirkleatham), Vic Jeffries (Marske), Brian Briggs (Skelton), Carole Simms (Normanby) and Wendy Wall (Normanby).

Their total membership in the party spans 230 years.

Cllrs Goldswain, Briggs and Pickthall were deselected as Labour councillors in November.

Cllrs Dunning, Clarke, Hannon and Jeffries were deselected at a meeting on Sunday, the culmination of a rift the council leader says exists between the leadership and Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Anna Turley, and councillors Joe Keenan and Dale Quigley, who work in Mr Blenkinsop’s office.

Mr Blenkinsop said earlier this week that “he wasn’t part of the selection process”.

Ms Turley said in a statement today:

“I am sad that the councillors and members who didn’t get selected don’t feel they can continue to be part of the Labour movement without being paid councillors, but the party cannot be held to ransom.

“There were simply other candidates who won their elections and they deserve their opportunity to serve their local communities.”

Ms Turley was out campaigning when the councillors staged their protest at her Milbank Terrace office.

A Labour Party statement said the decision was “disappointing but unsurprising”.

It read:

“The selection process in Redcar &; Cleveland has been fair, robust and competitive. The Labour Party expects the highest standards from our councillors and council candidates. These expectations include that a candidate demonstrates a willingness to campaign in their community all year round.

“The selection process is still ongoing but local members have begun to choose a new team of candidates drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, including a postman, a steel worker, a cobbler, a barmaid, and a netball coach.”

Cllr Sheelagh Clarke has now called for an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying, and the selection process which saw senior Labour members rejected by their party.

Cllr Peters said she had suffered a nervous breakdown because of bullying – and that she supported the deselected councillors who she said “represented what Labour is all about”.

Cllr Goldswain has also complained about bullying.

Chair of the Redcar Constituency Labour Party, Neil Bendelow,  claimed  earlier this week that there had been “no complaints” about bullying.

However, Cllr Vic Jeffries said he had made an official complaint around three weeks ago – which had been acknowledged.

Mr Bendelow said: “We had no complaints from those councillors who have spoken about the issue in the press. But we have had a complaint from Cllr Jeffries – the first I have ever had to deal with – and it will be dealt with by Labour Party process.”

Speaking after ripping up his 30-year Labour Party membership this morning, former mayor Cllr Jeffries said: “It is a very, very sad day.

“I am weighing my options up. I am a socialist and I believe in fairness, transparency and truth.”

Cllr Brian Briggs said: “I used to help my father with party business when I was a boy. I am Labour through and through. It is with a very heavy heart that I resign my membership.”

Independent mayoral candidate for Middlesbrough Len Junier, and fellow Middlesbrough councillors Pervaz Khan, John McPartland and Derek Loughborough supported their Redcar and Cleveland counterparts at the protest.

All but Cllr Loughborough were deselected by Middlesbrough Labour Group last year.

Cllr Junier said: “I think that this shows that party politics on Teesside is in terminal decline.

“It is the rise of the Independents. I hope we see a repeat across Teesside.”

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 04 Feb 2015

‘It’s been a cull’: Redcar councillors react to being deselected as Labour candidates

The deselected deputy leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council Sheelagh Clarke has called the process “undemocratic” – and claims “somebody in London wants rid”.

Council Leader George Dunning, along with deputy Cllr Clarke, cabinet member Mark Hannon and former mayor Vic Jefferies were told at a meeting at the Claxton Hotel in Redcar on Sunday that they would not be allowed to stand for Labour in their wards in May’s elections.

It immediately raises questions about how the authority will run on a day-to-day basis – coming as it does after a further four Labour councillors were deselected last year.

But Cllrs Dunning and Clarke say they remain “as committed as ever”.

 

How the leader and deputy responded

“There is a budget for us to get through, and we’re proposing to keep council tax frozen again and do what’s right for the people of this borough,” said the leader.

“We’ve done a hell of a lot of work since taking the council back in 2007 – which a lot of people in our party didn’t even think we would do.

“As far as we’re concerned, unless there’s a vote of no confidence, Sheelagh and I will continue to run the council.”

Cllr Dunning insists he is the victim of a “power struggle” within the Labour Party and that the office of Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop “wants to run the council, and we won’t let them”.

“A lot of members in Teesville are getting on, or have been ill,” the leader continued.

“I wasn’t going to round people up on a cold day and tell them they had to come and vote for us, but I know we had the support.

“This has been a struggle for years.

“There have been people in this party who wanted to be leader, who wanted to be on the cabinet, and they are paranoid and power-mad.”

‘It’s not democratic’

Cllr Dunning has survived tests of his leadership in the past – both from within his own party and from the Liberal Democrat opposition.

And Cllr Clarke said:

“I do not think it is a democratic process. If the people of my ward had voted me out, I would fully accept that.

“But those people have been denied a chance, because somebody from the Labour Party in London wants rid of us.”

Meanwhile, cabinet member Mark Hannon blamed the fall-out on a rift between senior councillors and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Mr Blenkinsop, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Redcar Anna Turley, and councillors working in their offices.

Candidates are chosen by local Labour party members in each ward, but if not enough members show up, as was the case on Sunday, the party’s local executive steps in to vote.

And Cllr Hannon, cabinet member for economic development, said: “I went and did a ten minute presentation at my interview, I answered questions for ten minutes, and I know I did the best presentation.

“The other candidates weren’t in there for anywhere near as long as me.

“I am popular with people in Redcar.

“Since I’ve been a councillor, we’ve got a new hospital in my Kirkleatham ward, housing, a new shopping centre.

“That doesn’t matter though. It’s been a cull of senior councillors.”

‘Labour just want to keep people on benefits’

“The Labour Party doesn’t care about the working classes any more.

“They just want to keep people on benefits and feather their own nests.”

“Against a backdrop of austerity, we have totally regenerated Redcar.

“We’ve not only kept leisure centres open, but we’ve built a new one, we’ve kept libraries open – and we’ve tried to keep council tax down.”

Cllr Hannon alluded to bullying within the party – which led cabinet member Olwyn Peters to claim she had suffered a breakdown.

This comes two-and-a-half years after Labour North’s Wallis Report claimed the Redcar and Cleveland Labour Group was “dysfunctional”.

What the MPs said

In a joint statement, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop and Anna Turley, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Redcar, thanked Cllrs Dunning and Clarke for their service but said it was “time for change”.

Mr Blenkinsop said:

“All candidates knew exactly what to expect, and the bar has been set very high in these elections.

“If deselected councillors were not told about the reasons for deselection, they’re not asking the right questions. Selection is a democratic process.

“The Labour Party is not looking for candidates that take support for the party for granted, or for anyone who is complacent. Candidates need to get out and talk to people to find out what they want.

“But I wasn’t part of the selection process for these councillors, so I don’t know what the reasons were.”

 

‘If Labour group can’t manage their own affairs, how can they manage the council?’

Glyn Nightingale, leader of the council’s Lib Dem group, said the possibility of launching another ‘no confidence’ vote would “be a matter for group members to discuss”.

“If the Labour group cannot manage their own affairs, how can they manage the council?” he added.

“I do not agree with what George Dunning and his administration have done in office, but I acknowledge that they have been working hard.

“It was up to the people at the ballot box to replace them – not an internal party manipulation.”

‘I totally do not accept any form of bullying’

Neil Bendelow, the chair of the Redcar Constituency Labour Party, said that all members had been treated equally.

“The way that candidates were selected follows the Labour Party process and would be the same anywhere,” he added.

“All councillors were asked the same type of questions, and were allowed to give a ten minute presentation and answer questions for ten minutes.

“We have some fanstastic candidates who are going to work tirelessly for their wards.”

Last year, Cllrs Brian Briggs, Steve Goldswain, Norman Pickthall and Brian Hogg were also deselected.

But Mr Bendelow added: “I totally do not accept any form of bullying whatsoever.

“There is a process for anyone to follow if they feel they are being bullied, and I have received no complaints and no shred of evidence has been given to us.”

What the future holds

Cllrs Dunning, Clarke and Hannon were told that they could possibly stand for Labour in other wards – but say they were not given reasons for their deselection.

Cllrs Dunning and Clarke said that at this point, they would not consider standing as independent councillors.

Cllr Dunning said that Bob Norton, Rob Hodgson, and Geraldine Williams will now stand for Labour in the Teesville ward.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 02 Feb 2015

North East Party launches its first ever manifesto

A new political party campaigning for a regional government has launched its first ever manifesto.

The North East Party, led by the former Labour MP Hilton Dawson, is fielding four candidates at the General Election.

Campaigners want a North East Government to replace councils and the combined authority.

They also want to scrap council tax and replace it with a property tax based on current market value.

The North East Party also calls for £1bn investment in enterprise, raised from a new land tax.

Mr Dawson will also campaign for free care for older people and pledges to secure more money for services if the party is elected.

Violet Rook, Newcastle North candidate, will take on sitting Labour MP Catherine McKinnell at the election in May.

She said: “I have lived in Kingston Park for 30 years and served the NHS for decades as a nurse and midwife throughout the area.

“Standing up for the North East’ means caring for the future of all communities in the region and wanting a fair deal for them now.”

Phil Lockey, the Redcar candidate, who will be fighting Ukip and Labour’s candidate Anna Turley, said:

“Like many thousands from our region, I have experience in the Armed Forces and standing for Parliament in the town where I live is another vital way to serve our Country and our community.

“Leadership is essential and in working for devolution the North East Party seeks to create 2.6 million leaders to take our region forward.”

Susan McDonnell, candidate for Easington, where Labour’s Grahame Morris had a large majority in 2010, said:

“I have lived in Easington almost all my life and consider that we’ve been badly let down by successive Labour MPs every one of whom were men.

“Unlike them, I will not stand for the people of Easington paying higher rates of Council Tax than billionaires living in London.

“I want to represent Easington well and help take the whole area forward , placing many more decisions in our own hands.”

John Tait, Stockton North candidate, added:

“I have spent 19 years as an Independent Councillor in Stockton and I have worked for decades in Higher Education and Industry.

“I want to use the opportunity of devolution and new resources from fair taxation to invest in jobs and enterprise developing ever more successful spin-offs from world class science and technology to benefit the people of Stockton and the North East.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 29 Jan 2015

North councils left with funding shortfall after those left reeling from bedroom tax cry for help

Cash-strapped North councils have diverted more than £300,000 of funds to top up Government help for those left reeling by the bedroom tax.

Welfare reforms have seen changes made to benefits which have forced many to seek smaller housing while scores of others struggle to pay their rent.

Thousands applied for Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) cash payments to get by, but now many councils have spent over the amount allocated by Government and have had to find extra funds from elsewhere.

Fears are also spreading the situation could get worse as authorities may be even more out-of-pocket next year when the Government will cease to offer DHP funding.

Hartlepool Council had one of the highest deficits – £115,239 – with the total spent on DHP hitting almost half-a-million pounds.

In Gateshead, the overspend was £90,000, after the authority spent £583,000. Chiefs will now bid for extra DHP cash as the council foresees a further shortfall.

Sunderland City Council spent £690,000 and had a shortfall of £32,000. North Tyneside Council reported an underspend while Durham County Council was granted additional DHP funds to cope with demand.

In Middlesbrough the figure was £37,420, Redcar and Cleveland spent £5,000, while Stockton was the lowest over their allocated funds at £932.

Both Hartlepool and Middlesbrough councils said they met the shortfall by using money from the Local Welfare Provision (LWP), which can also be used to help people struggling with welfare reforms.

But the LWP will also be removed by the Government from April 1, 2015.

South Tyneside Council was left with a shortfall of £8,000 after granting £314,000 worth of DHP applications.

Meanwhile Newcastle City Council – which by far paid out the most DHP grants at £1.5m – was granted an additional £861,000 in DHP cash from the Government to cope with almost 3,000 applications.

Coun Dave Budd, Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor and executive member for resources, said: “The Coalition Government’s welfare reforms have placed a great many people in real hardship.

“From a very early stage we have been working with many partners – including local housing providers and the Citizens Advice Bureau – to address issues which can have a devastating effect on people’s lives.

“With the removal of the funding for the Local Welfare Provision from April next year, it will become even tougher to help those most in need. However, we will continue to do everything in our power as a local authority to mitigate those impacts.”

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar Anna Turley highlighted the situation, saying: “David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s bedroom tax has been a disaster for the hundreds of thousands of people hit by the cruel levy and it has come at a huge cost for local taxpayers.”

However, the DWP says more than £20m specifically earmarked to help people adapt to welfare reforms was not spent by UK local authorities last year.

Figures show almost two-thirds (63%) of councils paid out less than their total DHP allocation to tenants.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Council said: “The council recognises the significant detrimental impact that the bedroom tax is having on households and as a council we are doing everything possible to ease the pain for residents.

“In 2013/14, the Government’s introduction of the bedroom tax resulted in reduced housing benefit entitlements in Hartlepool of over £1m and affected over 1,400 households.”

Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said: “We tripled support for vulnerable people to £180m last year to ensure the right help was in place during our far-reaching welfare reforms.

“The figures also show that recent scare stories about councils running out of money were grossly exaggerated.

“Our vital reforms are fixing the broken welfare system by restoring fairness for hardworking people and making sure work always pays, as part of our long-term plan.”

> The long-term plan evidently being to return Britain to being a feudal society…

Source – middlesbrough Evening Chronicle, 31 Aug 2014

Lib Dem MP prepares to leave sinking ship

Evidently a man who can see which way the wind is blowing, Redcar MP Ian Swales is to stand down at the next General Election.

The Liberal Democrat, who was elected in 2010, said the decision was due to “personal reasons”.

He stood for the Lib Dems in Redcar at the 2005 General Election and finished second.

But in 2010, it was a very different story, overturning a 12,000 Labour majority to take the  seat from under-fire Vera Baird in one of the shock results of the night.

At the time, he said:  “My whole intention in this is to be a strong local MP, based here, going off to London to work when I have to, and using my position to work hard for local people.”

But even a recent internal Lib Dem poll suggested his efforts would prove in vain at the 2015 General Election.

The survey suggested he might end up THIRD behind Labour’s Anna Turley and Ukip – even though 56% of the 500 people surveyed felt he was doing a good job in the role.

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  12 July 2014