A teenage UKIP campaigner has been reprimanded for sharing his political views while standing as a youth councillor.
Joshua Gilroy, 16, has been told by North Tyneside Council officials that he cannot promote the right-wing political party while sitting on their young persons’ forum.
Yet the farming student claims his political views are a private matter and have never impaired his ability to be neutral when representing residents in the borough.
The row broke out after the Northumberland College pupil printed a statement in the party’s newsletter alongside a picture of himself asking for people to join UKIP’s youth wing. A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said that in his piece he deliberately described himself as a “youth councillor and cabinet member” which triggered an investigation into the future of his position with the youth team.
A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “Youth councillors are bound by a code of conduct and make a commitment to be politically neutral in their role.
“We recognise in their private lives they may wish to support or belong to a political party, however, in their position as a youth councillor they must not combine the two, and on this occasion the youth councillor did with his statement in a political leaflet.”
However, Joshua claims he has never been asked to sign anything relating to political neutrality and believes North Tyneside Council’s Labour administration is fearful of UKIP’s increasing popularity.
He said their neutrality guidelines should also be called into question considering youth council members are currently being asked to consider issues such as lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.
Joshua, from Camperdown near Newcastle, said: “I’m endorsing UKIP but it’s got nothing to do with the council – this is to do with my personal life. I’ve said what my title is in the newsletter but I’m not using it as propaganda.
“This is supposed to be about giving young people a say in the local council and now I feel that this isn’t the case.”
Joshua, who studies animal management and hopes to become a dairy farmer, joined UKIP in November 2013 alongside his mum and stepfather when all three decided to make a switch from Labour.
> Joshua, who studies animal management and hopes to become a dairy farmer – who would then no doubt be very happy to pocket his share of the European Union subsidies paid to farmers…
A spokesperson from the council added: “In the first instance, the youth councillor is issued with a reminder that as a youth councillor they must not use their role to promote a political party.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 05 April 2014
The jobless total has fallen again in South Tyneside, reversing last month’s upward trend.
A total of 5,661 people in the borough claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in February, compared with 5,826 the previous month.
This means 165 fewer people on the dole locally, reducing the percentage of the local working age population claiming JSA from 6.1 per cent to 6.0 per cent.
> Wow ! 0.1% ! Though I notice there’s no mention of whether that figure includes those sanctioned… I suspect it does.
However, youth unemployment across the borough remains stubbornly high, with 1,500 people aged between 18 and 24 claiming JSA.
And the youth unemployment figure in South Tyneside is 11.6 per cent, compared with eight per cent for the North East as a whole.
Last month’s rise in the local claimant count was blamed on the end of seasonal employment over the festive period.
Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “This is welcome news to see the jobless figures reduce for last month, getting everything back on track after the recent seasonal rise, due to the end of hundreds of temporary festive contracts.
“The council is continuing to work closely with its partners to generate practical and informative opportunities for both apprentices and jobseekers in the borough.”
Across the North East, unemployment stands at 125,000, a fall of 8,000 over the last quarter, while the regional claimant count is 70,300, a reduction of 1,700 between January and February.
Mark Stephenson, manager of policy and research for the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “The North East has improved on all measures within the labour market between November 2013 and January 2014, which is to be welcomed.
“This continues an upward trend, in particular for employment and claimant count figures, which have been heading steadily in the right direction for several quarters.”
But he added: “However, the North East unemployment rate is still the highest in the country, which has to be a focus for policy makers moving forward.”
Nationally, unemployment in the UK fell by 63,000 to 2.33 million in the three months to January 2014.
Source – Shields Gazette, 20 March 2014
A GOVERNMENT minister has been challenged to a face-to-face meeting with South Tyneside councillors concerned at the impact the ‘bedroom tax’ is having on borough citizens.
> Good luck with that. The Jarrow marchers in the 1930s walked the length of England to London, only to have government ministers refuse to meet them when they got there.
South Tyneside Council chief executive Martin Swales is to write to Tory MP Kris Hopkins, the current housing minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, calling for the meeting.
> Make him come here.
It comes after a motion expressing concern over the scheme was carried unanimously at a full council meeting last week.
The motion – signed by ten South Tyneside councillors – stated that the tax ‘discriminates unfairly against the poorest in our society’ and welcomed a commitment by Labour Leader Ed Miliband to ‘repeal this draconian legislation’ if the party returns to power at next year’s General Election.
> Given Labour’s other plans for the poor, I should wait a while before we all start cheering (and voting).
A total of 2,770 council tenants in South Tyneside have been affected by the tax, which has seen a cut in housing benefit for households with one or more bedrooms deemed to be spare.
Nationally, one in three council tenants affected by cuts to housing benefit have fallen behind on rent since the policy took effect in April, according to figures from the Trades Union Congress.
Since March there has been an £81,000 rise in South Tyneside council rent arrears, with the total amount owed to the local authority now standing at £1.8m.
The motion stated: “South Tyneside Council notes with concern that 2,770 council tenants have been affected by the bedroom tax.
“The council believes that the bedroom tax discriminates unfairly against the poorest in our society, and that by forcing residents to leave their homes can lead to instability of close-knit local communities and neighbourhoods.”
> Suprisingly ( or perhaps not…) they don’t seem to have connected the above with the rise in begging on the streets in South Shields, reported yesterday.
Source – Shields Gazette, 21 Jan 2014