A would-be councillor says he is too scared to leave the house after claiming a gang of youths stole his megaphone and attacked him while he was out campaigning.
David Lawson is standing in Sunderland’s Hendon ward in tomorrow’s local elections for the Green Party.
The 50-year-old was canvassing in the area’s Gray Road on Monday evening when he said he was kicked and punched by three teenagers.
Unemployed Mr Lawson said: “I was out canvassing. I was on Gray Road, when someone asked me which party I was from.
“I said Green Party, then he told me to give him my megaphone.
“As I turned around, three other men came from nowhere, jumped on me and kicked me.
“They all attacked me, so I was knocking on doors asking for help, but no-one would help me.
“They said if they got the police, their windows would go through.”
He was eventually helped by a woman who was getting into her car in the road.
She used her mobile to call the police, who went to the street and spoke to the youths.
They made them give Mr Lawson his megaphone back, but didn’t make any arrests.
Mr Lawson, who has lived in Hendon all his life, considered pulling out of the elections, but has now changed his mind.
However, he has vowed it will be the last time he stands for election.
He added: “I’ve only been with the Green Party for a couple of months.
“I wanted to help the community.”
Mr Lawson praised the police for arriving quickly after his rescuer called 999.
He did not need any medical treatment, but added: “I’m too scared to leave the house on my own.”
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said no further action would be taken against those accused of upsetting Mr Lawton.
She said: “At 6.20pm on Monday night, police were informed that a group of youths had taken a megaphone from a man, while he was in Gray Road in Hendon.
“Officers attended and spoke to the man involved.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 21 May 2014
A UKIP councillor has been found guilty of misconduct after leaking confidential legal documents intended for councillors’ eyes only.
Mark Chatburn, the only UKIP councillor on Stockton Borough Council, was investigated for publishing the legal paper on his blog.
But the councillor, who represents Yarm, said he was only acting in the best interests of residents and published the confidential legal advice to show how, he claimed, councillors on the planning committee were being influenced in their votes.
He was investigated by Stockton Borough Council for breaching the councillors’ code of conduct and was found guilty in a hearing last week.
Coun Chatburn, who did not attend the hearing, said: “I cannot pretend it came as a surprise the council’s kangaroo court, made up entirely of political opponents, reached the decision they did.
“From how they deal with planning applications, to secretly buying properties to convert into childrens’ homes and presenting residents with a done deal, Stockton council is seemingly incapable of acting in an open and transparent manner.
“I was elected to act in the best interests of residents. That is what I have always done and that is what I will continue to do.”
Coun Chatburn published the legal paper, relating to a controversial planning application at Urlay Nook, near Eaglescliffe, on his blog, linked from his Twitter account.
The legal document said the council would be unlikely to win an appeal against developer Taylor Wimpey if it rejected a plan to build 145 homes and Coun Chatburn said this was trying to influence the voting of the planning committee to vote in favour of the scheme.
The written decision from Stockton Borough Council’s Standards Panel said his actions “represented unacceptable behaviour for a councillor” and also criticised his lack of remorse.
He has been instructed by the panel to give reassurance, in writing, that he would not leak any more confidential information and will be given “advice and guidance” about the code of conduct.
The decision document said: “The Councillor had shown no remorse, but rather to the contrary had indicated that he would do it again without hesitation, and that he had demonstrated scant regard for the pre-hearing and hearing process.”
Coun Chatburn is no longer on Stockton council’s planning committee after defecting from the Conservative Party to UKIP last year.
Source – Northern Echo 07 May 2014
Two North-East towns have the highest youth unemployment in the country, a report claims.
Middlesbrough and Stockton were ranked top of a youth unemployment table prepared by The Work Foundation.
The Lancaster University-based organisation’s report, The Geography Of Youth Unemployment – A Route Map For Change, claims that unemployment rates for 16 to 24-year-olds in the two towns is more than 25 per cent.
In contrast, York was found to have the second lowest youth unemployment in the country at less than 13 per cent.
The study recommends that town and cities reduce their rates by ensuring that local services work together more effectively.
The paper argues that without effective, targeted action from national and local government, businesses, and educators, a generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.
Commenting on the paper, Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said: “Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job.”
Commenting on the report, Stockton Council leader Councillor Bob Cook said it was a “nonsense that the youth unemployment rate in Stockton was the highest in the country”.
“That said, we know that the current economic climate has made it tough for young people to get a foothold on the career ladder.
“We are determined to help which is why our children and young people select committee is in the final stages of an in depth scrutiny review looking at how education and business can work together to make sure that learning provision matches local industry need.”
Source – Northern Echo 08 April 2014