A furious row broke out last weekend when UKIP Darlington falsely claimed their candidate David Hodgson had not received invites to two recent hustings events.
A post on the group’s Facebook page says:
“It may be of considerable interest to our supporters that David Hodgson did not receive any official invitation or notification to attend the two previous hustings despite the fact that his personal contact details are widely publicised.”
Mr Hodgson later admitted receiving an invite to the environmental hustings but maintained he was not invited to the LGBT event – despite organisers insisting he was.
He claimed he did not write the contentious Facebook post and said he would ask for it to be amended to reflect the true circumstances.
Peter Plant, secretary of Darlington’s Friends of the Earth group and organiser of their recent hustings, accused UKIP of openly lying and suggested Mr Hodgson was “swerving” issues he had no political stance on.
Mr Hodgson said a previous engagement prevented him from attending the environmental hustings and claimed he would have welcomed an invite to the LGBT event.
However, Mr Hodgson pledged support for the LGBT community and said he would be interested in organising a gay pride event in Darlington.
He said: “Gay and lesbian people have my support and sympathy as I have gay friends myself and go through to Blackpool for gay pride events there.”
Mr Plant said: “I think he was frightened to turn up as UKIP don’t have the policies – they have one, blame foreigners.
“I’d respect them if they turned up and put their case, even if I don’t agree but by doing this, they’re showing they have no respect whatsoever.”
“The hustings was an opportunity to speak face-to-face with them about these issues and I’m not going to turn that down.”
Mr Hodgson’s agent, David Williams, added:
“Following negative comments an assertions regarding Mr Hodgson regarding his non-attendance at two recent hustings meetings, it must be made clear that no official invitation was received using the accepted official protocols.”
Air pollution will continue to kill hundreds of people every year in the North-East for at least another decade, the Government has admitted.
Ministers had predicted that European limits on deadly nitrogen dioxide – mainly from vehicle exhausts – would be achieved in the biggest urban areas by 2020.
But officials are now warning that people in Teesside and Tyneside will be exposed to dangerous levels of the gas for a further five years.
Meanwhile, separate figures put the current number of “excess deaths” from nitrogen dioxide and other particulate gases across the region at 1,273 every year.
They include significant numbers of deaths in Teesside, in Stockton-on-Tees (77), Middlesbrough (68), Redcar and Cleveland (61), Darlington (47) and Hartlepool (43).
However, the highest number of people die annually in County Durham (223), followed by Sunderland (143) and Newcastle (124) and Gateshead (99).
Three years ago, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) predicted that nitrogen dioxide targets would be hit in Teesside and Tyneside in this decade.
Its assessment read: “The annual limit value is likely to be exceeded in 2010 and in 2015 but achieved by 2020.”
However, revised estimates buried on Defra’s website have put back that target until 2025 – blaming the delay on higher-than-expected emissions from diesel cars.
Diesel has replaced petrol in many cars – because it produces less carbon dioxide, blamed for climate change – but emissions of nitrogen dioxide are higher.
To the Government’s embarrassment, the original deadline set by the European Union for meeting the limits was 2010.
Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Failure to meet air pollution limits in our major cities would have serious impacts on the health of thousands of people.
“Rapid steps to ban the dirtiest vehicles and cut traffic levels must be taken – and road-building plans that will simply add to the problem should be abandoned.”
The EU’s air quality directive sets a limit of no more than 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air that we breathe, as an annual average.
But, according to the Defra figures, that figure will be 69 in Teesside in 2015 (Tyneside 68), falling to 47, in 2020 (Tyneside 46) and – finally – to 38, in 2025 (Tyneside 36).
The European Court of Justice will rule by the end of the year on what action Britain needs to take.
A Defra spokesman said: “As our understanding of nitrogen dioxide evolves this must be reflected in our projections, which is why we have revised these figures.
“Work is under way to ensure compliance with EU limits in the shortest possible time.”
Number of annual ‘attributable deaths’ throughout region (age 25-plus)
- County Durham 223
- Darlington 47
- Gateshead 99
- Hartlepool 43
- Middlesbrough 68
- Newcastle 124
- Redcar & Cleveland 61
- South Tyneside 84
- Stockton-on-Tees 77
- Sunderland 143
- Craven 24
- Hambleton 34
- Harrogate 68
- Richmondshire 17
- Ryedale 23
- Scarborough 56
- York 82
- Total 1,273
Source – Northern Echo, 22 July 2014
Over 200 charities and voluntary organisations have now signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement in response to the Government’s launch of mass workfare.
As pointed out by Boycott Workfare, this vastly outnumbers the 70 organisations that the DWP claim have backed the new Community Work Placements, which involve 780 hours forced work under the threat of meagre benefits being stopped.
Many more charities have confirmed they will not be involved in the scheme on twitter, including household names such as British Red Cross, Scope and Friends of the Earth. This is a disaster for the DWP as they attempt to find tens of thousands of workfare placements in the voluntary sector.
It could also spell trouble for Mandatory Work Activity (MWA), the shorter workfare scheme which to punish claimants when Jobcentre busy-bodies decide they aren’t trying hard enough to find work. The Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement does not just…
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