Hartlepool Foodbank is giving a vital food handout to desperate families an average of every three minutes it is open.
The number of starving people being forced to turn to the foodbank to be able to eat has increased by almost a quarter within a year.
Between January and June this year, 2,310 people walked into Hartlepool Foodbank, in Church Street, and received a three-day food parcel.
The foodbank is open two days a week for a total of four hours and the figure equates to a handout every three minutes.
That is equal to 385 people using the service every month in the period, or 89 people every week.
In the same six-month period last year there were 24 per cent less people needing its help with around 1,750 residents needing a package of food.
The shocking figures prompted Hartlepool Foodbank to launch a Neighbourhood Food Collection at Tesco, in Belle Vue Way, Hartlepool, as part of a national initiative with other stores up and down the country.
And generous customers donated an incredible 7,914 meals for people in need this winter.
The collection was held to make sure that the charities have enough food to help people during the winter, which is the hardest time of year for people in poverty.
Foodbank staff say that Christmas is looking especially tough for people on low incomes, with many already really struggling to make ends meet, and many parents being forced to choose between eating and heating.
Al Wales foodbank manager, said:
“Winter is the hardest time of year for people living in poverty, and this Christmas is looking especially tough as many people on low incomes are already really struggling.
“Numbers of people turning to Hartlepool Foodbank in the first six months of this year January to June increased by 24 per cent compared to the same period last year, and 2,310 people in Hartlepool have been given three days’ emergency food in the first 6 months of this year.”
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said:
“The Government’s welfare reform changes are having a major impact on many local families and we are fully aware of the hardship this is causing.
“The foodbank is playing a vital role in supporting large numbers of people across Hartlepool and since it was opened in 2012 the council has made a number of financial donations to support its work.
“As well as donating food at the Hartlepool Foodbank site on Church Street, residents can also bring items to the Civic Centre reception, during normal office hours, and we will make sure the items are taken to the foodbank on their behalf.”
Foodbank’s Al added:
“Once again the generosity of local people is overwhelming – from children giving their pocket money, to bags and even whole trolley loads for food, being donated.
“Every item counts and helps to make a difference.
“The timing of the collection couldn’t have been better, not only are we stocked for the cold weeks ahead but we are also busy preparing emergency food boxes for our partner agencies to hold over the Christmas period when Foodbank is closed, from December 24 to January 6.
“During the collection, customers were asked to donate non-perishable food items such as long-life milk, cereals, tinned vegetables, tinned meat and Christmas treats.
“Thirty-two volunteers from the Trussell Trust Hartlepool Foodbank joined with Tesco staff in store to collect donations from kind-hearted customers.
“Tesco then topped up all donations by 30 per cent.”
The Tesco collection was part of the fifth UK-wide scheme, in partnership with foodbank charity The Trussell Trust and food redistribution charity FareShare, with an aim of reaching a target of 20 million meals for people in need by the end of this year.
• The foodbank, at 28 Church Street, is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 11.30am until 1.30pm.
For more information contact the foodbank on firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone (01429) 598404.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 08 Dec 2014
COUNCIL chiefs are delighted with the support for a campaign to make sure crisis-hit families tuck into a traditional Christmas dinner.
As part of the Big Christmas Dinner Challenge, allotment holders across the town have agreed to “pledge some veg” for distribution via Hartlepool Foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network.
Staff from Hartlepool Borough Council will be delivering boxes for donated produce to allotment sites across the town on Friday, December 12.
The filled boxes will then be collected on Thursday, December 18, by members of the council’s Allotments Team and Waverley Terrace Community Allotment before being handed over to the foodbank the following day for immediate distribution.
The boxes will also contain an information pack with suggested recipes and advice from the Love Food Hate Waste campaign on how to make the most of the festive contents.
Kate Ainger, the council’s environmental projects officer, said:
“Since launching the Big Christmas Dinner Challenge recently we have been delighted with the level of support shown by allotment holders across the town.
“We know that many local families are desperately struggling to make ends meet and more and more are being forced to turn to Hartlepool Foodbank for help.
“There have been many pledges of veg and, hopefully, we will be able to make it a happier Christmas for many people.”
The council is running the scheme in partnership with the Allotments’ Tenants Focus Group, the Foodbank and the town’s Waverley Terrace Community Allotment which offers opportunities to children and adults with physical and learning disabilities, and people with mental health problems.
The donation boxes are being provided by town firm Fruit Fair, of Oxford Road.
Ms Ainger added:
“The staff and volunteers at Waverley Terrace Community Allotment will be assisting with the processing and packing of the boxes and they have also offered us the use of a van to help with collections.
“We’d also like to thank the town’s allotment associations and Fruit Fair for their support.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 21 Nov 2014
Vital voluntary lifeline services used by hundreds of people in Hartlepool face an uncertain future.
There are fears councillors could pull the plug on funding for groups – which last year totalled about £120,000.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee is to meet on November 24 to decide whether cash given to Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) groups should be axed in a bid to balance the books.
It comes after the Government has shrunk the local authority’s budget by 40 per cent and it must find savings of £7.4m for 2015/16.
Grants of between £4,000 and £10,000 from the Community Pool budget were handed out to nine town groups in the 2014/15.
But some of them are now fearing for their future and have admitted that they may have to reduce the services they offer, or even face closure as a result of the cost-cutting measures.
They say this will have a drastic impact on the town’s families and other vulnerable people who depend on them.
Keith Bayley, manager at Hartlepool Voluntary Development Association (HVDA) which supports VCS groups throughout the town, said:
“At the Finance and Policy Committee meeting the council will consider stopping all grant funding for VCS groups.
“This comes after a decision last year to reduce the budget by 50 per cent.
“Groups which provide services to some of the most disadvantaged people in Hartlepool are likely to suffer most with people with disabilities, people who cannot afford to feed themselves, the lonely and isolated and people with mental health problems likely to be some of the main losers.
“Having some level of grant funding for VCS groups and the services they provide allows the council to support some of the most vulnerable people in Hartlepool at a very low cost compared to other areas where the council pays for such services delivered via contracts.
“Grants are usually a partial contribution to service delivery costs where services are being delivered by a VCS group who, in turn obtain or raise the rest of the money from other sources.
“This is an important reason why some services provided by VCS groups and funded by grants provide such good value for money.
“It also allows the council to stand alongside and support local people who are trying to find solutions to some of the most pressing problems faced by local people.”
The council’s chief executive Dave Stubbs laid the blame at the door of the Government.
“Over the last four years we have seen our level of Government funding cut by almost 40 per cent and for 2015/16 we have to find savings of £7.4m to balance the books.”
“As we have stated on a number of occasions previously, this will inevitably result in some very tough decisions.
“A report to the Finance and Policy Committee on November 24 will set out a range of savings proposals, including withdrawing funding for some voluntary and community sector groups as part of a package of major cuts that we have had to identify due to the significant reductions in our grant from government.
“It is important however that any decision on the budget is not viewed in isolation because overall the council continues to direct resources to protect the most vulnerable people in the town.
“Hartlepool and other councils in the North-East have had cuts of double the national average and have more deprived communities that need significant support.
“We continue to urge the Government to address this unfairness at every opportunity.”
The Hartlepool services which received money in the 2014/15 pot of cash were Hartlepool PATCH which received £10,000, and The People’s Centre, in Raby Road, which also received £10,000.
Others were Making a Difference which got £10,000, Hart Gables which was rewarded £9,950.04, the Salaam Community Centre which got £9,888, Hartlepool Mind with £8,719, West View Project which received £6,195, Hartlepool Foodbank which was granted £5,518.46 and Epilepsy Outlook which got £4,729.50.
At a subsequent council meeting in May, councillors also approved an additional one-off contribution of £21,143 to the Community Pool programme, out of which Hartlepool Foodbank received a further £2,111, Age UK Teesside received £9,032, and Hartlepool Access Group received £10,000 for its Shopmobility scheme.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 17 Nov 2014
Council tax rates in Hartlepool are set to be frozen for the fifth year in a row, a council chief has said.
Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, outlined the authority’s budget plans to councillors and residents at the council’s Neighbourhood Forums.
The plans, due to be decided in December, include the council freezing its share of council tax from households.
But he also warned the council needs to find £5.6m as a result of the authority receiving less and less central Government funding.
He said by 2015-16, the council’s Government grant settlement will be 39 per cent less than what it was in 2010-11.
Coun Akers-Belcher, who is chair of the council’s Finance and Policy Committee, said the cuts mean Hartlepool will receive £225 less for every household in the town.
“It is a huge challenge for the council to set the budget year on year.
“But there’s more to come. The cuts will continue and potentially we would be looking in another two years that we would get half the money the Government used to give us.”
Looking ahead, the council forecasts an £18.5m deficit by 2018-19.
But Coun Akers-Belcher said things like the Council Tax Support Scheme, which limits cuts in people’s benefit support, and the tax freeze, will help to ease the financial burden on residents.
“I don’t know of any other council that for five years have had no council tax increase.
“I think we have done the right thing with the Council Tax Support Scheme which is benefiting the most needy in the community.”
Coun Akers-Belcher said savings will try to be made without people feeling the impact by merging some council neighbourhood services like traffic wardens and the authority’s enforcement team.
“It will be done in such a way to minimise the impact on the general public.
“Hopefully, they should see a seamless transition from one year to the next.”
Hartlepool’s lifeguards and school crossing patrols that were identified for possible cuts have already been safeguarded after proving unpopular with residents and councillors.
Decisions on where service cuts are to be made will be considered by the council’s policy committees in November and Coun Akers-Belcher urged people attend.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 17 Oct 2014
Hartlepool has the region’s highest proportion of women working part-time and earning less than the living wage according to the data provided by the TUC.
More than half of town women – 55.9 per cent – are paid below the living wage, analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library show.
And TUC officials say for every pound earned by men full-time, women working part-time earn just 66p.
The union says one of the main reasons for this huge gender pay divide is the large concentration of women doing low-paid, part-time work.
The living wage – the pay rate needed to let workers lead a decent life – is currently set at £7.65 an hour.
The national mininum wage is lower, at £6.31 an hour.
The town fares the worst out of the whole of the North East for ensuring fair pay for females.
Pamela Hargreaves, chair of the Hartlepool branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“I think from a small business perspective, while all the businesses I’m sure would dearly love to be able to pay the living wage, because it’s the right and proper thing to do, potentially it can put quite a strain on their finances in this difficult economic climate.
“I think as the economy picks up and businesses begin to thrive again, I think it’s certainly an aspiration all businesses should aim to do.
“But from a social perspective, absolutely all employers should be striving to pay the living wage.
“I also know from running a charity, Hartlepool Families First, whilst it’s an aspiration it can be difficult to achieve it.”
North Tyneside has the region’s lowest proportion of women working part-time for less than the living wage at 37.9 per cent.
Nationally, Watford has the lowest proportion, with 16.9 per cent.
Union officials say the situation in North Tyneside shows what can be done when unions, employers and campaigners work together to tackle low pay.
Ms Hargreaves, also a town councillor, addded:
“What Hartlepool needs to do is examine why it has the highest proportion in the region.
“If North Tyneside has a model that’s working, we as a town should be looking at the model and adopting some of those practices so we can make a dent in those figures.
“It’s clearly across the board, from women director level to part-time roles – women don’t seem to be treated fairly and valued as much as male counterparts.”
The TUC wants to see more employers paying the living wage, to help tackle “in-work poverty” and close the gender pay gap.
It believes local authorities should lead by example by becoming living wage employers themselves.
Last September, Hartlepool Borough Council became a Living Wage authority which meant 405 council employees saw their pay rise from £6.45 to £7.26 an hour.
Authority chiefs are also encouraging firms that have contracts with the council to folllow suit.
The union also wants to see more jobs advertised on a part-time basis, ending the requirement that women have to be in post for six months before they have the right to request flexible working.
TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said: “In-work poverty is growing across the North East and it’s often women who bear the brunt of low pay.
“The living wage was created so that work can provide staff with a basic standard of living.
“But in places like Hartlepool, the majority of women working part-time are earning nowhere near this.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 29 Aug 2014
A council chief executive’s pay has rocketed 25 per cent in two years whilst its lowest paid workers have been offered two per cent, prompting calls for more scrutiny on top public sector pay.
The head of Hambleton District Council, Phillip Morton, was taken on in 2012 at £100,000 and is now earning £125,000 after management restructuring.
Previously the North Yorkshire authority had shared the chief executive role and senior management team with neighbouring Richmondshire District Council under its money-saving, shared services agreement.
But when the shared chief executive left, the two councils re-established their own management teams.
Although Mr Morton’s salary is amongst the lowest for chief executives in the North-East and North Yorkshire, the timing of the rise has been criticised, with many tax payers struggle to afford essentials with the cost of living crisis.
A Hambleton District Councillor, who this week tried to raise the issue of the £25,000 pay rise, had his attempts stifled when he tried to speak up about it in a public meeting.
Councillor Ken Billings tried to bring up the issue at the end of Tuesday’s (July 22) cabinet meeting, but was told the minutes he was referring to had already been approved earlier in the meeting – and it was against council procedure to discuss approved minutes.
The Northallerton councillor said: “If I’d been given the opportunity to speak I would have asked what the additional roles and responsibilities were in this new structure to warrant this kind of increase at a time when public sector pay is supposed to be restricted.
“When they announced there was going to be corporate management restructuring, I said I hoped this wasn’t an opportunity to give the people at the top a big pay rise.”
He added: “There’s no justification for these figures. This is only a small council, it’s not a county council or a unitary council it’s a local district council and this kind of salary increase just isn’t warranted.
“I feel the council has been led on a short lead over this. They’ve just rubber-stamped it and it’s gone through.
“Public sector pay is supposed to be constrained at the moment but executive pay seems to be exempt – you would think they didn’t work for the public sector.”
But council leader Mark Robson said Hambleton is one of the few authorities not to be cutting services. He said staff had also been offered a two per cent pay rise, which was more than the one per cent the Government recommended.
He said the chief executive pay was publicised on the council website and had been approved by full council.
He said: “It’s all part of the restructuring which was approved by council. Bear in mind before the reorganisation we had five directors and now we have three. We have saved £511,000 since the restructuring.
“Phil Morton has a background in economic development. Our economic strategy will put prosperity into the heart of the community in Hambleton and he will play a significant role in that.”
Despite Government calls for public sector pay restraint, many councils in the country are handing out huge salaries to its top earners whilst cutting services. About 61 per cent of councils in the UK paid their biggest earners more than the Prime Minister, who receives £142,500.
That includes Darlington Borough Council, whose chief executive Ada Burns receives £156,720.
Hartlepool Borough Council said it had reduced its chief executive pay band from £158,000 / £168,000 to £142,000 as part of cost-saving measures.
Unison, which represents workers in the public sector, said at a time when many tax payers and council workers were struggling to pay for essentials such as food and heating, it was unacceptable for public money to be spent on such huge salaries.
Chris Jenkinson, Unison’s regional head of local government in Yorkshire said: “It is clearly wrong for the chief executive to receive such a huge pay rise on top of what is already a very high salary.
“Our members in local government have suffered a 20 per cent reduction in their incomes over the past four years caused by central government cuts and pay freezes.
“The vast majority of those members are facing a massive struggle just to pay for the basics of life – food, shelter and ever more expensive gas and electricity costs. They were forced to take strike action to support a pay rise to help them out of this poverty trap imposed by their employers.”
Source – Northern Echo, 25 July 2014
Puplic services ground to a halt across Wearside yesterday as workers walked out in support of the strike. Schools, libraries, leisure centres, museums and other public buildings were shut.
Pickets were in place outside Sunderland Civic Centre.
John Kelly, secretary of Unite’s Sunderland City Council Branch, said: “Unite is proud to be taking part in strike action alongside our fellow trade unions.
“This is a fight for better public services, and for fair pay for those who work hard to deliver those services.
“Council workers have been targeted to bear the brunt of the austerity measures that have been imposed by millionaire cabinet ministers since 2010. Unite fully understand that Labour-run councils like Sunderland City Council are the scapegoats when implementing this Coalition Government’s austerity measures.
“Local government workers and the communities they deliver services to believe that local government workers should have fair pay, not poverty pay.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 11 July 2014
SOUTH TYNESIDE –
There were pickets outside South Shields Town Hall, the town’s Middlefields refuse depot and at the JobCentre in Chapter Row, and more than half of schools in the borough closed for the day.
All the borough’s libraries were also shut, and all council refuse collections were cancelled, and the crematorium on John Reid Road, South Shields, closed for the day.
Despite the widespread disruption, Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, believes the public remain generally supportive of the action – and the reasons behind it.
Horn-beeping motorists expressed support for the dozen or so trade unionists gathered outside the town’s hall’s Beach Road entrance yesterday and, also on hand to show his support was Labour councillor Ernest Gibson, Mayor of South Tyneside last year.
There were pickets from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Harton Technology College in South Shields.
The school was closed to pupils, although members of other teaching unions and non-union staff did go into work.
COUNTY DURHAM –
Striking workers picketed outside council offices, job centres, tax offices and courts across County Durham and North Yorkshire.
Workers from government agencies including the Student Loans Company in Darlington, the Passport Office in Durham City and the HM Revenue & Customs offices in Thornaby took part in the industrial action.
In County Durham, more than 130 schools closed for the day, although only a handful of Darlington’s schools shut.
Twenty North Yorkshire schools closed and a further 50 suffered disruption.
On Teesside about 35 schools in Stockton were closed or partially-closed.
A survey commission by Unite on the eve of the strike found that 50 per cent of people in the North of England agreed that the local government workers’ call for an £1 per-hour pay rise was justified.
“The poll confirms that people across the North support workers who are fighting to end poverty pay in our local councils,” said Mike Routledge, Unite local government officer for the North-East.
Source – Northern Echo, 10 July 2014
Picket lines could be seen around the town with the most prominent outside of the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool.
Other’s took place outside Hartlepool Borough Council-run buildings in Church Street, and also in Wesley Square, outside the Jobcentre.
Councillor Stephen Thomas, Labour representative for the De Bruce ward, was also on the picket line to offer his support.
Coun Thomas, who works for Health Watch Hartlepool but took the day off to take part in the action, said: “I’m here to basically show my support to the strikers because I think that the way the Government is treating government sector workers is absolutely appalling.
“The one per cent pay rise they’ve had in the last four years equates to a 14 per cent cut in real terms.”
Teachers were also included in the strike with a number of Hartlepool schools closed for the day.
The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) also joined forces in the strike action, with crews from Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Stranton Fire Station forming a protest.
Brian Gibson, the FBU chairman for Cleveland, said: “The action we took part in is particularly important because all the unions have got together to show our strength of feeling at getting one per cent pay rises. The FBU’s argument is also with the Government over pensions.”
He added: “We’ve had great public support, all we’ve had is support.
“We’re so pleased.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 11 July 2014
Outside Middlesbrough Town Hall this morning, many office workers arriving for work crossed the picket lines.
Dawn Nicholson, Unison Area Organiser said: “It’s going well.
“Some people are crossing the picket lines but a lot of them are employed by Mouchel.
“Mouchel workers haven’t been balloted and can’t strike but many have signed our petition.”
However as one woman made her way into work she answered calls for her to strike saying: “People are still need to make a living.”
GMB union, shop steward, Brian Foulger, said: “We’re quite surprised by how many people, even management, have gone out on strike.
“Since 2010, local government have been putting money away for a rainy day. Well, it’s pouring down.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 July 2014
Hartlepool councillors have agreed new plans for a council to set up a social lettings agency in Hartlepool in a bid to develop a more “robust” housing service.
Housing chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council say there is a need because the last decade has seen the first rise in the percentage of households renting since 1918.
But officials say it is estimated 34.8 per cent of the private rented sector does not meet the Decent Homes Standard, therefore they believe by developing a social lettings agency there is scope to generate much-needed income while helping improve the quality, standard and management of private rented properties.
A report highlighted some of the problems experienced in town including; poor management, poor quality housing, unresponsive repairs and maintenance, high rent levels and the poor appearance of properties.
The new agency, using existing council staff, will provide similar services to a commercial ‘high street’ letting and managing agent but officials say the intention is not to undercut the market, but provide a competitive rate for the service.
The decision was taken by the finance and policy committee and officials say this current year will be a transitional one. Any income is dependent on the number of properties managed but the target for properties to be managed by the council is 70 in 2015-16 and up to 100 the year after.
The council will target existing landlords who have expressed an interest, empty houses and the wider market. Meanwhile, tenants who are facing homelessness, those who can’t afford to buy a home or who are finding it hard to secure a tenancy in the private sector will also be targeted.
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said: “The proposals provide important social benefits and will ensure a robust housing service able to meet the needs of service users into the future.
“The staffing resource being retained in the service is crucial to the development of the new services as they hold valuable skills and knowledge essential to the delivery of the new services.”
Initial market testing showed an appetite from landlords for a “reliable and affordable lettings and management agency”.
Source – Hartlepool Mail 03 July 2014
Hartlepool Borough Council is facing huge budget cuts of around £14m over the next two financial years due to reduced Government funding.
The funding gap facing the local authority was laid bare at a meeting of the council’s finance and policy committee.
While exact details on where the axe will fall are still being worked on, finance chiefs at the authority know they will need to bridge a funding deficit of £5.626m in 2015-16 and £8.663m in 2016-17.
A finance report said the council’s senior corporate management team has identified initial options for achieving savings worth £5.536m for the next financial year but details are yet to be announced.
Councillors have been warned they are faced with making even tougher decisions than in previous years given the level of savings they need to achieve.
Chris Little, council’s chief finance officer, said: “The savings options have been identified against a background of delivering significant cuts over the last four years, which makes the achievement of further savings to balance the 2015-16 budget extremely challenging.
“It therefore needs to be recognised that the initial savings options will require members to make even more difficult decision than in previous years.
“It will be essential that members make these decisions as early as possible to ensure detailed savings can be implemented before the start of the new financial year.”
It is proposed 2015-16 budget decisions will be made before Christmas, with decisions around council tax being made early next year before full council agrees the budget.
Mr Little said whatever happens in next years General Election, he believed there would still be cuts to public spending in future years.
The latest budget forecasts follow on from severe budget cuts in recent years and in February this year, councillors unanimously agreed savage budget cuts of more than £4m resulting in the loss of 60 council jobs. It did though include a council tax freeze for hard-up residents for the fourth successive year.
A council report to the meeting added: “The continuation of significant grant cuts means that in 2015/16 the council’s grant will £30.578m lower than it was in 2010-11, which is a cumulative cut of 39 per cent.”
This comes as a new national report revealed local authorities in England will need to make huge savings before next April, equivalent to 12.5 per cent of their total budgets.
Councils face a funding gap of £5.8bn between now and the end of 2015-16, analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) found, adding the deficit will be caused by a combination of reduced government funding and rising demand on services, in particular from growing numbers of elderly people.
LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: “In recent years, local government has worked tirelessly to save billions while protecting services for those who need them most.
“But the scale of the challenge facing local authorities next year is stark. Council finances are on a knife-edge and the old way of doing things – including the way we care for our elderly population – just won’t work any more.”
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: “The LGA’s doom-laden and alarmist claims lack credibility. Councils are balancing their books each year and, as the LGA’s own research shows, the public now thinks they are delivering better services than before.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 01 July 2014
I’ve only seen a few final results so far, but it seems that overall Labour retain control. Not much of a suprise perhaps, but it’s good to see that the wheels appear to have come off the much-vaunted UKIP targeting of the North East.
They did achieve a number of second places, but generally a very long way behind Labour candidates – which seems to suggest that they were taking votes from the Conservatives, not Labour.
Of the 25 seats up for grabs, Labour took a total of 21, with the Conservatives winning three and one Independent. The overall turnout across Sunderland was 33 per cent
Mayor Bob Heron (Labour) lost his seat in the Copt Hill ward (Houghton-le-Spring) to independent Anthony Allen by 75 votes.
Sunderland remains a UKIP-free zone 🙂
There seemed to be a feeling that UKIP were going to make big inroads in South Tyneside. They didn’t. In fact, they lost one of the two seats they already held.
Labour maintained control, retaining 49 of the 54 seats.
It held 16 seats of the 18 seats up for grabs and took Fellgate and Hedworth from UKIP – though it lost Bede to the Independent – Putting People First group.
The overall percentage turnout was 34.4 per cent, compared to 34.1 per cent in 2012, with 39,462 votes cast out of a total electorate of 114,813.
The highest turnout was in the Cleadon and East Boldon ward with 44.7 per cent, while the Biddick and All Saints ward was the lowest at 27.7 per cent.
The new political make-up of the Council is: Labour: 49, Independent: 1, Independent – Putting People First: 2, Conservative: 1 and UKIP: 1.
Labour councillor Nancy Maxwell enjoyed the biggest majority of the night, romping to victory in Hebburn South ward.
She won nearly two-thirds of the vote, to record a majority of 920 over her nearest rival – UKIP.
Seems to be the nearest thing to a UKIP triumph so far…
Labour maintained its control of Hartlepool Borough Council winning six out of the 11 wards that were up for grabs.
UKIP won 2 seats, including the Jesmond ward from Labour by just two votes – after five recounts had taken place.
Labour maintain their 19 out of 33 seats on Hartlepool Council and overall control.
The UKIP winners were aged 63 and 72 respectively – which seems to be the age group they appeal to, if the various vox pops I’ve seen in various media sources locally over the past few weeks are any guide.
Which raises the interesting question of what will happen to UKIP in the next decade or so, as their candidates and voters die out ?
Also interesting to note the virtual abscence of the BNP in these elections. A few years ago they were standing in most Sunderland wards – this time, nothing at all. Did their voters transfer to UKIP ?