It’s green for go in South Tyneside ahead of next year’s general election after the borough’s first Parliamentary candidate threw her hat into the ring.
The Green Party has announced that primary school support worker Shirley Ford is to fight for the South Shields constituency next May.
The 50-year-old, of South Shields, says her campaign will centre on public concerns over the state of the town centre and the need for a decent living wage.
The mother of one will also highlight her party’s opposition to the potential extraction of coal to convert into gas along a large stretch of the region’s coastline.
Mrs Ford has experience as a candidate, having previously stood for her home town set at the 2010 general election.
“We have had an upsurge in new members since the Scottish devolution vote.
“People want to hear different voices, different ideas, and it’s not all about Ukip. People want positive choices that don’t just play on people’s fears.
“One of the main issues we picked up during the recent Westoe by-election was public concern over our high street, which is dying, and over the council’s grand, shiny regeneration plan to attract big names to the town.
“We have seen what has happened with these big businesses in the past. They just up and leave if they are not making the profits they require.
“We’d like to see much more support for local small businesses who are loyal and stay in the town.
“Protection for people in the workplace is also on our agenda, and we will be pushing the council and its contractors to bring in a decent living wage sooner than they have promised.”
Mrs Ford is also unhappy at the cabinet system adopted by South Tyneside Council.
“It means the leader of the council and a half a dozen others make all the major decisions, and the backbenchers have no power at all. We want to bring back proper committees.”
Mrs Ford has been the Keep Metro Public campaign’s South Tyneside co-ordinator, opposing privatisation of the Tyne and Wear Metro system.
She has also volunteered in Kenya for a safe drinking water project and has worked for many years on human rights and anti-poverty campaigns.
The Green Party also plans to fight the Jarrow constituency, with a candidate to be announced soon.
Source – Shields Gazette, 28 Oct 2014
Tory plans to pull out of the European Court of Human Rights have been dismissed as a backward step and “a sop to Ukip and right wingers” by North East politicians.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling believes the extraordinary move would restore “common sense” to the British legal system, allowing judges in this country to effectively ignore Strasbourg.
The extraordinary move would give the ECHR no move than an advisory role and hand politicians and judges final say on issues like prisoner voting and life sentences. Mr Grayling also said it would stop terrorists and foreign criminals relying on human rights laws to stay in the UK.
But Labour peer Jeremy Beecham accused the Justice Secretary of pandering to the right wing.
He said: “This is a sop to Ukip and Tory right wingers.
“It was a Conservative Government which led the way on the EHRC, but the present Tory Party has a shocking record on legal aid, access to justice and judicial review and this just another example of its attitude, ironically in what will be the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta.”
Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Human Rights Act benefits ordinary people on a daily basis and can help victims of crime.
“Recently it allowed two young women, who were victims of the black cab rapist John Worboys, to sue the police for failing to investigate his appalling crimes properly.”
She added human rights law was widely misrepresented in parts of the media and called on Chris Grayling to re-think the plans.
She said: “For instance in 2006 it was reported that police gave fried chicken to a suspected car thief who had fled from police and was besieged on a roof ‘because of his human rights’.
“Surprise, surprise, there is no human right to KFC – it was used as part of the negotiating tactics that encouraged him to come down.
“Nor is there a bar to deporting a criminal because he has a British cat, as Theresa May once claimed.
“Whether a foreign criminal stays or goes is a balancing act, which is far better done in our courts than in Strasbourg.”
But Labour’s Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell believes the country should be given a choice on its relationship with Europe.
He said: “On the whole it’s good to have a Court of Human Rights as they have made some good decisions, but I haven’t agreed with them all.
“Although I haven’t agreed with all the decisions made by the judicial system, I still think we should let the people decide, not the politicians, and have a referendum.”
Chris Grayling made the announcement as the Conservative Party Conference drew to a close this week and as the campaign for next year’s General Election gets underway.
He said: “We will always stand against real human rights abuses, and political persecution. But these plans will make sure that we put Britain first and restore common sense to human rights in this country.”
> Translation – lets make Britain a feudal state where people like me who went to the right schools get to make the law that suits our best interests. Fuck anyone else.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 03 Oct 2014
The news of another Royal Pregnancy – the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a second child – has as usual provoked a lot of media attention. To say the least. Lots of cooing, lots of cute pictures (like this one of the last little prince to be born), a fair amount of cynicism about the timing of the announcement (in relation to the Scottish Independence referendum in particular) and so on. Flags will be waved, bells will be rung, tears will be shed – but when it comes down to it, will anyone ask the question that comes up so often in other circumstances: ‘won’t anyone think of the children?’ There are many, many reasons to object to the monarchy – but one rarely mentioned is that it’s inherently cruel to the children. Indeed, it might be argued that it breaches their human rights.
The institution of the monarchy brings into…
View original post 608 more words
Human rights group Liberty has announced it has been granted permission to bring a Judicial Review of the Government’s controversial bedroom tax, based on the policy’s impact on separated families with shared custody of children.
The scheme, which has affected the North East, cuts parents’ Housing Benefit if they have a ‘spare room’, even if that room is used by a child who lives with them on a part-time basis. Liberty is challenging the lawfulness of the relevant regulations on the grounds they are irrational and a violation of Articles 8 and/or 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which stipulate the right to a private and family life and no discrimination.
A High Court Judge has now indicated that it is in the public interest for Liberty’s arguments to be heard and has given permission for the case to go forward.
The human rights group launched the claim in April last year.
Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, said: “A child’s bedroom is their sanctuary and these parents are providing stable and secure homes, not ‘under-occupying’ their properties. This one-size-fits-all rule discriminates against families outside a certain narrow mould, meaning that our clients represent thousands of parents who want to be part of their children’s lives. A Government who talks of prioritising families should know better.”
Liberty is seeking a ruling that the relevant provision – Regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012 – is incompatible with its clients’ and their children’s rights under Article 8 and/or Article 14 of the European Convention – and thus unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 01 May 2014
This article was written by James Meikle, for theguardian.com on Friday 21st February 2014
The government’s welfare shakeup has survived two legal challenges at the court of appeal after five disabled tenants failed in their attempt to get the bedroom tax declared unlawful and judges ruled against claims the £500-a-week cap on benefits violated the human rights of vulnerable families.
The decisions mean that central planks of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefits changes remain intact, although there may yet be further challenges at the supreme court.
The bedroom challenge questioned the legality of new “size criteria” regulations that have led to reductions in housing benefit payments to tenants in social housing assessed to be underoccupying their home. It was backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Two lone parents and a child from each family challenged the benefit cap after being forced into temporary accommodation in London.
Campaigners say the welfare cuts are having a particularly harsh impact on women fleeing domestic violence, and on their children, threatening to trap them in abusive relationships.
Those challenging the bedroom tax vowed to continue their battle following the ruling. Ugo Hayter from law firm Leigh Day, representing two people with disabilities who argue that their second bedroom is essential, said lawyers were disappointed and baffled by the ruling.
“The court recognised that our clients and thousands of disabled people across the UK had a need for accommodation not provided for by the new housing benefit rules. However, the court decided that disabled tenants should not have their housing needs met on an equivalent basis to their able-bodied counterparts just because they are disabled.
“Instead disabled tenants are being forced to rely on short-term and discretionary payments. We are currently considering whether an appeal to the supreme court is possible. Our thoughts go out to the thousands of disabled tenants who continue to be faced with uncertainty, poverty and the risk of eviction.”
Anne McMurdie, of Public Law Solicitors, which is acting for three of the appellants, said: “The government has sought to make savings by targeting the most vulnerable in our society. On the government’s own figures at least 440,000 disabled households will lose out under the new regulations.
“There is compelling and growing evidence of the terrible adverse impact on disabled tenants, having to make the dreadful choice between paying the rent and buying food or heating their homes. Disabled tenants are not asking for extra funds, they are asking for housing benefit to be paid at a level which meets their needs – for the same right as others.”
Richard Kramer, deputy chief executive of Sense, the national deafblind charity, said the bedroom tax policy had been devastating for many disabled people. “Many have been found to have a so-called extra bedroom despite requiring it because of their disability, for example needing extra space to store disability-related equipment and for short-term carers.
“Many disabled people, including the deafblind people that Sense supports, have been pushed to breaking point. They are struggling with the transition from DLA [disability living allowance] to Pip [personal independence payment] and many are facing huge cuts to their social care, leaving them without the support they desperately need to live full and active lives,” said Kramer.
“Alongside other benefits being cut, housing benefit has been the final blow for many disabled people and can lead to serious financial hardship.”
A statement from the Department for Work and Pensions said:”Reform of housing benefit in the social sector is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the benefit. But we have ensured extra discretionary housing support is available for vulnerable people.”
On the issue of the cap, the statement said: “We are pleased that the courts have ruled again that the benefit cap complies with the European convention on human rights. The benefit cap sets a fair limit to what people can expect to get from the welfare system – so that claimants cannot receive more than £500 a week, the average household earnings.”
In the judgments, Lord Dyson said Duncan Smith was aware of the “serious impact” of the new criteria for housing benefit, which was why so much effort had been devoted to seeking a solution. He recognised the benefit cap would “cause hardship to some (possibly many) people who are on benefit” but the government recognised it might need modification.
> I suspect the only modification Duncan Smith has in mind is extending hardship from “some” people to the greatest number possible.
The cap in its present form reflected the political judgment of the government and had been endorsed by parliament after considerable debate. It was not up to the court to say whether it agreed with the judgment or not, he said.
Rebekah Carrier, of Hopkin Murray Beskine solicitors, representing two women who had fled violent marriages along with their children and were challenging the benefit cap, said the judges had not decided important issues of principle affecting the large numbers of women and children made homeless by domestic violence every year.
“The government promised to address this in April 2013, 10 months ago, but has failed to do so. The court recognised the problem and expressed concern about the government’s delay in addressing it, but they have abandoned many domestic violence victims to their fate until the government chooses to act,” said Carrier.
“That is not good enough for my clients, or for the many women who will face a stark choice about whether to stay with a violent partner, or flee and risk losing their home or being destitute.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 21 Feb 2014
Gay rights activists staged a protest in a bid to get one of the world’s biggest companies to speak out against Russia’s controversial laws on homosexuality.
About a dozen supporters took tohomosexuality in Sunderland to campaign outside McDonald’s as they called on its bosses to speak out about the country’s stance.
Last year, its Government banned the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality, which has been seen as an attack on gay rights.
The country is holding this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, with the opening ceremony held yesterday.
People of all sexualities attended the protest, which also saw a letter handed to the restaurant’s management setting out why the event was held and how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were being beaten and persecuted in Russian.
Sam Willey, 22, one of the organisers, said: “What we’re trying to do is push them to at least accept Russia is persecuting gay people.
“It’s not necessarily to say they should pull out of their sponsorship but to speak out.
“They are paying a lot of money for the Olympics, and the least they could do is a little bit more to call for action.
“A lot of us saw the Dispatches documentary, and that really shocked a lot of people to the core.”
Among those to join in the event was Ryan Houston, chairman of Sunderland Pride, who said: “I think this highlights what we take for granted in the North East, and we support the work they are doing.”
The protest backed an international campaign called All Out, which states no person should have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.
A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “We are aware that some activists are targeting Olympic sponsors to voice their concerns regarding the Russian LGBT legislation.
“McDonald’s supports human rights, the spirit of the Olympics and all the athletes who’ve worked so hard to compete in the Games.
“We believe the Olympic Games should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and athletes.”
Source – Sunderland Echo 08 Feb 2014
Thanks to Nicola Jones for this … worrying times indeed!
A British citizen was held for days without charge in a London mental hospital under little-known laws which allow the police to arrest and detain anybody who voices criticism against politicians or celebrities.
The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) was quietly set up to identify individuals who they claim pose a direct threat to VIPs including the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Royal Family.
It was given sweeping powers to check more than 10,000 suspects’ files to identify mentally unstable potential “killers and stalkers” with a fixation against public figures.
The team’s psychiatrists and psychologists then have the power to order treatment – including forcibly detaining suspects in secure psychiatric units.
Using these powers, the unit can legally detain people for an indefinite period without trial, criminal charges or even evidence of a crime being committed and with very…
View original post 800 more words