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
Government benefit changes mean people in Jarrow “live for weeks on nothing”, town MP Stephen Hepburn warned this week.
His comments came in a heated Parliamentary exchange this week with Employment Minister Esther McVey, during which Mr Hepburn attacked the Government’s welfare reforms and the way it treats people on Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA).
Mr Hepburn has obtained official Parliamentary statistics, indicating that more than half of those people in Jarrow whose benefits claims are reconsidered are unsuccessful.
Mr Hepburn said: “Can the minister explain why more than 50 per cent of benefit claimants in my constituency, whose benefits have been sanctioned, have had the decision overturned?
“In the meantime, they had to live week for weeks on nothing – unlike that lot over there, who stuff their nests.
“Is it not true that this scheme is nothing more than a con?
“The Government say that they are cutting benefits.
“They are cutting benefits, but they are taking them off the most vulnerable people in the country and leaving them out for ever.”
Mr Hepburn based his claims on new official Parliamentary figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, which indicate that more than 50 per cent of sanctions placed on JSA claimants in the Jarrow constituency have been overturned. The figures reveal that from October 22, 2012, to June 2013, there were 290 reconsiderations submitted to JSA claimants to sanctions imposed on them, with just over 51 per cent overturned.
However, in response, the Employment Minister rejected Mr Hepburn’s claims, stating: “There are a couple of points I need to answer, because what was said was inaccurate.
“The figure for the overturns is 10 per cent, not the high number the honorable gentleman alluded to.
“At the same time, people on sanctions are still on benefits and have an underlying qualification to them.
“The honorable gentleman is incorrect.
“Perhaps he does not like the fact that the number of people in work has gone up significantly under this Government, and the number of people needing to claim benefits has gone down significantly.”
> Perhaps he just doesn’t believe that to be true – especially in the north East…
Source – Shields Gazette, 26 June 2014