A parliamentary candidate has been missed off some ballot papers in Darlington – but voters have been urged to keep voting.
The Ukip candidate David Hodgson has been missed off ballot papers delivered to the Whessoe polling district.
The council says 89 people who have voted so far are affected. The correct ballot papers have now been issued.
Ada Burns, Darlington Council chief executive, said:
“We have taken advice from the Electoral Commission and are confident that the election can go ahead as normal.
“The turnout so far has been excellent and the message is to keep voting.”
Ukip candidate David Hodgson, a lecturer, said:
“I learnt it myself ten minutes ago that my name has been missed off the papers – I don’t know if it’s across all of the wards because the info I got is very short at the moment.
“It’s shocking – absolutely terrible and inexcusable. I understand the Ukip office has been informed and will be lodging a protest.
“I don’t know what happenened but surely some law has been breached. I’ve not got a clue what happens now but I’m guessing the only way to resolve it is for it to be re-run.
“I’m working at the moment and it’s knocked me sick but I cant walk out on my class.”
Labour candidate Jenny Chapman said he had been briefed about the problem.
“I’m furious and I understand completely how Mr Hodgson feels,” she added.
Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon said he was unaware of any problems.
He said the postal votes went out several weeks ago without any issues, and these ballot papers were printed at the same time as those for people voting in person.
A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said voting in the general and local elections was continuing as normal but that the name of one candidate, David Hodgson (UKIP) had been missed off ballot papers issued to one polling station in the borough.
“Approximately 89 ballot papers (0.1% of the total number of ballot papers printed) had been issued, but as soon as the issue was identified, corrected ballot papers were issued to the polling station concerned,” she said.
Due to doubts that all 89 would be contactable the council has chosen the second option. If the 89 votes are critical to the result at the end of the polling a petition challenging the outcome could be mounted and considered by a court of law.
Source – Northern Echo, 07 May 2015
An election candidate made a brave revelation that she is a victim of rape during a hustings on female issues organised by the Darlington and Durham Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre.
Liberal Democrat candidate Anne-Marie Curry told the large gathering at Darlington Dolphin Centre’s Central Hall that it took her 22-years to accept she had been in an abusive relationship during her early 20s.
She described how she had witnessed some awful treatment of women during her upbringing in Uganda and that she had been threatened with knives when she later lived in Holland.
She said: “I seem to have opened myself up to rather destructive relationships from then on.
“At the age of 21 I was in a relationship and he was emotionally bullying me, hitting me and raping me.
“I didn’t realise that at the time, I only realised that in my 40s.”
Ms Curry’s revelation earned a round of applause and she said she wanted to speak out to bring the issue of domestic violence into the open.
“I can understand that women in that situation can find it really, really difficult to cope with what has happened to them.
“I am now coping, I am strong and I really want to shout about it because it (domestic abuse) is wrong.
Labour candidate Jenny Chapman said she was “blown away” and felt humbled by what Ms Curry had shared.
The hustings, chaired by Durham University professor Nicole Westmarland, touched on a range of female issues including funding problems experienced by rape crisis and support centres and whether more should be done to educate youngsters about domestic abuse.
The problems experienced by many victims of domestic abuse throughout the legal process were also highlighted, with all candidates agreeing that more needed to be done to support them.
All candidates also agreed that abuse and crimes against women were a key issue and Ms Chapman said that Labour planned to scrap Police and Crime Commissioners and would appoint a Women’s Commissioner in parliament.
The hustings was attended by Darlington’s candidates for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Green, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties who all signed a pledge to support women’s services.
UKIP candidate Dave Hodgson could not attend due to work commitments.
> Could he, given his party’s record, have signed it with a clear conscience anyway ?
Source – Northern Echo, 02 May 2015
Darlington: currently held by Jenny Chapman (Lab)
Jenny Chapman (Lab),
Mike Cherrington (Green),
Anne-Marie Curry (LD),
Peter Cuthbertson (Con),
Alan Docherty (TUSC),
David Hodgson (Ukip)
Hartlepool: currently held by Iain Wright (Lab)
Hilary Allen (LD),
Sandra Allison (Save Our Hospital),
Phillip Broughton (Ukip),
John Hobbs (Ind),
Michael Holt (Green),
Stephen Picton (Ind),
Richard Royal (Con),
Iain Wright (Lab).
Middlesbrough: currently held by Andy Mcdonald (Lab)
Craig Baker (Ukip),
Simon Clarke (Con),
Hannah Grahm (Green),
Richard Kilpatrick (LD),
Andy McDonald (Lab).
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland: currently held by Tom Blenkinsop (Lab)
Tom Blenkinsop (Lab),
Martin Brampton (Green),
Ben Gibson (LD),
Will Goodhand (Con),
Steve Turner (Ukip).
Redcar: vacant – Ian Swales (Lib Dem) standing down.
Christopher Gallacher (Ukip),
Philip Lockey (North East Party),
Josh Mason (LD),
Peter Pinkney (Green),
Anna Turley (Lab),
Jacob Young (Con).
Stockton North: currently held by Alex Cunningham (Lab)
Mandy Boylett (Ukip),
Alex Cunningham (Lab),
Christopher Daniels (Con),
Adrian Sycamore (LD),
John Tait (North East Party).
Stockton South: currently held by James Wharton (Con)
Louise Baldock (Lab),
Drew Durning (LD),
Jacqui Lovell (Green),
Ted Strike (Ukip),
Steve Walmlsey (Ind Against Social Injustice),
James Wharton (Con).
A North-East father-of-three is calling for changes to the way ‘exploitative‘ employment agencies operate, after a rolling contract was cancelled at short notice, leaving him struggling to support his family.
Luke Buckley, from Darlington, began working for a major recruitment agency last September and was left astonished at the way it operated.
Calling for legal changes, the 36-year-old highlighted issues around a lack of employment rights, the impact of temporary contracts, short notice periods, lack of sick pay and being paid less than permanent employees for the same job.
Mr Buckley said he only took up agency work as “99 per cent” of jobs advertised through Job Centres were offered by agencies and insisted he would rather have any job than none at all.
However, he recently had a rolling contract cancelled with just a week’s notice – a legal practice that has nonetheless left him struggling to pay bills, manage debt and care for his family.
“It’s really wrong that agencies can do this – you can be working one day and told the next that you’re not needed, it’s not right.
“You go to Job Centres and it’s mostly agency work, that’s all that’s out there and you’ve just got to do it.
“People are being pushed into agency jobs and short term contracts where they can let you go at the drop of a hat and that’s a serious problem.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman hit out at agencies in response to Mr Buckley’s plight.
She said cases like Mr Buckley’s were becoming common, and added:
“It’s a steadily increasing problem and it’s because some agencies are able to exploit the fact that people are desperate to work in order to support their families.
“They’re unable to break that cycle and I’ve even heard instances of agencies paying the minimum wage then charging people admin costs.
“It’s outrageous and exploitative.”
In response to claims that job agencies monopolise vacancies advertised at Job Centres, a spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions said their system, Universal Jobmatch, revolutionised the way jobseekers look for work.
> If setting people up for sanctions is revolutionary, it certainly has. Otherwise it’s a rubbish site and I don’t use it.
The Conservatives appeared to write off their chances in a swathe of North-East constituencies, in a leak on the party’s own website.
Eight seats in the region are described as “non target” for the May general election, suggesting little effort will be put into trying to win them.
Unsurprisingly, the eight include some ultra-safe Labour seats where the Tories are miles behind, including North Durham (12,076 votes), North West Durham (9,773) and Sedgefield (8,696).
In others, the Conservatives were in third place in 2010, so face an even bigger mountain to climb in May, in City of Durham (14,350 votes behind) and Redcar (13,165).
However, the list also includes Darlington, where Labour’s Jenny Chapman finished just 3,388 votes ahead of her Conservative opponent five years ago.
Furthermore, Darlington was a Tory seat until it was lost by Michael Fallon – now the Defence Secretary – at the 1992 general election.
Ms Chapman said: “I am surprised. They need to change their attitude, because this is the kind of high-handed assumption that drives voters away from politics.”
But Peter Cuthbertson, the Conservative candidate in Darlington, said: “I think there’s every chance of victory – I’m picking up enthusiasm for change in Darlington.
“I have seen this list, but I have not had any communication with my party about it, so I don’t know whether it is true.”
Asked what help he was receiving from Conservatives headquarters, Mr Cuthbertson said: “It’s down to local people to muscle their own resources. I’ve got no expectation that they will campaign for me.”
Stockton North is also on the list, although Labour’s majority is only 6,676, as is York Central (6,451), where sitting Labour MP Hugh Bayley is standing down.
Other constituencies are described as “non target” because they have big Tory majorities, including Richmond (23,336) and Thirsk and Malton (11,281).
The blunder occurred when a staff member at Conservative HQ uploaded the photographs of hundreds of Tory candidates, of which 112 were categorised as “non target”.
The mistake was later corrected, but not before the list was recorded by a freelance journalist, who published the information.
Source – Northern Echo, 12 Feb 2015
The Green Party has announced its candidate for Darlington in the forthcoming General Election will be Michael Cherrington.
Following the increased profile of the Green Party nationally, a Green Party group for Darlington has officially been formed, with the intention of fielding a candidate in each ward for elections to Darlington Borough Council, as well as contesting the Darlington constituency.
The Darlington Green Party group is looking for people to help them campaign in the town or who are willing to stand for council.
Mr Cherrington, who lives in the town and works in social care, said he had seen the negative impact of cuts to health and social care on people living in Darlington.
He added: “I have served vulnerable people in communities for the past twenty years and have and will continue to ensure that inequality levels are challenged so all Darlington residents have good opportunities and benefit from a better quality of life.
“People must be at the centre of all activity – I will ensure I listen to your concerns and needs.”
The Darlington Green Party group launched its campaign with a stall on High Row on Saturday and is campaigning on the grounds of social justice and long-term economic and environmental sustainability.
To contact the Green Part in Darlington email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01325-242498. The group can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
The General Election will take place on May 7.
The parliamentary candidate for Labour is sitting MP Jenny Chapman, the Conservative Party candidate is Peter Cuthbertson and the candidate for UKIP is David Hodgson.
No other parties have declared their prospective parliamentary candidate for Darlington.
Source – Northern Echo, 27 Jan 2015
Single parents participating in the Government’s flagship back-to-work scheme are being told to leave children as young as nine at home unsupervised in order to attend, according to a North-East MP.
Labour’s Jenny Chapman, the member for Darlington, told MPs some of her constituents undertaking the Work Programme had been to see her to raise their concerns about advice given to them.
Speaking during work and pensions questions in the Commons on Monday (December 8), she said:
“Single parents in the Work Programme in Darlington have been to see me because they are being told to leave their nine and ten-year-old children at home unsupervised during the school holidays to be able to attend.
“Will you urgently look into this and make sure that this foolish, dangerous, reckless advice is never given to parents?”
Employment minister Esther McVey said it was key to ensure the right support was being offered to lone parents.
She went on:
“Obviously, we work closely with charities like Gingerbread to ensure that when people are lone parents that actually the hours they have to work and the commitments they have to live up to are actually fit around their lifetime and also the children they are looking after.
“That is really key in offering the right support for those lone parents.”
This Work Programme aims to provide support, work experience and training for up to two years to help people find and stay in work.
It was launched in 2011 with the goal of helping 2.1 million people by March 2016.
In a leaflet explaining the Work Programme, published in December 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said those with young children would have their benefits protected.
“Benefit recipients will be expected actively to look for work, and where this is not possible to prepare for work – except for a few exceptional groups, for example those who are seriously disabled or have very young children.”
It added: “Some people with health problems… continue to receive incapacity benefits; lone parents with younger children and some other groups are eligible for Income Support.”
Source – Northern Echo, 08 Dec 2014
> Never any money for welfare, always plenty for warfare..
RAF fighter aircraft were poised to launch air strikes against Islamic State (IS) jihadists after Parliament gave the green light for military action.
At the end of a marathon Commons debate, MPs voted by 524 to 43 – a majority of 481 – to endorse attacks on the militants in Iraq in support of the United States-led coalition, with Labour backing the Government motion.
> Of course Labour did… Cameron probably told them there were weapons of mass destruction only 45 minutes away. Well, it worked last time they voted us into a war…
Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs – meeting in emergency session – that Britain had a “duty” to join the military campaign as IS posed a direct threat to the country.
“This is not a threat on the far side of the world,” he said. “Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean, bordering a Nato member, with a declared and proven determination to attack our country and our people.
“This is not the stuff of fantasy – it is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it.”
The US and its Middle-Eastern allies have already carried out dozens of bombing missions in a bid to stop IS over-running Iraqi positions.
The vote gives British military planners the go-ahead they have been waiting for to launch attacks on IS positions in Iraq – but not in IS-controlled parts of Syria where the group has training camps and command-and-control bunkers.
The first wave of attacks is expected to be carried out by RAF Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft based in Cyprus.
Flying from Cyprus will give RAF fighters an hour over IS-occupied Iraq – more than enough time to choose their targets. The Royal Navy is also expected to deploy submarine-launched cruise missiles.
The Prime Minister recalled parliament following an official request from the Iraqi government. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour leaderships all supported air strikes although some MPs expressed fears that the UK would get drawn into a wider conflict.
However, three Labour MPs – Grahame Morris (Easington), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) and Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow) were among the rebels opposing air strikes.
Two others – Jenny Chapman (Darlington) and Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) – did not vote.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, said:
“I think there had been a compelling case made. There are two or three elements that really convinced me, because any decision that parliament has to take to commit British military resources is a profound and sombre one.
“The first is this wasn’t Britain unilaterally going into a country almost like an invasion, this was at the request of a democratically elected government of Iraq who is very concerned about the collapse of that state.
“There is a regional coalition, with Arab states involved, it is classed as legal and there are no ground troops.
“That criteria, proportionality, regional cooperation and legality expressed by a democratically elected country, those were the things that clinched it for me.
“Of course, it goes without saying the atrocities that ISIL are carrying out, beheadings of British citizens, threats to others, the recruitment of Jihadists from Britain, we have to stamp this cancer out.”
Mr Wright said he had considered the views of his constituents, some of whom had contacted him ahead of the vote, before committing to the Government’s motion.
“This is an issue where people appreciate the complexity, people appreciate that is not the same issue as was Syria last year,” he said.
“It was split half and half. People were saying you have to go in, they have beheaded some of our people, you have got to stop this, there’s a humanitarian crisis and then I had people saying we should not commit to air strikes, violence doesn’t help.
“You have to weigh up the arguments and work out what you think is for the best.”
Mr Wright said he was aware of the dangers of so-called ‘mission creep’ once the bombings began, but felt there would be adequate oversight .
“You are always going to have to have close scrutiny from the parliamentary process, that goes without saying,” he said. “This will come back to the House.
“What was really striking in the minutes after (the vote) is that this was not done flippantly by any member of parliament, there was a really sombre mood in the house and in the corridors of Westminster afterwards. People were realising the gravity of what we have done, but thinking that given the situation this is probably the best approach.”
Sedgefield Labour MP Phil Wilson, ( Tony Bliar‘s successor) said he backed the strikes because: “ISIS is a barbaric terrorist organisation which needs to be eradicated. It is only right that we play an appropriate role in its destruction.”
In the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury backed British air strikes, saying: “The action proposed today is right.”
But he warned: “We must not rely on a short term solution, on a narrow front, to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge.
“We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of [IS].
“Such a vision offers us and the world hope – an assurance of success in this struggle – not the endless threat of darkness.”
All the Tyne & Wear MPs (except Stephen Hepburn in Jarrow) voted for military action. Are we really suprised ?
Source – Northern Echo, 27 Sept 2014
Here is a full list of the 43 MPs who voted against
Jeremy Corbyn (Teller)
Rushanara Ali (Formal abstention)
Lib Dems (1)
Plaid Cymru (2)
SNP (5 and teller)
Angus Brendan McNeill
Mike Wishart (Teller)
> I’ve posted this vid of the Dead Kennedys Kinky Sex Makes The World Go Round before, but it bears repitition. Dates from the Thatcher/Reagan era, but just change the names to Cameron and Obama and see if you can tell the difference…
The region’s MP’s reacted angrily to David Cameron’s plans for a constitutional revolution after Scotland rejected independence – accusing him of a political fix.
Labour MPs warned the plan – “English votes for English laws” – would strengthen the influence of the Conservative heartlands over Westminster, while doing nothing for the North-East.
> Well ? Did anyone seriously expect anything different ?
And they demanded the overhaul instead focus on devolving power down from Westminster, in parallel with firm promises already made to Scotland on tax and spending.
The stance – echoed by Labour leader Ed Miliband – puts the region on a collision course with both Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg, who plan to rush through a solution to the so-called ‘West Lothian’ question.
Under the fast-track timetable, firm plans will be unveiled in January – from a committee headed by Richmond MP William Hague – delighting Tories who fear the rising UKIP threat.
In reality, change looks impossible before the May general election, but the “English votes for English laws” proposal is, nevertheless, a political nightmare for Labour.
Mr Cameron suggested Scottish MPs would lose voting rights over tax issues, potentially leaving a Miliband administration – with 41 Scots MPs currently – unable to pass a Budget.
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) attacked a “crude attempt to cobble this together on the back of an envelope”- calling on the prime minister to put devolution first –
“In our region, we will find that our position gets relatively worse. It might be a good solution for people in Hertfordshire, but I don’t think it’s a good solution for people in Durham.”
Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) –
“Cameron completely missed the point. He should not be using this as an opportunity to increase the Tory stranglehold over England.”
Kevan Jones (North Durham) –
“Cameron is pandering to his right wing and UKIP – this is not going to help the North-East at all.
Jenny Chapman (Darlington) –
“He should be talking to people in the North-East about what they want and what extra powers they want, rather than making a back-of-a-fag-packet declaration.”
Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) –
“I’m astounded by the naivety of the prime minister in thinking that all he needs to do is change the way Westminster votes.”
Grahame Morris (Easington) –
“A Tory-dominated English Parliament, which continues to concentrate power and resources in the affluent South, will worsen existing regional inequities and frustrate the legitimate desire for greater autonomy for the North East.”
Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) –
“In any settlement, there has to be something for the regions and I think that has to be more powers over economic development.”
But Liberal Democrat Ian Swales (Redcar) – while agreeing devolution must go “further and faster” – said it would be “absurd” not to restrict Scottish voting rights at Westminster.
He said: “We may end up with some form of English parliament, but should first make it work by MPs only being able to vote on issues that affect the country they represent.”
The MPs agreed any notion of a regional assembly was “off the agenda” – arguing instead for new, combined authorities to be strengthened with economic powers.
Some constitutional experts warned of chaos ahead, arguing Westminster could end up with “two Governments” – one for defence and foreign affairs, the other for the likes of education and health.
And the respected Institute for Government think-tank also argued the “debate on English devolution” must be part of the post-referendum settlement.
A Government source rejected suggestions that Mr Cameron was fast-tracking the ‘English votes’ issue, while devolution was left in the slow lane.
He said: “We believe we have done a lot devolving powers within England, through the likes of City Deals – and they have been welcomed by business and political leaders in the North.”
Source – Northern Echo, 20 Sept 2014
> I’ve always thought that working in a call centre must be a pretty grim job – I didn’t realise quite how grim…
A call centre manager has launched legal action against one of the region’s biggest employers after being sacked following an incident in which a man was kicked unconscious at his desk.
Mother-of-two Fay Hand was dismissed after bosses said she had not done enough to tackle bullying and harassment among staff at the EE offices, in Darlington.
But the 37-year-old from Wynyard Village, near Stockton, has taken the mobile phone company to an employment tribunal, claiming she was unfairly sacked after 17 years with the company.
The hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told that an investigation was launched after a call handler kicked a colleague in the head as the man was sitting at his desk, leaving him unconscious.
The attacker later alleged that he had been provoked after being bullied by members of his team.
The man claimed that in one incident three weeks earlier a Fifa computer game was taken from his bag.
The game was later recovered, but a colleague took his car keys from his pocket and removed the game from his car, before holding it to ransom.
Fake disciplinary hearings were also held by team members, the tribunal heard.
Operations manager Mrs Hand was told about the incident with the game by the men’s team leader.
But EE claims Mrs Hand should have done more to prevent the alleged bullying and taken action when she was made aware of it.
Tracey Dawe, EE employee relations specialist, who was involved in Mrs Hand’s disciplinary case, told the hearing: “There should have been an investigation into the alleged taking of the keys.
“She didn’t do enough when she became aware of it.”
However, Ms Dawe agreed it was unfair that Mrs Hand had never been asked to explain during the investigation why she had not taken further action.
The hearing was also told Mrs Hand was not made aware of what Judge Gerald Johnson described as ‘schoolboy pranks‘ which took place among the team – one of eight she managed at the time.
Judge Johnson asked Ms Dawe: “How can she possibly fail to prevent something she doesn’t know anything about? She can’t can she.”
Seven people were sacked following the assault, including the victim, the attacker and the team leader.
The Northern Echo reported in January how Darlington MP Jenny Chapman held talks with EE bosses after concerns were raised about working conditions at the call centre.
Staff claimed that bosses at the company’s Darlington site were acting in an unreasonable and heavy-handed manner.
In response, the company said it took seriously its responsibilities to its staff.
The tribunal continues
> The impression I get after reading that is of battery chickens pecking each other out of frustration. I think I’d rather be on the dole than work in an environment like that.
Source – Northern Echo, 08 Aug 2014