A prospective MP touched up her grass roots at a South Tyneside hairdressers as part of her political campaign.
Independent candidate Lisa Nightingale, who is hoping to become South Shields MP in next month’s general election, held a question and answer surgery at Jazz hairdressers in Frederick Street, Laygate, on Saturday.
The 34-year-old, who is new to the political scene, has spent her first week on her campaign trail visiting constituents at a number of places including Ocean Road Community Centre, Sight Service in Gordon Street, the People’s Cafe at Central Library in St Georg Square, and the Friends of Patrick Cain House at Laygate.
Miss Nightingale, who grew up in Biddick Hall,said that the public’s response to her campaign has been very encouraging.
She said: “Unlike the other parties, I am the only candidate that’s independent – I’m not bound by a political party’s agenda.
“It’s been very interesting when I’ve been going out and meeting people.
“They’ve been telling me their concerns, and instead of me reeling back statistics and national figures, I have been agreeing with them, that yes, things should be changed, and improvements need to be made, so I think they’ve been quite surprised.”
Miss Nightingale, who is taking a break from working as a Shields Gazette reporter to run for election, says one of the main concerns that voters have been raising with her is the future of the town.
She said: “People have been raising a lot of issues. For instance, they’re asking what’s happening to the regeneration projects.
“People, especially here in Frederick Street, are concerned that the process has been going on for years, yet things seem to have come to a standstill, and it’s having a knock-on effect for traders.
“Residents want to speak to actual people for answers, they don’t just want to keep getting letters – they want to know when the work is going to get started.
“That’s why I wanted to hold a surgery like this, so I could find out what people think an MP should be doing for South Shields.”
Sheena Carmichael, owner of Jazz, said:
“I invited Lisa to come along to the salon because I think she will be able to make a change to the town.
“When she says she is going to do something, she does it. She is filled with tenacity and integrity.”
Miss Nightingale’s campaign is now getting an unusual helping hand.
Mrs Carmichael added: “A lot of my clients use mobility scooters and a number of them wanted Lisa’s campaign posters.
“I gave them out and they’ve attached them to their scooters, so as they drive around town they will be encouraging everyone to vote for Lisa.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 13 Apr 2015
Rising rent arrears, increased use of food banks and soaring demands for advice services are revealed in a shock new report focusing on the impact welfare reforms are having in South Tyneside.
The Coalition Government’s welfare reform programme represents the biggest change to the welfare state since the Second World War with a raft of changes to benefits and tax credits to help cut spending and streamline services.
A new report by Helen Watson, South Tyneside Council’s corporate director for children, adults and families, outlines the human impact reforms are having in the borough.
It says that, within six months of the bedroom tax being introduced, rent arrears in the borough rose by 19 per cent – £81,000.
In total, South Tyneside Homes rent collection rates have fallen by 21 per cent over the last year, resulting in a loss of £331,000.
There has also been a 20 per cent increase in the demand for advice services since April last year.
Over the same period there has been a big rise in people using the borough’s three food banks, with a 50 per cent hike in referrals over the last 12 months.
There are 2,770 residents affected by the bedroom tax, with Tyne Dock, Victoria Road and Laygate, all South Shields, and The Lakes and Lukes Lane estates, in Hebburn, most affected.
Meanwhile, the number of out-of-work benefits being paid in the borough has been reduced in recent months, with a 22 per cent fall in claims for Jobseekers Allowance since April – 1,556 claimants.
The report makes grim reading for Coun Jim Foreman, the lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council.
Coun Foreman believes the welfare reforms are having a “tsunami effect” and says the Government is “burying its head in the sand” by denying any direct connection between rising rent arrears and food bank usage and the welfare reforms.
He said: “The Government says there is no correlation between benefit cuts and the rise in food banks but they are just burying their heads in the sand.
“People don’t go to food banks out of choice. They go there because they are living in poverty. Having to use them is an attack on their pride and their resilience.”
Coun Foreman also expressed admiration for the “phenomenal work” being done by borough Citizens Advice Bureau staff and the South Tyneside Homes’ Welfare Reform team in a bid to minimise the impact of reforms.
He added: “It is not just a matter of the benefit cuts themselves but also the sanctions that are imposed if claimants turn up five minutes late for an appointment or don’t fill in a form or don’t make 15 applications for work in a week.
“All this is having a massive impact on the ability of people to provide for themselves and their families.”
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, the driving force behind the welfare reforms, has claimed increased publicity over food banks was the reason for their rising popularity.
He said: “Food banks do a good service, but they have been much in the news. People know they are free. They know about them and they will ask social workers to refer them. It would be wrong to pretend that the mass of publicity has not also been a driver in their increased use.”
The welfare report is due to be presented to the council’s Riverside Community Area Forum at South Shields Town Hall at 6pm on Thursday.
Source – Shields Gazette 22 April 2014