Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon’s latest attack on the town’s beggars has split opinions across Teesside.
Last week Mr Mallon launched an unprovoked rant about those who beg for money on Middlesbrough’s streets, declaring they “are not homeless, they are criminals,” and later adding that they “diversify from crime to begging because it pays well.”
His views – which were expressed during a meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive – split opinions of Teessiders who took to social media sites to make their feelings known.
Teesside Homeless Action Group (THAG) have backed the comments which were condemned by local anti-capitalist campaign group, Teesside Solidarity Movement (TSM).
Francis Owens, manager of THAG, said:
“I agree with the comments made by Mayor Mallon.
“The people begging in Middlesbrough and elsewhere are no more homeless than the people they are cadging money from.
“It is easy money for people who have no conscience about exploiting people’s compassion for the poor.
“In the past we at THAG have campaigned against the large numbers of beggars in central Middlesbrough who claimed that they were homeless.
“At first we tried to help them but soon realised that they wanted no help from our organisation because they already had homes.
“THAG gave up doing outreach work in Middlesbrough years ago because there were no rough sleepers to be found.
“This problem is almost all year round but at Christmas the streets seem to abound with young men sitting crosslegged asking for spare change, some have dogs usually a sleeping bag is positioned close by as if that is their only shelter from the elements whilst sleeping rough.
“I met a beggar on Redcar High Street recently, sitting with his dog.
“People were giving him money and food for his dog so I approached him and asked if he was homeless to which he replied, ‘No, I’ve got a home but I do this because I can’t hold down a job and it’s easy.’
“Needless to say the people nearby put their money back into their pockets.”
> Two things spring to mind – (a) the beggar was really stupid, if he admitted that in front of people, or (b) he was being sarcastic – some officious twat comes up and demands to know if you’re homeless, you might just reply “no of course not, I live in a mansion and my Rolls Royce is parked around the corner.”
But TSM representative Lawrie Coombs said:
“Even given official figures, we know that begging has increased by 70% in many areas but this is down to Government Policy not criminality.
“Millions are being sanctioned, using foodbanks and homelessness is becoming a common experience for many young people in particular.”
The former Nightshelter project worker, who has direct experience of working with homeless young people, added:
“Ray Mallon goes for easy rhetoric, says nothing and does nothing about the real criminals in society.
“At a time when our rulers are encouraging division, we know that Mr Mallon’s loose talk may well result in vulnerable people facing persecution rather than having their needs met.
“His comments ratchet up the agenda of scapegoating people on benefits.
“He may well think people down on their luck are scum but we think the tens of thousands of people surviving on benefits across Teesside are heroes, performing miracles getting through every day.
“Being hard up is not a crime.”
> Mallon’s previous rant can be found here: https://unemployedtynewear.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/beggars-are-targeting-car-parks-as-people-give-money-there-says-ray-mallon/
along with a brief history of Mallon’s less-than-snow-white career as a cop.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 16 Dec 2014
A union has dubbed a Teesside council’s decision to give one of the highest paid senior officers up to £18,000 more as “morally indefensible”.
And a councillor has said it is “alarming” a “so-called cash-strapped council” has given the nod to increase the pay of a senior manager.
But Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon called the comments “mischievous in the extreme”.
As reported, Middlesbrough Council has announced a shake-up of its senior management structure which includes reducing the number of senior managers from 22 to 12 over the past four years cutting almost £1m in costs and the addition of three extra executive members which will cost nearly £37,000 in allowances.
As part of the reshuffle, director of transformation Tony Parkinson is to become executive director of commercial and corporate services – a move which boosts his annual salary from £95,000 to between £102,681-£113,484.
Janet Greig, Unison regional organiser, said: “When this man was awarded £95,000 to be director of transformation we said it was morally indefensible when they were asking their staff to accept cuts in terms and conditions.
“Now to come along and raise it by 20% – if he gets the top of his grade – it’s morally indefensible. At the same time is the cost of these extra executives instead of employing a couple of managers who would have the skills necessary to take on that role.
“Members have a 1% increase in their salary so this is an absolute disgrace. They are shouting that they don’t have any money and Middlesbrough is hit the hardest with the national cuts but at the same time they can find this additional revenue.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon hit back saying: “The comments from Janet Greig are clearly disingenuous and are mischievous in the extreme. She is well aware that this is not a pay rise – this is a new role and the salary reflects the particular position and the duties and responsibilities that go with it.”
> Crafty ! Dont give someone a massive pay rise, simply create a new job title for them at a massively increased pay.
Coulby Newham ward councillor Michael Hudson said: “It’s alarming to learn that Tony Parkinson has been awarded an £18,000 pay rise when the so-called cash-strapped council is in financial difficulty and especially when services are being reduced.”
Mr Mallon has defended the shake-up saying the increase to nine executive councillors, each receiving an allowance of just over £12,000 is “as cost-effective, as to employ two officers, at that level would cost at least £90,000”.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette – 14 May 2014