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
> The on-going campaign against begging has now arrived in Middlesbrough.
The campaign against the conditions that make people beggars has not yet started, nor is it likely to.
Middlesbrough‘s Mayor Ray Mallon has promised a clampdown on beggars to give retailers and shoppers in the town “a good Christmas”.
> Is he seriously claiming that beggars are affecting Middlesbrough’s economy ? But surely they plough money they make back into the tills of retailers too ?
The outspoken mayor launched a new attack on beggars at a meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive today.
“Beggars are not homeless, they are criminals,” he said, claiming they “diversify from crime to begging because it pays well”.
“I know half of these people, I was locking their fathers up,” he said.
> Not pausing to reflect that he might have helped build the current situation when he was busy playing RoboCoop.
Mr Mallon went on: “These beggars are affecting economics because they are intimidating.
“It becomes quite difficult for shoppers to walk around and not be intimidated.”
The mayor said beggars were now targeting car parks as people give them money there because “they feel they could be robbed”.
“I know this as lots of members of the public have told me this,” he said.
> Oh, well… scientific survey and all that. Some people told me so it must be true, especially as it reinforces my prejudices.
I suppose if I’m being fair, I have my predjudices too. Ex-cops who get elected as mayors, for example, despite the fact that…
At a disciplinary hearing in February 2001, Mallon pleaded guilty to 14 charges of misconduct, 12 of which were serious enough to warrant his resignation.
He admitted that he repeatedly “lied, deliberately withheld evidence from senior officers, and turned a blind eye to detectives who took and dealt hard drugs, and supplied them to vulnerable suspects in custody.”
He was required to resign on leaving the police headquarters.
In 2011, Mallon came under fire over secret recordings in which he is heard making sexual comments about a colleague and describes Asian taxi drivers as ‘badly behaved’. These recordings were made during a meeting with Mohammed Bashir, the owner of local taxi company Boro Taxis. The remarks were perceived as sexist and racist by many, but Mallon subsequently offered an explanation and apology for his remarks.
The recordings also make reference to a disagreement between the council and Bashir over Boro Taxis’ trade. In dealing with this dispute, Mallon failed to declare his personal friendship with Bashir, as he was required to.
In the recordings, Mallon claims to have ‘played a fucking blinder‘ and goes on to say: “Well I’m the boss here but remember this, I’m prevented from doing my job because of my conflict of interest with you… because I have actually got away with murder because I’ve declared my friendship with you in that meeting and still been able to do what I want to do.“
The Standards Board for England, a watchdog for ethical standards in local councils, ruled against Mallon on a charge of bringing his office into disrepute and on two separate charges of failing to declare, when required, a personal interest. However the board did not recommend any sanctions be brought against Mallon.[
The subject changed to begging after the meeting heard how a free parking scheme was drawing Christmas shoppers into Middlesbrough.
Mr Mallon said parking was one of the barriers that can stop people visiting a town, and begging was another.
He said the council and its partners needed to “keep on top” of the problem with it being the Christmas period.
Councillor Steve Bloundele, Executive member for commercial assets and property, told the meeting that an ongoing clampdown had already reduced the number of beggars in the Linthorpe Road area.
“We still have the support of all the other agencies working alongside us,” he said.
Begging is an issue tackled regularly by Ray Mallon.
Back in September he told the Executive:
“The local authority must take this subject very seriously and do everything in its power to eradicate this problem.
“From now on I don’t want the public to give them any money.”
On another occasion Mr Mallon took direct action against a beggar by standing next to him and telling shoppers not to give him any money until he got fed up and moved away.
The mayor declared war against beggars as long ago as 2002, when he pledged to run a growing army of aggressive beggars on the streets of Middlesbrough out of town.
It was the new growth area in anti-social behaviour, he warned during a council debate on crime and policing in the town in September of that year.
In 2005 it was claimed the final ‘hardcore’ beggar had been run out of Middlesbrough.
Then in 2008 key agencies joined forces to tackle a new influx of beggars in the town.
The move came just days after Mayor Mallon warned that beggars intimidated members of the public and again called for offenders to be run out of town.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 09 Dec 2014
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Mallon
> There’s still plenty of money out there if you know where to look for it…
A senior Middlesbrough Council officer is to receive a pay rise of up to £18,000 as part of a management shake-up.
Director of Transformation Tony Parkinson is to become executive director of commercial and corporate services.
It is a move which boosts his annual salary from £95,000 to between £102,681 and £113,484.
Mr Parkinson took up the controversial ‘director of transformation‘ position overseeing council cuts in June last year.
> Director of Transformation – isn’t that nice ? You’ve not been sacked, you’ve been transformed into an unemployed person. Your local library has not been closed, its been transformed into an empty building.
And now he’s successfully transforming his bank balance.
That role will now be scrapped and Mr Parkinson’s previous duties will “form the substantive element” of his new job, it has been confirmed.
The change is part of a major overhaul of the council’s senior management structure which has been announced by Mayor Ray Mallon.
The shake-up will also lead to three more councillors receiving special allowances of more than £12,000 by increasing the number of “executive” members from six to nine.
Mr Mallon defended the changes, saying they would create a “leaner and smarter organisation”.
“The council has a workforce of over 4,000 people, and I have always regarded councillors as part of that workforce,” he said.
“We have made huge savings within the management structure over the last two to three years, but I have felt in recent months that we are exposing the organisation to increased risk as a result.
“That is the reason that I have decided that the management of the council should be restructured, as well as strengthening the Executive.”
The three extra Executive members will cost nearly £37,000 in allowances.
But Mr Mallon said the changes were needed due to a significant fall in the number of senior managers, and the need to increase focus on education and caring for vulnerable children.
“An 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,” said Mr Mallon.
The changes come as the number of senior managers fell from 22 to 12 in the past four years – cutting almost £1m in staff costs.
It also comes as the authority tackles huge ongoing budget tightening which has seen numerous services cut back or axed and hundreds of jobs gone.
> But luckily they’ve still got all those executives on increased money. Who needs actual workers anyway ?
The new senior management structure follows the appointment of Mike Robinson as chief executive – on a salary of £140,000 – and consists of three executive directors and nine assistant directors.
Mr Parkinson will be joined by Kevin Parkes, executive director of economic development and communities, and an executive director of wellbeing, care and learning, a role yet to be filled.
Under the councillor reshuffle, three new roles will be created.
:: Cllr Jean Sharrocks (Brookfield, Labour) will be responsible for children’s social care;
:: Cllr Brenda Thompson (Nunthorpe, Independent) will oversee supporting communities;
:: New portfolios of education/skills and commercial assets/income will be taken on by Cllrs Jan Brunton (Coulby Newham, Labour) and Steve Bloundele (Linthorpe, Labour) respectively.
:: Cllrs Tracy Harvey (Gresham, Labour) and Jean Sharrocks (Brookfield, Labour) have moved up to become executive members responsible for environment and children’s social care respectively – each receiving double their previous allowances.
Executive members receive an allowance of £12,260 – while assistant executives get £6,130.
Cllrs Brunton and Bloundele have moved into the Executive while Cllr Nicky Walker – who was Executive member for environment – has taken on Cllr Brunton’s former role as chairwoman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette 08 May 2014