Bishop Auckland: currently held by Helen Goodman (Labour)
Christopher Fraser Adams (Con),
Rhys Burriss (Ukip),
Helen Catherine Goodman (Lab),
Thom Robinson (Green),
Stephen Charles White (Lib Dem)
City of Durham: currently held by Roberta Blackman-Woods (Labour)
Roberta Carol Blackman-Woods (Lab),
Liam Finbar Clark (Ukip),
Jon Collings (Ind),
Rebecca Mary Louise Coulson (Con),
Jonathan Elmer (Green),
John Eric Marshall (Ind),
Craig Martin (LD).
Easington: currently held by Grahame Morris (Labour)
Luke Christopher Armstrong (LD),
Jonathan William Arnott (Ukip),
Steven Paul Colborn ( Socialist Party of Great Britain)
Chris Hampsheir (Con),
Susan McDonnell (North East Party),
Grahame Mark Morris (Lab),
Martie Warin (Green).
> It’s good to see that Steve Colborn is still fighting on. His letters in the local press are always worth reading. I can honestly say that if I lived in Easington he’d get my vote.
North Durham: currently held by Kevan Jones (Labour).
Malcolm David Bint (Ukip),
Laetitia Sophie Glossop (Con),
Kevan David Jones (Lab),
Peter James Maughan (LD),
Vicki Nolan (Green).
> I’m almost sure Laetitia Glossop is a character in a P.G. Wodehouse novel ?
North West Durham: currently held by Pat Glass (Labour)
Pat Glass (Lab),
Charlotte Jacqueline Louise Haitham Taylor (Con),
Bruce Robertson Reid(Ukip),
Mark Anthony Shilcock(Green),
Owen Leighton Temple (Lib Dem)
Sedgefield: currently held by Phil Wilson (Labour)
Stephen Patrick Glenn (LD),
John Paul Leathley (Ukip),
Greg William Robinson (Green),
Phil Wilson (Lab),
Scott Wood (Con).
A charity is urging the Government to take urgent action to help more than 250,000 households in the North-East and many more across the UK living in fuel poverty.
National Energy Action (NEA) estimates 276,782 households in the North-East are unable to heat their home to a comfortable and healthy level – 8.9 per cent of the population.
In Yorkshire and the Humber this figure stands at 244,850 – 10.9 per cent of the population.
Last year, 1,710 of the 5,700 excess winter deaths across both regions were attributed to cold homes.
And NEA claims one person dies every five minutes due to the “UK cold homes crisis,” with an estimated 4.5 million British homes affected.
Research has revealed many vulnerable people are forced to choose between eating properly and heating their homes due to soaring energy prices and dwindling incomes.
In response, NEA has joined forces with other charities, local authorities, health agencies, community groups, MPs and energy efficiency installers and manufacturers, to urge the Government to take action.
Its Warm Home Campaign calls on the Government to provide automatic energy discounts and targeted energy efficient measures to low income families and vulnerable people in hard to heat homes.
Phil Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgefield, County Durham, has backed the campaign.
In his constituency, an estimated 3,756 households are living in fuel poverty.
“It is devastating and something needs to be done – people’s lives are at risk,” he said.
“Having a warm home is something many of us can take for granted and it is important we raise awareness of the full extent of the problem.
Maria Wardrobe, director of external affairs at NEA, said:
“The Prime Minister, ministers and MPs have been forewarned that local health services will not be able to cope this winter with cold-related hospital admissions and repeat GP visits.
“The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of £1.5bn treating cold related illnesses and 10,000 lives could have been saved last year alone.
“In the longer term we need an ambitious fuel poverty strategy that prioritises the improvement of energy efficiency in low-income households.”
For more information about the campaign or to make a donation to NEA visit nea.org.uk
Source – Northern Echo, 01 Jan 2015
> I think it’s worth adding a comment made – by workingagepoor – to the above item…
I am not the only one but I cannot afford to heat my home exccept for very short periods of time. No amount of energy efficiency or other measures alter this fact.
Safety messages such as keep one room in your house are meaningless if you cannot afford to turn your heating on.
The temperature in my house is often below that which we are told places a person at risk of hypothermia.
Each slight percentage fall in my income makes this situation worse. Poor people don’t know how to cook, are feckless, scrounge benefits, work will make you better off are the messages that today’s politicians send us.
I can survive, I will fight but when will people wake up and start seeing what is being done to those at the lower end of society.
Meanwhile whilst people sit in their cold homes that have been made colder by austerity measures placed upon them so that they pay for the deficit brought on by greed and corruption by politicians and financiers who protect their own wealth by inflicting hardship upon others.
Bombs are being dropped on people of another nation in yet another conflict at great expense. These people and others that we have inflicted pain and misery upon are also fighting back. Politicians cannot realise that ultimately all of this cruelty comes back to them.
Pause to consider what we are becoming. Do not commemorate wars that killed millions. Stop being blinkered. Don’t think of how you yourself can be better off. Help those less fortunate than yourself.
Peace and kindness will bring more warmth to a person than any amount of heating. I have a roof over my head for which I am grateful but I do not want to be a part of a system that destroys the homes, children and lives of others.
But his key statement on the nation’s finances also confirmed that local councils face years of further deep cuts.
And the Chancellor’s big surprise, changes to Stamp Duty leading to lower bills for many buyers, will have limited impact on the North East because low property prices in the region mean many home buyers don’t pay the duty anyway.
The Autumn Statement also confirmed that outdated Pacer trains still in use on some routes in the North East will be replaced.
Mr Osborne told the Commons that his goal was to create “a more balanced national economy” and that meant creating a northern powerhouse “as a complement to the strength of our capital city, where we bring together our great cities of the North.”
He announced £20m for a Ageing Science centre in Newcastle, to “back the brilliant work on ageing being conducted at Newcastle University”.
There was also £28m for a world-class research and development centre, to be called the National Formulation Centre, that will specialise in the development of products such as medicines and chemicals, based in Sedgefield.
And documents published by the Treasury also revealed plans for a Great Exhibition in the north.
But local authorities face at least five more years of further dramatic cuts in spending, the Autumn Statement confirmed. Funding from the Treasury for local services is to be cut by more than a fifth by 2019-20.
The figures are included in forecasts published by the Office for Budget Responsibility, the official Treasury watchdog, as part of the statement. It predicted that the main grant provided to local councils will fall from £60.3bn in 2014-15 to £50.5bn in 2019-20.
Mr Osborne insisted: “I do not hide from the House that in the coming years there are going to have to be very substantial savings in public spending.”
This would mean cuts of £13.6bn in 2015-16, as previously announced, and “two further years where decisions on this scale will be required”.
He added: “We’re going to have to go on controlling spending after those years if we want to have a surplus and keep it.”
Another key announcement was a change to stamp duty, previously charged on homes costing more than £125,000.
Buyers eligible for the tax paid one per cent or more of the purchase price. In future, stamp duty will only be paid on the portion of the price which is above the threshold, leading to significant reductions for some properties.
However, an analysis of house prices shows that average prices in the North East are below the £125,000 threshold anyway, which means many buyers will not be affected as they pay no stamp duty.
Average house prices are £120,545 in Newcastle, £124,338 in North Tyneside, £123,766 in Northumberland, £99,837 in South Tyneside and £85,438 in Sunderland.
Nonetheless, buyers of more expensive homes will make savings as long as the property is worth less than £937,000.
Responding to questions from Conservative MP Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, and Labour Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, the Chancellor also said there would be help for airports in the North if they were hit by a potential cut in air passenger duty in Scotland, following the announcement that aviation duty will be devolved to the Scottish government.
Responding to the statement, Newcastle East MP Nick Brown pointed out that the Chancellor had announced Britain was awarded the lead role in the next international effort to explore the planet of Mars, adding:
“The Chancellor spoke more about Mars than he did about the North East of England. His Northern Powerhouse is located over 100 miles to the South of Tyne and Wear.
“His statement contained no commitment to any type of workable regional policy in the context of further Scottish Devolution. This is grotesquely one-sided. Even his stamp duty changes were focussed on London and the South East.”
But Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith, who represents Berwick, said:
“The Autumn Statement sticks to our strategy to deal with the deficit, enabling us to release funds for key Liberal Democrat priorities that bring fairness and a stronger economy.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 03 Dec 2014
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
> The North East – the one region where unemployment continues to rise, no matter how they try to fiddle the figures.
Government response ? Move more jobs out of the region. You know it makes sense…
Dozens of North-East jobs are at risk of being moved out of the region as part of Government privatisation plans.
Staff at the Department for Education (DfE), in Darlington, were informed this week that the department is looking into plans to outsource IT posts.
The proposals, which are still in the early stages, are understood to affect up to 30 jobs at the DfE’s Mowden Hall offices and more in other areas of the country.
Plans to move out of the run-down Mowden Hall were announced by the DfE in 2012.
Hundreds of jobs were put at risk of being moved out of Darlington to elsewhere in the region.
Thousands of people signed a petition to keep the jobs in the town, with council leaders and Labour MPs Jenny Chapman (Darlington) and Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) joining the campaign.
The DfE ultimately gave in and agreed to house the at-risk jobs in a purpose built office block in Darlington town centre.
Currently under construction and expected to be complete by the start of next year, the £8m office block is seen by many Darlington residents as an extension to the town’s 1960s-built Town Hall, widely agreed to be in need of major improvement work.
With the DfE yet to comment on these latest plans to outsource Darlington jobs, it remains to be seen whether or not it is the case that some of the hundreds of jobs the new office is being built to accommodate will never actually be moved there.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, which campaigned strongly in favour of keeping members’ jobs in Darlington, has been informed of the latest plans and is considering its position.
Mrs Chapman called the latest developments ‘distressing‘.
She said: “There is a wider pattern from the Government in attempting to outsource these kinds of jobs, they are trying to do it with the Ministry of Justice.
“Sending public sector jobs offshore goes against everything the Tories have said about wanting to bring jobs back to the UK.
“It would be dreadful if, after everything we have been through to secure these jobs in Darlington, we were to lose a number of them in this way.”
The DfE has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
Source – Northern Echo, 20 June 2014
Parts of the North-East are poorer than many areas in former communist countries in Eastern Europe, new figures show.
People living in County Durham and Tees Valley have a lower income than places in Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, according to the Brussels statistics.
Large chunks of Greece also boast higher living standards than the North-East’s poorest sub-region – despite that country’s recent economic catastrophe.
And the figures also lay bare the extraordinary wealth of central London, where incomes are 4.5 times those in Tees Valley and County Durham.
Phil Wilson, the Sedgefield Labour MP, said the analysis was a stark reminder of just how far the region had to go to catch up, saying: “These are poor figures.
“There is a lot to do to raise the standard of living in the North-East. People face a cost of living crisis, which has only got worse over the last two or three years.
“However, we should remain part of the EU, because the North-East has benefited from a lot of inward investment, including from multinational companies like Nissan and Hitachi.”
The statistics, produced by Eurostat, an arm of the European Union, compare wealth across the EU using a measure known as “purchasing power standards” (PPS).
They show that, in 2011, Tees Valley and County Durham, GDP per head on the PPS measure was £14,700 – or just 71 per cent of the EU average.
That was significantly lower than Northumberland Tyne and Wear (83) and North Yorkshire (89) and the third lowest figure in the UK, after Cornwall and West Wales (both 64).
But it was also lower than the Yugozapaden sub-region of Bulgaria (78) and two areas in Poland – Mazowieckie (107) and Dolnośląskie (74).
Four sub-regions of Greece enjoy a higher income and Bucureşti-Ilfov (122) – which takes in the capital of Romania – is far, far wealthier.
Meanwhile, two other sub-regions of the UK – North Eastern Scotland (159) and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (143) – are among the EU’s richest.
Separate figures, yesterday, also threw fresh doubt, on the Government’s claims that the region has enjoyed a jobs recovery, despite the flatlining economy, until recently.
Since the start of the recession five years ago, the number of self-employed people has leapt by 23,000 in the North-East and by 37,000 in Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, the number of traditional employee jobs has dropped by far more – by 91,000 in the North-East and by 64,000 in Yorkshire.
> I think that says all you need to know about the job situation in the North East.
Worryingly, the average weekly income of someone in self-employment is 20 per cent lower than in 2008, earning them 40 per cent less than a typical employee.
Source – Northern Echo 07 May 2014
The Scottish National Party has told the North East an independent Scotland would welcome its workers with open arms.
The SNP said the region should see independence as offering an alternative to London’s dominance over the North East, a claim few of the region’s MPs appeared to agree with.
Instead, there were warnings yesterday of border chaos and towns reduced to “currency exchange kiosks” if a yes vote is returned in this year’s referendum.
Phil Wilson (Sedgefield – Blair’s successor) led MPs yesterday in a parliamentary debate on the impact of independence on the region’s economy.
Citing a Journal report from last year in which First Minister Alex Salmond told the North East it had no better friend than Scotland, the Sedgefield MP questioned the reality of that relationship.
He said: “To the SNP’s internal Scottish audience, the English are those from whom the SNP wants independence, but to the North East of England, according to Alex Salmond, we are Scotland’s closest friends.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I would not close the door on my closest friends by asking for independence from the rest of the UK.”
> Scotland is our next door neighbour – a good deal closer than the London city state.
SNP MP Angus MacNeil denied the possibility that a new border would hinder trade.
He told MPs: “The point of the SNP is to put the Scottish people first, rather than power struggles in London, which, unfortunately, is the point of the London parties.
“It is all about who is in government in London, and that is not for the good of the people of Sighthill, Skye or Lewis.
“That is an awful tragedy. It should also be in our interest in Scotland to ensure that the good people of the North East of England are benefiting as much as those in the regions of Scotland.
“I look forward to the day I witness people from the North East of England finding chances of employment in Scotland, rather than having to go far afield to the South East of England.”
> Amen to that !
Berwick Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith said the fact was that day-to-day trade would be changed if Scotland broke away from the United Kingdom.
He said: “That activity is not impossible with independence, we should not overstate the case, but it would become more difficult and the likelihood of administrative barriers being erected is that much greater.
“There are a whole series of reasons why anyone living near the border, unless they see their future entirely as a town of currency exchange kiosks and smugglers, would think that we are much better together.”
Also warning against a yes vote was Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman. He told MPs: “The boundary between Scotland and the rest of the UK would, by definition, become an international border between two separate states, with everything that entails.
“The evidence locally in the North East, whether from farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce, is extensive.
> farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce… oh yes, very representive of the population at large – and, I suspect, two groups from which Mr Opperman draws his support come election time.
“There is huge concern that this will have an impact on trade, businesses and jobs.
> Bigger than that caused by policies imposed by the London-based ConDem government, unrepresented in the NE except by Mr Opperman ?
The possible problems rising from Scottish independence are conjecture. The problems caused by policies imposed from the London posh boys are REAL.
“I met a number of oil and gas producers, several of whom are building huge sites on the Tyne at the moment. The two biggest construction sites are for construction projects in the North Sea.
“The producers are concerned that, if there were independence, those projects would be affected, and there would be greater difficulties.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 05 Mar 2014
THE region’s Labour MPs have thrown their weight behind Ed Miliband’s plans to shake up trade union influence over the party, ahead of a crunch vote.
The North-East MPs enthusiastically backed the proposals, arguing they would strengthen – rather than weaken – the historic link with rank-and-file union members.
Some also welcomed a greater say for party members, despite the package dramatically diluting the influence of MPs themselves in choosing the party leader.
And others expressed hope that voters would respect Labour for standing up against large donors – at a time when the Conservatives are bankrolled by big companies and the wealthy.
Only Dave Anderson, the Blaydon MP, broke ranks to criticise Mr Miliband for “naval gazing”, instead of focusing on defeating a “lousy” Government.
In contrast, Easington MP Grahame Morris – who had previously criticised the shake-up – said he was prepared to give the Labour leader the benefit of the doubt.
The leftwinger said: “There are dangers involved and I question the whole basis for doing this, but I will support the changes.”
That basis was the damaging row over murky behaviour in Falkirk, where the Unite union was found to have tried to “manipulate” the selection of its candidate.
> Ironic, really, since that’s what the whole electoral system is about – trying to manipulate the selection of one candidate or another.
Now, in the biggest shake-up since Labour was born more than a century ago, Mr Miliband wants to introduce a “one member, one vote” system for electing future party leaders.
The current electoral college – giving the unions, MPs and the party’s 180,000 members equal one-third shares of the vote – will be swept away.
But candidates for the leadership will need to win nominations from about 25 per cent of Labour MPs, double the current 12.5 per cent threshold, to enter the leadership ballot.
In 2010, such a barrier would have allowed only the two Miliband brothers onto the shortlist – excluding Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott, the other candidates.
But the other key reform – to union funding – will now be phased in, over five years, after officials admitted to fears the party would “take a financial hit”.
By 2020, union members who want to contribute to Labour’s funds will have to “opt in”, rather than “opt out”, becoming “associate Labour members” for a reduced fee.
The unions currently provide Labour with £8.5m a year in affiliation fees. If only half of the current 2.7m affiliated union members “opt in”, then Labour could lose £4m annually.
Unison, the key public service union, already has such a system – giving Labour a pool of 400,000 affiliated members from which to recruit immediately.
The package – overwhelmingly approved by Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) earlier this month – will be put to a special party conference on March 1.
But Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said: “Ed Miliband promised to loosen the trade union barons’ grip on the Labour Party. But he has been too weak to deliver.”
THE VIEWS OF NORTH-EAST LABOUR MPS:
Dave Anderson (Blaydon): “We face an enormous struggle to get rid of the present lousy administration, so the last thing the Labour movement needs is to spend precious time navel gazing.”
Hugh Bayley (York): “This will show the public that the Labour Party continues to modernise and, unlike other parties, reduce the influence of large donors.”
Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland): “This is a step in the right direction and shows Ed Miliband wants to lead his party and the country.”
Jenny Chapman (Darlington): “I am happy with the reforms. It will introduce more voices and make Labour more representative of working people.”
Alex Cunningham (Stockton North): “It will be positive to have individual – rather than block – votes, but it will still be important for the party to be challenged and positively influenced by the unions.”
Kevan Jones (North Durham): “This is well overdue. It will make the party more transparent and democratic and re-connect us with thousands of trade unionists. Ed has got the balance right.”
Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough): “The trade union movement and the Labour Party are of the same root and future. These reforms will help to enshrine this most important bond.”
Grahame Morris (Easington): “If this leads to more trade unionists becoming involved in the Labour party, that will be a good thing – but that will only happen if we make an attractive offer to working people.”
Phil Wilson (Sedgefield): “I don’t want Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and BNP supporters who happen to be a member of a trade union to have a say in the leadership of my party. Only those committed to Labour should.”
Iain Wright (Hartlepool): “Creating a mass membership party of trade unionists and others will make sure Labour never again loses touch with its roots.”
> No comment from any of the Wearside or Tyneside Labour MPs (Dave Anderson excepted) ? And since when was York in the North East ?
Source – Northern Echo, 20 Feb 2014