A community bank in Middlesbrough town centre to challenge pay day lenders has been recommended by council chiefs.
A new community bank to be based in the heart of Middlesbrough is at the core of Labour mayoral candidate Cllr Dave Budd’s campaign to secure the position in May, when current Independent Mayor Ray Mallon will step down.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Budd, Executive member for finance and governance, has recommended in a report to be put before the Executive on Tuesday that Moneywise Community Banking be provided with a two-year grant totalling £85,000 to support its plans to locate to a town centre premises.
It aims to help over three years 4,000 new members, provide 1,200 training courses and issue loans amounting to just over £0.5m.
A loan from Moneywise of £300 with a typical APR of 26.7% over 12 months, the total repayable amount would be £342.79.
In comparison, the council report states the same loan from a doorstep lender (APR 272%) would cost £546 to repay; from an online instant loan (APR 1058%) it would cost £627.54 to repay; and from an illegal lender or loan shark (APR 1000%), it would cost £2,900 to repay.
Moneywise Community Banking – a not-for-profit member owned credit union – will deliver a number of financial support services including safe and easy savings; an optional Visa debit card service; low cost loans; Christmas savings club; white goods and furniture at discounted prices; free employability training; and debt and money management advice.
It was originally based in Hartlepool and now operates across Teesside, East Durham and North Yorkshire with offices in Redcar, Hartlepool and Scarborough. It is regulated by the Financial Services Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, which is also the case with banks.
All member savings within Moneywise are fully protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme so members can save safely in the knowledge that they cannot lose their savings, the report said.
Cllr Budd has said previously that a “modern, effective” credit union for Middlesbrough has to be “competitive and give an instant answer like companies such as Wonga do”.
“This has worked elsewhere and it can work in Middlesbrough. It will offer credit at fair rates and gives all Middlesbrough residents the opportunity for greater financial security.”
The report states that the two-year £85,000 grant would be funded through existing resources within the Community Support Fund.
Moneywise and Middlesbrough Council would work together to identify suitable premises.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 14 Jan 2015
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
Middlesbrough Council is facing the cuts axe again as Ray Mallon unveiled his proposals for another string of cost savings.
At Middlesbrough Town Hall Mayor Mallon set out his proposals for the budget for 2015/16.
Among the key proposals raised were:
:: The budget slashed by £14.1m;
:: 770 jobs affected – including 220 job losses, 350 staff transferring from Mouchel to council and 200 transferring out;
:: Council tax will rise by up to 2%;
:: Funding for books in libraries to be cut by half;
:: More automated systems, fewer staff;
:: Charging for Newport Road bus lane misuse to generate an income of £30,000;
:: Removing funding for speech and language therapy in schools – making schools are responsible for the cost. A saving of £30,000;
> Which will just be transfered to the schools, who can’t afford it either.
:: No subsidies for bus services 12, 28, 29A, 537, 603, 605, 606 and 607.
The budget comprises a list of proposed 45 cuts and charges to generate income for the local authority.
There will now be a consultation period until December 3.
There will be another full council meeting on December 10 regarding the consultation process.
Staff will begin a consultation period regarding their jobs tomorrow morning.
The latest savings come after £15m of cuts in the current financial year.
A further £40m had been slashed from spending in the previous three years, which has seen community centres and libraries closed and services such as grass cutting and street cleaning reduced.
There have been 728 job losses at the council so far – with a further 600 job losses expected between now and 2019/20.
Mr Mallon added that most job losses would be down to voluntary redundancy and retirement.
> Even if they were all met by voluntary redundancy and retirement, that’s still 1328 jobs that no longer exist.
He added that the council would endeavour to keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 22 Oct 2014
Families staged a ‘messy march’ in Newcastle against cuts that could see a £5m reduction in funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres.
The figure amounts to about a 65% of the total budget for the service.
Protesters say if the proposal went through it could mean the city’s most vulnerable families would be left without childcare and vital support.
A series of themed protests – including a ‘teddy bear’s picnic’ – have been staged in recent weeks, and organiser Vanessa Cutter, 32, explained the thinking around Saturday’s event at Grey’s Monument.
The mum-of-three of Fenham, Newcastle, said:
“A messy march is a child centred protest march where children do what they do best – make a mess and be noisy.
“It serves several purposes – we want to show the council that we are willing to take action, demonstrate and fight against their proposed 65% cuts to Sure Start services.
“We want to show them that if they close two thirds of centres then the city’s children will have nowhere to go.
“The council seems keen to invest lots of money in businesses and the city centre, but if that comes at the cost of children’s services then we will have to play in the areas they do invest in.”
All of Newcastle’s 20 Sure Start centres are now up for review as city councillors iron out their final budget proposals for the year 2014/2015.
Many councils across the North are struggling to make similar savings – or cuts – including Middlesbrough.
Mayor Ray Mallon announced in January £14.9m of cuts – in addition to more than £40m removed from the council’s budget over the last three years – will lead to the loss of around 300 jobs. Amongst departments are children’s services.
Sure Start was a Labour flagship policy from 1998, its aim was “giving children the best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.
In Newcastle 50% of the services are delivered by the council and 50% by the Community and Voluntary Sector. The city council has estimated for the work it directly delivers, the cuts will equate to the loss of 63 full time equivalent posts.
The protestors say the proposals, if carried out, will see the budget slashed by £5m by 2016. This would mean the closure of services, buildings, parents groups and activities for children aged under five across the city.
Mum-of-two Anna Snaith, 28, of Heaton said:
“I am very upset that two out of three options for the future of services in my area include completely closing down the Ouseburn Family Centre which I regularly attend.
“The team there are fantastic and offer so much support to parents as well as children in a wide range of areas. The centre, like all Sure Start centres, promote health and well being for all families which is vital for communities. These services are the future for our children therefore I cannot understand how closing down any of them can be an option at all for our council!”
A council spokesman said previously:
“The city council is facing a considerable financial challenge, to find £100m in savings between 2013 and 2016.
“We share people’s concerns about the future of our Sure Start centres – they provide an important and well-loved service to families across the city – but the severity of the cuts leaves us with no choice but to consider further reductions.
“Nothing has been decided yet and we will be asking people to have their say with a big public consultation in September.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 13 Sept 2014
Beggars can’t be choosers, they simply have to go – that is the stark warning issued by Ray Mallon.
The Middlesbrough Mayor said he will “drive all the beggars out of the town” saying they are “all criminals”.
He made the statement at an Executive meeting held at Middlesbrough Town Hall yesterday.
“Every single one of them is a criminal and diversified from crime into begging because it pays well and the public are giving them money because they are intimidating,” he said.
“There are about 16 beggars in the town now.”
He recalled when he first came into office and made a similar bid to drive out beggars.
“Soon after I was elected (in 2002) there were 28 beggars in the town centre,” he said.
“People were being put off coming here to shop. By 2004 the beggars had been run out of town.”
Mr Mallon took direct action against one beggar – standing next to him and telling shoppers not to give him any money until he got fed up and moved away.
He took similar action against a beggar in York walking up to him and asking him for a pound to the man’s surprise.
“I was wearing my shorts and my cap so I didn’t look like the Middlesbrough Mayor,” he said.
“He said no it’s the other way round. I said ‘Not today, you give money to me’. He said ‘I’m not putting up with this’ and walked off and a woman shouted to me ‘It’s Robocop!’”
He said the problem has crept up again and blamed the downturn of the local economy.
“The local authority must take this subject very seriously and do everything in its power to eradicate this problem,” he said.
> Eradicating the problem apparently means eradicating the results of the problem, then ? Dont attempt to change the policies, just chase the victims of them out of town.
“From now on I don’t want the public to give them any money.”
> Or what ? Surely that choice belongs to the giver ?
He highlighted the corner of Southfield Road and Linthorpe Road outside Sainsbury’s as a new troublespot.
He has given Cllr Steve Bloundele, Executive member for commercial assets and income, the task of meeting with officers and the police to tackle the issue.
“I want this local authority with the police to be robust in this.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 Sept 2014
Five Middlesbrough councillors have taken a 5% cut in their allowances.
Members of the newly-formed Association of Independent Middlesbrough Councillors (AIM) have taken the voluntary reduction after the idea was vetoed by other councillors.
North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier raised the issue at a full council meeting in May but the proposal failed to win support of members.
Now Cllr Junier and colleagues Cllr John McPartland (Middlehaven), Cllr Pervaz Khan (Middlehaven), Cllr Michael Hudson (Coulby Newham) and Cllr Derek Loughborough (North Ormesby and Brambles Farm) will receive about £300 a year less.
All councillors receive a basic allowance of £6,130 per year while those with special responsibilities are paid more.
Cllr Junier said: “We are living in very difficult times. We are under no illusion that 5% will make a big difference but if it saves one job that one person will be forever grateful.”
At the time Cllr Junier proposed the reduction, Mayor Ray Mallon said the suggestion was “narrow-minded” and insisted the cut would not “be a pin prick” in relation to the savings required.
AIM was formed after Cllrs Junier, McPartland, Sajaad Khan, Pervaz Khan and Loughborough were deselected by the Labour party.
The five appealed against the decisions but only Cllr Loughborough was successful.
He then joined Cllrs Junier, McPartland and P Khan in setting up AIM after all resigned from the Labour party.
Cllr Hudson, who was previously an independent, joined the association shortly afterwards.
AIM is the second largest political group in Middlesbrough after Labour.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 07 July 2014
A council meeting descended into chaos last night when two members of the public began filming inside Middlesbrough Town Hall.
The meeting was halted just minutes after the new chairman was agreed as Cllr Bob Kerr.
Made aware of the filming taking place, he asked the men to cease filming.
When the men refused to put down the cameras and stop filming, two police officers entered the council chamber to speak to the men.
The chairman then suspended the meeting and left the chamber.
After several minutes he returned to ask everyone to evacuate the building and congregate in the quadrangle outside.
After a 30 minute delay, councillors, the media and members of the public – except the men with cameras who were prevented from re-entering the building by the police – returned and the meeting resumed.
Beechwood ward Cllr Joan McTigue said: “It is a public meeting and councillors themselves tweet away to people outside – what is being said and by whom etc. Therefore I see no problem with it being filmed and put into the public domain.”
Last June Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published a guide which states councils should allow the public to film, blog and tweet council meetings.
But the chairman said: “According to 25.2 of the Constitution no photography or filming can take place. The chair has the authority according to the Constitution of asking and if necessary forcing anyone doing so to leave.”
When the meeting resumed, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier proposed an amendment regarding allowances that every councillor in the authority should take a 5% cut for the next two years.
Mayor Ray Mallon accused him of speaking to the press saying it was “narrow-minded”.
He said: “If I had my way I would give them a bit of a pay rise. A 5% cut would be minimal, it would not be a pin prick in relation to the savings.”
The majority voted against the amendment.
Middlesbrough Conservative leader Chris Hobson submitted a proposal to alter the new senior management structure which she said would save the local authority £363,000. Mr Mallon said he would meet with her to discuss it further. Six voted for it, 34 against.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 15 May 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
> 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