The Labour candidate for South Shields has spoken of her ambition to become a minister in a future Labour government.
Emma Lewell-Buck says she is not taking her re-election for granted as she heads into the final week of the general election campaign.
She was elected town MP after a by-election in 2013 and says she is fighting the campaign this time round on what she has achieved in the two years since.
Mrs Lewell-Buck also admits that Labour can no longer take South Shields for granted as a “safe seat”.
“People are questioning more, which I think is a good thing because I love having a good debate with people. We have knocked on doors where people say they have always voted Labour but are now saying they’re not sure, they’re having a serious think about it. I have never taken it for granted and I never will, even if I am successful next Thursday. It’s about respecting your constituents.”
In the past two years Mrs Lewell-Buck’s office has dealt with almost 5,000 pieces of casework for constituents, on issues ranging from housing and immigration to international affairs.
The MP has also been a vocal figure in the House of Commons, where she has one of the highest records for speaking.
She is also proud of the jobs fair she has held in the town and the campaigns she has backed in Parliament, including her part in helping change the law around child sexual grooming which will make it compulsory for an individual to be arrested after one offence of contacting a child for sex.
And Mrs Lewell-Buck is also unapologetic about her long-term political ambitions.
She said: “I got into politics to make a difference and, yes, you can make a huge difference as a backbencher but if you become a minister or a secretary of state the ability to make a difference becomes even stronger and I didn’t come into this not to make a difference.
“This campaign has been just as busy as in 2013 but it has had less of a frantic feel about it. In by-elections it’s all hands to the deck and you have people coming from all over the country to help out.
“This time it has been the constituency Labour Party and core supporters coming out and pounding the streets.
“It’s been nicer talking to voters this time round because you’ve got that record. You have been in two years and people recognise you, so instead of having to introduce myself they’ll say, ‘oh, it’s our Emma, lovely to see you’ and have a chat about something I have done in Parliament. This is very much my campaign.”
The other candidates in South Shields are: Lisa Nightingale (Independent), Robert Oliver (Conservative), Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat), Norman Dennis (UKIP), Shirley Ford (Green Party).
Source – Shields Gazette, 29 Apr 2015
SOUTH SHIELDS currently held by Emma Lewell-Buck (Lab)
Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour),
Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat),
Shirley Ford (Green Party),
Lisa Nightingale (Independent),
Robert Oliver (Conservative)
Norman Dennis (Ukip).
JARROW – currently held by Stephen Hepburn (Lab)
Stephen Hepburn (Labour),
Stan Collins (Liberal Democrat),
Norman Hall (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition),
Nick Mason (Conservative),
Steve Harrison (Ukip),
David Herbert (Green Party).
A Green surge is predicted in South Tyneside at the general and local elections in May as the party confirmed it was putting up candidates in every borough ward for the very first time.
Shirley Ford, who lives in South Shields, was the Green Party candidate in the town at the 2010 General Election.
On that occasion she attracted 762 votes – 2.1 per cent of the poll, finishing a distant fifth behind the victor, Labour’s David Miliband.
But the political climate has changed dramatically in the five years since.
The administrative assistant at Marine Park Primary School in South Shields is also convinced that the candidates set to represent the party across all 18 wards in the borough are the most diverse.
“We are going to have a full slate of candidates. I can confirm that.
“We’ve been delighted at the interest generated and the number people who have come forward, many for the first time.
“Our candidates range from young people – students and apprentices – to people who are retired, from people working in health, in education and those working in environmental science.
“I’m not claiming we have the youngest candidate because I know Labour has a particularly young representative in Hebburn, but I can’t imagine any party has such a diverse range of candidates.”
Mrs Ford believes the Green input in a series of local issues has helped raise the party’s profile.
As an example she cited its intervention against Harton Technology College applying for academy status.
The Greens’ efforts to stage clean-ups in the town’s “rather unloved” Readhead Park and create a ‘friends of the park’ group there have also improved the public perception, Mrs Ford says.
“Attracting more than ten per cent of the vote is, I believe, a realistic goal.
“It was difficult in the past when we had only a handful of local candidates and a much smaller membership base and we were running a much less ambitious campaign.
“We had a great response at the Westoe by-election last October and that has continued since.
“Tony Bengtsson will once again be our candidate there and the reaction when knocking on doors has been very positive. There is no predicting this election. The opinion polls suggests there are many people undecided on how to cast their vote.
“There can be a Green surge and even if we don’t win a ward, second finishes would leave us in a very good position.
“It’s something we could build on in future campaigns.”
The other candidates standing in South Shields are: Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat); Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour); Robert Oliver (Conservative); and Norman Dennis (UKIP).
Source – Shields Gazette, 13 Mar 2015
Conservatives have said it is time to save money by reducing the number of councillors.
Tories in Sunderland say the cuts could save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.
> Don’t they always say that ? What really happens is resources are reduced (library closures in Sunderland, for example) but taxpayers still pay the same. Pay the same but get less. How is this a saving ?
They say that while the council itself has become smaller over the last few years, the number of councillors has remained at 75.
> Yeah, but surely councillors aren’t the same as people working for the council. If you reduce the number of councillors, constituents representation will be worse.
The workforce at the council has been reduced from about 8,000 to just over 4,000 since budget reductions started.
> Which = more people on the dole. It’s the Tory way, folks…
Councillor Robert Oliver and Doxford Candidate Dominic McDonough believe that it is time to trim the number of councillors.
Throughout the country many councils have already cut the number of councillors, diverting funds to frontline services.
Conservative candidate for Doxford Ward, McDonough, said: “As we see the council getting smaller and efficiency savings being made, it is common sense to assume that the number of councillors should also be reduced.
> But he still wants to be one, you’ll notice…
“Several councils in England have already cut the number of councillors they elect in line with cuts to staff levels. The money saved by cutting the number of councillors should be diverted to frontline services.”
> Eh ? Surely the number of councillors is determined by the population they serve – not staff levels at the council ! Hope this guy doesn’t get elected !
Councillor Robert Oliver said: “It is right that the budget for councillors is reduced in the same way as other council budgets are reduced.
“Other services at the council have faced budget cuts, but have improved in quality, and the same should happen with the councillors.”
> Tory policy in a nutshell – less is more.
Well, less for you anyway. Not less for them.
Source – Sunderland Echo 12 March 2014
PROTESTERS who gathered outside Sunderland civic centre have said £35million budget cuts will be the final nail in the coffin for city residents.
A group from North East People’s Assembly met to lobby councillors ahead of the annual budget-setting meeting yesterday, during which the multimillion pound cuts for 2014/15 were given the green light.
Carrying placards in the shape of coffin lids to signify each public service, which they say will suffer because of the cuts, the group handed out leaflets.
Among the protesters was Sunderland University chaplain Chris Howson.
He said: “The coffins represents the killing off of council services. We wanted to make a point as the councillors went in.”
Despite huge division in political opinion, all 53 councillors who attended the meeting – just over two- thirds of the 74 current elected members – voted through the motion presented by council leader Paul Watson.
One of them, Southwick Councillor Rosalind Copeland, attended the lobby in Park Lane before the meeting, supporting the demonstrators.
Pointing out that she was not there to criticise the council, but to defend what it is legally-bound to do in the face of Government cuts, Coun Copeland said: “I am here to defend my council and the decision my council will have to make – the agony we are facing as councillors.
“As council members, we are having to do things we don’t want to do. The Coalition is pilfering the working class. It is not this Labour group at fault.”
> The revolution will not begin in Sunderland…official.
To streamline finances, the council is focusing on three approaches; recommissioning services, reprioritising spending and exploring alternative ways to deliver services.
This includes reviewing car-parking charges, pest control and burial and cremation fees as well as reducing the authority’s fleet of bin wagons and the introduction of a four-day working week for recycling staff.
At the meeting, Coun Watson said: “Two years ago I said we were experiencing the most difficult economic period in living memory. This position has not changed. Even more pressure has been put on the council, with further reductions in public sector finances.”
He added: “The council has risen to the challenge and has managed these considerable risks.”
Opposition leader Robert Oliver agreed that the budget was “realistic”, and that while the Tory group welcomed the council tax freeze for a fourth consecutive year, the Labour administration should not complain about cuts, which he claimed had arisen as a result of lost revenue.
He said: “The workforce has been reduced and services have improved so it’s a case of go figure.
> And Sunderland is the 5th worst place in the UK to find work. Go figure that. Reducing the workforce might save money, but it also means more people unemployed. More chasing a pitiful few jobs. More coming under the frankly vile regime in the Jobcentres.
“The leader of the council has given us a slightly two-faced speech. You can’t complain about cuts which could have been avoided if there had been a council tax increase.”
On top of the £35million slashed from the coming year’s budget, the authority will have to find an identical amount to cut the following year.
Coun Watson says some of the savings are being mitigated by “hundreds of milllions” worth of capital investment planned until 2018.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 March 2014