By-election under way to replace Labour councillor Lisa Smiles, after her resignation following a benefits fraud conviction left the St Anne’s ward a member down.
Four candidates – representing the Green Party, UKIP, Labour and the Conservative Party – will compete for the role on March 27.
Voters have until Tuesday to register with Sunderland City Council, while applications to vote by post must be received by 5pm on Wednesday
Emily Blyth will contest the seat for the Green Party. The 30-year-old full-time University of Sunderland student and community musician has lived in South Hylton all her life and says she is proud of the area.
She said: “My main priorities would be doing what I can to protect our most vulnerable residents from cuts to vital services, and likewise seeking to support an inclusive community for people of all backgrounds.
“At times of economic difficulty it’s all too easy to scapegoat the poor, the disabled, the migrants, and there are plenty of voices doing that, when in reality such groups are the hardest hit by the destructive cuts agenda.
“I’m also passionate about keeping the NHS in public hands, and for our public transport system to be run in the best interests of passengers, not corporations.”
UKIP candidate Aileen Casey, 58, is a mum-of-two, who lives in Springwell. She is a youth worker who is passionate about supporting young people.
Aileen said: “Labour councillors have held their safe seats for decades. Many people don’t vote because there hasn’t been a real choice or they vote the same way as their parents or grandparents have done.
“Things need to change in Sunderland. Voting for UKIP is the only way to bring about these long overdue changes and to ensure that the wishes of the local people are carried out.
“The current Labour administration just follows the diktats of their London based Party leaders. Elected UKIP councillors always put local residents before Party doctrine.”
Labour’s Jacqui Gallagher lives in Thorney Close. She is a life-long trade unionist who has represented Unison at Sunderland City Council for more than 10 years.“I have worked in children’s services my whole career, dealing with some of the most difficult cases and making a positive difference in some families lives, that has held me in great job satisfaction.
“Over this time I have gained a great insight into how the council works and still have many connections at the city council. I feel that this experience and my training and knowledge of representing people as a union rep gives me a unique advantage over the other candidates in this election to represent the people of St Anne’s ward on the city council.
“I would ask for votes because having brought my family up on a large council estate using the local services myself, I have a clear insight into benefits or problems associated with our way of life. If I am trusted with the community’s vote I promise to work tirelessly for the people within the St Anne’s ward.”
Former opposition leader Tony Morrissey will contest the seat for the Conservatives. The 42-year-old, who lives in Hendon, came to Sunderland from County Cork in the 1990s.
Tony served in the Territorial Army and saw active service in Iraq during the Gulf war. Until 2012 Tony represented the Barnes ward.
“I’m running to give residents a serious alternative to Labour,” Tony said. “The council needs a wake-up call. With the help of the voters of St Anne’s I intend giving them exactly that.”
•Anyone who is not registered or would like further information, should call Electoral Services at Sunderland City Council on 0191 561 1144 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
> No Lib Dems ? Still maybe not their strongest area ( in 2008 their candidate finished last, behind the BNP) and they probably don’t want any more humiliations right now.
You’d think it’d be a fairly safe Labour seat, but it’ll be interesting to see how UKIP fare.
I’m not 100% sure of the boundaries of St Anne’s ward, but only the Green Party candidate actually seems to live in it.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 10 March 2014
It’s farewell to your centuries-old right to free speech today, after your Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs won their bid to get the Gagging Bill passed by the House of Lords. It won’t go back to the Commons because the Lords made no amendments.
While you, personally, will be allowed to continue complaining about anything you want, you will no longer have the ability to link up with others to protest government actions in any meaningful way as such action may breach Liberal Democrat and Tory government-imposed spending limits. Your personal complaints will be deemed unrepresentative of the people.
You will still be able to have your e-petition on the government’s website – if you win enough signatures to have it debated in Parliament – ignored by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons.
The Liberal Democrats and Tories have even managed to rub salt into the wound…
View original post 1,234 more words
> A whistleblower’s account of what really goes on…though I doubt it’ll come as a suprise to anyone who’s done time on the WP.
I took on a full-time job as a student in the summer holidays. The interview was fairly standard and the company advertised the role as a customer management assistant that helped people get back into work.
However, as I started my new job, I began to notice that it wasn’t the caring compassionate company that it had advertised itself as. My position involved taking calls from “clients”, these were both Job Centre advisors from over London and the South West as well as Job Centre customers who called us directly.
The calls were to make appointments to put the customers onto their first meeting with their work program advisors. Other calls from direct customers were either for this same reason, as they had been instructed to, or to cancel an upcoming appointment.
What I discovered however, as my time there ticked along, was that our company was paid directly from the government for every individual they successfully “engaged” onto the Work Programme (WP) – a rough estimate of £1000. For every six weeks that person was in employment the company would be paid another £300 to £400; in fact the centre had a completely separate section called In Work Support, solely to make sure that the customers employment was maintained.
At the end of twenty-six weeks in paid employment the company would then be paid another lump sum of at least £1000. This meant that for every individual successfully engaged into employment through the WP the company would be paid approximately £3000 to £4000.
Now, let’s just deal with that for a second.
This is one company of many. With roughly 100 staff over all departments. The question that I pondered constantly was how is it cheaper to fund these centres and its staff with its financial incentives, how is that effective and where could that money be dispersed for the greater good?
A second but more important point is the effect that the pressure of this had on people. I was called on one occasion by a man who had his JSA stopped. This man was homeless and currently living in a shelter, yet he had been contacted on his mobile by his job centre that were insistent that he make an appointment to see an employment consultant, before his money would be reinstated. Money that he picked up from the post office. I spent a relatively long time just speaking to him, getting to know his situation and trying to help him as best I could. A lot of the available appointments that we had on our books clashed with meetings at his job centre. He took what he was being made to do in his stride but I found it a pointless exercise. He was homeless yet this wasn’t a priority. Without a fixed abode he would not be able to start a bank account and without a bank account he would not be able to find legitimate employment.
Another gentleman called me, enquiring about his(ESA) claim. He had been sent a letter stating that he needed to attend this particular appointment or his money would be stopped, however he very calmly and politely told me that he couldn’t get to this specific date and time as he had to undergo dialysis three times a week. Dialysis! Yet he was being forced onto the WP with threats to stop his money [if he failed to do so].
I worked mainly with(JSA) customers, however on other occasions I did also deal with ESA claims. I had people call [me] in tears, telling me they didn’t know what to do or where to turn. These people were being blackmailed into the WP so that our company could receive it’s pound of flesh, it’s profit, it’s blood money.
We received weekly emails from the CEO who visited the centre on two occasions, encouraging us to engage the customers, giving us statistics on our success rate and constantly telling us “engage, engage, engage”, even with promises of bonuses. It was also discussed in these emails the bad press and statistics of those who had been forced on the WP and had committed suicide, it does happen and it is being ignored. Now, I wish I had saved some of those emails.
Eventually, when I saw it for what it really was, I decided I could no longer stay there. A few weeks previous to my leaving, I was taken into the manager’s office as she pointed out all the things I had done wrong; joking with the customers, not engaging them. I knew what I was doing. Soon after I handed in my notice, the job was to save up for my wedding but morally I couldn’t stay there.
I’ve never before seen such a vulgar display of capitalism exploiting the poor, the disabled and the sick.
The money that is poured into these centres I have no doubt could be put to better use. Training centres, volunteering, computer access. Why do these places still exist and yet the government are cutting welfare that will affect EVERYONE?
People are genuinely being pushed into stress, depression and in some cases suicide. This is real, this is happening! The WP needs to be either seriously reassessed or shut down.
I feel it is my civil duty to share my experience and to make you all aware that the work program doesn’t work!
Source – Welfare News Service, 26 January 2014