A Green Party candidate has waded into a row over a Labour MP’s refusal to debate with a Ukip politician from out of the area – saying the Labour Party itself fielded a candidate from Teesside at an earlier event.
Sunderland Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Julie Elliot declined to debate with Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott in an event at Sunderland University on Monday.
Mr Arnott had attended in place of his party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency Bryan Foster, whose wife Dorothy’s chronic illness had taken a turn for the worse.
Mrs Elliot’s reasons were that Mr Arnott is a candidate for Easington and not Sunderland Central.
Now Green Party candidate Rachel Featherstone has hit out at her decision because she was substituted with a candidate from Teesside at an event held at St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke, in March.
Ms Featherstone said Mrs Elliott had no objections in the past, when in the second debate, a local election candidate stood in for LibDem candidate Adrian Page.
“I was happy to debate with the Ukip representative,” Ms Featherstone said. “I believe that in the interests of democracy, all the parties should have been represented.
“I’m concerned that this may affect the willingness of the university to host this kind of event in the future.”
She added: “The organisers are to be commended for the efforts they made to ensure this was a lively and informative debate.”
A Labour Party spokesman said the debate at St Aidan’s was a regional event, with parliamentary candidates from outside Sunderland taking part, while the Age UK debate was a whole of Sunderland city debate not a Sunderland Central hustings.
“It’s odd to see the Green Party cosying up to Ukip,” he said.
“But our position remains the same our candidate debates with other Sunderland Central parliamentary candidates in hustings for Sunderland Central constituency.”
Also standing in the Sunderland Central constituency is Jeffrey Guy Townsend (Conservative) and Jospeh Young (Independent).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Apr 2015
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
“University bosses are becoming increasingly concerned about the number of private landlords applying to turn city buildings into student accommodation.” (Sunderland Echo, 04 October 2013).
They’re not the only ones ! You’d have had to be blind not to notice the number of ‘For Let – To Students’ signs appearing on houses around the city. Sunderland University (nee Polytechnic) is big business nowadays, and a whole host of specialist leech industries have grown up around it, and student-only letting agencies seem to be a boom area.
Indeed, it has been noted that one well-known city landlord seems to be moving wholeheartedly into this new area – whether they will be evicting existing tenants to make way for the new cash cows remains to be seen, but given their past record….
It makes sense, I suppose, if your only interest in society is extracting the maximum amount of money. Why rent a house for a single amount when you can squeeze many more students in and charge each of them ? Add to that short-term contracts, so you’re not stuck with them for long if they’re trouble. Who loses ?
Well, apart from the unfortunate non-students seeking accommodation, or those existing residents finding themselves increasingly in student ghettos. But who cares about them ?
Of course, the university’s main concern seems to be the fact that they’ll not have control of these planned student buildings. They dont appear to be in the least concerned about the effect on rentable houses for the rest of the population… you know, the people who actually live there full time ? Not suprisingly, most of the new student lets are also in the most affordable (ie: poorer) areas.
Perhaps the university should be investing in new halls of residence to go with the few places it already has (I understand it has around 17,000 students, but only has accommodation for 1,547 ). Even allowing for students who live locally anyway or within commuting distance anyway…