> What can you do when an employment tribunal finds you were being paid less than the minimum wage and awards you compensation… but the employer doesn’t pay up ? Very little, it seems…
A woman who was awarded thousands of pounds in compensation following a legal battle with town charity has given up ever getting her cash and is set to leave the town.
Lynda Gooding says she has simply “lost the fight” to get her money, and is so fed up with life in Hartlepool that she has put her house on the market.
She was awarded just under £9,000 in April last year after an employment tribunal heard she had worked for Manor Residents’ Association for almost three years on less than minimum wage.
More than 18 months after the ruling was made, mum-of-three Lynda is still to receive a penny from the charity.
“I’ve been waiting 18 months. Well they can keep their dirty money now.
“The house is up for sale, and the sooner I can get out of this town the better as far as I’m concerned. I’d move tomorrow.”
Lynda, who lives in Forfar Road with husband Kenny, a joiner for Housing Hartlepool, has not worked since leaving MRA in 2012.
She added: “Who is going to employ me?
“I’ve found myself at the centre of a row which became political through no fault of my own.
“The court ruled that the trustees owed money, and obviously the mayor was part of that board of trustees so all of a sudden it became a political issue.
“Then there was all the fuss over the charity, which doesn’t exist anymore, and all sorts of rumours were flying about over whether it was coming back under a new name or operating from somewhere else.
“It was just a complete mess, the trustees left one by one and there was nobody left to answer my questions.
“I never asked for that, all I’d done was take my employer to court and I won fair and square.
“It has played on my mind, I’ve been depressed, it’s amazing how much of an effect something like this can have on your sanity.
“But I’ve given up now, my fight is over. They were ordered to pay by a court and they haven’t paid. What else can I do?
“I feel let down, and question whether the tribunal was ever worth going through.
“If I’d known then what I know now, especially after what I witnessed at the council last Monday evening, then I wouldn’t have bothered.”
Lynda’s former colleagues Sharon Henderson, Carl Williams and Sue Harriman also won their own court battles, taking the total payout to more than £20,000.
The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, has since opened an inquiry into Manor Residents’ Association after concerns were raised about the way it was run.
At the time of the scandal the charity was run by Labour councillor Angie Wilcox, but she stood down from her role as a councillor before eventually leaving her role with MRA after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal and false accounting by fraud squad detectives.
She remains on bail while the inquiry continues.
Manor Residents’ Association has since ceased operating, and the organisation which has taken over the charity’s former building – Kilmarnock Road Children and Young People’s Family Resource Centre – has no links with it.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 20 Oct 2014
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has hit back at the “boring Tory boys” after they mocked her North-East accent.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said that Conservative party members who are claimed to have mocked her accent don’t bother her – because it means they have nothing else to criticise her for.
The town’s MP also welcomed the support she received from constituents over the row which has broken out over claims by Durham North West MP Pat Glass, that Tory MPs target female opposition members.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “It is annoying sometimes, but I never let it silence me. I just think ‘grow up’.
“I feel sorry for them really, because I think if that’s all you have to say about me, then I must be doing a good job.”
Fellow Labour MP Mrs Glass said that abuse in the “Gladatorial” atmosphere at Westminster is worse for female MPs with strong accents, and likened Mrs Lewell-Buck’s to that of fellow South Shields native, comedian Sarah Millican.
She said: “I know Emma has a lovely strong accent, but they have really gone for her in the chamber over that,” she said.
“She has that Sarah Millican accent and they shout at her because of it.
“There are big differences between my accent and hers, but generally, if you are a woman, they target you and if you have a northern accent, they go for you.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck, who grew up in a family of shipyard workers, and was a social worker before gaining her seat in Parliament, said: “I want my constituents to hear and see someone who looks and sounds like them.
“I want them to understand what I am saying, because I am in House representing them.
“I don’t care if the posh boys in the Tory party don’t understand me.
“They do, sometimes, get themselves over-excited and shout things, but I just think it’s not like they’re going to launch themselves across the commons and punch me.”
She added: “I’ve always said that to be an effective MP you have to talk to your constituents, that’s a huge part of the job.
“I’m always out and about talking to them, and use the information they give me when I’m in the House of Commons representing them.
“For me, the most nerve-wracking thing is that people put me there, and I don’t ever want people to think that they put me there and I have let them down.”
Mrs Glass said it was not just older Tory MPs who were guilty of barracking Labour women.
She said: “What I found is if a woman gets to speak, particularly women with an accent, then there is orchestrated barracking.
“You don’t get to see it on television because the camera is fixed on the person who is speaking and not on the orchestrated response.
“I get the impression they think women who are Northerners should not be there.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck, added: “It doesn’t really surprise me that people in South Shields have been supportive about my accent.
“So far, I haven’t had anyone say ‘you have let us down,’ or ‘we didn’t like what you said’.
“In the main, a lot of people have been really supportive.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 21 Feb 2014