Tom’s comments on Gaskell Bridge

Commenting on Redcar and Cleveland’s announcement that they will repair and adopt Gaskell Bridge in Loftus, Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:

“Finding a solution to repairing Gaskell bridge has been a long a difficult process, I have met numerous times with residents, the Council, Northumbrian Water and local Labour councillors to help get this outcome.Tom_at_Gaskell

“Residents of the lane were virtually cut off from the rest of Loftus while the ownership of the bridge was queried in a long legal process which has resulted in the council doing the right thing in taking ownership of the bridge.

“I’m pleased that Northumbrian Water have listened to residents’ concerns and will reroute their sewer pipe to reduce the possibility of another flood, I’m sure that this will come as a great relief to those affected by the floods.

Loftus ward Labour Councillor Eric Jackson said:

“I’m pleased that the new Labour controlled council will be starting work on the bridge later this year and then taking the bridge in to council ownership so this can never happen again.

“Over the past few years the patience of Gaskell Lane residents has certainly been tested, an end is now in sight and residents can look forward to normality returning to their lives. This result is good news for the whole of Loftus.”


Tom celebrates local success at the Special Olympics World Games

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today 11th August 2015, congratulated local athletes who won gold and silver medals at Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles USA 2015.

Five young people from Redcar & Cleveland won Gold and Silver medals in Basketball and 7 aside football. Amongst them was silver medallist Steven Johnson from Loftus who won his medal in 7 aside football.

The young people are:

Steven Johnson      age    21         7 aside football      from Loftus           SILVER
Stuart Tipp                 age    17         Basketball                 from Eston                 GOLD
Lewis Johnson         age    17         Basketball                 from Eston                 GOLD
Shaun Smith            age   17          Basketball                 from Ormesby           GOLD
George Dunkerley   age   14          Basketball                 from Eston                 GOLD

Tom said:
“This is an excellent achievement for these local athletes and is a great reward for all their hard work over the previous months and years.

“I hasten to acknowledge the work put in by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council Youth Service, KTS Academy in Brotton and Special Olympics Northern Region who provided facilities, equipment, coaching, support and funding for the young people who wanted to learn to play and compete in basketball.

“A massive congratulations to everyone involved and hopefully it is just the first in a long line of successes.”

Tom welcomes Banks Renewables decision to withdraw application

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (11th August 2015) welcomed the decision by Banks Renewables to withdraw their planning application for a wind farm on Bank Field near Dunsdale.

Reacting to the news Tom said:
“I’m very pleased that Banks Renewables have made the decision to withdraw their application for a wind farm on Bank Field. It will come as a huge relief for local residents in Dunsdale Village, Mount Pleasant and north Guisborough who I have campaigned alongside in opposing this application.

“It was completely the wrong location for such a development and, I believe, only got so far due to the land being owned by an estate associated with a local aristocrat who allowed the development to even begin.

“Hopefully, this will be the end of the issue and local residents can now move on.”

James Cook Hospital ‘jobs crisis on the horizon’ as bosses are given conflicting orders from Government

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (August 5th 2015) that there was the possibility of a severe jobs crisis on the horizon for Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital as the hospital found itself facing diametrically opposing orders from government regulators today.

Tom said:
“Yesterday, Monitor, the organisation set up to oversee Foundation Trust Hospitals like James Cook, order what is, in effect, a recruitment freeze for all hospitals they inspect. Trusts are told to ensure safe staffing guidance is applied in a “proportionate and appropriate way” and to take account of financial impact when planning their waiting lists.”

The letter, sent by Monitor’s chief executive David Bennett, states: “Ministers have been sighted on these options and are ready to support all providers to reduce their deficits in a managed way although, of course, all actions should be consistent with your responsibilities for safety and the delivery of constitutional standards.”

Tom added:
“One of the key problems at James Cook, and one identified by all concerned in the NHS, is a shortage of nursing staff.

“Only a few short weeks ago, another Government Inspectorate body, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after a rigorous examination of the hospital’s working concluded that the trust was rated as requiring improvement and it warned: “There were nursing staff shortages across wards and departments, particularly at the James Cook University Hospital and Friarage Hospital in urgent and emergency care and in children’s services.”

“So there we have it; one Government body is asking for a jobs freeze, whilst the other is stressing the need, in the interests of the patient, to boost the number of nursing staff on the wards.

“The core reason for all this is that the NHS provider sector is anticipating a deficit of more than £2bn by the end of this financial year with senior NHS officials no longer confident the current levels of care quality provided by the NHS can be sustained under current funding. Put simply, the financial crisis in the NHS is threatening to spiral out of control and hit standards of patient care.

“The suggestion that hospitals can ignore safe staffing guidance alarms me, and it will certainly alarm patients and their families. The Government, sunk in the complacent days of a warm summer seems to care little and promise to do even less. It is a shocking state of affairs.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP response to Klesch withdrawal from Tata deal

Commenting on reports that Anglo-American industrialist Gary Klesch is not pursuing the purchase of Tata Steel’s Long Products division, Labour MP & Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel, Tom Blenkinsop said:

“Since the arrival of Klesch as a potential buyer for several Teesside-based steel operations I have had my concerns and doubts over his commitment to the steel industry. He has a diverse business background owning companies such as Knickerbox, French shoe manufacturers and oil refineries I did question ‘how much real interest does the group owner, Gary Klesch, have in steel?’

“Whilst he has identified some key challenges facing the UK steel industry such as dumping imports from China and high energy costs – I do feel that Tata’s decision, and one supported by workers, to make the Long Products division a standalone business offers it the best chance of success in the future.

“Meanwhile, the Business Secretary apparently doesn’t want to talk about industrial strategy – at just the point when the steel industry needs an active government strategy to support tens of thousands of skilled UK jobs, not to mention the vital contribution being made to UK supply chains and infrastructure projects.

“Ministers took the right action on anti-dumping support last month – but this is just one small part of the picture. They need to act urgently on the rest.”

Tom urges Arriva to look at better fares for young people

Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has today (28th July 2015) written to the bus firm Arriva urging them to look at introducing a child version of the weekly ticket.

Tom said:
“As it is currently the school holidays, hundreds of families across my constituency will be looking to utilise Arriva’s bus services to travel around this and the surrounding area. However, the lack of any sort of weekly travel ticket for children is off-putting for commuters as it leads to spiralling travel costs, particularly for parents with more than one child.

“I am aware that such tickets are available for adults using your bus services. Therefore, I have written to Arriva to enquire whether they have any plans to introduce a weekly ticket for children across all their services to reduce the financial burden on parents and to make travelling on public transport an economically viable alternative for families in my constituency.”

Tom Blenkinsop response to Tata Skinningrove announcement

Responding to the announcement today by Tata Steel that 25 jobs at its Special Profiles plant at Skinningrove are at risk, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“This will be devastating news for many of the workers, and their families, at the Skinningrove site. It is clear the UK steel industry is in a perilous state and as the biggest producer, Tata Steel is particularly affected. I will be offering my support to those workers affected and will work with unions and management to try and mitigate against compulsory redundancies.”

‘Summer Budget reveals true face of Tories’

Today (8th July 2015) George Osborne delivered the first Conservative-only Budget since 1996.

Reacting to the Summer Budget, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“Today we finally saw the Tories unleashed. In the run-up to the announcements it had been billed as a ‘radical budget’, but that was merely code for attacks on the purse strings of thousands of families across the UK.

“Before the election David Cameron and the Tories refused to come clean on their plans of tax credits and now we know why. Cuts to tax credits mean wages need to increase, so with this announcement alongside the falsely named ‘National Living Wage’ research already shows that actual living wage should be well over £12 if tax credits cut. So a family with one earner on average earnings will lose over £2,000 in tax credits from the changes announced today

“Tax credits, introduced by Labour, help tackle poverty and get people back to work – particularly single parents. Undercutting tax credits without real action to tackle low pay and to ensure full employment risks punishing low earners.

“Of course we want to see the welfare bill falling and action to help people get back to work – it is a basic requirement cut the deficit in a sustainable way. But welfare spending is already £28 billion higher than the Chancellor expected because he has failed to tackle the real causes of high welfare costs: low pay, high housing benefit costs and insecure working conditions.

“This Budget needed to ensure working people are given support and incentives to find a job, whilst providing security for the nation’s finances. The reality for George Osborne is that the Tory Government is going to borrow £83bn more since his March budget. This is highly dangerous with the ongoing Greece situation and the Chinese stock market in free fall.

“My job now, as it always has been, is to give a voice to those who will be hurt by these cuts; hold the Chancellor and his decisions to account, and to set out a way to cut the deficit that is fair for my constituents in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.”

‘Government has let down the North East on jobs growth’

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (6th July 2015) claimed that the Government has let down the North East as a new report reveals that London creates jobs four times faster than the North East.

The research by the Northern TUC of ONS data shows that between 2010 and 2014 jobs growth in London (11.5%) was four times as fast as the North East (2.9%).

Tom said:
“It has been over 12 months since George Osborne coined the phrase ‘Northern Powerhouse’, but action and investment to make it more than a buzz-phrase remains thin on the ground. I think this research clearly demonstrates that there is long-way to go to rebalance job opportunities and growth away from London – and in particular to the North East.

“The North East and, being more parochial, Teesside in particular needs urgent investment in skills and modern infrastructure. Businesses have already identified that they find it hard to find candidates with the adequate skills and there is a whole generation missing out if those jobs go elsewhere.

“We’ve plenty of opportunities in the North East. Last week’s decision on the potash mine, the gas supply-deal between BOC and SSI, and the proposed Carbon Capture and Storage network are all huge boosts to the area and I believe demonstrate a reignition of Teesside as a major player amongst large, modern industries.

“Furthermore, the Budget on Wednesday is an opportunity not to be missed for the Chancellor to start backing up his apparent desire to develop a Northern Powerhouse.”

‘Northern Powerhouse minister underestimates need for rail electrification on Teesside’

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today claimed that the Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton MP, ‘underestimates the need for rail electrification across Teesside routes.’

In his response to a question about the shelving of electrification schemes in a House of Commons Business Questions for Communities and Local Government, James Wharton MP claimed that the Government’s Northern Powerhouse project was “not just about transport”.

Tom said:
“I am deeply concerned by this response from Mr Wharton. Businesses, think-tanks, local leaders and local commuters are more than aware that upgrading transport connections and the infrastructure remain key to the prosperity of the North East. The only person that seems to think otherwise is James Wharton.

“I’ve long campaigned for the electrification of Teesside railway lines and will continue to do so, but it is important that Government is on board.

“Following last week’s announcement to put on hold many railway upgrades, this will come as a double blow for commuters and businesses alike. If the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project is to be more than a sound-bite then we need to start seeing some action.”