Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, recently submitted his response to Middlesbrough Borough Council’s budget consultation. In it he outlined three areas of particular concern: the proposed closures of Hemlington Library and Ayresome Industries and the axing of the ‘Teen Mover’ scheme.
“Middlesbrough Council is facing unprecedented budgetary pressure due to the Coalition Government’s decision to hit the North East of England’s local authorities with the country’s harshest cuts. Unfortunately, this has forced a situation were important and well-used services are now at risk.
“Whilst I find many of the potential cuts concerning, I am under no illusion that every service can be saved. However, through talking with constituents and my own personal opinion I believe there are at least three cuts that must be avoided. Firstly, the closure of Hemlington Library that I know the ward councillors are fighting to save, and I have had many constituents asking me to lobby for its retention.
“Secondly, the closure of Ayresome Industries would be short-sighted move as it provides work for disabled workers allowing them to earn a living, gain confidence and independence. We’ve already seen reports of disabled workers finding it almost impossible to find a job following a similar situation with the closure of Remploy factories.
“Finally, young people in Middlesbrough are getting a particularly bad deal from this Government following the scrapping of EMA and long-term youth unemployment increasing by over 100% since May 2010. The ‘Teen Mover’ scheme is a vital lifeline for young people travelling to college or to interviews and to axe it now adds another hurdle for young people to overcome just as they are beginning their life. I believe there is room for the scheme to be reformed sufficiently so it can avoid the axe, for example, changing the usage period or closer collaboration with neighbouring local authorities.
“Obviously the three identified are only the tip of the iceberg and there are over 100 other cuts that will impact on services provided. I hope Mayor Mallon will listen to my suggestions and can find a way to avoid these cuts. In the meantime, I will continue to lobby for a fairer deal for Teesside from the Coalition Government.”