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The deadline to register to vote in the general election is 20th April. 

Labour Parliamentary candidate Tom Blenkinsop said: “I believe that this election is the most important one in a generation, it is a straight choice between a Labour Government which will fight for local families and our NHS or five more years of the Conservatives putting the most privileged first and threating the future of our local health service. Don’t risk the future of our NHS by not voting, register today.”

It’s more important than ever to register to vote, you can register to vote online at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

 

Comments on the rejection a 130 house development near Saltburn

Commenting on the rejection of a 130 house development near Saltburn Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Said:

“The lack of a Local Plan, which was voted down by a coalition of Tory, Lib Dem, Independent and Green councillors, is responsible for removing a series of objections as this site was not identified for housing in that plan. But the members of the planning committee have rightly seen sense and rejected this badly though out and unwanted development.

“I thank them for listening to my concerns and the concerns of the 220 residents who formally objected to the development which would have seen the green wedge between Saltburn and Marske eroded and was out of development limits.

“Thankfully this development has been rejected, but this could be the start of a planning free for all where big companies can build unwanted developments because of the Tory, Lib Dem, Independent and Green councillors who rejected the local plan.

“The developers can still appeal the decision and this will be judged by Eric Pickles against the tory-led government’s National Planning Policy Framework because the tory, Lib Dem, Independent and Green councillors rejected Labours Local Plan which would have introduced tighter planning regulations in Redcar and Cleveland.

“Redcar and Cleveland urgently needs a Local Plan to stop more unwanted and unregulated planning applications, if Labours Local Plan was in place it is very likely that this proposal would not have been made in the first place as the land was not identified for housing.”

More than 5000 pensioners hit by David Cameron’s 87p pension rise across Teesside and East Cleveland

New figures reveal that 5250 pensioners in Teesside and East Cleveland will see their state pension increase by just 87p. 

On 4th December 2014 the government announced the state pension will rise by £2.85 a week but the following week Ministers were forced to admit that 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income.  

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop said: ““I’m calling on David Cameron to come clean with thousands of pensioners in Teesside about the future value of their state pensions.  

“His ministers should have been upfront about the 87p rise in the Government’s state pension income announcement to Parliament. This lack of openness and transparency about the losers from state pension reform undermines public confidence in the Government’s policy. 

“It’s time for the government to treat pensioners with respect and be upfront about the value of their pensions.” 

Labour’s shadow pensions minister, Gregg McClymont said: “1.6 million pensioners have been shocked to find that their state pension income is to rise by just 87p from April, not the £2.85 per week rise the Government promised. 

“Rather than being open and honest, government ministers have tried to hide the fact that many people who have done the right thing, worked hard and saved for a pension are losing out.”

Tom’s comments on Tata Steel announcement

Commenting on news that Tata Steel is restructuring its long products division Tom Blenkinsop, chair of the APPG on steel and Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland said: 

“After the success of the Trade union led campaign to save the Redcar blast furnace the government has rested on its laurels and has even undermined energy intensive industries since coming to power in 2010.

 “As I said in a debate on the steel industry yesterday it is clear that the industry is suffering from the twin problems of the rising value of sterling against the euro, and continuing uncompetitive energy prices.

 “While there’s little the government can do about the former, this does demonstrate that the UK steel industry remains very fragile, and underlines the importance of the Government acting urgently on items that are within its control – and that is energy prices.

 “The coalition government must now roll up their sleeves and get involved in an active industrial policy to maintain our key industries like steel. They must work to protect and support our hard working loyal communities in Teesside, East Cleveland and across the United Kingdom.

 “I will be speaking to the management of Tata Steel and officers of the Community Trade Union to see what help can be given to the workforce and I will also be putting pressure on the government to find a buyer for the long product sites within the UK.”

We must campaign to try and stop housing sprawl in Saltburn

“We must campaign to try and stop housing sprawl in Saltburn – but those who played politics with Redcar and Cleveland’s Local Plan must take the blame” – Tom Blenkinsop

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (14th October 2014) vowed to oppose new housing proposals on open land adjacent to Saltburn.

Taylor Wimpy have formally lodged a planning application for 130 houses to be built on land at the rear of Wilton Bank now used for riding stables.

Tom said :”Those local Councillors who voted down Redcar and Cleveland’s Local Plan will have to recognise their actions helped spur this development.”

“This is an unwanted development which will further erode the green wedge between Saltburn, Marske and New Marske. I live in Saltburn itself, and know it as a balanced community.  More housing of this type will only serve to swamp local identity and community spirit.”

“But crucially, we have to remember that this proposal is for a site which was NOT in that now defeated local plan. As everyone knows this plan although fully prepared, was rejected at a recent council meeting by a coalition of Conservative, Independent and Liberal Democrat Councillors.

“If that plan had been approved that day, planning officers could have opposed this development with added powers and also defended the council case at any subsequent planning appeal hearing.”

“Given it was seen as a protected site in that plan, I would hope the application is formally and vigorously opposed by the council’s planning officers and the full planning committee, but in the absence of a local plan there is a very real danger that the developer, if rejected, will go straight  to Eric Pickles, the conservative Secretary of State, who invariably sides with his friends in the property development industry.

“I would suggest to residents that they lobby Saltburn and Marske Councillors – and especially those who voted down the local plan.  They, above all, gave the green light to such new, unwelcome and speculative planning applications.”

Increase in the numbers of older workers hides “fear of decaying pensions” and hinders the chances for younger job seekers

News that the UK Labour Market has now a higher proportion of workers over the old statutory retirement age masks “two unpleasant truths” according to the Labour M.P. for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop.

Tom said: “I am not knocking older people who want to carry on working. Many do wish to do so, and can be a credit to their workforce. They even act as mentors for newer, younger, co-workers.”

“But the news that 250,000 more over retirement age workers are still working hides a couple of grim truths.

“The first is that over the last 5 years, the ’employers offensive’ against final salary pension schemes mean that many staff now fear lower pensions once they leave, and are using extra years’ salary  as a cushion to protect themselves against a less wealthy retirement than they once expected. In addition, this effect has been amplified by the erosion of state benefits and pensions credits for the over 60’s.”

“Secondly, using older, established, workers is cheaper for many employers when measured against the costs of recruiting and training younger workers.  This is a short-sighted attitude but, at a time of austerity, one that many employers are willing to countenance.

“The country has a legion of young people looking for work and a combination of proper pension reform at one end of the age scale and a training revolution at the other end is the right and proper answer – but it is not one the present coalition will be willing to consider.”

Latest official figures show the North East has the lowest employment growth in the UK

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics reveal the North East is the region of the UK which has seen the least number of jobs created.

The North East saw the number of employees increase by just 0.6% between 2012 and 2013, less than half that of the neighboring North West and Yorkshire and the Humber regions.

This small change means the three are now 0.5% fewer employees in the North East than there was in 2009.

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland said:

“When the Tories were elected they promised to ‘rebalance’ the economy and remove the trade deficit. This announcement is another promise broken by this government.

“The North East is one of the few regions of the United Kingdom which exports more than it imports and these latest figures show that the much needed investment in manufacturing jobs in the North East has not been delivered.

“While there has been an increase in the number of self-employed people research shows that they earn around 40% less than their full-time employee equivalents.

“The Labour Party will tackle unemployment, particularly amongst young people, by requiring businesses who have government contracts to employ apprentices. We will also ensure self-employed people have the same right as employed people when it comes to things like mortgages and maternity leave.”

Tom Blenkinsop “furious” after local NHS make decision to close the Park End GP Clinic

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (10th July 2014) said he was “furious” at the “short sighted decision by local managers of NHS England to close the Park End GP surgery and clinic in South Middlesbrough.

Tom said:

“In my constituency, the closure follows other closure decisions and proposals affecting surgeries in Skelton and minor injuries units at Guisborough and East Cleveland hospitals. It is all part of a slash and burn pattern which puts balance sheets and so-called savings ahead of patient wishes and health.”

“Despite the consultation exercise seeking views on the Park End Clinic showing staggering levels of local support – with 95% of respondents saying they were “satisfied or completely satisfied” with the service provided by the clinic, that they were totally happy with the quality of treatment from GP’s and nurses and with 73% disagreeing totally with any closure proposal, citing the need or a local centre for an area with a higher than average number of elderly people, local NHS bureaucrats have merely rubber stamped their original proposal, something that leads me to conclude that the consultation was a sham exercise, with only one outcome envisaged.”

“I am afraid that is unacceptable to me and local Park End residents. Up and down the country we are seeing services closed without adequate consultation. NHS walk-in centres continue to be closed, piling more pressure on A and E departments. It is just not good enough.”

“Just four short years ago the Government inherited a self-confident and successful NHS, with the lowest ever waiting times and the highest ever public satisfaction. Since then it has been demoralised and reduced to an uncertain organisation increasingly fearful of the future – something not lost on my constituents.”

“I will continue to campaign against the closure of NHS services in my constituency, my petition to save the essential services now has thousands of signatures and is growing every week. You can add your name to it by visiting my website, www.tomblenkinsop.com.”

The government must address the crisis in adult care

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has today (6th March 2014) said that Age UK’s report into adult care ‘reveals shocking truths’ about the governments care plans.

Age UK’s report into care for people aged over 65 has revealed that the number of people receiving support has fallen by a third.

Tom said: “Age UK’s devastating report shows the true scale of the care crisis unfolding under this government.

“The number of people aged 85 and over, the group who are most likely to need care, has risen by 30% between 2005 and 2014 yet there has been no extra funding.

“Age UK estimates that 800,000 elderly people are going without the care that they need, they partly put this down to the ‘deep cuts’ in government funding since 2010.

“The central government cuts have forced the vast majority of councils to withdraw care from elderly people who struggle with everyday tasks such as getting up in the morning, bathing, preparing meals or going shopping.  Many councils are now only able to help elderly people with ‘substantial’ needs.

“The failure to provide decent care and support for elderly people is simply unacceptable in the 21st century. Labour’s plan to integrate NHS and social care is the real reform we need to ensure all elderly people get the decent care and support that they deserve”

Tom Blenkinsop MP welcomes national apprentice week

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough south and East Cleveland, welcomes national apprentice week but warns that ‘quality of apprenticeships has been badly tarnished’.

Seven years after the last Labour government started national apprentice week it is still going strong but local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has concerns about its future.

Tom said: “The Coalition Government has relied on short apprenticeships to reduce high levels of youth unemployment but the young people who take them are being let down.

“Apprenticeships used to be the gold standard of on the job training but today one in five apprentices say they haven’t received any training as part of their apprenticeship; and another one in five apprenticeships lasts for less than six months.

“Labour will ensure that apprenticeships are once again the trusted gold standard in industry, we ensure that every apprenticeship will last a minimum of two years and will include at least a level three qualification.

“We’ll give employers more control over skills standards and funding, asking in return that they create more high quality apprenticeships in their sectors and supply chains. Apprenticeships need to give young people jobs today and skills that will last a lifetime. “