Archive for Office

Former North East regional UKIP organiser and Councillor should “step down” following defection to Tory party

Retiring Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has called on Redcar and Cleveland Councillor Steve Turner, former organiser for UKIP in the North East, to stand down and fight a new council election, now that he has defected to the Tory Party.

Tom said today:

Steve Turner is sailing under false colours now.  He was elected as UKIP but now seems happy to represent his constituents as a Tory.  This is wrong. They had a Tory choice at the last local election – a choice they rejected.

UKIP made a virtue of their two former MPs, who defected the other way, standing down and fighting under their new banner.  The same applies here. Steve Turner should do the decent thing and resign now.

 

“Faith school transport controversy settled in Redcar and Cleveland – but there is still a need for Central Government to give support to school travel” says Tom Blenkinsop MP

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (5th July 2016) welcomed the news that a long running controversy on who funded school transport for students at Catholic schools in Redcar and Cleveland has ended – but argued that national Government have a duty to underpin school transport. Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has today passed plans to withdraw discretionary transport to faith schools, after working with the schools to find a solution.  The decision – which mainly affected Sacred Heart School in Redcar and St Joseph’s Primary School in Loftus – was taken due to the council having to face decisions imposed on it by central Government to cut its budget by £26.3 million by 2020.

Sacred Heart School has now agreed to continue with a similar arrangement via a coach provider and St Joseph’s Primary has agreed to add a second minibus to its fleet and the council has agreed to assist with the costs of a vehicle in the first year.

Tom said “this is an honourable end to an issue that has been rumbling on since a previous administration in Redcar and Cleveland felt that this service would be unable to be supported given the sheer scale of budget cuts to be made.  The new solution actually keeps the present levels of service broadly alive and is, in fact, more cost effective than the previous scheme.”

“Having said that, it isn’t a decision any council or school should have forced into making, and it had upset many parents who felt they could be left out on a limb in terms of their decision to pursue faith schooling for their children.”

“Given that the self-same issues have now come to the fore in neighbouring Middlesbrough, it is clear that this is not the actions of one vindictive council, but a reflection of the impact the cuts to local authority spending are having on local communities.  Put simply, if the government are sincere in saying that they want parents to choose the form of education they deem fit for their children, then they should be prepared to support this aim financially by helping both councils and schools run transport schemes that fit the needs of pupils and parents.  The fact that they don’t is evidence that for them a cuts agenda comes above else.”

 

“PROFOUND SADNESS” AT NEWS OF THE DEATH OF 95 YEAR OLD LABOUR PARTY VETERAN, HARRY TOUT

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, and members of the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency Labour Party today (5th July 2016) paid tribute to the life of 95 year old party veteran and local organiser, Harry Tout, who died on Sunday.

Harry, who was born in February 1921, had been a member of the Labour Party since the dark days of the 1930’s slump when as a lad working “in service”” for members of wealthy landowning families in his native County of East Sussex, he rebelled at the huge and growing gap in wealth and opportunity between the “haves” and the “have nots”” in his boyhood town of Lewes.

He served with distinction in the Second World War, fighting Nazism in the Western Desert and later whilst slogging up hundreds of miles along the spine of Italy, in a campaign famous for its ferocity.  Harry often recalled how one incident in that campaign – the description of his Eight Army comrades by Tory MP, Nancy Astor as “D-Day Dodgers” – probably added 500,000 votes overnight for Labour in the 1945 General Election.

After the war Harry moved to Grangemouth in Scotland where he met his wife, Cissie.  Later he transferred from the Grangemouth chemical works to ICI at Wilton and moved to Guisborough where he lived, latterly as a civil servant with the then DHSS, until a recent move into a nursing home.

Tom said “Harry Tout embodied the soul and ethos in one man.  Born into depression, only to end up fighting Fascism and Nazism, he came back from the battle field to rebuild a new Britain.  It was the spirit of people like Harry that built the NHS, a welfare state and a fairer nation.  His work over the decades for the Labour Party in Guisborough and East Cleveland will be remembered by everyone who worked with him or met him.  The true sadness is that many of the social conditions that moulded his beliefs are now with us again afresh.  Harry, I know, would cheer on all those now battling these new social evils.”

Bill Suthers, Chair of the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency Labour Party, said “Harry had a special place in the hearts of local labour Party members and supporters.  That is why our Party HQ Building in Guisborough’s Wilson Street is called “Harry Tout House”.  Harry had since the 1950’s been a leading member of the local party.  A former Mayor of Guisborough and a town magistrate he embodied the civic virtues of his adopted town.  Throughout those years he worked tirelessly to keep the Labour Party banner flying high, acting as an unpaid Constituency Secretary for many years and as a branch officer in the Guisborough Ward Party.  The news of his passing will be met with sadness by a whole generation of Guisborough folk – regardless of party or vote.  Our job now is to live up to Harry’s history and Harry’s values.”

ENDS

Harry Tout 1 Harry Tout 2Note for Editors:  Two photographs of Harry Tout are attached