Archive for East Cleveland

Tom renews calls for Skinningrove Mining Museum to be given ‘National Status’ by Government

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop today (27th January 2015) called on Arts and Culture ministers to grant ‘National Museum’ status to the East Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum in Skinningrove.

Tom said:
“I have made this call before, but up to now it has been ignored by coalition ministers. My reason for renewing this call is due to the fact that Redcar and Cleveland Council is now proposing, as part of their long term public realm work, to look to the preservation of our last two surviving sets of ironstone mine buildings at Margrove Park and Skelton as interpretative sites of our old core industry – an industry that shaped East Cleveland. These sites would be linked by dedicated footpaths to the Skinningrove Museum.

“To properly develop such a scheme and to build on it, I feel it is crucial that the Skinningrove Museum should be granted ‘National Museum’ status by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) who have responsibility for the country’s museums.”

“Making a declaration they will do this would put Skinningrove’s Museum on the same footing as the big London Museums, York’s National Railway Museum and the National Coal Mining Museum at Wakefield. With that status would come better resources and backing for the local managers.

“I will again be writing to Ed Vaizey, the Culture Minister, emphasising the importance of a positive reply to this call.”

Tom voices concerns over possible move of Brotton Post Office

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (9th January 2015) expressed his concerns over a possible decision by Post Office Ltd to move the location of the Post Office in the East Cleveland Village of Brotton.

Post Office Ltd we are proposing, with the Postmaster’s agreement, to move the above Post Office branch to a new location – Parkway Store, 2-4 Foster Street, Brotton, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 2TR.

Tom said:
“The idea, it seems, is to move from the current standalone Post Office on  the village high street to a new shared location with a general store in the Brotton Park Area. Despite the Post Office’s warm words, I have concerns.

“The location, if they are correct, is well away from the existing High Street PO and the other shops and is not on a road where there are buses stopping within yards in both directions. Additionally it is a considerable 10-15 minute walk for people from the “top end” of Brotton or from the streets running off the High Street. The new location does not offer any of these access advantages. The Post Office in a coy comment say that any walk will be via what they call “a varied terrain” which in plain English means a step gradient – something of concern for pensioners or the less able bodied.

“I think we will have to oppose this and we are now making contact with the Post Office to get more details. In the meantime I would ask local residents who also may have concerns to contact the Post Office consultation team or drop letters in to the existing post office for forwarding to the Post Office consultation team”

The Post Office consultation team can be found at

Tom writes to Planning Inspectorate following Saltburn planning decision

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (9th January 2015) has written to the Planning Inspectorate following yesterday’s rejection, by Redcar and Cleveland Council’s Regulatory Committee of an application by house builder, Taylor Wimpey for 130 houses on a greenfield site adjacent to Saltburn’s built up area.

Tom said:
“The reason for writing was to ask that, if Taylor Wimpey decide to appeal the Planning Inspectorate who handle appeals, running any appeal via a Local Planning Inquiry, rather than via what are called “written representations”.

“Given the level of interest that this application has generated, its strategic importance locally and the need for all to be given an oral hearing if possible. I feel that, in matters like these, written representations where an inspector merely reads all the papers relating to the application and letters of objection, does not allow for community involvement sufficiently.

“Obviously there is a danger that the wealthy volume house builders will go for appeal, as they can afford this, and we need the community to be ready for this if it happens.”

Tom renews ‘battle to stop Saltburn development’ before planning meeting

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (30th January 2014) renewed his determination to stop a housing development in Saltburn despite what he called the “thick-headed” previous decision of opposition councillors to combine to kill off the Council’s Local Plan.

Tom said:
“The Council’s Regulatory Committee will be studying this application next week, and I have now read the council’s planning officers report which recommends approval of the 130 home development on open farmland next to Wilton Bank.

“Having read the report, I am conscious of the problems caused by a recent thick headed decision by opposition councillors to kill off the Council’s Local Plan – a framework document that explicitly omitted the site from any consideration of development. The council officers now have to admit – and I use their words “Following the Borough Council’s decision not to approve the Local Plan… and the revised Local Plan timetable indicating that the new Local Plan will be adopted until 2017, the only opportunity to increase the supply of housing in the next few years is through the planning application process.” This shows just how stupid the decision taken was.

“However, I believe there are still material planning grounds to reject the proposal. In their report council officers accept that “The application site is located outside of development limits… and, therefore, the proposals would be contrary to the development plan and should treated as a departure from the plan.”  I concur with that view.

“In addition, whilst developers Taylor Wimpey argue that the council does not have a 5 year land bank for development – the hurdle erected by Eric Pickles’ National Planning Framework – council planners maintain that this is wrong and that the Council’s latest five-year supply assessment indicates that there is a 5.3 years supply, which is above this requirement. Given this, I would also argue that this is another reason why the proposal should be rejected by councillors on the basis that they would seek to see that this target is maintained by only use of sites which were identified in that past Local Plan.

“But the great tragedy is that this all should not have been allowed to happen.  It is only the thoughtless, inane, actions of a cabal of Tory, Lib Dem, Independent and Green councillors that leaves us where we are today. Indeed, in a reply of the adage of tragedy followed by farce, a leading opposition councillor who played a leading part in the junking of the Local Plan now argues in his submission to the committee that any alterations to existing policies – and again I quote “should be via a council’s Local Plan” – which the one he killed had that safeguard for this site. Quite simply, words fail me.”

Tom’s objection to housing proposals at Wilton Bank

Dear Ms Skelton,

Planning Application R/2014/0631/00M

I wish to lodge a formal objection to this application lodged by Messrs Taylor Wimpy PLC, and which involves a proposal to build 130 houses on land directly to the west of Wilton Bank in Saltburn, and which is on land presently used as a riding stable and large exercise paddock.

I recognise that in strict geographical terms this land is within the St Germain’s ward of the council and therefore outwith my own constituency, but this is a matter of mere yards and the proposal does impinge on my Saltburn constituents.

My objections are as follows.

This was not a site identified in the emerging local plan for any housing allocation.  I recognise that a full meeting of the council did determine to expunge this document and this requiring the exercise to start afresh.  I accept this decision, although I have said publically that it was wrong headed, and those who voted for this are culpable of derailing a key policy document that every council needs to have.  However, the wording and recommendations of that document are on record and I believe that it is incumbent on all members of the Regulatory Committee to bear this in mind when determining this application.

Secondly, the existing plan structure now relies on the 2007 Local Development Framework.  This is now an old document, and reflects past conditions.  However it exists and must be seen as a material consideration.  Thus, the fact that this proposal is outside of the then accepted limits to development in and around Saltburn must be seen as important.

Thirdly, the proposal further erodes the accepted and long standing green wedge between Saltburn and Marske.  This was seen as proper grounds for the previous rejection of a proposal for housing at the Eastern end of Windy Hill Lane, although I am aware that this is now, given the deletion of the local plan, being appealed by the developers.

Fourthly the proposal does, in my view, detract from the essentially rural aspect of the land that slopes to the South of the site and this impinges significantly on the natural countryside running up to the ridge from above the Skelton Beck Valley to the ridge above the Skelton Beck Valley and Errington Woods.

Fifthly, the previous use of this site has been, for many years now, totally non-agricultural, and given this, much of the land resembles in its make-up, natural pastureland, and the home to a significant variety of flora and fauna.  This is a precious natural resource and should be protected.

Sixthly, I feel given the importance of this proposal, that there needs to be a site meeting at which members of the regulatory committee can view the site and hear the formal objections of local residents and myself.

Can these views be forwarded to your development control officers for tabling on the occasion when this application is to be debated and determined?

I look forward to hearing from them in due course.

With all best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Blenkinsop MP

Response to Foundry closure announcement

Responding to today’s (2nd September 2014) announcement by ESCO Corporation that the Guisborough Foundry will close by the end of November affecting 65 employees, local MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“I am extremely disappointed at this announcement. This closure will be a huge loss for East Cleveland and my priority will be to support those employees who have been hit by this announcement any way I can.

“Since hearing the news I have written to the firm offering whatever assistance I can give to help the workforce. We cannot write off any possibility at this moment, and I’ll be making my own enquiries into how we can help in conjunction with the workforces elected trade union representatives. It is vital that we ensure that opportunities are provided for the retraining of the employees, so that they will have a chance to apply for jobs elsewhere.”

Tom expresses disappointment as Arriva announces new East Cleveland timetables

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (8th July 2014) expressed disappointment at what he called a “curate’s egg” of a new set of timetable and minor route changes for services in East Cleveland.

Tom said:
“Whilst there are some signs that the company have responded positively to complaints from local bus users channelled through me, there are still big areas where we could have had improvements to the major changes seen at the beginning of the year, but where Arriva have taken no action.”

“Above all, and despite a packed and angry public meeting in Guisborough at which they were present, they have failed to bring back services to the Hunters Hill area of Guisborough, a large residential estate now bereft of bus services to the town centre and Middlesbrough. This, as with the loss of over half of the old 81 service to  Farndale Drive, has seriously inconvenienced many residents. This could have been righted in this new set of timetables, but again Arriva have not listened.

“There are some improvements, most notably a promise of new buses; a return of the 5a route to New Skelton; the resumption of direct through early morning buses from East Cleveland to Middlesbrough on the X3 route and a new peak hour X5 service of two buses non-stop from Loftus, Brotton and Skelton to central Middlesbrough. But these improvements, welcome as they are, have been cancelled out by the lack of any action to bring back buses to Hunters Hill. This is something I will continue to press for.”

Tom secures debate to highlight local flooding

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, will today lead an Adjournment Debate in Parliament to discuss flood risk in the North East.

The debate is the latest course of action Tom has taken since the September 2013 floods that devastated many East Cleveland communities and with many still suffering the consequences.

The debate is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 4th June 2014 at around 10pm.

Ahead of the debate Tom said:
“The floods that took place in September last year continue to impact on residents lives to this day; but compared with the attention given to areas affected by the floods earlier this year in, for example, Surrey, it wouldn’t be surprising if people had forgotten or even if they were completely unaware.

“The double standards being used by this Government in terms of doing everything they possibly can to deal with the problems has been, quite frankly, disgraceful.

“Ministers were quite happy to visit our area to deliver some good news but where were they in September when residents were suffering from the sudden flooding. At the time, I requested a meeting with the Secretary of State and called for urgent Government action but I was just palmed off down the rung of ministers.

“I jumped at the chance to secure relief funds for flooding victims when the Prime Minister announced that cash would be available for those impacted, but then that turned out to be a false promise. It seems so unfair that people in East Cleveland are losing out just because, for want of a better phrase, they didn’t get flooded at the time the Government were taking notice.

“I’m very angry at these double standards and I will continue to raise the issue any way I can.”

East Cleveland residents will rightly wonder ‘where was DEFRA Secretary of State during our floods?’

Following reports that DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson will be visiting a business in the area following some good news regarding Regional Growth Funds, local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (25th April) claimed that residents in East Cleveland who were hit by flooding in September last year will rightfully wonder why he didn’t visit the area when it was most in need.

Tom said:
“It is okay for the Secretary of State to visit the area when the sun is shining which is what he is effectively doing by visiting the area following some good news but where was he in September when residents were suffering from the sudden flooding.

“At the time, I requested a meeting with the Secretary of State and called for urgent Government action but I was just palmed off down the rung of ministers. This is a real kick in the teeth to those residents in particular – some of whom are still reeling from the effects of the flooding – and they will rightly be questioning where he was during their time of need.”

Closure of local Santander agency office in Guisborough is “another blow to rural bank users”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (25th February 2014) called on Bankers, Santander, to ‘think again’ over plans to axe its agency office in Guisborough.

Tom made this comment in the light of reports that Santander were planning to close all 139 agencies – small offices operating out of local estate agents and insurance brokers – in remote communities across the UK.

Tom said:
“I appreciate that the growth of e-banking has meant that visits to local banks for things like withdrawals and deposits or account checking  are becoming less and less a part of everyday banking, but I do have to say that there are still many people – especially the elderly – who don’t all have internet expertise or connection and rely on these agencies for a myriad of day to day transactions.

“This is particularly the case in rural areas or in smaller market towns like Guisborough, where the only choice for Santander customers will be to travel miles to Redcar if they want to bank in a branch.

“In overall terms, this move will hit the estate agents who act as hubs for Santander. Loss of agency status will mean that they will have to survive on their estate agency business – and we all know this will be difficult in a still depressed house buying marker in areas like Teesside and East Cleveland.

“When they took over these agencies Santander described them as the “lifeblood of rural communities” so I would hope that they think again, and in so doing review the social needs of their customers as part of any plan for their Guisborough customers.”