Archive for Middlesbrough

Tom criticises Portuguese-speaking requirement for construction workers

Tom has criticised a company for seemingly favouring Portuguese speakers for roles in constructing a new power station on Teesside.

A job advert for a banksman slinger on the Middlesbrough site, stated that speaking Portuguese ‘is highly desired but not essential’. Banksman slingers are responsible for ensuring safety during the transportation of materials via crane on a construction site.

Tom said:

This is one way in which companies are disadvantaging local skilled workers and making it harder for them to get work. It is very unusual to expect construction workers earning £14 an hour to speak a second language, to say the least. I have been contacted by several Teessiders who work in the construction industry who feel they aren’t being a fair chance to get these jobs.

There is another issue here. Why is there a requirement for a banksman slinger to speak another language at all? I worry that this means the crane drivers and scaffolders on the site are foreign workers being exploited by being made to work for conditions and pay below the industry standard. This could mean the migrant workers are being cheated while standards for all construction workers are being undercut.

Last month I introduced a bill to tackle exactly these sorts of practices by employers building power stations. A loophole in the law means companies building smaller power stations can make their employees work for less than the industry agreed standards. I will be raising this issue again – we need to stop the exploitation, stop the undercutting and close the loophole.

Tom Blenkinsop, introduced the 10 minute rule bill last month saying that the House of Commons must address these ‘pockets of exploitation [which] lead to resentment among all workers from our communities who are prevented from seeking and achieving meaningful employment.’

Tory Mayoral Candidate’s SSI comments ‘unbelievable spin of a Government failure’

Tom has slammed comments made by the Conservative candidate for Tees Valley Metro Mayor praising the Government’s response to SSI site closure as a ‘blueprint example in how to rescue an area’.

Tom, said:

These comments are frankly unbelievable.

The Government failed to step in to save the SSI plant, which was one of the most efficient in Europe, and if it was saved would be making a solid profit today. The Government fought against trade defence measures at the European level to stop Chinese dumping saying that it unfairly protects inefficient plants – while allowing efficient plants in the UK to close!

Employment still hasn’t recovered in my constituency and Redcar.

The Government’s response was a blueprint for nothing but failure.The fact local Tories are trying to spin this loss of such a major plant as a success is absurd and frankly shameful.

It shows the Tories both locally and nationally aren’t willing to fight for industries in our area. When our industries, whether it’s the remaining steel plants, the chemical industry or the energy sector, next need someone to stand up for them I hope we have a Labour Mayor like Sue Jeffrey, not a Tory one who will protect the Government’s reputation ahead of local jobs.

The comments were made at a hustings hosted on Wednesday night. The vote for mayor will take place on 4 May.

“Cuts to south Middlesbrough bus services show the market is rigged” claims Tom Blenkinsop MP

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 17th 2015) hit out at what he called a “rigged market” which has meant that some bus services serving Hemlington, Coulby Newham and Marton will be coming off the road this Friday (20th March 2015).

Routes scheduled to be terminated include the 18 and 19 which operate a service linking Hemlington, Coulby Newham and Marton on a circular route. The other service to end is the early morning 603 and 604 buses linking Coulby Newham and Hemlington with Middlesbrough Town Centre.

Tom said:
“These services have been operated for many years by Leven Valley Buses and have provided a service that I know have been well liked by local passengers. In addition the 18 and 19 also calls at the front door of the James Cook University Hospital giving a direct link for local hospital visitors and out patients.

“Leven Valley say that – and I genuinely believe them on this – they are sad to end these routes, but claim that the company could not go on as it was due to factors including the loss of local council support, increased costs for running services and not having the advantages of scale that rival multi-national operators like Arriva or Stagecoach enjoy – and in particular the costs of insuring their bus fleet.

“This shows just how rigged the deregulated bus market is towards small firms like Leven Valley. If Arriva or Stagecoach were to announce that they were looking to re-tender their total insurance needs on the market, they would be besieged by insurers looking for a blue chip customer. But for local firms, they are left to drift in a commercial sea of disinterest and high premiums.

“We need a shake-up of the bus market and the rules for entry to this market.  Meanwhile in the short term and in the absence of any interest by the big bus companies in picking up these routes, I have written to Middlesbrough Council’s Chief Executive asking if they will re-tender the already supported 603 and 604 service and consider taking the 18 and 19 route under their wing.”

Tom Blenkinsop in call for Post Office bosses to ‘rethink’ Coulby Newham service during April closure

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (10th March 2015) called on national Post Office bosses to ‘rethink’ their proposals to provide counter services during a fortnight shutdown for the Post Office in Coulby Newham.

Tom said:
“From the 4th April the Coulby Newham Post Office on Lingfield Ash will have to shut down for a fortnight for a complete refurbishment and modernisation – this, of course, is welcome. However, what is not welcome is that the post office have, in my view, extremely limited plans to provide an alternative service.

“In short, they are saying that people can simply just use the branches at Hemlington and Marton or, indeed Middlesbrough town centre. For people with no car, this cuts out a reasonably local chance of accessing post office counter services. This is important given the large size of the Coulby Newham Post Office catchment area. The nearest branches at Hemlington and Marton are small and this could mean a lot of queuing for a lot of customers.

“I have suggested that there are alternatives that could be considered. We know that the Post Office have, for example, mobile coaches converted to counter post offices which they could park up near to the branch or on a car park near the Coulby Newham Parkway Centre. I feel this is the only commensurate response they should make.

“I look to the Post Office reviewing their arrangements to provide such a local service at a busy time of year.”

Tom warns of ‘serious consequences’ ahead of Park End GP surgery loss

Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop today (29th August 2014) warned that losing the GP surgery in Park End poses serious risks to both the health and well-being of local people and increasing pressure on other NHS services.

Over 1,500 people are registered at Park End medical centre which is due to close this Sunday (31st August 2014).

Tom said:
“Local NHS services across my constituency are gradually being eroded away and the closure of the GP surgery in Park End this weekend is yet another example of that. Over 1,500 people will now have to find an alternative GP and it is inevitable that this will add pressure to other NHS services, particularly to already overstretched A&E departments.

“The closure is a particular kick in the teeth for Park End as, only last week, NHS England created a fund to prevent the closure of GP surgeries in areas of high deprivation. Too late for the GP surgery in Park End.

“Our NHS is at serious risk and I will continue to fight for it.”

Tom expresses concern at Hemlington NHS proposals

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop. Has today (11th August 2014) expressed his concerns at a consultation looking into whether there is sufficient capacity in the area if Hemlington Medical Centre was to close.

Commenting on the consultation Tom said:
“Across my entire constituency different NHS services are being put at risk due to the destructive reorganisation imposed by the Tory-led Government – in Skelton we have lost the GP Practice and walk-in centre; in Park End we’ve lost the medical centre, and minor-injury services in Guisborough and Brotton look precarious. These proposals for Hemlington Medical Centre would be devastating and would inevitably increase pressure on other local NHS services, such as already overstretched A&E services.

“Whilst I understand that, currently, this only forms part of a consultation, it is strikingly similar to what happened in Skelton and Park End. I vehemently oppose the proposal to close Hemlington Medical Centre and I will be responding to the consultation saying as much. I would urge local residents who rely on the service to do the same.

“Our NHS is rapidly being eroded away and only a Labour government will fight for it.”

Tom urges Barclays Bank to ‘think again’ about any possible branch closures in Middlesbrough and East Cleveland

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (29th January 2014) called on Barclays Bank to ‘think again’ if two local branches of the bank in were on their possible hit list for closure.

Tom made this comment in the light of reports that Barclays are looking to possibly axe up to a quarter of their entire branch network in the UK and a new emphasis on sharing what premises they keep with supermarket giant ASDA.

Tom said:
“I appreciate that the growth of e-banking has meant that visits to branches plays a declining role in 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 their branch for a myriad of day to day transactions. This is particularly the case in rural areas or in towns where Barclays provide the only bank outlet.

“In my constituency, this is true of both Saltburn and Loftus. Closure would either mean customers having to travel to Redcar or, if they are thinking of setting up a base at the Skelton ASDA outlet, having to get to an out of town supermarket that currently has no bus service.

“I would hope that Barclays, in their preparation for this exercise, place an emphasis on factoring in social needs as part of any plan for their Teesside and East Cleveland presence.”

Fight for Ayresome Industries “more important than ever”

Following the announcement today (6th December 2012) that the Coalition Government are set to close at least 10 more Remploy factories and a further five have been put at risk, local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, claimed that it was “more important than ever” that Ayresome Industries is spared the chopping block.

Similar to Ayresome Industries, Remploy factories provide specialist disability employment for disabled workers allowing them to earn a living, gain confidence and independence.

Tom said:
“The way this news has come to light is shameful – Ministers sneaking out a written statement the day after the Autumn Statement – and it is awful news for hundreds of disabled workers who are now at risk of losing their jobs. It’s comparable to what could happen if Ayresome Industries was to be shut down. 90% of those made redundant during the last round of Remploy factory closures are still out of work, yet the Government have made this lamentable decision to close even more. So what would happen to Ayresome Industry employees if they lost their jobs in an area that already suffers from high unemployment?

Anna Turley, Labour & Co-operative candidate for Redcar said:
“Middlesbrough and Mayor Mallon now have a great opportunity to prove the government wrong and show Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron that protected work places for the disabled are viable and that people depend on them for their livelihoods. I hope Mayor Mallon takes this opportunity to hold out against this national decline and ensure this priceless resource isn’t lost.”

Tom submits budget response

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.

Tom said:
“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.”

Tom Middlesbrough Budget Response

‘Lack of leadership is a threat to the future of local libraries’

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, responding today (6th November) to findings by the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee report into library closures warned that ‘Government cuts are borderline forcing Local Authorities to risk breaking the law’.

The report highlighted that many councils were unaware about what was expected of them and those who cut library services are at risk of failing in their legal duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” service.

Tom said:
“Libraries often act as the hub of a community so threats of closure often lead to a passionate community response – and rightly so. Therefore, this is an important cross-party report that clearly highlights Government failure to act and to provide guidance for under pressure local authorities. This is particularly evident on the subject of libraries under threat or being closed, and on what a “comprehensive and efficient” service should look like – and the legal requirements surrounding that.

“This vacuum of leadership from Government ministers is having a dramatic impact on local authorities being able to manage library services on a shoestring budget. This is clearly evident in my constituency where Hemlington Library is under threat due to budget cuts. We now see that there is a strong community campaign against the proposed closure and it would be a devastating loss for the area if it was to be lost.

“Unfortunately, Ministers seem unwilling to act. The only commitment they have given to dealing with library closures is a report by the end of 2014, which is frankly, a disgrace. Two more years of strained council budgets will have passed by then.  The Government needs to work alongside the Arts Council to develop ideas and structures for libraries to remain a practical and affordable service as well as a valuable community resource.”