Commenting on the news that £11 million of cuts to public services are to be implemented by Middlesbrough Borough Council due to severe reductions in funding from Tory Whitehall Chiefs the Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said:
“Whilst the headline figure of ‘£11 million worth of cuts’ is frightening enough it gets much worse when you begin to look at the details. Up for the axe include over 200 workers livelihoods and closing Ayresome Industries, which provides employment to people with disabilities. These cuts will have disastrous personal impact on many people in Middlesbrough – none more so than the 220 staff who will go and Ayresome Industries employees who, if the abolishment of Remploy factories is anything to go by, will have a near impossible task of finding a new job.
“Then we have the far wider-reaching impact of the loss of a library in Hemlington, reductions in school crossing patrols and essential area maintenance such as grass cutting and green waste management. This is terrible news for the area and there will be extremely difficult times ahead.
“I’ll be working closely with councillors, local organisations and members of the public to mitigate the impact as best we can. Unfortunately, there is a simple truth that cannot be denied and that is the Tory Minister, Eric Pickles, is hitting North East councils significantly harder than those wealthy suburbs of the South.”
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, today (15th October 2012) expressed his anger at the decision by Tory Ministers to not call-in the proposed development on greenfield land at Grey Tower Farm and claimed “the process has become utterly pointless under this government”.
“Local residents will rightly be disappointed with this decision and will have serious concerns over the call-in procedure. Formerly, one of the strongest tools to ensure local voices get heard, the process has become utterly pointless under this government – now we have ministers saying one thing and doing another.
“In the response it is acknowledged that the development is “locally controversial” which downright contradicts an earlier statement in the letter about giving more power to local communities. Whilst disappointing, unfortunately, it is hardly surprising. Only a few months ago developers were making large donations to the Conservatives; now we find planning policy in complete disarray and borderline a free-for-all on greenbelt land.
“The Department for Local Communities and Local Government needs to get its house in order or this could be the first in an onslaught of poor decisions by Tory Whitehall chiefs harming local communities.”
Tom Blenkinsop, the Labour Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, today expressed his sorrow at the news of the death of his fellow Labour Middlesbrough MP, Sir Stuart Bell.
“I am extremely saddened to hear the news that my colleague and fellow Middlesbrough Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell has passed away after losing his fight with pancreatic cancer. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife Margaret, his children, his office staff and all his family and friends.
Whilst I was brand new to Parliament in 2010, following the sad death of Ashok Kumar, Sir Stuart was the longest serving MP elected at the last General Election on Teesside, having represented Middlesbrough since 1983.
During Sir Stuart’s 29 years in Parliament, he held a number of roles and fought numerous battles for his constituents. I know many will remember him for being the Second Church Estates Commissioner for 13 years, acting as a link between the Church of England to Parliament and Government. Sir Stuart also had a wide range of roles in Parliament, being knighted for his service in 2004, including being Chair of the House’s Finance and Services Committee, and being a member of the House of Commons Commission. On a European level, I know that Sir Stuart was one of the most active Parliamentarians in developing Anglo-French relations, which was recognised by President Chirac in 2006 when he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.”
At my first meeting with Ray Mallon after being elected, he informed me that he supported George Osborne’s failed economic policies, even after David Cameron promised to target the North East and Northern Ireland for spending cuts in April 2010. As Mr Mallon is a former leading supporter of the Big Society and someone who previously spoke at Conservative Conference in his role as a Tory advisor, I welcome his change of heart.
Unfortunately, I think Mr Mallon is being naive to think that he can convince the Tories to give Middlesbrough the money it needs two and a half years into this Government. Mr Mallon has not been able to deliver this previously, despite the fact that he claimed to have influence with senior national Conservative politicians before the election. I will, of course, continue to fight for a fairer deal for Teesside and East Cleveland from the Government, as I have done for the past two and a half years, whether that is in terms of local government, health, police or fire funding.
Tom Blenkinsop MP today (4th July) welcomed the decision by Tesco Extra in Coulby Newham to implement a coin operation system at the store from 19th July as part of the stores latest effort to cut down on the number of abandoned trolleys in the area.
“I’m pleased that Tesco have finally taken this necessary step to prevent trolleys being abandoned on streets. It was an issue that was blighting areas of Coulby Newham and Hemlington and I had contacted Tesco on numerous occasions to get to grips with the problem.
“Whilst magnetic brakes would be the most ideal solution, I’m confident that the action taken will prove a success and no longer will abandoned trolleys be a feature of the community.”
In the meantime, a trolley collection service is available on 01329 882210 at no cost to the customer other than the original call.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP has today (23rd February 2012) pleaded with Middlesbrough Borough Council to “think again” over the future of the Lingfield Countryside Centre in Coulby Newham.
The farm was part of the land purchased for the development of the Coulby Newham estate, and up to recent years has been an outdoor leisure centre for local youngsters and the Coulby Newham community. It is currently unused and the council have now said that they want to look at releasing the land for development.
Tom said “I am a realist, and I am only too well aware of the tremendous pressures put on local councils by the financial cuts imposed by the coalition government, and it is no surprise that they do have to look to develop land they own to help to fund services. However, I do have to say that the local community have always seen the Lingfield Countryside Centre as a local amenity and a ‘green lung’ for Coulby Newham.
Up to now this had been recognised by Middlesbrough Council, and indeed the latest edition of their “green strategy” saw the importance of centres like this, and suggested the expansion of Lingfield Countryside Centre as a field study centre, an eco-park and a educational resource for local schools. It was suggested that this could be part funded by European development funding.
The problem is, is that if the centre is sold off, and then goes under concrete for more housing, the chances of such an ambition for Coulby Newham is lost forever. I am told by local people that this is something they would hate to see happening.
Middlesbrough Council have said that they want to study a document their officers will be drawing up as a basis for looking to the future of the site. I would hope – and I will be formally asking – for this document to also look at keeping the centre alive and to explore options to allow this to happen.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, is giving his backing to a Middlesbrough Council initiative to help local people with problems at an ‘advice open day’ in Hemlington.
Tom said: “This ‘Advice Day’ will be held from 9.30 am to 1.00 pm in St Timothy’s Church, at the heart of Hemlington, at the Viewley Centre on the 28th February coming.
“The purpose of the event is to tackle advice issues for local people, and hopefully to try and solve any problems there and then. The kind of problems dealt with can range from resolving debt problems, giving one to one benefit checks and help with claims, advice on employment issues, housing / homelessness matters and Rent and Council Tax arrears. In addition, experts will also be there who can advise on saving money on energy bills, joining a Credit Union to help save as well as helping with job searches.”
“I know from my day-to-day experience in the Hemlington area that many people suffer from problems like these. The aim of Middlesbrough Council is to get caseworkers from different agencies – Erimus Housing, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Council itself and work programme agencies – into one room to try and get things fixed on the spot.”
“I am more than happy to accept any referrals that might come up where an MP can help. This is a bold and exciting step for the council and, hopefully, other sessions can be held elsewhere in South Middlesbrough in the future.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, is calling for a reprieve for the threatened Park End Community Centre.
Tom said ”One candidate for a local council cut is the ending of support for the Park End Community Centre. To do so would be both incredibly illogical in cash terms, and wrong in social terms.”
“In cash terms, the centre only in recent times won a £102,000 lottery grant for introducing facilities like a multi-games court, a skate park and garden. The core support from Middlesbrough is essential to winning further external funding from the lottery and community grant givers.”
“In social terms, Park End is an area suffering from serious disadvantage and high unemployment and social isolation.”
“The activities carried out at the centre combat this poverty, such as providing a base for a credit union, a Sure Start centre, a youth ‘drop in’ and a centre for the local Neighbourhood Watch crime fighting agency. None of this can be lost, and much of it will simply have to be provided elsewhere – and at added cost.”
“Put simply, Middlesbrough Council are under the cash cosh begin wielded by David Cameron, George Osborne and their poodle, Eric Pickles. If Park End needs a target, it is there. Middlesbrough Council must see the social and economic folly if they are forced to pull cash support for the Park End Community Centre, and if they – as I hope they will – will appeal to Government for cash aid to keep the centre open, I will be there with them.”