It beggars belief that the Project Lead for the Tees Valley Mayoral Development Corporation is to be based 250 miles away in London. What utter nonsense.
I suspect our Tees Valley Mayor knew this was coming but he seems to think a virtual person, to lead a virtual team, as far away as possible from where the action needs to be is defensible. This is an entirely inappropriate response to the regeneration of the Tees Valley which surely needs to be steered from this locality.
The person doing the job will have to be based here to understand the industrial and economic scene. You simply can't do that from London and neither can we have yet more London fat cat jobs extracting value out of Teesside.
If the appointee – not necessarily a person from London - has anything about them they will commit to the project and relocate to Teesside. To do otherwise would be wholly unacceptable.
All I see is the paucity of Government thinking on almost every front and, once again, the callous indifference Ministers have towards devolution, the Tees Valley and the northern region in general.
It beggars belief that the Project Lead for the Tees Valley Mayoral Development Corporation is to be based 250 miles away in London. What utter nonsense. I suspect our Tees...
It is with complete incredulity I read comments by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen that the Government has made "a strong commitment to investment in transport across the north" and that "other parts of the country look to us with envy".
He really needs to look at the recently published IPPR North figures for projects involving public sector funding setting out the extraordinary imbalance in transport expenditure. This reveals a spend of some £1943 per person in London and way down at the bottom of the table the North East at £222 per person.
Why on earth should anyone envy such a rotten transport investment deal for us here in the North East? If Mr Houchen thinks this a strong commitment to the North by his Government, I shudder to think how bad it would have to get for him to be critical.
Instead of trotting out his party line, he should get behind the four asks in the Tees Valley Strategic Transport Plan that existed long before he was elected and the demands of our local councils for a fairer share of transport investment.
IPPR North figures can be sourced here: https://www.ippr.org/news-and-media/press-releases/new-transport-figures-reveal-london-gets-1-500-per-head-more-than-the-north-but-north-west-powerhouse-catching-up
It is with complete incredulity I read comments by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen that the Government has made "a strong commitment to investment in transport across the north" and...
It's fantastic to hear the announcement that two Pipe Mills owned by Tata Steel in Hartlepool have been bought by the Liberty House Group safeguarding up to 140 local jobs and many more in the supply chain.
This rewards the skilled workforce in Hartlepool who are not only showing steelmaking can survive in the UK but that it is still a profitable core industry.
I am equally pleased to hear that Tata Steel will be investing £1 million in their remaining Tube Mill in Hartlepool to increase its capability to make high-strength steel tubes, reiterating their commitment to the UK business and their 270 Hartlepool employees.
The government must now look to make significant investments to secure the UK as a world leader in the research, development and production of speciality metals - and, as I have called for many times, what better place to do that than right here on Teesside.
It's fantastic to hear the announcement that two Pipe Mills owned by Tata Steel in Hartlepool have been bought by the Liberty House Group safeguarding up to 140 local jobs...
This is my full speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 4th July 2017 debating Southern rail and the Gibb report. This debate should have taken place six months ago when the report was finished and presented to the Secretary of State.
The full text of my speech can be read by clicking the image below:
This is my full speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 4th July 2017 debating Southern rail and the Gibb report. This debate should have taken place six months...
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald, and newly elected Stockton South MP, Dr. Paul Williams, have provided their parliamentary support for an information guide produced by RoadPeace North East for victims of serious and fatal road crashes.
Launching the Guide in Westminster, Mr. McDonald MP said: “The RoadPeace North East Guide is about helping families at the worst time of their lives and it builds on the fantastic work of our local police in supporting victims.”
Next week, pupils from the Ian Ramsey CE Academy attended ‘WiseDrive’, an initiative in partnership with Cleveland and Durham Roads Policing Unit aimed at empowering young people to make sensible and safe decisions.
Dr. Williams MP visited the school on Friday 30 June ahead of their ‘WiseDrive’ session, which gives children a chance to actively learn about road safety and road danger. Police Interceptor PC Stevens also supported the initiative at the school earlier in the academic year.
“It is so vitally important that education extends beyond the classroom to provide our young people with key life-saving messages such as those from the WiseDrive campaign. The collaborative approach by the Police and RoadPeace North East in their work and the creation of this Guide places victims at the centre, and ensures they receive key information when they need it most,” said Dr. Williams MP.
David Robinson, Chairman of RoadPeace North East and a Senior Solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Road dangers impact everyone, irrespective of age, background or wealth; we hope that our newly launched Guide will be a vital means of practical support to victims.”
“As a former pupil of the school I was keen to return here today, with parliamentary support, to ensure road safety remains on the educational agenda,” continued Mr. Robinson.
Head of School, Brian Janes, said: “At Ian Ramsey CE Academy we value the importance of educating young people in road safety and road danger, and we will continue to work collaboratively with RoadPeace North East and the Police to ensure our pupils are engaged and have the most realistic of understanding.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald, and newly elected Stockton South MP, Dr. Paul Williams, have provided their parliamentary support for an information guide produced... Read more
Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower I have been seeking answers to key questions on behalf of residents of High Rise buildings in Middlesbrough and speaking and writing to constituents to keep them informed of the latest information.
Last week I met with the Executive Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, with responsibility for housing, at Middlesbrough Council and representatives from Thirteen Group and Cleveland Fire Authority. This is an update from that meeting to keep you as well-informed as possible.
Thirteen Group Update-
Thirteen are looking at installing misting or sprinkler systems in their high-rise blocks. Flats in Middlesbrough are ‘compartmentised’ which ensure that fires are contained and this design has been proved to work as in the recent tragic fire in Anson House in Thornaby which was contained to one flat.
All Communal areas of high-rises are monitored by fire alarms and smoke detectors with smoke detectors in individual flats and an intercom system which allows contact to be made if the smoke alarms are triggered. This is beyond the legal requirements but clearly eminently sensible and hopefully reassuring. In addition fire escapes have vents to prevent smoke building up. Issues such the removal of door closers and damaged letterboxes are being actioned as Priority One issues.
All necessary fire assessments are in place and in date, including Personal Emergency Evacuation Processes (PEEPs) in which all tenants’ individual circumstances are kept in a fire box accessible to the fire service. Every high-rise is being visited three times a day and each tenant is being called on and given information and asked if they have any issues. At the time of our meeting 65% of tenants in high-rises had been contacted but Thirteen are to continue with that process until every single tenant has been personally contacted.
Signage in the properties is being reviewed and is to be made clearer and more ‘graphical.’ Testing arrangements have been shared with others such as Teesside University who also have high-rise buildings. Currently Thirteen are focusing on buildings that are over four storeys high but that will extend to medium and low-rise buildings.
Cleveland Fire Authority Update-
Cleveland Fire Authority are continuing to assess and monitor all high rise buildings in the Cleveland area and I would urge everyone concerned to familiarise themselves with the advice of the Brigade on their website at www.clevelandfire.gov.uk
I was pleased to learn from my discussions with the Fire Brigade that they have purchased new aerial appliances which can reach up to 31 metres in height. However, I shared their concerns over current legislation which only requires building contractors to give the Fire Authority seven days’ notice before completion of a building. That simply is not good enough and it is imperative that changes are made to the regulations to allow fire officers better and earlier opportunities to inspect premises under construction. The Government has to look at these regulations urgently and it is also vital that the Judge led enquiry considers this important aspect.
Middlesbrough Council Update-
The government have asked Councils to assess any building of 18 metres or higher and to focus on those owned by local authorities or housing associations. However Middlesbrough Council has decided to assess any building over 4 storeys high, which will include many more properties in the town, and compile a list of private and public buildings and developments in Middlesbrough and what the nature of any cladding is at those properties.
Thermal cladding to terraced properties and others in Middlesbrough, which was installed through Go Warm and British Gas initiatives, is safe but anyone who still has concerns and had their home cladded by a private provider is advised to speak to the company that carried out the work.
I will continue to monitor and review the position and I expect to post further updates in due course as and when appropriate but in the meantime should any Middlesbrough residents have any concerns or simply wish to raise issues with me then do please contact my office, details of which are set out below:
Unit 4 Broadcasting House, Newport Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 5JA
Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower I have been seeking answers to key questions on behalf of residents of High Rise buildings in Middlesbrough and speaking and writing to...
It is very hard to comprehend the sheer enormity of the tragedy that has just happened at Grenfell Tower in London but quite understandably residents of multi storey blocks everywhere could be very anxious.
We have several such blocks in Middlesbrough and I am therefore determined that there be a thorough examination of our housing stock and that all relevant steps are taken to ensure that our residents are safe, and are made safe, and that they can be suitably reassured.
I have spoken with our Chief Fire Officer today and Cleveland Fire Brigade will be carrying out inspections at all such properties over the next 2-3 weeks.
They have already issued guidance to residents and I will be discussing that with them and others in greater detail as a matter of some urgency.
I have also spoken with, and had information from, our major housing associations.
Both they and Cleveland Fire Brigade are attending all these premises and are addressing residents’ immediate concerns and have distributed information leaflets. More information is on their websites, and neighbourhood teams are available to residents and are regularly in attendance at the properties.
The external materials applied to these blocks over the years are a mixture, differing between properties, and of course they have had renewal and other works carried out spanning out across many years.
Nevertheless, they are all going to be tested.
In addition fire safety checks are being carried out at the properties and in some instances, 13 Housing Association are conducting fire inspections three times a day.
Clearly we need to learn more about what needs to be done in response to this most terrible tragedy, but in my initial discussions I am hearing that “misting systems”- which are apparently more effective than sprinkler systems – were already being actively progressed for installation and that will continue.
Again we need to know much more but I am reassured that our properties are compartmentalised between floors and are so structured to prevent the spread of fire.
Whilst any works previously undertaken will presumably have been fully compliant with building regulations and the applicable standards at that time, we now need to apply the most rigorous standards that are relevant today and ensure that all our properties meet those very highest standards.
We need to explore what the right options are for the building of new properties, but in the short term we have to address the immediate issues that this terrible event raises.
Whilst I am extremely keen to meet with the housing associations, the local council, Cleveland Fire Brigade and others, and they have indicated their willingness to do so. For today, I am confident that every agency is responding in the appropriate way to address the immediate concerns here in Middlesbrough and conducting the right investigations and enquiries of their own.
I intend to sit down with them all in very short order to hear from them further and ensure that the safety and well-being of our residents have been fully and properly addressed.
The Fire Brigade are available to provide reassurance to residents who wish to contact them.
Please be aware that the safety record in our high rise properties in Middlesbrough has, so far, been exemplary. Nevertheless, I will be totally focussed in my efforts to make sure that whatever else needs be done is done so that residents can be then reassured about the safety of their homes.
I recommend that any residents with any concerns contact their housing provider and of course Cleveland Fire Brigade but they can also contact me should they wish at my office on 01642 246574 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be very happy to try and help and advise. Please stay safe.
It is very hard to comprehend the sheer enormity of the tragedy that has just happened at Grenfell Tower in London but quite understandably residents of multi storey blocks everywhere...
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the voters of Middlesbrough for returning me as their Member of Parliament. My particular thanks go to those who voted for me, but they also go to those who did not as it is my privilege to be of service to everyone regardless of how they voted.
Our democracy is precious and whilst the electorate's patience has been stretched of late with so many elections - and perhaps more to come - there was undoubtedly a great deal of enthusiasm and passion about the key issues that impact on our every day lives.
Over the last seven weeks, we have had thousands of conversations with people right across the town and I am immensely grateful to each and everyone of them for taking their time to engage with me and my colleagues in some wonderful and, on occasion, challenging conversations.
It is clear to me that the residents of our great town understand extremely well what is needed of a government to grow our economy, to support our industries, and to support our region. They also know that education is a gift to be passed from generation to generation and that our young people should be inspired and encouraged to pursue their dreams and fulfil their potential without being weighed down with tens of thousands of pounds of debt in the process.
And they know that those who are somewhat older should be able to enjoy a safe and secure retirement without anxiety about how their future possible needs might be met and they know that we should have a NHS that is properly funded to meet needs of our communities.
It was also clear to me that the message of hope that the Labour Party offered and epitomised by Jeremy Corbyn, appealed in very great measure, and whilst the political landscape is now very much changed, it is my promise to the people of Middlesbrough that I will do all that as can to deliver on that message of hope by bringing about a Labour Government as quickly as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the voters of Middlesbrough for returning me as their Member of Parliament. My particular thanks go to...
As I said on Saturday morning on LBC Radio, if GTR are confirmed in breach I will immediately move to terminate their franchise.
As I said on Saturday morning on LBC Radio, if GTR are confirmed in breach I will immediately move to terminate their franchise.
The snap general election called by the Prime Minister presents Labour with the opportunity to put our policies and our case clearly to the British people to let them decide what kind of nation and society we want to live in. I will be standing again to represent my home town and looking forward to campaigning on the things that matter to people in my constituency.
No doubt many people will have been caught on the hop. The prospect of a general election two years in to this parliament and hot on the heels of the EU Referendum is precisely what Teresa May told us would not happen.
The Prime Minister is quite adept at this, saying one thing and meaning another – a reputation that she and her government take into the forthcoming campaign. I’m sure voters will not forget that and all the other backtracking and u-turns there have been in this parliament so far.
Teresa May is also saying a lot about ‘strong and stable leadership’. I recall her predecessor David Cameron saying the exact same thing, yet the Tories have presided over the most chaotic few years in recent memory over Brexit, risking the break-up of the UK as well as causing the crisis in Health and Social Care, in Education, Social Security, housing and the economy. They haven’t so far and will not provide ‘strong and stable leadership’ because they aren’t a party who stands up for the majority of people in the UK.
What I believe she is really doing is concede the strength of the opposition – not in trying to stifle or obstruct the government but in holding the government to account. That is why there will be a vote in parliament on the final Brexit deal and why there were, for example, u-turns in self-employed NI’s, in PIP’s and cuts to tax credits in the budget.
Over the Easter period the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn have been setting out polices and the case for a fairer, more equal Britain and a Brexit deal that works for everyone. Meanwhile, too much is being made of the division within Labour with everything else being channelled through the prism of Brexit.
The general election is our opportunity to showcase what Labour stands for, and now for the PLP and Labour voters to unite around. This is our opportunity to end six years of austerity, to pull Britain back from being the bargain basement, tax haven economy the tories seem happy to accept. After Brexit, people in this country should not be worse off and Labour will see to it that they aren’t.
We also need to tone down the media obsession with personalities and opinion polls. What is wrong, for goodness sake, with a leader who is decent, consistent, honest and principled? It is all too easy to be cynical about politicians and their promises but in Jeremy Corbyn Labour has a leader who has a clear vision, the commitment and the stamina to make Britain a nation that works for everyone.
Opinion polls don’t win elections, by the way. If they did we would still be in Europe and Hilary Clinton would be President of the United States. It is voters who will decide the outcome of the general election at the ballot box on 8th June.
They will have the choice about the kind of nation, the kind of society, we want to be and live in. Labour has very strong messages on health, social care, pensions and welfare; on families, devolution, transport and infrastructure investment, public services, education as well on immigration, our national (and international) security and our environment. These are crafted from a quite different set of values to those held by the Tories and I’m confident Labour’s messages will prove to be a hit with voters as polling day approaches.
This election is not wholly about Brexit but Labour will be a strong voice for the UK and take a strong negotiating team to Brussels on behalf of British workers, their families and the businesses and industries that employ them as we establish our future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. Labour is pro-worker, pro-business, pro a United Kingdom and absolutely for the best deal for our country and our economy as we exit the EU.
All this really matters in places like Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley which will become abundantly clear over the next six weeks or so. I believe Labour’s policies are already popular and, given a fair hearing, will be welcomed locally, regionally and by the majority of the British people.
It is not going to be easy to do that, but do that we must to give hope to millions of people struggling with the crippling and unnecessary austerity that is favouring just a privileged few at the top on the back of those least able to bear it.
So, as we now enter the pre-election period I say, bring it on!
The snap general election called by the Prime Minister presents Labour with the opportunity to put our policies and our case clearly to the British people to let them decide...