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 email@example.com 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...
My BBC Tees breakfast interview (click title line above) commenting on the planned rail 2-day strike by Virgin East Coast staff on 28/04/2014 over de-staffing of trains, passenger safety and other matters involved in the dispute.
My BBC Tees breakfast interview (click title line above) commenting on the planned rail 2-day strike by Virgin East Coast staff on 28/04/2014 over de-staffing of trains, passenger safety and...
I'm amazed at claims made by James Wharton, the MP for the neighbouring Stockton South constituency, over the Boundary Review. I think he needs a reality check .
Mr Wharton accuses Labour of wanting to amalgamate Yarm and Middlesbrough. This is rich coming from a local Tory as it is his own government which is responsible for this preposterous exercise in the first place.
The only reason that Labour have had to propose any new boundaries at all is because Mr Wharton’s government have insisted on a Boundary Review deliberately initiated to try and damage Labour.
I note that Mr Wharton has nothing to say about the fact that 2 million registered voters have not been included in the process.
Indeed, if it wasn’t for the exclusion of those voters and the ludicrously inflated number of electors that must live within each new constituency there would be no need to suggest linking Yarm and Middlesbrough.”
This is a situation entirely of his own government’s making. By disenfranchising millions of registered voters and seeking to delete and break up dense urban constituencies mostly represented by Labour MP’s, we have been left in an impossible position.
It is also important to remember that the Labour Party’s proposals actually meet the Boundary Commissions own criteria much more closely than the Commission’s own initial attempt. A fact that Mr Wharton has conveniently decided to overlook.
I'm amazed at claims made by James Wharton, the MP for the neighbouring Stockton South constituency, over the Boundary Review. I think he needs a reality check . Mr Wharton...
I warmly welcome Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell's fulsome support for the North East in his speech in Newcastle today.
I'm particularly delighted our Shadow Chancellor is putting his weight behind much needed transport infrastructure, investment in the region and is also supportive of critical research and development - particularly the Teesside Metals Catapult proposal from the Metals Processing Institute on Teesside.
Underpinning this is Labour’s commitment to putting in place a real industrial strategy for the UK and our regions, a strategy focused on getting government to deliver for regions such as the North East, where its massive potential is not being fully realised.
Labour is looking to the future - yes building on past success but pushing government to unlock investments for the new technologies to herald an industrial renaissance in the UK, with the North East playing a major part.
This means also supporting initiatives like the Teesside Collective, which will build on the natural advantages and existing expertise and known technologies to fundamentally tackle industrial carbon emissions, putting Teesside and our region at the cutting edge of Carbon Capture Storage and Re-User technology.
This will de-couple industrial growth from increased carbon emissions and will not only serve to secure our existing industries but will also attract further inward investment.
These investments require a much greater focus on the skills that the businesses in our region need now and in the future and which will, in turn, provide long term career opportunities for the generations to come.
Labour in Government will crack on to unlock the industrial technological and commercial potential here in the North East.
We will put an end to the Whitehall and Westminster farce so sharply expressed by the cynical move of the Government's so called Northern Powerhouse offices from Sheffield to London.
The North East is already making a huge contribution, but with a Labour Government that is prepared to address blatant infrastructure inequalities, we can do so much more and provide the people of the North East with a prosperous and secure future.
I warmly welcome Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell's fulsome support for the North East in his speech in Newcastle today. I'm particularly delighted our Shadow Chancellor is putting his weight behind...
Was there ever a day in recent times when the Council’s motto, “Middlesbrough Moving Forward”, has been more fitting?
Today everyone can see and sense the scale of ambition to place Middlesbrough firmly as the city-heart of Tees Valley and a key economic and cultural driver in our region.
I congratulate Labour Mayor Dave Budd, the Council and those officers whose vision, commitment and hard work has built this platform for growth. The numbers are massive - £600m and 5000 jobs. I have no doubt the people of this town will get right behind these plans and welcome the many jobs and careers opportunities coming our way and be hopeful for the future.
Throughout our town’s history, civic and business leaders have always aspired and punched above their weight to bring hope and success. The Middlesbrough Investment Prospectus is the very embodiment of that tradition.
It is an invitation to come here and succeed, paving the way for investors and our local workforce to channel once again the energy and resourcefulness to rebuild a new, 21st century ‘infant Hercules’.
This is a very good news day indeed. Our local politicians, professionals and business leaders are showing how it can be done, promoting Middlesbrough as an industrial and commercial hub, as a destination for students, travellers and also those keen to set up home and bring up their families here.
I, for one, am right behind them.
Was there ever a day in recent times when the Council’s motto, “Middlesbrough Moving Forward”, has been more fitting? Today everyone can see and sense the scale of ambition to...
The Government’s announced changes to Personal Independence Payments. Instead of listening to the court’s criticisms of Personal Independence Payment assessments and correcting these injustices, the Government has instead decided to undermine the legal basis of the rulings.
Some 2600 people are on PIP in Middlesbrough. The Tories are failing to give support to those who need it most. They must ensure that all assessments are undertaken fairly and by appropriately trained specialist staff.
The independent tribunal decision shows how the PIP assessment process is just not fit for purpose. This is an unprecedented attempt to subvert the tribunal judgement by a Government with contempt for judicial process.
By shifting the goal posts, the Tory Government will exclude over 164,000 disabled people from PIP support, risking them falling into debt and increasing their isolation.
This is a step too far, even for this Tory Government. Labour will stand with disabled people, who have already borne the brunt of seven years of austerity, in fighting this injustice.
A petition calling on the Government to scrap these cuts can be found at https://donation.labour.org.uk/index.php/actions/pip ”
MIddlesbrough residents can find more information on PIP at: https://www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/benefits-and-council-tax/welfare-reform/personal-independence-payment-pip
The Government’s announced changes to Personal Independence Payments. Instead of listening to the court’s criticisms of Personal Independence Payment assessments and correcting these injustices, the Government has instead decided to...
The report of the Office of Rail and Road into Highways England revealed the Road Investment Strategy to be in chaos.
The agency is £1bn over budget, 31 projects have more than doubled in cost and there is little evidence that 60 major schemes can be delivered on time.
This Strategy is beginning to look more like a fantasy wish-list than a deliverable plan to improve England’s road network. I asked the following of Secretary of State, Chris Grayling in the House of Commons today.
Will the Minister take this opportunity to try to reassure this House that the Road Investment Strategy is not the comedy of errors it looks like & that he will guarantee to deliver it on time and on budget?
Labour has warned consistently that this Government has been over promising and under delivering on investment in England’s road network. We were promised the biggest upgrades in a generation but the ORR are now warning of the deterioration of England’s roads.
The number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads is already rising, so can the Minister explain how he will guarantee road user safety and mitigate the increased safety risks caused by his government’s failure to manage investment in England’s roads?
Typically, Chris Grayling refused to commit to promised investment and had no answer on the safety aspects due to the deterioration in UK roads.
The report of the Office of Rail and Road into Highways England revealed the Road Investment Strategy to be in chaos. The agency is £1bn over budget, 31 projects have...