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I've joined together with North Ormesby ward councillor, Lewis Young  in calling on Post Office Ltd to support local branches – and protect community post office provision.

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This follows the announcement by Post Office Ltd that the Kings Road branch – a franchise within a private business – in North Ormesby would cease operation on Monday 14 May, resulting in the loss of a Post Office facility in the area. In the letter, Post Office Ltd has stressed its commitment to local communities, and stated that the closure is “temporary”. However no other details were forthcoming.

In letters to Post Office Ltd, Lewis and I set out three asks:

  1. To have a breakdown of the support provided by Post Office Ltd to the commercial operator prior to the announcement to close was made – and what support will be offered to any future provider to ensure long-term sustainability;

  2. For a timeline for the sourcing of a provider, securing or kitting out of premises, and launch of a new post office branch to be published;

  3. For assurances that any replacement future local provision would be situated in the North Ormesby ward area.

Unfortunately Post Office Ltd could not set out a time frame, and informed Cllr Young that they do not provide assistance to franchises such as the one at Kings Road.

Lewis said:“The post office branch is a vital community service, and one that many residents rely on. While this was ultimately a private business decision, it is clear to me that Post Office Ltd has a duty to ensure that post office provision is protected and replaced as soon as possible. Despite stating that the closure is only “temporary”, Post Office Ltd are unable to provide an action plan or timeframe to demonstrate how “temporary” they anticipate this closure to be – nor can they say that any future branch will be in the boundaries of North Ormesby ward.

“I’m calling on Post Office Ltd to demonstrate their commitment to the local community by ensuring that the post office branch is replaced is quickly as possible, and that any future branch is North Ormesby based.”

I say people in North Ormesby rely on their post office. It is an essential community resource which I want to see retained for my constituents. So far Post Office Ltd have not offered anywhere near enough assurance that there will be a post office retained in North Ormesby. I strongly urge Post Office Ltd to provide clarity to local people that this closure is not permanent and give us a detailed plan as to how they will ensure a new operator comes forward.

ENDS

North Ormesby Post Office closure

I've joined together with North Ormesby ward councillor, Lewis Young  in calling on Post Office Ltd to support local branches – and protect community post office provision. This follows the...

Here is the text and link to the video of my response to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, at the dispatch box yesterday (16/5/2018) in the House of Commons.

The Tories are propping up a broken model of rail privatisation at the expense of taxpayers and passengers. Rather than sticking up for greedy train companies, Labour will take our railway back into public ownership to be run in the interests of the many, not the few.

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/1d08fe7b-691b-4b41-81a2-18d56e2185e2?in=13:08:38

1.08 pm

 

  • May I just comment on the point of order made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown)? I was given sight of this statement 30 minutes before I entered this House. I was not given an electronic copy, I was not allowed to take one away and, as I sit here right now, I have still not been provided with a copy of the statement. I consider this absolutely reprehensible. The Secretary of State does this every single time—relying on confidentiality and market sensitivity. Every single time he treats me, with contempt, Her Majesty’s Opposition with contempt, and the House of Commons with contempt. It is about time he changed his ways. This is a shameful practice.

    Today, the i newspaper reported that the millennial railcard announced in the 2017 Budget has been scrapped because the Treasury will not agree to fund it. In that case, why did the Chancellor announce it? This Government have nothing to offer that age group other than spin and broken promises.

    In the past year, the Transport Secretary gifted Virgin and Stagecoach a £2 billion bail-out after they had failed on the east coast main line at the same time as awarding those same companies a lucrative contract extension on the west coast main line. Yet he has the audacity to come to the Dispatch Box and say that it is not reasonable to remove or place conditions on their passport. It is absolutely ludicrous. Three times in under a decade, private companies have failed on the east coast main line. Its only successful period was from 2009 to 2015 under public ownership, when £1 billion was returned to the Treasury. It was the best-performing operator on the network before being cynically re-privatised on the eve of the 2015 general election. The then Secretary of State for Transport said:

    “I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.”

    What nonsense! Report after report by the Public Accounts Committee, which described the Government’s approach as “completely inadequate”, and by the Transport Committee detail the failure of the privatised franchising system on its own terms. The Government’s incompetence has been disastrous for passengers and led to misery for millions of people.

    We have been here before many, many times, year after year. The Secretary of State and his predecessors have stood at the Dispatch Box and told the House that privatisation is being reformed. We have had reform, reform and reform. We have had bail-out after bail-out. Rail companies win; passengers and taxpayers lose. There is a definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and again and expecting different results. This is the situation we find ourselves in today. Franchising remains at the heart of the alleged partnership. No amount of tinkering can solve the failings of a broken privatised system where the public take the risk and the train companies take the profit, aided and abetted by the Transport Secretary.

    Can we really believe anything that the right hon. Gentleman says? Rail investment is promised; rail investment is cancelled. He makes claims about technology despite his civil servants telling him that it does not exist. No one takes his announcements seriously. Every announcement is a smokescreen to divert attention from the failures of his rail franchising policy. The east coast main line is but one vulnerable rail franchise. What about Northern, TransPennine, Greater Anglia and South Western? Will there be bail-outs for operators on those lines who fail to meet their targets?

    Let us be clear about the privatised public sector operator of last resort—how ridiculous is that?—on the east coast main line. These companies—multinational Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin, Arup, and big-four accountancy firm Ernst and Young—are not running the east coast main line for nothing. This is Conservative-style public ownership—more private profit. Only Labour’s version of public ownership will deliver what the railway needs.

    There is a clear solution to the problems on the east coast main line. It was a successful public company between 2009 and 2014, thanks to the previous Labour Government. I am just sorry that the Secretary of State will not accept the stark staringly obvious answer: an integrated railway under public ownership, run for passengers, not for profit.

    ENDS

 

 

East Coast Mainline failed franchise

Here is the text and link to the video of my response to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, at the dispatch box yesterday (16/5/2018) in the House of...

I have written to Tracey Crouch, Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage to express my support for safe standing areas at football grounds in England. Here is a copy of my letter:

Safe Standing in  Football Grounds

Safe Standing in Football Grounds

I have written to Tracey Crouch, Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage to express my support for safe standing areas at football grounds in England. Here is a...

“Nurses’ Day” is an international event held annually on Florence Nightingale’s birthday (Saturday, 12th May 2018).

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This is a fantastic way to show our support for nursing staff in our health and care services. It’s our chance to thank them for the care they provide to our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues. I encourage everyone to celebrate the remarkable work of nursing staff in Middlesbrough and across the UK.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ rule for nursing staff. They work in a variety of settings and have a diverse range of skills but what unites them all is their dedication, even in difficult circumstances, to delivering outstanding patient care.

Please use #ThisNurse to share stories of nurses dedication, those who went the extra mile to provide patient care and times which reminded them about the value of nursing in 2018.

ENDS

 

Celebrating Nurses Day 12th May 2018

“Nurses’ Day” is an international event held annually on Florence Nightingale’s birthday (Saturday, 12th May 2018). This is a fantastic way to show our support for nursing staff in our...

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Here is my latest briefing the covers a number of topics in relation to my work in Westminster, as Middlesbrough Constituency MP and also as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.

WESTMINSTER BRIEFING APRIL 2018

 

 

 

 

Westminster Briefing April 2018

Here is my latest briefing the covers a number of topics in relation to my work in Westminster, as Middlesbrough Constituency MP and also as Shadow Secretary of State for...

Restored entrance to Middlesbrough train station formally re-opened

The main entrance to Middlesbrough train station has today, Monday 09 April 2018, been formally reopened after extensive works were completed by Network Rail to the station building and roof.

I am delighted to be asked to officially mark the re-opening of the Zetland Road Southern entrance to our railway station.  The entrance to the station has been out of bounds for several years plagued by severe structural issues but it is a joy to see the entrance opened up again today. This is yet another positive step forward for our station.

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Front row with Dave Budd, Elected Mayor of Middlesbrough, Mike Drewery, Group Station Manager East, TransPennine Express and Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport cut the ribbon re-opening the station entrance, with representatives of Network Rail and Colt Construction.

This entrance to the Grade II listed station building now provides a step free route from the station direct to Middlesbrough town centre via Zetland Road.  It was formally reopened by local Member of Parliament and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Andy McDonald, accompanied by David Budd, Mayor of Middlesbrough, and representatives from TransPennine Express, Network Rail and Middlesbrough Council.

Investment of £3m has been made by Network Rail in the station building and roof, restoring it to a safe and watertight condition for decades to come.  The works also enabled the station entrance to be restored and a vehicle turning circle installed enabling customers to be dropped off by car from Zetland Road for trains.

The works have been completed in advance of a major new train timetable being introduced this May which will see TransPennine Express operate earlier and later services from Middlesbrough on Mondays to Saturdays and double the frequency of trains on Sundays to a train ever hour.  Furthermore, TransPennine Express will introduce brand new state of the art Nova 3 five carriage trains on its services to/from Middlesbrough this autumn, increasing the number of seats available per train and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Graham Meiklejohn, Regional Development Manager for TransPennine Express, said: “The re-opening of the traditional entrance to this historic station at Middlesbrough provides customers with a restored, step free, well-lit and direct walking route into the town centre.  This, combined with the completed works to the roof, provides an enhanced environment in time for the introduction of our additional train services this May and our new five carriage Nova 3 trains this autumn.  It also provides a powerful launch to the phased delivery of improvements through the station masterplan delivered and funded in partnership by a range of organisations.”

Lisa McGuinness, Commercial Scheme Sponsor at Network Rail, said: “A lot has been done to get the southern entrance reopened and I’m delighted that by working closely with Middlesbrough Council and TransPennine Express we have been able to resolve this long running problem for customers at Middlesbrough. Network Rail is grateful for the patience of those who have been inconvenienced by the closure and we look forward to continuing to work with Middlesbrough Station’s stakeholders to further enhance the station and its surroundings.”

Right from first being elected I have campaigned to secure better rail services for Middlesbrough. Over the last several years, together with Middlesbrough Council, I have led a taskforce including Network Rail and TPE and others and working in partnership and now bringing to fruition what is the latest phase in a wonderful restoration of our much loved and iconic Victorian station. The latest announcement of new timetable updates and additional weekend services recognises the latent demand that exists and reflects the capacity for proper investment in rail transport to add both social and economic value to our city region , as well as providing the levels of comfort, convenience and safety that customers deserve.

I congratulate Network Rail and all their fabulous contractors and craftsmen and craftswomen who have expertly utilised £3m worth of investment as can be seen in the restored main entrance, the superb stonemasonry and Welsh Slate roof works. The skill and attention to detail is quite magnificent.  But there is a long way to go before we see the full realisation of our aspirations to create a city-scape transport hub for Middlesbrough right at the heart of our city region. We've had financial commitments for further work on the project running to £5m from Network Rail, Middlesbrough Council and now the Tees Valley Combined Authority which will take us further on the journey and part of that exercise will be to secure the tens of millions pounds that the full scheme will need.

As for today, we can delight that pedestrian access is now safer, more accessible and directly connects to the town centre.  I am sure it will be greatly welcomed by customers. This is a very significant development and signals again our determination to keep pressing on to deliver the full transformational vision set out in the Station Master Plan launched last month.

Middlesbrough’s Elected Mayor Dave Budd said: “It’s brilliant to see the re-opening of the southern entrance of Middlesbrough train station. The station is an important part of the history of Middlesbrough and also has a major role to play in its future as we continue to develop our city-scale aspirations. These improvements are just the start of the bigger picture and I would like to thank and congratulate all those who have been involved in the works.”

 

ENDS

Restored entrance to Middlesbrough Rail Station officially opened

Restored entrance to Middlesbrough train station formally re-opened The main entrance to Middlesbrough train station has today, Monday 09 April 2018, been formally reopened after extensive works were completed by...

I've pledged to be an Arthritis Champion and speak up in Parliament for people with arthritis so that people living with these conditions have their needs recognised.

I learnt about the huge impact that arthritis related conditions have on 17.8 million people across the UK, after attending a parliamentary event on Tuesday 20 March 2018.

It was shocking to learn that in Middlesbrough, 6,749 people aged over 45 live with osteoarthritis of the knee, 3,961 people aged over 45 live with osteoarthritis of the hip, and 15,411 live with back pain. Too many people locally are living with daily pain, fatigue, and isolation. This is unacceptable.   

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MPs who attended the event also met people living with arthritis, who explained how the condition can affect their lives in different ways – from going to work, to coping with the daily tasks such as cooking or driving that many of us take for granted. 

The event coincided with the launch of Arthritis Research UK’s new ‘Ask Us’ campaign, which encourages those living with arthritis to reach out to the charity and ask questions about their condition. The campaign directs people to information and advice provided by the charity, which is based on many years of research and knowledge from experts and patients. This information and advice is provided via their online information, helpline, and online ‘Virtual Assistant’.

By working together with MPs like myself, the charity hopes to encourage people to find the answers to their queries from a source they can trust. 

Jennylyn Williams, a campaigner and volunteer who spoke to MPs at the event, said, “I enjoyed taking part in the parliamentary reception, and feel that it was good for MPs to meet someone in person with experience of the condition. I think many MPs were surprised by the fact I was diagnosed at 31, as well as learning about the impact the condition has on my body – especially my hands. I was able to explain to them what it's like to live with arthritis every day. 

I was honoured to be a voice in parliament for the many people living with arthritis across the country.  I hope that having met me, and hearing my story, MPs from all parties will be more likely to call for improvements for people with arthritis.”

I hope that my colleagues will join me in ensuring that constituents living with arthritis get the support they need, and I urge people affected to reach out to Arthritis Research UK for expert information. Together, we can do more to fight the devastating impact that arthritis has on the lives of more than 17.8 million people across the UK.

Shona Cleland, Public Affairs Manager at Arthritis Research UK, said: “It was great to see Mr McDonald at our event. Arthritis can cause severe pain and fatigue and its effects can be devastating. We believe all people with arthritis should have support to live full and active lives. To make this a reality, we need MPs to tell their constituents about the help on offer,  raise awareness of arthritis in Parliament, and work to ensure that all people with arthritis get the services and support they need.”

To find out more about the charity and to ask any question about arthritis please visit

www.arthritisresearchuk.org/askus

 

Speaking up for people with arthritis

I've pledged to be an Arthritis Champion and speak up in Parliament for people with arthritis so that people living with these conditions have their needs recognised. I learnt about...

I want to say how proud I am of my office staff and how pleased I am for Emma Chesworth (Senior Caseworker) and Matt Storey (Constituency Office Manager) that they have been recognised for their wider contribution to the Labour Party and our local area.
 
Emma received the award of “Woman of the Year” at the Labour North Regional Awards Dinner on Friday, 16th March while Matt received the Ashok Kumar Award for “Campaigner of the Year”. I heartily congratulate them both on accolades decided by the Regional Panel that are  richly deserved.
 
Emma’s work on ‘No Page 3’, the 8th Plinth and ‘Period Poverty’ have been highlighted but this is only part of her cause about which she speaks passionately:  "I fight for women's rights because every day I see the inequalities that women and girls face.
 
“I want to play my part, alongside my sisters, to challenge these issues and enact change. I want to show young girls that they do have a voice and they deserve every opportunity.
 
“Through my writing and activism I want to challenge decision makers, who are all too often men. While girls are missing out on school because they cannot afford sanitary protection, I will not stay quiet. I will shout up, stand tall and centre the needs of women".
 
Campaigning is what Matt does. He has a passion for taking Labour’s messages onto the streets and to people’s doorstep. “I want to stand up for the things that matter to people. I want to engage with them on their doorstep.
 
“This is often isn’t easy to do because not everyone will agree with us. What is important, though, is to respect voters,  to have an open-minded conversation them and try build a relationship of trust about why Labour is on their side, trying to achieve what’s best for the town informed by what they think, what best meets their own needs and those of the area in which they live.
 
“I am leading campaigns all year round not just in the run-up to election day – something no other political party does in our town. We have positive ideas that have practical outcomes that will change things for the better.

“Austerity has been imposed on us by the Tories, it is unfair and has unjust consequences for everyone in Middlesbrough and that is something I will always speak out against and help voters to understand”.
 
I think it is best to hear what Emma and Matt have to say in their own way about what drives them to put their all into changing lives for the better and building a better society. That is their way – and it is what Labour stand for and makes our movement stronger.
 

ENDS

Staff recognised with Regional Awards

I want to say how proud I am of my office staff and how pleased I am for Emma Chesworth (Senior Caseworker) and Matt Storey (Constituency Office Manager) that they...

This needs to be seen as widely as possible. I fully endorse @MayorDaveBudd in the way he explains how irresponsible and embarrassing the Tory & Independent Councillors on Middlesbrough Council have been towards setting the budget.

Dave writes: "[On Wednesday, 7th March], the Tory-Independent opposition presented possibly the daftest budget proposal I have ever seen. They demonstrated, yet again, their incapability of engaging with the hard graft and tough decisions needed in running Middlesbrough, and highlighted why we need to beat them at the next local elections. 

Middlesbrough Council passed its 100-page budget for the coming year. To keep vital services such as children’s social care, care for older people, community hubs and area care, we voted to make savings and raise council tax.

I have explained previously how the Tory Government expect councils to raise council tax to plug the hole in public spending left by their reckless cuts, and that we have reluctantly had to do this. Despite supporting the Tory government and their cuts agenda, however, the local Tory/Independent opposition decided they also opposed tax rises and claimed to have an alternative budget to avoid it.

When they came to present their budget however, the Council’s most senior legal and financial officers - who are politically-neutral and there to ensure the Council conducts its business on a legal basis - warned the Council that at no point had the Tory/Independent coalition bothered to submit their ‘alternative budget’ to be checked to see if it was legal. Nor that it was balanced (a legal requirement). The ‘alternative budget’ had no equality impact assessment or any ability for the public to be consulted, either. Officers therefore gave the opinion that the Council would be acting outside of the law in considering it.

This was disappointing as many wanted to hear how our local Tories had managed to do what 95% of councils across the country have failed to do this year – deal with government cuts without raising council tax.

Fortunately, a few copies of their bungled budget were left in the Council chamber. It amounted to just one page and was probably one of the daftest proposals I have ever seen. It included:

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 *Chief Officer Initiatives*- The Council's Corporate Initiatives budget is the budget that events such as Remembrance Day are funded from. 

*Merging the post of the Mayor and Chief Executive* – this is actually illegal as an elected politician cannot also work for the Council.

*Cap salaries at £75.000* – Not only would this leave Middlesbrough hugely out of step with every other council in the country and unable to recruit officers to head up vital service areas like Children’s Social Care, it would be impossible to meddle with existing staff contracts in time for the start of the financial year. – plus the cost of redundancies would have to be considered.

*Big Screen* – The current screen is not in use and there are no current plans to replace it. There is a one-off £500,000 in our investment programme for infrastructure to Centre Square to make it easier for events to be put on, not on a new TV screen. This money is a one-off investment in our capital budget, which cannot be transferred to our revenue budget – a key point that the opposition never bother to try to understand.

*Reduce Spending in Legal Overspend* – our legal team work extremely hard -ensuring the Council meets its legal duties and obligations- with increasing workloads. It is not clear how the Tories plan to achieve a whopping £800,000 cut here.

*Cease Funding for the Member’s Lounge Refreshments* – Anyone who has ever used the old coffee machine in the Town Hall would feel very short-changed by this figure.

* Cease grant to Mima* aside from putting the future of a world-famous symbol of Middlesbrough and its culture, we have a contractual obligation with the University, so the Council would be acting unlawfully and in breach of contract and potentially liable to pay a much greater sum if sued.

*Reduction in the purchase of external publications*– a £20,000 saving which, if they had bothered to read the actual budget, is far smaller than the £65,000 saving identified over the next three years.

Yet again, the Conservative-Independent coalition has let down the people of Middlesbrough. Despite significant offers of assistance from politically-neutral officers, they chose to ignore all advice on how to put together a proposal. Yet again, they have failed to take Middlesbrough’s finances seriously and have instead tried to fool voters into thinking there are easy solutions to the most difficult problems.

Dave Budd

Elected Mayor of Middlesbrough

Mayor Dave Budd response to 'alternative budget'

This needs to be seen as widely as possible. I fully endorse @MayorDaveBudd in the way he explains how irresponsible and embarrassing the Tory & Independent Councillors on Middlesbrough Council...

The transformational and ambitious Master Plan for Middlesbrough Railway Station was reported in the evening news following the launch event on 2nd March 2018.

Here is the BBC Look North (North East & Cumbria) report.

The ITV News Tyne Tees report can be found here,

Click here> ITV News Tyne Tees

 

 

Middlesbrough Railway Station Masterplan News Reports

The transformational and ambitious Master Plan for Middlesbrough Railway Station was reported in the evening news following the launch event on 2nd March 2018. Here is the BBC Look North...

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