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Chris Grayling is due in Middlesbrough to see the traffic bottlenecks along the A172 Marton Road Corridor. The Secretary of State for Transport is expected to drive along the heavily congested two miles of road. Excluding the A19, the Marton Road Corridor is the busiest north-south route in Tees Valley, carrying up to 25,000 vehicles a day.

As a local MP and Shadow Transport Secretary, I wish to welcome our distinguished visitor Mr Grayling to our wonderful town. I am pleased the Secretary of State is coming to observe the serious traffic problems we face but I regret that he is merely a congestion tourist.

Mr Grayling and his government have cut road maintenance and investment leaving Labour councils to foot the bill. It is Labour in Middlesbrough that is improving local roads and the Labour Council’s package of £43 million investment to increase capacity is clear evidence of this.

One of the best ways to reduce congestion is to provide quality public transport. That’s why Labour supports the introduction of franchising in Middlesbrough to provide cheaper bus fares and better services.

It’s disappointing that the Conservative Metro Mayor Ben Houchen focuses on dead end vanity projects such as buying Tees Valley airport while ignoring the urgent need for local bus improvements which would also help to get people out of their cars on Marton Road and into public transport.’

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Middlesbrough needs better public transport not more broken Tory promises

Chris Grayling is due in Middlesbrough to see the traffic bottlenecks along the A172 Marton Road Corridor. The Secretary of State for Transport is expected to drive along the heavily...

I'm angry about comments during a recent radio interview on BBC Tees from local Conservative MP, Simon Clarke, about the impact of benefit changes on people in the North East.

When hearing a story about a woman left with £3 from Friday to Monday because of the failing roll-out of Universal Credit Simon Clarke’s reaction is to be angry with the local charity assisting her, accusing them of ‘distortions’ and ‘smears.’ He should be thoroughly ashamed.

Mr Clarke criticised the statement from the East Durham Trust who highlighted the woman’s case and operate a foodbank in their local area calling it - ‘fury-spitting offensive.’

I am also angry about this but for very different reasons to Mr Clarke. Advance payments for Universal Credit only provide 2 weeks money with many people waiting 6 or 7 weeks which is clearly inadequate. The Child Poverty Action Group say Universal Credit will put 1 million children into poverty and the Trussell Trust has reported a 30% increase in Foodbank use in areas where Universal Credit has been fully rolled out. These are the reasons I am furious with the Universal Credit roll out.

Across both our Constituencies 46,000 will be affected by the change to Universal Credit and I can only hope that Mr Clarke is more sympathetic to his own constituents issues with the change to Universal Credit than he was on the radio earlier in the week. Instead of criticising people for pointing out the glaring mistakes his government is making on this issue he should spend more time trying to influence the government to pause the roll out of Universal Credit so it delivers what it was supposed to, a simpler system that makes work pay. Right now it does neither.

END

Teesside Tories need a reality check on Universal Credit

I'm angry about comments during a recent radio interview on BBC Tees from local Conservative MP, Simon Clarke, about the impact of benefit changes on people in the North East....

I have written to the CEO of Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust about the scandalous state of affairs that have emerged at Roseberry Park Hospital and two issues of most concern to me.

First of all there needs to be assurances that all patients, who in many cases will be moved to other hospitals some distance from their families, will face the minimum of disruption and are kept well informed during the closure period.

I am aware of the general statements made in the media in this respect but I am seeking a response about the practical measures the Trust is taking to ensure patients and their families are being kept informed. I also have particular concerns about the impact on Sandwell Park Hospital in Hartlepool, there may be others, and the patients already there who may be about to receive categories of patients who could pose some risk.

Secondly, fire safety and building defects at Roseberry Park must be addressed quickly and these key services returned to Middlesbrough. Three Valleys Healthcare must ensure these specialist mental health facilities are repaired and re-opened without undue delay. I am, therefore, requesting to see the schedule of works and the timeframe in which these works are going to be undertaken.

It is of huge concern to me, and not least to tax payers, that a building constructed only seven years ago is now revealed to be in urgent need of safety and structural repair. I will welcome an explanation about how this has come about and, in particular, if there were flaws in the commissioning, contracting and inspection arrangements in the construction of Roseberry Park Hospital.

I am looking forward to and early reply on these matters and also seeking a meeting with the Chief Executive to discuss in more detail the implications and remedies that I expect will inevitably arise from my enquiries.

ENDS

Answers sought from NHS Trust Chief Executive on Roseberry Park Hospital

I have written to the CEO of Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust about the scandalous state of affairs that have emerged at Roseberry Park Hospital and two issues...

I'm calling for the best interests of patients and their families to be put first and foremost as the first patients are moved from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool because of fire safety and construction defects at Roseberry Park hospital.

Now patients are being moved and works scheduled, I will hold Three Valleys Healthcare Ltd to their commitment that those patients and their families face the minimum of disruption and are kept well informed during any closure period. I also want to make sure the works to Roseberry Park are completed without delay and I will be watching the situation very closely.

I am determined to secure a full explanation as to how a new building that is so obviously and fundamentally flawed ever secured building regulation approval in the first place. That process hasn’t worked and we need full answers to that question and to make sure vital health monies are not being paid out under the PFI contract that is not delivering.

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Fresh calls over Roseberry Park safety & construction defects

I'm calling for the best interests of patients and their families to be put first and foremost as the first patients are moved from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool because of fire...

I have met with senior officers from the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) over their public consultation on proposed changes to respite opportunities for people with complex needs, learning disabilities and/or autism.

The consultation includes 2 Bankfields Court in Middlesbrough and Aysgarth in Stockton.

Concerned constitutions who currently use 2 Bankfields Court had contacted me who are extremely worried about the proposed changes.

Currently, up to 51 people with different, complex needs, use 2 Bankfields Court in Normanby and almost half of those who use bed based respite also use day services each week day.

The consultation is underway as part of the national and regional ‘Transforming Care’ agenda looking at how people with learning disabilities and their families and carers access different services.

Here in Middlesbrough, the consultation is proposing two options. The first would mean people would not get bed based respite from 2 Bankfields Court, but could get alternative bed based respite elsewhere. Option two would see some people still use 2 Bankfields Court for bed based respite but depending on their assessed need and resource allocation, they may have the opportunity to access alternative community based services.

This has led to great concern from families who currently use 2 Bankfields Court.

Constituents who have come to me have very real concerns and worries about the proposed changes and I have shared these concerns with the CCG.

As a family we have our own personal experience to draw on and my wife and I know only too well what a lifeline high quality services can be and the service is critical to many families as it stands and any diminution will be disastrous for them.

Sadly, the consultation appears to have been poorly expressed and communicated. It has caused real anxieties for families when they see, for instance, the document saying that alternative respite services could include a hotel or B&B or an adapted caravan or chalet. Whilst this may be part of a package that may be appropriate in some suitable instances, such notions are wholly inappropriate for adults with severe learning disabilities and complex medical needs and those families are understandably horrified at the prospect.

I met with the dedicated officers from the CCG involved in this consultation and they are fully committed and passionate about providing services for all – they are however constrained by relentless pressures and budget cuts. What we need is a properly funded NHS and Social Care system that properly meets the needs of those individuals and the needs of their carers’ and not a fragmented and complex service starved of the resources it truly needs. This Government’s priorities of tax breaks for the super-rich, corporations and banks are completely upside down and they need to fundamentally change their approach if a complete and catastrophic breakdown on people’s everyday lives is to be averted.

I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with these families to ensure that the lifeline that the Bankfields service provides is not taken away from them.

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Concern over Bankfields Court respite care proposals

I have met with senior officers from the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) over their public consultation on proposed changes to respite opportunities for people with complex needs, learning...

I met with Directors at Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) to discuss the future of the airport, how the business is doing and what the future holds for DTVA.

DTVA is clearly crucial to the economic vitality of the Tees Valley. There is a clear, long term plan for investment in the airport.

Significant funds have already been spent on the terminal and further spending on radar and security upgrades are planned. The KLM flights from DTVA are hugely important, essential to business users and a vital link to many destinations further afield. The Airport also has exciting plans to develop DTVA as an aviation-led business hub, making it the regional centre for Aerospace technology.  This is clearly positive news and I welcome the investment and development strategy that is in place.

The fact that Peel are investing in our Airport and looking to deliver jobs and growth to Tees Valley is critical and it clearly shows that there is real cause for optimism about the future of the Airport.

Greater connectivity across the Tees Valley is essential and the Airport can be a key hub to drive that agenda. There is a railway line and station at DTVA which is something many Airports do not have, so I am keen to explore with Peel and Tees Valley Combined Authority as part of a long term vision how the airport and surrounding conurbations can be best served by rail to maximise the benefits of the rail line to provide greater connectivity and deliver a far more integrated transport system.

I also stressed that the distraction of fringe interests, such as the Tees Valley Mayor’s proposal to buy the Airport, could have a hugely detrimental impact on our local area.

There are genuine infrastructure and transport needs in the Tees Valley and it is hugely important not to indulge in fantasy politics that would undermine confidence in the airport. The Tees Valley Mayor’s comments in this regard are not helpful.

Let’s get back to reality and work with the owners of the Airport to help it sustain and grow.

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Time to back our airport & get back to reality

I met with Directors at Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) to discuss the future of the airport, how the business is doing and what the future holds for DTVA. DTVA...

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer

14th November 2017

Dear Chancellor,

Re Police Funding Cuts - Cleveland Police

Labour Tees Valley MPs are writing to you ahead of the Budget to ask you to address the crisis in funding for our local police.

In the Cleveland Police Force area since 2010/11, our local force is £40m worse off (36%) in real terms, with a loss of some 500 officers and PCSO’s. This also needs to be understood in the context of so many fewer officers at a time when crime is rising.

The latest HMICFRC recognised the outstanding efforts of our Police and Crime Commissioner, and senior Police Officers at Cleveland Police, in an extremely positive report highlighting the efficiency and leadership of the force. In the past two years Cleveland Police progressed from “Requiring Improvement” to “Good” across all inspection categories. The next target for Cleveland Police is to become an ‘Outstanding’ force.

We are sure you will agree that neither we, nor our communities, can lay the blame for the shortage of police officers on the police, its governors and managers. Nor could anyone, in the light of recent inspection reports, claim the Force is either inefficient or performing poorly.

We are of the firm belief that the forthcoming budget must provide a formula for adequate and fair funding for Policing in general and our local Cleveland Force in particular. That must include fully funded provision for wage rises to officers and staff. The requirement to make PCC's find this from existing budgets will divert crucial funding away from frontline policing as well as essential discretionary spending on matters such as victim support, measures to combat people trafficking and modern slavery and community cohesion. All of which have been priorities for the Cleveland PCC and Cleveland Police since 2012.

Cleveland Police is high-performing and ambitious and it is critical that we retain a Police service that is appropriately funded and continues to deliver the highest levels of service to our constituents. This can only be achieved with a budget that delivers the funding the Police need through institutions that are local and accountable.

Yours sincerely,

ANDY McDONALD MP                                                                      DR PAUL WILLIAMS MP

MEMBER OF PARIAMENT FOR MIDDLESBROUGH               MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOCKTON SOUTH

 

ANNA TURLEY MP                                                                           ALEX CUNNINGHAM MP

MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR REDCAR                                   MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOCKTON NORTH

 

MIKE HILL MP

MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR HARTLEPOOL

Joint MP's letter to The Chancellor, Police Funding Cuts, Cleveland Police

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer 14th November 2017 Dear Chancellor, Re Police Funding Cuts - Cleveland Police Labour Tees Valley MPs are writing to you ahead...

The latest round of cuts faced by Middlesbrough Council next year is another example of the callous and cruel  impact Tory austerity will have on our town.

Make no mistake, Middlesbrough, our Mayor and Council are ambitious. New shops and restaurants in the town, the refurbishment of the railway station, around Middlehaven and the announced investment by the University show that this is an ambition shared.

Yet once again the government are tying our hands and seem determined to dismantle the very apparatus that that drives these changes. Further cuts of £6m next year will hit people and the services they depend on hard.

I’m sure by now our Council Tax payers are coming to understand where the problem lies when it comes to properly funding our public services and it is to the government we must take our battle to for a fair and equitable funding settlement for Councils like ours.

I also welcome the Council Chief Executive’s call for public involvement in the increasing challenges of resource management the Council is faced with and I look forward to a sensible and rounded exchanges.

What we also need is a Labour government that will end austerity and work with Councils for a fair deal and new powers to invest in the housing, social care, education and infrastructure that will enable the town to grow and the people who live here to prosper.

ENDS

Give our local councils a fair deal

The latest round of cuts faced by Middlesbrough Council next year is another example of the callous and cruel  impact Tory austerity will have on our town. Make no mistake,...

Let’s make it absolutely clear, I support Cleveland Police, our magnificent Police Officers and all the workforce that do such a wonderful job keeping us and our local communities safe.

I also have every confidence in the veracity of the independent HMICFRC report that rates Cleveland Police as “Good” at meeting demand, increased efficiency, partnership working and embedding a culture that embraces continuous improvement.

Policing in Cleveland has improved immensely from where it was in 2012. It is no coincidence that was when the people of Cleveland elected a Labour Police and Crime Commissioner – who they then re-elected in 2016. Working with the outgoing Chief Constable Iain Spittal, and his predecessor Jacqui Cheer, they have been responsible and instrumental for bringing about huge operational and cultural changes in Cleveland Police. It’s a good news story.

I believe the public from Stockton to Saltburn, from Brierton to Brotton, will be taking note of that. They will also take note of local Tory representatives posturing and playing on people’s anxieties and matters now long past in calling for Cleveland Police to be scrapped.

Well, I say to Simon Clarke MP and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen that is not going to happen. A locally managed and accountable police force, that understands and protects our local communities, is essential. If those opposing that are spoiling for a fight, then they are going to get one.

I also say to them they should turn their attentions to, as well as own up to, the other historical legacy – that of financial cuts with the consequent impact on police and staff numbers left by their Government. They both need to  point the public in the right direction at where the problem lies and that is squarely at the feet of government.

Also, anyone who thinks that the people of the Cleveland area want their police force run from County Durham or North Yorkshire can think again. What, in fact, does that mean – Durham City, Northallerton, Leeds or Newcastle?  In any case, it would not be any place nearby.

Let me remind Simon Clarke and Ben Houchen it’s precisely because their government have cut Police budgets to the bone that has led to fewer police officers and community support officers on the beat. That won’t change by simply switching to neighbouring areas that are facing the same squeeze on their resources and capabilities. It makes no sense at all.

Nationally, the fact is Tory cuts mean £700m less per year for policing to 2020/21. In Cleveland, our force is £40m worse off (36%) in real terms since 2010/11, with a loss of 500 officers and 50 PCSO’s. It is why police are less visible on our streets – because there are fewer of them and at a time when crime is rising. It’s a perverse logic that claims this is not the reality.

So let’s all get behind our local police force and I urge our local politicians to do the same. Cleveland Police is changing for the better, so perpetuating age-old vendettas needs to stop and we need to look to that better future. 

The next Labour Government most certainly will and we have already pledged to recruit 10,000 more police officers to work on community beats as well as other far reaching reforms so that communities in Cleveland and elsewhere will get a police service that is fit for purpose and, vitally, remains locally based and accountable.

ENDS

 

Let's all get behind Cleveland Police

Let’s make it absolutely clear, I support Cleveland Police, our magnificent Police Officers and all the workforce that do such a wonderful job keeping us and our local communities safe....

These deeply worrying revelations in the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ are further proof that this Conservative Government have completely failed to take the action required to end the scandal of tax avoidance.

Labour is demanding immediate action. The Prime Minister or the Chancellor must come to Parliament to explain how this scandalous behavior has been allowed to go on unaddressed for so long and what action is to be taken now.

Labour is proposing a Tax Transparency and Enforcement Programme to root out tax evasion and clamp down on tax havens. We will end the era of government turning a blind eye to the scandal of tax avoidance and work in partnership with leading tax experts to root it out.

It is hardworking taxpayers who are being let down by the Conservatives who only last week voted down Labour’s amendments to the Finance Bill to tackle the scandal of tax evasion and avoidance.

The Tories continue to deprive our schools, hospitals and public services of the funding they desperately need while refusing to take the required action to end the scourge of tax avoidance and evasion by the super-rich.

Only a Labour Government will bear down on this scandal and take the action required to build an economy which works for the many and the not the elite few.

For more information about Labour’s Tax Transparency and Enforcement Programme: http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/Images/manifesto-2017/TAX-AVOIDANCE.pdf 

 

Labour demands immediate Government action on Paradise Papers

These deeply worrying revelations in the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ are further proof that this Conservative Government have completely failed to take the action required to end the scandal of tax...

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