Friday, 7 March 2014

Council bungling forces cancellation of Redcar's popular Zetland Park Fun Day

Liberal Democrats have criticised red tape at Labour-run Redcar & Cleveland Council today after the Friends of Zetland Park were forced to cancel their popular family fun day.
The Fun Day has been running for over 10 years and provides excellent free family entertainment. Over 4000 people attended last year and the event has raised over £100,000 for the park over the last ten years.
But this year the hard-working volunteers on the organising committee say that Council red tape and obstruction has forced them to abandon this year’s plans.
The group started planning the event in October 2013. But after four months of working to comply with more and more ridiculous and poorly thought out conditions from five different Council teams, they decided enough was enough.
Zetland ward Lib Dem Councillor Ron Harrison yesterday quizzed the Labour Cabinet Member responsible about why the Council is being so obstructive. She replied that she thought it was a shame that the event had been cancelled, but did not offer to simplify the system.
“Shaping Our Future” is supposed to be a Council initiative to enable community groups to organise things for themselves, but it appears to be failing.
Cllr Ron Harrison said:
"This is a huge blow to Redcar and the borough as a whole. The community feels let down and unsupported by the Labour Council.
The Council really needs to get to grips with this before the scenario is repeated and it destroys the goodwill of more of our hard-working, voluntary groups."

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Redcar Lib Dems condemn Labour Council Tax hike

Labour Councillors at a meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Council today voted to increase Council Tax by nearly 2%, with the help of some Independent councillors. This is despite being offered a grant of over £1 million from the Government in exchange for keeping Council Tax frozen.
The Labour administration is increasing Council Tax for residents by 1.994%, the highest rise they can get away with without triggering a referendum of local people. Liberal Democrats think this is treating people with contempt, and that the Council should have gone to a referendum and let the people decide.
This follows hot on the heels of Labour’s 3.5% rise in 2012, the highest in the country.
Lib Dems think the Council should have taken the grant, which is equivalent to a 1% Council Tax increase, and frozen Council Tax. Savings could have been made by cutting the use of consultants in the Council, cutting the communications budget, use of reserves and a real war on waste.
Lib Dem Councillor Josh Mason proposed an amendment at Council today calling for a Council Tax freeze, saying:
"This is a double whammy from Labour against the people of Redcar and Cleveland borough.
“Not only has Labour lost the borough over £1 million in grant, it is also asking the residents to stump up an extra £1.5 million because of the Council Tax rise.
“Labour is taking with one hand and taking with the other!

“It's time hard-working residents in our borough had a break.”

Monday, 27 January 2014

Chris Abbott celebrates 300th Focus newsletter

Long-time community campaigner and Redcar Councillor Chris Abbott is today celebrating the publication of the 300th edition of his Newcomen Ward “Focus”.
The unbroken series of newsletters began in October 1984, raising issues of council house rent, fly-tipping and asbestos. The “Focus” newsletter has always been about community politics and getting things done for local people issue number one carried the tag line: “It’s often the little things that really matter to people”. Thirty years later, Cllr Chris Abbott continues to work by this premise.
Commenting, Chris Abbott said:
“We have come a long way since the early days when we produced Focus on a typewriter, cut and paste headlines with Letraset and hand drawn graphics.
“Although we now have good quality printing facilities, all the work is still produced and distributed by volunteers at no cost to residents.
“It’s been a pleasure to support the local community these past thirty years and I look forward to many more.”
Liberal Democrat MP for the Redcar Constituency, Ian Swales commented:
“This is an incredible achievement for Chris Abbott.
“It goes to prove that Liberal Democrats are passionate about our local area and work all year round for the benefit of communities.”

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Redcar Lib Dem slams Labour over crime

Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Abbott has condemned Labour councillors who today implied that crime in Redcar & Cleveland Borough is the result of benefit cuts.
After falling considerably in 2012-13, this year’s crime figures in the borough have so far shown a small increase overall.
At today’s Borough Council meeting Labour Councillor Ian Jeffrey blamed this on Government cuts to benefits. However, as Lib Dem Councillor Chris Abbott points out, most of the rise this year is due to anti-social behaviour and criminal damage, not people stealing food.
Chris Abbott said:
“Crime has fallen massively under the present Government. Today’s figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales show crime falling to the lowest level since 1981.
“The rise in crime in our borough is due to anti-social behaviour and criminal damage, not people stealing food to feed their families.
“To suggest that being on a low income causes crime is an appalling insult to the vast majority of people on low incomes who are law-abiding.

“Whilst Labour make irresponsible excuses for criminals, the Lib Dems are on the side of law-abiding people and the police.”

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ian Swales MP re-selected to fight for Redcar

At the January meeting of Redcar Constituency Liberal Democrats this evening, Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar Constituency, was unanimously reselected to stand in the 2015 General Election. 

Ian, who was elected with the biggest swing in the country in 2010, has been a strong voice for Redcar Constituency and the region in Parliament. He he serves as Lib Dem Treasury Spokesman, has been Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Chemical Industry and as the only trained accountant on the influential Public Accounts Committee. 

Locally, Ian has overseen the beginning of a new future for manufacturing on Teesside - with huge sums of Government money to create jobs and stimulate growth here, than anywhere else in the country. Unemployment is now at its lowest level since 2009 and according to the North East Chamber of Commerce, the indicators for business sales and jobs are the best since 1995. He campaigned hard to get the steelworks restarted and has taken up thousands of cases for local people since 2010. 

Nationally, Ian has been at the forefront of campaigning for a stronger economy and a fairer society: tackling the cost of living by giving hard working people a £700 tax cut, freezing fuel duty and extending free childcare; introducing the triple lock guarantee for the state pension - an extra £800 a year so far; giving our children the best start in life by introducing free school meals for infants and giving more money to schools for the less advantaged; and providing opportunities by creating 1.2million new apprenticeships and one million jobs, so far. 

Commenting on Ian's reselection, Josh Mason, Chair of Redcar Constituency Liberal Democrats said: 

" Ian is a local man with exactly the experience of industry and business we need to get our area back on its feet. He's made a huge impact since being elected in 2010. We're very lucky to have him!" 

On his own reselection, Ian commented: 

"I'm delighted that the Liberal Democrats have put their faith in me to represent them again at the next general election.

"After decades of decline - with falling employment and failing industry over successive Labour and Tory Governments, there's no quick fix for our local economy. But things are definitely starting to improve here - manufacturing is increasing all the time and unemployment is at its lowest level since 2009. 

"I hope to be able to continue the fight we've started to bring jobs and prosperity back to our area."

Lib Dems condemn housing payments scandal

Liberal Democrats have uncovered a scandal involving hundreds of people in Redcar & Cleveland Borough being denied help by the Labour Council.

The Government has given the Council £429,000 for Discretionary Housing Payments following the removal of the spare room subsidy.

But with only ten weeks of the financial year left, the Labour-controlled Council has used less than half of the money to help people who need it.

Cllr Chris Abbott, Lib Dem Housing Spokesman, commented:

“It’s a scandal, especially as local Labour activists have been scaremongering and condemning the Government as hard-hearted.

“George Dunning’s Labour Party must explain whether they are being incompetent or whether they are depriving people of help for party political reasons. It’s one or the other.

“If people need help and the Government has given the money, they should get it.”

Redcar MP Ian Swales added:

“The Government knew this policy would cause initial problems for some people. That's why they gave a large sum to the Council.

"I'm shocked that the Council has so much left. It looks like they’ll have to hand money back to the Government when they should be supporting hard pressed local residents.”

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Lib Dems condemn Labour’s Local Plan

Councillor Glyn Nightingale (left) pictured with
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Councillor Chris Abbott (right).
Liberal Democrats in Redcar and Cleveland Borough have criticised the Labour Council for its poor consultation over its new Local Plan.
 The draft Local Plan includes over 1000 new houses at Marske and over 450 in Ormesby. Labour says that the area needs more houses, even though all the indications are that the population of the borough will continue to fall.
Lib Dems are particularly worried that the proposals will allow building on greenfield sites, increase the risk of flooding, and will massively increase traffic. This is why Lib Dems voted against the Local Plan at Council. It was passed only because of the casting vote of the Labour Mayor.
Lib Dem Council Group Leader Glyn Nightingale said:
“Those affected have not been told directly by the Council about houses being built near them. Instead people have found out through rumour and local newspapers that their lives may well be significantly changed by these developments.
“The Council has let people down by not thinking their plans through properly. These proposals will diminish people’s quality of life by increasing traffic and the risk of flooding.”
Lib Dem Housing Spokesperson Cllr Chris Abbott added:
“We have held a series of meetings with the Director of Regeneration aimed at scrutinising aspects of the Draft Local Plan that take away sections of school playing fields, areas that are prone to flooding and green fields in general.
“We have made it very clear that we do not support development on these sites and have called for new housing development on brownfield and clearance sites only. Sites prone to flooding should be avoided at all costs.”

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Scandal of the Redcar Beacon and the visitors to the toilet

Talking up Redcar by using figures that are based on a lie is dishonest and is counterproductive. It eventually gets found out as it did thanks to Councillor Steve Kay.

To sneer at someone for revealing the truth is a disgrace. All summer long the Council has been reporting visitor figures to the Redcar Beacon that nobody believed were true. There was even a big fuss for 'the 100,000th visitor' without ever saying they were including people who were only there to use the toilet. Thanks to Steve Kay we now know the truth. This is not evidence of increased visitor figures. That many people used the perfectly good toilets that were demolished to make way for this eyesore every year.

Interesting that Labour people are claiming the Evening Gazette should not be reporting this but concentrating on the fact that the Council has agreed to retain the Cabinet system which allows it to ignore residents views and keep us in the dark about the real cost of things.

It is a scandal that these figures were used so much over the summer without explaining that most people were only there to use the toilet. It is a scandal too that we were told the cost of the building was £1.6 million when it is more than £3 million. The public said they didn't want it and were ignored. They will not be happy that the cost is more than double what was claimed.

A pier for Redcar is achievable if the Council, as the development authority, produces a plan and facilitates it. But not if, as appears to be happening with the campaign group, you get grandiose ideas about structures on the end of it and appear willing to accept fake figures produced by the Council as the basis for attracting funding. That is treating the grant providers as idiots and they are not. Nor will the public continue to support a pier if they find the Council's contribution and this could be as much as half, will be endless millions.

A simple pier based on the one at Saltburn is achievable for around £6 million and the Council's contribution to this will be a reasonable amount spread over a long period. With the help of our MP that can happen. If you start producing plans for grandiose schemes Redcar people will say no and people outside the town will be up in arms.