Monday, 31 March 2008

Lib Dems condemn Labour hypocrisy over Post Offices

Posted by Chris:

On Thursday 3 April Liberal Democrats will use a motion to Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council to express dismay at the failure of local MPs to support local post offices.

Four post offices in the borough are under threat as part of the Labour Government’s closure programme, in Redcar (Park Avenue), Lazenby, Moorsholm and Charltons.

The Borough’s two Labour MPs, Vera Baird and Ashok Kumar, could have voted against the closures in Parliament on 19 March, but chose instead to back the Government’s closure of 2500 post offices nationally.

This is despite both having campaigned against closures locally.

Our Labour MPs have behaved despicably and hypocritically over post offices.

One minute they are campaigning in the constituency to save post offices, the next they are voting in Parliament to get rid of them. Local people will see their campaigns to save post offices for the hollow sham that they are.

Our MPs have failed in their duty to fight for local services for local people. This sort of cynical behaviour undermines trust in politicians generally. Our area deserves better representation.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Seagulls grab a valuble point at Elland Road

An unchanged Leeds United team took on Brighton and Hove Albion at Elland Road.

Albion started the game, at Elland Road, in seventh position, two points and one place ahead of United. Both teams are within touching distance of a play-off position.

Dougie Freedman came close in the 13th minute with a shot from inside the penalty box that was cleared off the line.

Another chance for Freedman went wide in the 21st minute.

The Seagulls matched United for effort and the first half ended on equal terms but not before free-kicks and corners at both ends of the pitch as both teams had late chances but could not make them count.

United started the second half strongly and Jermaine Beckford came close with two early chances.

A long-range shot in the 56th minute from Jonathan Howson, who had three or four chances in the first half, was saved by Michel Kuipers in the Brighton goal.

Jonathan Douglas came on for Bradley Johnson, who was carrying a first half injury, in the 58th minute.

In the 61st minute a long ball from Casper Ankergran found Freedman who came close but was denied by Kuipers. Brighton quickly rallied and had the ball in the net only to have it disallowed for offside.

Neil Kilkenny was replaced by a third striker, Tresor Kandol, in the 76th minute as United pressed for that elusive goal. Anthony Elding came on for Freedman with 5 minutes to go.

Chances came at both ends of the pitch but United had the majority of them and were much the better side.

This was a game that United needed to win and must now pull something out of the bag at Doncaster on Tuesday if they want to maintain their push for a place in the play-offs.

Attendance 22,575.

Leeds United 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Lib Dems welcome latest court decision over Coatham Links

The decision by the High Court not to allow another Judicial Review of Redcar & Cleveland Council's decision to reject the second application for Village Green status on land that was formally part of a golf course (see pic above) has been welcomed by Liberal Democrats.

We welcome this decision as yet another Judicial Review would mean more delays and more public money wasted. It is time we told the Friends of Coatham Common that enough is enough. Their never ending attempts to subvert local democracy by using people who qualify for legal aid to run up enormous legal bills for the local taxpayers is outrageous.

Anybody can claim anything in court and spend months, even years, dragging things out, especially if you can get someone else to pay for it. In this case it is the taxpayer and this is unacceptable.

Every week this scheme is delayed the longer we have to wait for the two brand new swimming pools and the state of the art leisure facilities that this town so badly needs.

It puts at risk vital grant funding for a project that has everything that is needed to help boost the town centre and bring jobs and people into the town.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Leeds United leapfrog the Saddlers with a Beckford double

Live on Sky Sports (a 5.20pm, start), Leeds United faced Walsall at Elland Road with just one change to the starting line-up, Alan Sheehan replacing the suspended Andy Hughes.

Using the long ball at every opportunity United looked good. In the second minute a long ball from Neil Kilkenny left Jermaine Beckford with only Clayton Ince, the Saddlers goalie, to beat but he shot wide. One minute later another chance for Beckford went wide.

Walsall, a good footballing side, were proving hard to break down.

A 25 yard shot from David Prutton, after 17 minutes, sailed over the bar.

From the start Dougie Freedman looked a class apart from the rest and he showed a real understanding with Beckford, making three clever flicks through to him in the first 20 minutes, that Becks failed to convert.

In the 22nd minute Prutton edged a good ball through to Becks but he could not make contact in front of goal.

Another good through ball from Kilkenny, in the 28th minute, found Beckford again, who sent the ball over the line from a very difficult angle close to the line, 1-0.

A 30-yard drive, in the 41st minute by Prutton forced a save by Ince.

The Whites started the second half with a chance by Jonathan Howson. Then with a minute gone Freedman twisted past a couple of defenders but his shot from just outside the box was saved by Ince. In the 53rd minute Freedman latched on to a cross from Prutton but his header was also saved by Ince.

The Saddlers best chance came in the 58th minute when striker Tommy Mooney fired over the bar from close range.

In the 64th minute Alan Sheehan sent in a pile driver of a free-kick from 25 yards. It was tipped over the bar for a corner that caused more chaos in the Walsall penalty box. United were well on top and cruising.

Kilkenny had a 30 yard shot on target in the 68th minute and Bradley Johnson came close when his header was cleared off the line.

In the 79th minute a through ball from Kilkenny was picked up outside the box by Beckford who ran in to score with two taps of the ball, 2-0.

Becks had a similar chance two minutes later which sailed over the bar.

Jonathan Douglas made a welcome return to first-team action when he replaced Johnson in the 82nd minute. Freedman walked off to a standing ovation, in the 90th minute, when he was replaced by Tresor Kandol.

In the final minute of injury time Howson made a run with the ball that covered half the length of the pitch. He fired in a shot that was tipped over the bar.

United ran in deserved winners with their best performance since before Christmas. They leapfrog the Saddlers to move up to eighth in the table and two points away from the play-offs.

Attendance 19,095.

Leeds United 2 Walsall 0

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Labour should put their money where their mouth is on Post Offices say Lib Dems

Posted by Chris:

Liberal Democrats on Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council are asking the ruling Labour bosses to look at what councils in Essex and London are doing to try to save post offices.

Four post offices in the borough are under threat as part of the Labour Government’s closure programme, in Redcar, Lazenby, Moorsholm and Charltons.

In Essex the County Council has stepped in and announced a £1.5 million plan to support post offices earmarked for closure. Negotiations are still taking place into how exactly the help will be given.

Meanwhile, other councils in Essex and London are looking at the possibility of offering post office services from council offices.

We have already seen Redcar’s Labour MP make a lot of noise over post office closures, only to vote for the closures in Parliament yesterday.

Now we will see whether Labour bosses at the Town Hall are hypocrites as well. Let’s see them take a proactive approach and look at ways in which the Council can help threatened post offices to stay open.

The Government Minister responsible has now told Post Office Ltd. that it must enter talks with councils wishing to try to save post offices. So the Labour council has no excuse for not fighting to retain these essential community services.


The Coatham Ward Councillors were invited by a Council Official to attend a photo call today at the re-opening of Coatham Boating Lake.

Councillors Josie Crawford and Irene Curr were happy to attend as invited because they had campaigned to have the fencing removed and the lake reopened for the summer.

Less than one hour before the event took place the same official rang to withdraw the invitation on the instructions of the Leader of the Council George Dunning.

Councillor Irene Curr was informed that the event was only for the Leader of the Council and his deputy.

Councillor Irene Curr said:

"We have persistently campaigned for the area to be reopened and the fencing removed. It has been our ambition to restore the boating lake to it's original 1930's state."

Councillor Josie Crawford said:

"Funding was put in place, under the Coalition, over one year ago, for major refurbishment work to the boating lake and surrounding area. We are delighted that it is at last going ahead"

Leader of the Lib Dem Group Councillor Chris Abbott said:

To invite the ward Councillors and then withdraw it is pathetic. They have worked hard to kept residents informed about progress on the site and have taken on the chin a lot of criticism that was not their fault."

Ian Swales Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar said:

"So much for Councillor Dunning's claim to be open and transparent. The Ward Councillors were rightly invited then told they must not come. What is he frightened of?"

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Vera Baird ducks out of chance to vote against Post Office closures

Redcar MP, Vera Baird was not amongst the 19 Labour members who voted to halt the closure of 2500 post offices according to a report by the BBC. How strange that she was parading through Lazenby at the weekend supposedly campaigning against the closures?

UPDATE: Vera Baird voted with the Government in support of closing 2500 post offices.

The 19 Labour rebels:

Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington)
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)
John Cummings (Easington)
Andrew Dismore (Hendon)
David Drew (Stroud)
Frank Field (Birkenhead)
Paul Flynn (Newport West)
John Grogan (Selby)
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North)
John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington)
Eric Martlew (Carlisle)
Alan Meale (Mansfield)
Gordon Prentice (Pendle)
Alan Simpson (Nottingham South)
Geraldine Smith (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester South)
David Taylor (Leicestershire North West)
Mike Wood (Batley & Spen)
Independent Labour MP Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby) also voted with the Tories.

Lib Dem pressure gets boating lake reopened

Cllr Josie Crawford, Ian Swales, Cllr Irene Curr

Coatham Boating Lake will be re-opened in time for Easter.

Labour controlled Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council have bowed to pressure from Coatham Ward Councillors Josie Crawford and Irene Curr who, along with Ian Swales, Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar, have persistently campaigned for the area to be reopened and the fencing removed.

Funding was put in place, by the Lib Dem led Coalition that ran Redcar & Cleveland up to May last year, for major refurbishment work to the boating lake and surrounding area. The funding was separate from the Coatham Links development on the same site but the new Labour administration, for reasons known only to them, put a stop to the work and the lake has remained fenced off ever since.

The Coalition's plans were to restore the boating lake to it's original 1930's state. It is hoped that this remains the same under Labour.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Saltburn Smugglers Heritage Centre opens for the summer

Visitors can once again relive the sights, sounds and smells of the smuggling trade from over 200 years ago as a popular visitor attraction, run by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, reopens in Saltburn.

Set in authentic fishermen's cottages, the story of Smuggler King John Andrews is being brought to life in the three-room Saltburn Smugglers Heritage Centre, next to the Ship Inn, as it reopens in time for Easter on Good Friday, March 21.

Opening times are Wednesday to Sunday 10am until 6pm until May 31.
June 1 - June 30, Tuesday to Sunday 10am - 6pm.
July 1 -August 31, daily 10am -6pm.
September 1 - September 30, Wednesday - Sunday 10am - 6pm.
With last admission at 5.30pm.

Admission prices are: adult/oap's £1.95, children (over 5) £1.45 with a family rate for two adults and two children of £5.80.

There are reduced rates for pre-booked groups and schools. Call 01287 625252 for more details.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Government Minister campaigns against Government decision!

Vera Baird MP has been campaigning against the closure of Lazenby Post Office. She joins a long list of Labour Ministers campaigning locally against their own national decision to close 2,500 Post offices.

Ian Swales, the Liberal Democrats Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar said:

"They should have listened to local people before taking the decision not afterwards.

"The Government is killing the post office network by withdrawing business such as TV Licenses and Car Tax, by restricting what they can do and by restricting their opening hours. Our MP should be campaigning in Parliament to save the Post office network not engaging in cynical local publicity stunts. Only the Liberal Democrats have firm plans to turn round the Post office business and rescue the network.

"Liberal Democrats in Redcar & Cleveland are campaigning against the closure of four post offices in the Borough and for the reopening of the post office in Roseberry Shopping Centre. Councillor Dunning, Leader of the Council, has been telling residents in Lazenby that the survival of their post office is the Council's priority. It seems he has already admitted defeat on the others. Labour's gimmicky campaign is phoney. They made the decision to close the post offices in the first place.

"We need all our post offices to survive and for plans to be put in place for them to prosper. Along with Fiona Hall MEP I have presented the first batch of 1000 signatures on our petition to save the post offices to Sarah Teather, MP Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise."

Sarah Teather MP, who is pictured (attached) receiving the petition from Ian Swales and Fiona Hall MEP said:

"The Government should be helping local Post Offices to develop their business rather than forcing more and more of them to go to the wall."

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Vale grab late equaliser as United squander lead

New loan striker, Dougie Freedman, making his first start for Leeds United, grabbed a brace of goals in the Potteries and Rui Marques got one but it was not enough in the end as bottom of the table Port Vale grabbed a late equaliser in the third minute of extra time.

Over 3500 United fans, which made up almost half the Vale Park crowd, were celebrating at half-time when the team went in 2-0 ahead.

Leeds should have had a penalty in the 38th minute but were awarded a corner instead. The corner, taken by Bradley Johnson, was converted by Marques from inside the box, 0-1.

Three minutes later Freedman slammed in his first goal for United to make it a perfect end to the first-half.

In the 62nd minute the referee awarded Vale a penalty after it appeared that Andy Hughes had handled the ball. Video evidence later showed that the ball had hit his head. Hughes desperately tried to explain this to the official as he pointed to the penalty spot. Vale's Paul Harsley converted from the spot and almost immediately afterwards Danny Whitaker put Vale on level terms, 2-2.

Freedman put United back in the lead with four minutes to go when he headed in a free-kick taken by Seb Carole, 2-3.

It looked like the mighty Whites were all set to return to Leeds with a well earned three points but in the third minute of extra-time Vale went level again when Luke Rogers tapped in a dramatic equaliser, 3-3.

As a result of United's shaky defence the team went from being one minute away from a play-off position down to 10th spot in the league and with only nine games left to play every point counts from now on.

Attendance 7908.

Port Vale 3 Leeds United 3

Friday, 14 March 2008

Yorkshire Regiment to parade through Redcar

Plans are underway for hundreds of soldiers to invade Redcar as the Yorkshire Regiment prepares to exercise its newly transferred Freedom of the Borough.

More than 500 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment will march through the town as they celebrate the Freedom of the Borough with guns held high, bayonets fixed, Colours flying and bands playing.

The celebrations being organised by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council with the Army will take place on Wednesday, June 18.

The Green Howards were officially awarded the Freedom of the Redcar in 1958. In 2006, they were amalgamated into the Yorkshire Regiment and the Council agreed to transfer the Freedom rights to the new Regiment.

The new Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland, who will be installed in May, will inspect the troops on the Esplanade and present the officer in charge, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Downey, with a new scroll before they all head off to Redcar Bowl for pie and peas washed down with beer.

"Which is the limit of the Labour Council's culinary taste" - say's Glynis.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Working Woodlands

You can find out how to improve wildlife habitats by joining in with a Working Woodlands event on Friday, March 14.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's Events Team is encouraging people to put on their working clothes and bring a packed lunch to help the "Friends of Errington Wood" with some practical tasks to improve the wildlife habitat from 10am until 4pm.

Anyone interested should meet at Errington Wood Picnic Area.

For more information contact the Eastern Area Countryside Officer on 01642 776911.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Two-goal Robins do the double over Leeds

Gary McAllister fielded an unchanged side for the third game running. At a windy Elland Road, Leeds United attempted to make it three wins in a row when they ran out to face lowly Cheltenham Town.

The Whites got off to a flyer when a 20-yard strike by Jermaine Beckford shot hit the upright after just over one minute from the start.

A packed Town midfield held up any further progress by Leeds for the next 20 minutes.

A cross by Bradley Johnson found the head of Tresor Kandol but the ball sailed over the bar on 22 minutes. Darren Kenton volleyed wide from 35 yards two minutes later. On the half hour Jonathan Howson tried a 30 yarder which sailed off to the right of the post.

The Robins seemed content to stifle United's attempts to make progress at the front and then in the 37th minute a mistake by Frazer Richardson led to an opportunity for Town's David Bird, who fired in from 20 yards, 0-1.

With a minute of normal time to go to in the first half a shot by Beckford flew over the bar from 12 yards. An injury time header from Lubomir Michalik landed on the roof of the net.

It was looking like Leeds were having a nightmare repeat of their trip to Whaddon Road in November when they dominated the game and lost out to a late Cheltenham goal against the run of play.

The Whites had more time to put things right this time and came out for the second half with a sense of urgency. A free kick by Bradley Johnson, one minute after the re-start, was saved by the Robin's goalie, Shane Higgs Then a minute later Johnson volleyed over the bar from 20 yards. In the 51st minute an overhead kick from Beckford sailed over the bar as Leeds kept up the pressure.

A 20-yard shot from Kandol was saved by Higgs in the 58th minute. Howson was replaced by striker Dougie Freedman on the hour. Then from nowhere, in the 62nd minute, disaster struck as Town's Alex Russell fired in from 18 yards to make it 0-2.

Leeds made a double substitution in the 70th minute, Anthony Elding and Andy Hughes came on for Richardson and Kandol.

With eight minutes remaining Beckford had the ball in the net but it was ruled offside. In the 85th minute some good build up play led to a cross from Johnson, which reached Elding who headed in from 12 yards to score is first goal for the club 1-2.

Leeds had little chance to even up the score as Cheltenham, languishing in the relegation zone, held on to their lead and went in winners against United for the second time this season.

Attendance 20,257

Leeds United 1 Cheltenham Town 2

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Leeds midfielders find their scoring boots and pip the Cherries

With the exception of new loan signing Dougie Freedman on the subs bench, Leeds United fielded an unchanged side at Elland Road yesterday.

We listened to the match on Radio Leeds as we drove back from the Lib Dems Spring Conference in Liverpool.

The Cherries were in a confident mood as they faced United in strong winds and at times driving rain. They had beaten Pools 2-0 last Saturday and Manager Kevin Bond was a little over optomistic in his pre-match comments. This will have helped spur on United who were unbeaten in four.

Just 11 minutes into the game David Prutton sent in a ball from the right which caused a mix-up between a Cherries defender and on-loan goalie David Forde. Their collision allowed midfielder Bradley Johnson to gently tap a loose ball into the net and score his first goal for Leeds, 1-0.

Bournemouth had plenty of chances during the game but they could not make them count. As the rain began to lash down United's lead was doubled, in the 63rd minute, when another midfielder, Neil Kilkenny. collected as pass from Jonathan Howson and drilled in a shot from 18 yards. It was his first goal for the Whites, 0-2.

Kilkenny, who has recently recoved from injury, was replaced by Freedman in the 68th minute. Andy Hughes replaced Howson (84 mins) and Anthony Elding came on for Tresor Kandol (89 mins).

Whatever was the real cause of United's loss of form since Christmas seems to have been overcome as Gary McAllister got his first home win as manager and that makes it five games unbeaten.

Attendance 21,199

Leeds United 2 AFC Bournemouth 0

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Leeds United call on all football fans to support their fight for justice

The independent arbitration against the Football League's imposition of a 15-point penalty on Leeds United will be heard during the week commencing April 14.

The points penalty has been hotly disputed by Leeds who claim they had followed the League's rules in paying off football debts first. This was challenged by Inland Revenue and it prevented United from coming out of administration with an approved Company Voluntary Arrangement, as required by League rules, though the threat of legal action by Inland Revenue was eventually dropped.

It is grossly unfair for United to have been deducted 15-points this season for something that was beyond their control. They had already suffered a 10-point penalty at the end of last season when they went into administration during the last week of the season. This clearly rankled with many in the Football League and the opportunity to make Leeds pay was taken with relish and ratified at a meeting of League Chairman, including those in League 1, who clearly benefit from the decision.

With Luton and Bournemouth now in administration it is likely that they too will have trouble satisfying the Inland Revenue with the League's rules about paying off football creditors first still in force.

United are calling on all football fans to support their fight for justice. On it's website the club say they have been overwhelmed with the support of fans from all clubs on an on-line petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. You can log on to the petition here.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Lib Dems Oppose “Excessive and Risky” 4.9% Council Tax Increase

Posted by Chris:

Liberal Democrat Councillors on Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council today opposed Labour’s budget which included an excessive 4.9% council tax increase, the biggest rise for years.

In addition Cleveland Fire Authority have set a 4.9% increase and Cleveland Police Authority have imposed a massive 9.97% increase.

Lib Dems are concerned that the Labour-run authority runs a serious risk of being “capped” by central government and having to re-bill residents.

The Local Government Minister, John Healey, has said that he expects council tax increases to be “substantially below 5%” or councils will face the risk of capping. There is no way in the world that 4.9% is substantially below 5%. It is highly irresponsible of Labour to take such a risk with public money.

Having to send out a new set of bills would cost the Council Taxpayer well over £100,000.

Speaking in the debate at today's meeting of the Borough Council Councillor Glyn Nightingale, Lib Dem Finance spokesperson, said:

“Under the Council’s financial plans there should only have been a 3.6% increase this year. But Labour have overspent and failed to be innovative in making efficiency savings. There is precious little real growth.”

“The people of Redcar & Cleveland will pay more and get less with this budget. What Labour calls “efficiencies” are really cuts and extra charges on the public.”

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Leeds back to winning ways as Kandol header beats the Robins

Swindon Town: P. Smith, Comminges, Kanyuka, Aljofree, Vincent, Allen, Peacock, Easton, Roberts, Cox, Paynter. Subs: Brezovan, McGovern, McNamee, Ifill, Ashikodi.

Leeds United: Ankergren, Kenton, Richardson, Michalik, Marques, Prutton, Kilkenny, Howson, Johnson, Beckford, Kandol. Subs: Lucas, Sheehan, Thompson Carole, Elding.

Referee: C. Foy.

New loan signing Steve O'Halloran limped off during the warm up and did not feature as expected. Frazer Richardson took his place in the team and Alan Sheehan was elevated to the subs bench. Leeds fans welcomed back midfielder Neil Kilkenny to the starting line-up at the County Ground, Swindon.

The first 20 minutes saw Swindon, a team low in confidence, getting the best out of a scrappy start to the match. Jermaine Beckford was booked on 23 minutes for unsporting behaviour.

The booking prompted a short spell of pressure from Leeds. A cross from David Prutton, in the 25th minute, found the head of Tresor Kandol who connected solidly and the ball went in from six yards out, 0-1.

It's a long time since Leeds fans saw the famous somersault but it looks like Tresor, with his second goal in successive game, has found his scoring head again and there may be more to come.

Another cross by Prutton in the 32nd minute but this time Bradley Johnson's header, also from six yards, went wide to the right.

Swindon came back into the game for the last 15 minutes of the first half and won three or four corners that put Leeds under pressure.

United remained on the back foot for the first 20 minutes of the second half, as the Robins, with the crowd behind them, looked for an equaliser.

Two inswinging corners by Prutton in the 70th minute began a spell of pressure by Leeds but Swindon got forward again soon afterwards and a shot from Christian Roberts was tipped round the post by Casper Ankergran, earning the Robins their 9th corner of the game.

Alan Thompson came on for Kilkenny in the 77th minute.

A shot by Jonathan Howson, from 25 yards, in the 80th minute, sailed off to the right and was only the 4th chance of the game for United.

The Robins had 11 good chances in the game. They had the Whites on the back foot for long spells but they failed to make their chances count and Gary McAllister got his first win as United's manager.

Attendance 13,217

Swindon Town 0 Leeds United 1.