Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Yorkshire Ridings Society 35 years and still going strong

The Yorkshire Ridings Society held its first meeting in Beverley in November 1974 and may be one of the longest running campaign groups in the United Kingdom.

At its Triennial General meeting held last night in the Black Swan at York Redcar Councillor Chris Abbott, who was re-elected Chairman of the Executive Committee, said:

"We must be one of the longest running campaign groups in the United Kingdom. We were formed in response to the 1974 re-organisation of Local Government to campaign for the continued recognition of the three Ridings of Yorkshire in spite of the fact that some parts of the county were transferred to other "counties" for administrative purposes.

"Encouraged by Government statements that the changes were for administrative purposes only and for all other purposes Yorkshire is still Yorkshire, the Ridings Society has doggedly fought to keep alive the historic three Ridings. The earliest known written reference appears in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles of 876.

"We successfully campaigned for the abolition of Cleveland County and Humberside and our role since has been to ensure that the Ridings of Yorkshire remain in existence for all cultural, ceremonial, sporting and postal purposes. Local Government changes make no difference as long as we accept that our historic counties exist alongside them.

"To this end the Society successfully introduced Yorkshire Day in 1975 (the first county in the UK to have its own special day 1st August) which has grown in popularity each year since. We have also been successful in arranging for the erection of Ridings boundary signs on the roads in many areas along the boundaries of historic Yorkshire. At our next meeting in December we are meeting to review our aims and plan for the next few years of campaigning."

Founder member, Mr John Dargan of Goole was re-elected Treasurer, a position he has held since the day the Society was formed. Other officers elected were President - Mrs Judith Anderson of Hull, Vice Chairman - Mr Roger Sewell of Goole, Secretary - Mr Gavin Gibb of London, Minute Secretary - Mrs Hilary Holt and Membership Secretary Miss Hilary Slights of Hovingham.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Longstanding Lib Dem Councillor steps down

Former Redcar & Cleveland Council Leader Eric Empson has today announced his resignation from the council.

Eric, who will be 85 next month, has represented Ormesby on the Council since 1989, initially on Cleveland County Council and later the borough council. He led the council from 2003 to 2007, when the Council achieved a 4-star rating.

But Eric feels the time is right to step back now.

Eric said:

“After discussions with my doctor I feel my health will not allow me to continue to represent the people of Ormesby and Nunthorpe to the full.

“I was proud to serve as Leader of the Council. It was a special privilege to represent my fellow citizens in local, regional and national forums.

“I would like to thank the people of Ormesby and Nunthorpe for electing me, and thank everyone who has worked with me as a councillor.”

Councillor Chris Abbott, Liberal Democrat Group Leader at the Council, said:

“I thank Eric for his excellent hard work over the years. His experience and wisdom will be missed by many.”

Lib Dem Group Chair, Councillor Irene Nightingale, who also represents Ormesby ward, added:

“It has always been a pleasure to work with Eric in helping local constituents. Local residents will miss his dedication in representing their interests.”

Friday, 23 October 2009

Opening of Redcar Boating Lake and Mo Mowlam tribute in pictures

Dr Mo Mowlam 1949-2005.
The red jumpers of Coatham Primary School pupils
stand out amongst the spectators.
Pupils from Coatham and Wheatlands Primary schools
entertain the crowd.
Mo Mowlan's brother and sister with former Councillor Vilma Collins
shortly after unveiling the mosaic.
Members of the Mo Mowlam tribute
Committee admire the finished work
Our Grandson Daniel was more interested in the
Fire Engine speeding past.

GDP figures show we could be in deepest recession on record - Cable

Commenting on today's GDP figures, which show the economy shrank by 0.4% Between July and September, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said:
"For all the hopes of a quick recovery, these figures make it clear we are still in the longest and what could yet become the deepest recession on record.

"For all that has been thrown at the economy to try and stimulate a recovery it is clear that massive structural problems remain, particularly in the banking sector.

"This news adds to serious concerns over the realism of Government plans to deal with the burgeoning public debt. It is critical ministers spell out a credible path as to how they will deal with the deficit.

"With the legacy of unemployment likely to remain for years after the end of the recession, we need radical measures to avoid repeating the mistakes of the 1990s which left millions on the scrap heap."
Prospective MP for Redcar Ian Swales said:
"The fact that the country is still in recession is more bad news for our area. With unemployment already at high levels, and more threatened, we desperately need a turn round in the country's fortunes. While other countries like France and Germany are growing again we are still faced with decline and a collapsing currency due to the reckless policies of the Labour Government."

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Local Labour MPs' vote against 10:10 motion

It is sad to see that local Labour MPs failed to support the Lib Dems 10:10 climate change motion debated in the House of Commons yesterday but it was not unexpected.

The 10:10 campaign is gaining support fast. Around 40,000 individuals are already signed up along with hundreds of organisations, businesses, schools and colleges. Almost 10,000 people emailed their MP calling on them to commit to a 10% reduction in emissions during 2010. But only 12 Labour MPs supported the motion. Vera Baird, Ashok Kumar, Sir Stuart Bell and Dari Taylor all voted against, whilst Frank Cook didn't vote.

It is particularly important that we do all we can to reduce emissions in the Teesside area with all our heavy industry and our MPs should be seen to set an example. Their refusal to back the motion shows they are out of touch with public opinion and like their refusal to be open and transparent about their expenses they just don't appear to care.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

North Yorkshire County Council Lib Dem Group sign up for climate change measures

On the day Parliament debates whether or not to sign up to the 10:10 Campaign, the Liberal Democrat Group on North Yorkshire County Council has today signed up to the movement.

Last week the Lib Dem group put a motion to the Tory-run council which would have meant the council joining the campaign aimed at driving forward cuts in carbon emissions.

The 10:10 campaign calls on individuals, businesses and other organisations to work towards a 10% cut in carbon emissions in 2010.

However, the ruling Tories, along with Labour and Independents, refused to sign up.

Councillor Bill Hoult (pictured), Lib Dem Leader at County Hall, said:

“This week is very important for our environment. Parliament will today debate a Lib Dem motion about whether or not to commit Parliament and the Government to achieving a 10% reduction in carbon emissions in 2010. I hope that all North Yorkshire’s MPs will be supportive.

“It is also Energy Saving Week, so what better time to sign up?

“The Tory council may not be signing up, but my group intends to set an example to the rest of the councillors at County Hall. We are already looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact.” to reduce our environmental impact.”

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Guardian banned from Elland Road

Posted by Chris;

The news that Leeds United have banned the Guardian from Elland Road because of stories written by journalist David Conn comes as no surprise.

Serious questions have been asked about the ownership of the club and Ken Bates has resorted to his usual tactic of shooting the messenger.

The Guardian joins a long list of people and media organisations that Chairman Ken has locked out of his football grounds. These include members of Chelsea's successful 1970's side, The Daily and Sunday Mirror banned from Stamford Bridge, former Chelsea Vice-Chairman Matthew Harding, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash, BBC Look North banned from Elland Road, Melvyn Levi who won a libel case earlier this year against Bates, Peter Ridsdale, former Leeds chairman.

Then there was the nonsensical decision to give in house Yorkshire Radio exclusive coverage of United's home games in spite of an attractive offer from BBC Radio Leeds who had covered Leeds matches for 40 years.

Forgive me if I have missed anyone out. I am sure there must be more.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Local students could face £7,000 tuition fees

There is now less than eight months to save a new generation of young people from huge increases in university tuition fees, according to Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Redcar, Ian Swales.

He was speaking after the Conservatives suggested they will increase tuition fees to £7,000 if they take power at the next general election, which has to be held by next June.

That will see tuition fees for undergraduates more than double. Currently there is a cap of £3,300 in England and Wales.

Peter Mandelson has already suggested that Labour will allow universities to charge more than at present if re-elected – though the party is too scared to push through the changes it wants before June.

Only the Liberal Democrats will scrap tuition fees. The party believes university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go – and not be put off by the cost.

Ian Swales said: “I look around Redcar Constituency and I see people return from university with no job and a bank balance tens of thousands of pounds in the red. What sort of message is that?

“Labour and now the Tories are showing their true colours. They don’t care about young people – they just want to saddle them with staggering amounts of debt.

“The choice is clear: the people of Redcar Constituency can vote for a politician who will condemn a generation of youngsters or for the Liberal Democrats who will make education free again, giving young people the best possible start.”

Redcar and Cleveland Council plan a celebration to unveil Mo Mowlam mosiac

Redcar and Cleveland Council is hosting an afternoon of celebration to officially unveil a memorial mosaic to honour the life of the late former Redcar MP Mo Mowlam at Redcar's newly-refurbished boating lake on Friday, October 23.

Mo's brother and sister Jim Mowlam and Jean Jacques, together with Mo's close friend, former councillor and Mayor, Vilma Collins, will reveal the mosaic, an intricate circular pattern of 800 ceramic tiles, set in a three-metre raised circle near the water's edge.

The mosaic, created by artist John Todd, illustrates Mo's life and interests, with her portrait as the centrepiece surrounded by images including the beach where she loved to walk, racehorses at Redcar Racecourse, where she celebrated her wedding, the steelworks, the Zetland lifeboat, clasped hands and doves to symbolise the Northern Ireland peace process and the Houses of Parliament.

The project has been organised by a working group of former Redcar and Cleveland Mayors, including Mrs Collins, and councillors Peter Spencer, Madge Moses and Norah Cooney, and was funded by public donations, which raised £12,000, including contributions from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, fellow MPs, elected Members, businesses, unions and, of course, local people.

Plans had been in place to instal the mosaic last year, but the major refurbishment of the boating lake has delayed the installation and now a double celebration is planned, with the public welcome to attend.

The entertainment will begin at 1.40pm, with a performance from the Marske Fishermen's Choir, followed by the official reopening of the boating lake by the Council's Mayor, Councillor Brian Briggs.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Still angry and frustrated at Leeds United's failure to secure Thorp Arch deal

Posted by Chris:

It is more than 24 hours since the alarming news broke that Leeds United had failed to meet the conditions laid down by Leeds City Council in time to meet the midnight on Thursday deadline to purchase back Thorp Arch training ground.

The current market value of this world class facility is said to be £11m. United had the opportunity to get it back at the exclusive price of £5.8m and the more I think about it the more angry and frustrated I get.

With the Council borrowing the money and the cost of that covered by a leasing agreement with United there would have been no cost to Council Taxpayers. And United would have been able to buy it from the Council at reasonable terms when it recovers its financial credibility. They have missed out on a more than good deal that will probably now cost Leeds at least twice as much in the future, whilst they continue fork out £486000 per year in rent to its current owner, Manchester-based company Barnaway, rising by around 3% per year.

I am angry at Chairman Ken Bates blame anyone but me attitude. I am frustrated at the lack of openness and transparency.

There may have been legal reasons why little could be said about the questions United failed to answer before the deal fell through but surely now we can be told what they are? The Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post and the Guardian have all failed to get satisfactory answers. Probably they wrote their stories up straight from Ken Bates press statement without being able to contact the Monaco based businessman. Perhaps someone will have to make a 'Freedom of Information' request to the City Council to find out?

I hope there is someway of turning this missed opportunity around. I suspect it has a lot to do with the concerns about who actually owns Leeds United and the lack of transparency about it.

The actual owner is the Forward Sports Fund, which is registered in the Cayman Islands tax haven. The ownership issue has caused concern since June 2007 when Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dem MP Phil Willis raised serious questions, after the club went into administration with debts of £35m and was then resold to the same owners.

Richard Murphy explains in his Tax Research UK blog why it is important to know who owns the club:
Why does this matter? For several reasons. First, as the litigation proves, those dealing with the club have no real idea who is behind it and how to assess its credibility. second, here we have an institution of public significance (I think) that is owned by unknown persons, maybe paid for out of criminal funds.Who knows? Third, there is a fit and proper process meant to apply to owners of football clubs. It cannot apply in this case. Fourth, most owners of private companies exercise considerable management influence. Many are shadow directors. We have no idea who these people are in this case. Fifth, the relationship between a private company and its owner is a matter of tax significance in the UK. Why should tax authorities not be able to access data on this issue without having to commence enquiries to find out?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Lib Dems Persuade Redcar Council to Support 10:10 Climate Change Campaign

Liberal Democrats on Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council today successfully persuaded the council to back a campaign aimed at driving forward cuts in the authority’s carbon emissions.

Lib Dem Councillor Irene Curr (Coatham Ward) submitted a motion to today’s Council meeting calling on the Labour-run Council to sign up to the “10:10 Campaign” to reduce carbon use.

The 10:10 campaign calls on individuals, businesses and other organisations to work towards a 10% cut in carbon emissions in 2010.

The campaign also aims to show world leaders that there is public support for dramatic cuts in global fuel consumption in the hope of encouraging an international agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which meets in Copenhagen in December.

Councillor Curr said:

“I am pleased that the Council has agreed to give a lead on carbon reduction. 10% will be a tough target to achieve, but if the Council has the will to do it I am sure it will be possible.”

Her colleague, Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Carling, seconded the motion, adding:

“I hope that many local residents and businesses will also sign up to the 10:10 Campaign.”

“In these tough economic times it makes sense, not only for the environment, but in cutting fuel bills too.”

Friday, 9 October 2009

Who can switch on the X-Factor?

Young people across the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland are being urged to bring their cheerleaders to auditions that offer them the chance to show off their talents when Redcar's Christmas lights are switched on next month.

The Council's Mayor Councillor Brian Briggs will be chairman of the judging panel in the church hall at Christ Church, Coatham on Friday, October 16, Saturday October 17 and Friday, October 23, in X-Factor style auditions.

The shows start at 7pm, each with different age group auditions. On Friday,October 16, there will be performances for Key Stage 3 (11-14 year olds, on Saturday, October 17, it will be Key Stage 2 (8-11) and on Friday, October 23, it will be Key Stage 4/College (14-21).

The winners from each age group will be part of the lights switch-on on Saturday, November 21, when they will perform on the High Street stage, starting at 10am.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lib Dems support 10:10 climate change campaign

Liberal Democrats on Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council will next week call on councillors to back a campaign aimed at driving forward cuts in the authority’s carbon emissions.

Councillor Irene Curr (Coatham Ward - pictured right) has submitted a motion to the Council meeting on 15 October calling on the Labour-run Council to sign up to the “10:10 Campaign” to reduce carbon use.

The 10:10 campaign calls on individuals, businesses and other organisations to work towards a 10% cut in carbon emissions in 2010.

The campaign also aims to show world leaders that there is public support for dramatic cuts in global fuel consumption in the hope of encouraging an international agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which meets in Copenhagen in December.

Councillor Curr said:

“The Council should be giving a lead on carbon reduction. 10% will be a tough target to achieve, but if the Council has the will to do it I am sure it will be possible.”

Her colleague, Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Carling (West Dyke Ward - pictured right), seconded the motion, adding:

“I hope that many local residents and businesses will also sign up to the 10:10 Campaign.”

“In these tough economic times it makes sense, not only for the environment, but in cutting fuel bills too.”

Football League to discuss ownership of Leeds United

The Guardian today Reports that the Football League, under chairman Lord Mawhinney, will discuss the ownership issues surrounding Leeds United.

They also provide some useful questions and answers:

Q: Why is Leeds United on the agenda: doesn't Ken Bates own the club?

A: Leeds United's actual owner is the Forward Sports Fund, which is registered in a tax haven, the Cayman Islands, where shareholders' identities are kept anonymous. Earlier this year, Bates stated that he and his financial adviser, Patrick Murrin, co-owned the only shares in Forward, but now he has said that was "incorrect".

Q: What has Bates said now about who owns Leeds?

A: He has now said that in fact Forward Sports Fund has 10,000 shares, held by people who have not been identified. Bates stated it was "an error on my part", when he previously said he and Murrin jointly owned Forward.

Q: How did Bates make such an "error" over whether or not he owned the club himself?

A: He has not explained that, either in answers to questions from the Guardian or in his match programme notes, a regular treat for Leeds fans, who can read their chairman's insightful views on people and subjects of significance to the club.

Q: What does the Football League have to consider regarding Leeds?

A: Two different questions. If Leeds previously supplied Bates and Murrin as the owners of Forward, have the club and their directors broken the rule which requires them to state truthfully and accurately to the league who the owners are? Also, the league needs to discover who the actual owners of Forward are, and make sure they are "fit and proper people".

Lib Dems carry the torch for North East Olympic hopes

North East Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign to bring the Olympic flame to our region as part of the UK celebrations in 2012.

Led by Berwick’s MP Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrats from around the north east have written to Lord Coe as Chairman of the London Organising Committee asking for the flame to visit the North east. Other signatories are: Fiona Hall MEP, Cllr John Shipley, Leader of Newcastle City Council; Cllr Jeff Reid, Leader of Northumberland County Council, Ron Beadle, parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North; Greg Stone, parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East; Carol Woods, parliamentary spokesman for Durham City; and Ian Swales, parliamentary spokesman for Redcar.

Sir Alan Beith said

"The Olympics is a wonderful opportunity to encourage many people to get involved in all kinds of sporting activity. Bringing the Olympic flame to the north east will remind people that although the focus of the Games is London, we can all get involved.

"The Lib Dem team presented Lord Coe with a letter inviting the Olympic Flame to the North East at an event to promote London 2012 at the recent Lib Dem party conference in Bournemouth."

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I am shocked at Government response - Ian Swales

Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar Ian Swales has responded to the news about lack of Government support for the local chemical industry.

He said: "I am shocked that the Government is doing so little to protect this country's vital strategic industries. Lord Mandelson's reply amounts to an insult when we're talking about such a big slice of the national economy. This is not just about jobs although that is absolutely vital for Teesside. It's also about security of supply for the important materials that our society needs. I worked at Wilton and Billingham for over 20 years. I can't believe that the Government would allow the chemical infrastructure here on Teesside to collapse.

"The suggestions from the industry looked very sensible and no less than companies will be getting elsewhere. With so much of our industry now foreign owned, companies will choose which plants to keep and where to invest based on many factors. A supportive political climate both locally and nationally is absolutely key.

"With its failure to back both our steel and chemical industries and failure to move Civil Service jobs here it looks as though the Government is quite content to see Teesside become an industrial wasteland with mass unemployment."

Nick Clegg and Ian Swales say Save our Steel

Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, Ian Swales took the Save Our Steel campaign to the recent Liberal Democrat conference.

He is pictured with Lib Dem leader and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg.

Nick said " I am very concerned that our Government is not working with other European Governments to ensure a level playing field for our steel industry."

Ian Swales said "we have to get as many people as possible behind the campaign to save the local steel industry. I was fortunate to be able to state the case to so many parliamentarians at the Conference."

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Redcar and Cleveland Council is giving thousands of young people across the Borough the chance to have their say on local democracy.

Council staff have created a range of activities for young and old in primary schools, youth centres and a care home, including helping with mock and real elections.

Now, to coincide with Local Democracy Week, the Council is bringing young people into Redcar and Cleveland Town Hall's Council Chamber at Eston for a series of innovative events.

The meetings, in the shadow of the Council's imposing crest, United We Endeavour, will be a Democracy Commission on Friday, October 9 and a mock Council meeting, chaired by the Mayor, Councillor Brian Briggs, that gives young people the chance to put questions to Cabinet Members on Tuesday, October 13.

There will also be a special Council Chamber presentation on Wednesday, October 14 from the Parliamentary Outreach Officer for the North of England Daniel Wood, who, along with the Council's Mayor Councillor Brian Briggs, will address the Council's newest recruits, 20 apprentices, explaining the role of Parliament and how young people can get involved.

To find out more about how you can get involved in consultation with the Council, log on to the Council's website.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Ken Bates true to form, answers Phil Willis MP with smears

Posted by Chris:

As predicted in my previous posting Leeds United Chairman Ken Bates has misused his column in today's match programme to smear Harrogate and Knaresborough's hard working Lib Dem MP Phil Willis.

Chairman Ken never learns. His vendetta against Melvyn Levi, in his scurrilous programme notes, cost him an estimated £1.5m in libel fees. When I read the match programme I want to read about Leeds United not Ken's vindictive remarks about anyone who dares to ask questions he does not want to answer.

I will not repeat here what Ken has written. It does not answer the questions that Phil has asked about the ownership of United.

There is a question mark over who really owns Leeds United. Phil Willis and other local MPs are right to be concerned. Harrogate and Knaresborough provides a huge proportion of the Mighty Whites fan base and they pay a fortune to support the team. They have a right to know who actually owns the club and be reassured that there is nothing untoward about it.

The ironic thing about this is that Leeds United have been baled out by Lib Dem led Leeds City Council, who are buying the Throp Arch training ground and are leasing it to United, at no cost to Council Taxpayers in a deal which will allow the club to buy the facilities off the Council when it is in a financial position to do so. This is a massive help to the club who cannot obtain finance itself at this time having only recently been in administration.