Monday, 21 December 2009

Mandelson to abolish exemption for charities from music licensing rules

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, is abolishing an exemption for charities from music licensing rules – hitting them with huge bills for holding events with recorded music. Community groups say they will be forced to abandon hundreds of services for the elderly and children because of the new rules. Abolition of the exemption will affect old people's homes, charity discos, tea dances, youth clubs, salsa groups, sports clubs, coffee mornings and even charity shops which have a radio in their staff room.

Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar said "this is a typical New Labour move. A hasty change to legislation with no consultation and little thought of the consequences. Once again we can expect a public outcry, more Government spin and a complicated climb down. In the meantime I will have to eliminate the music round from the occasional quiz that I run for a local organisation.

Save the British Forces Post Office

The Government is planning to stop the British Forces post Office (BFPO) which helps families and friends keep in contact with people serving abroad. You can post a letter to wherever they are serving with just a normal UK stamp. The decision also means that all free post (under 2kgs) to Afghanistan will be stopped.

Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, said: "When our servicemen and women are fighting and dying for our country, the Government is once again treating them with contempt.

"The BFPO has for decades provided a lifeline that is utterly vital in maintaining morale and now they want it cut.

"I know from when my daughter was working for the forces in Gibraltar just how important the service is.

"MPs have granted themselves £7,000 a year postage - but they seem to be happy to put extra costs on service families.

I urge everyone to sign the 10 Downing Street petition here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Corus - let's plan for a future in steel making - Ian Swales

Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar is calling for more action on planning a positive future for Corus.

He has published a new plan for Corus at Redcar which has been sent to the company, the Government and the Trade Unions.

Ian Swales said "There can be a much more positive future for Corus if the Government and the company really want to see it happen. We need a site owner who really believes in the future and is prepared to invest. There has been a lack of investment for over ten years. We need a Government who believe in manufacturing industry and can see the devestating impact of running it down.

My plan outlines what needs to be done and where the money could come from. I'm calling on the Government to bring all the interested parties together and plan for a long term future for steel making on Teesside. We have the site, the port and the people. We just need backing. Short term subsidies will give the plant a slow lingering death rather than a quick one. What we need is investment in steel to get Teesside's economic heart beating again.

Copies of the plan can be downloaded here.

Manufacturing industry as a % of GDP fell from 25 % to 22% under Margaret Thatcher. It fell to less than 13% under Tony Blair and is now less than 12%

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Corus - Labour MP's need to get involved

MP for Middlesbrough, Sir Stuart Bell is being criticised after press comments he made about the Corus situation. He claims that matters will be helped by a pipe order for Shetland gas fields that he has been working on for two years.

Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar said "Sir Stuart Bell should know that steel from the mothballed plant does not go into pipes. He also talks about his hopes that the steel mill will be mothballed for the shortest possible time. The coil plate mill on the site was sold to the Chinese nine years ago and the beam mill is unaffected by the Corus announcement. It is the basic iron and steel making on the site which is mainly affected.

If we are to have any hope of getting out of this mess it's important that local MP's really get involved with what is happening at Corus. To not do so is letting down the local community.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Call for clarification on Redcar Steel Carbon Alowances

Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Redcar Ian Swales has called for clarification on what will happen to the carbon emission allowances allocated free to Teesside Cast Products.

Responding to a statement from Corus, Mr Swales said:
"I have never wished to imply that Corus were motivated to profit from unused carbon allowances. But the situation remains very unclear.

"It is vital that the Government and Corus come forward now with a clear statement about what is going to happen to the 7 million tonnes of annual CO2 allowances.

"Clarity on this issue goes hand in hand with supporting the efforts of local Corus managers to save the TCP plant in Redcar."
Full statement issued by Bob Jones (Group Head Media Relations) on behalf of Corus:
"The Teesside Cast Products plant is to be partially mothballed, which is not the same thing as permanent closure. The question of what is to happen to TCP's 2010 allowances under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is therefore undecided. But any allegation that Corus has been motivated by the desire to profit from the mothballing via the ETS is totally without foundation and insults the efforts of all those who have spent the past eight months desperately searching for a long-term viable future for the plant."

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Government gives up on steel industry - Ian Swales

Any hope that the Government will support the local steel industry while it looks for a buyer who will invest in the site looks to be over. A £60m package of investment announced by the Government makes no mention of a future steel industry. Lord Mandleson, speaking after a meeting with the area's business and political leaders, said the investment was designed to help the area's transition beyond traditional heavy industry. He seems to have given up on Teesside's core industries.

Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, said:

"This confirms what we have thought all along, that the Government has no commitment to a future steel industry on Teesside. It's a very sad day for local people.

"The package announced is welcome but in the short term will do little to help the 25,000 currently out of work in the Tees Valley or the thousands about to join them.

"The Government also need to be clear about how the £60m will be spent and how much of it is new money. The £30m announced for Wilton does not sound like anything new compared to what has already been proposed.

"People will rightly be very sceptical about claims that this investment will create 3,000 new jobs."

Wife of local steel worker says Government have given up on steel industry

A Redcar Councillor, who is the wife of a local steelworker, has hit out at the Government's announcement of £60m which she feels is not going to to help the steel industry?

Coatham ward Lib Dem Councillor Irene Curr said:

"There's some for Wilton, which certainly needs help, some for apprentices and some to help start-up businesses all of which is old news. The rest is to help the area move away from heavy industry.

"This is all very noble but the country needs a manufacturing industry, and therefore a steel industry, if it is to avoid relying on other countries for manufacturing. We are already at the mercy of other countries for our water, gas, electricity, and oil."

"If the Labour Government and Council think this is a good deal then they have obviously already given up on the steel industry!"

Friday, 4 December 2009

Corus Closure is worst possible Christmas present - Ian Swales

Reacting to the news of Corus closure, Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar said:

"The news about the Corus closure is devastating for Teesside. Unfortunately it's not a great surprise as this is the end of a long process caused by lack of investment and world market conditions. It has also been clear that the Government had no intention of helping the Teesside plants survive.

"I hope that the process of finding a new owner for the plant will continue and that "moth balling" is not just a device to avoid the massive environmental restoration that will be needed in future.

"I have been saying for a long time that we urgently need economic regeneration on Teesside. We also need a broader based economy and welcome the news that, yet again, the Government is talking about moving Civil Service jobs out of London.

"In the meantime my thoughts are with the workers losing there jobs. This is the worst possible Christmas present for them and their families."

Lib Dems cruise to victory in Ormesby Ward

Redcar and Cleveland Liberal Democrats are celebrating their fourth by-election win in Redcar constituency in just over twelve months.

Candidate Ann Wilson cruised to victory in the Ormesby Ward By-Election with a majority over Labour of 874. The result was as follows:

Ann Wilson (Lib Dem)..1084 (73.5%; +12.4%)
Steven Goldswain (Lab).210 (14.2%; -5.1%)
Martin Bulmer (UKIP)...103 (7.0%; +7.0%)
Colin Jones (Con).......77 (5.2%; -14.4%)

Majority 874
Turnout 29.55%

Lib Dem hold

The by-election was held due to the resignation of long serving Lib Dem Councillor Eric Empson and was the sixth in just over twelve months in Redcar constituency. The Lib Dems have taken three from Labour and held one. Labour have held two.

Ann Wilson, who lives in the ward, said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of highly respected Councillor Eric Empson. I will do my best to repay the confidence people have placed in me and I look forward to representing the views all residents of Ormesby Ward regardless of their political affiliation.”

Lib Dem Prospective MP Ian Swales said: “The result is a massive boost for the Liberal Democrats in Redcar constituency and is most encouraging for the coming General Election campaign.”

Ormesby Ward Councillors Glyn and Irene Nightingale said: "We are delighted that the residents of Ormesby and Nunthorpe continue to have confidence in the Liberal Democrats."

The composition of the Council is now:

Labour - 25
Liberal Democrats - 16
Conservative - 11
Independents supporting Labour - 4
Independents – 3

In Redcar constituency Liberal Democrats now hold 16 seats, to Labour’s 16 and the Tories 3.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Teessiders losing Postcode lottery in domestic violence programmes - Ian Swales

Offenders convicted of domestic violence are facing longer and longer waits for their court-ordered programmes. According to research by the Liberal Democrats, Teesside has one of the worst records in the country. Offenders are waiting an average of 42 weeks for their programmes with the longest waits being over a year and a half. In the whole of England only Essex has a worse record.

A full regional breakdown is attached

Commenting, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, said:

“The Teesside position has worsened dramatically in the last few years. The Government is about to introduce yet more legislation on domestic violence but it is delivery not laws we need most. It is clear from these figures that the measures they have already introduced are not yet working.

“It is unacceptable that local perpetrators of domestic violence are not going on behaviour changing programmes for over nine months after sentence or release from prison.

“For the sake of victims, violent domestic abusers need urgent help with their problems and it should not take so long to give it to them. It risks creating new or repeat victims of this terrible crime.

“Victims of domestic violence are less likely to come forward if they think their attacker will not be dealt with for months.

“With the Attorney General warning that domestic violence will rise in a recession, it is important that we give top priority to this issue.”