Thursday, 11 November 2010

Ian Swales secures crucial meeting with the Government and Corus buyers SSI

A crucial meeting between Corus buyers Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) and the Government has been secured by local MP Ian Swales.

Ian was concerned by a report from the Energy Intensive Users Group that suggested that green taxes could force industries that use a lot of energy - such as steel production - to move abroad. 

In the House of Commons today Ian Swales asked Climate Change Minister Gregory Barker to consider the international competitiveness of UK-based energy intensive industries. He also asked if the Minister would meet with SSI to discuss future carbon and energy policy and its impact on high-energy industries.

The Minister assured Mr. Swales that he would be happy to meet with him and SSI to discuss these issues.

Ian Swales commented, “It is vital that green taxes do not send energy intensive industries abroad. It’s energy inefficiency - not energy intensity - that should be taxed.

 “Everyone in the area knows how important it is for the steel plant to re-open to create hundreds of jobs for local people. The Minister’s agreement to meet with SSI and myself will help to make sure that happens.”

Ian Swales MP commemorates our veterans and Armed Forces

Ian Swales MP commemorates our veterans and Armed Forces in a series of events over the next few days

On Friday Mr Swales will be attending an event at Redcar and Cleveland College as part of a series of Remembrance Day activities occurring in the area.

Ian will be talking to students at the College about the significance of the day before taking part in a wreath laying ceremony in honour of all those serving in our Armed Forces, past and present.

Ian said “Remembrance Day is a great opportunity for us to pay our respects to those who have given their lives in service to their country, and to show our appreciation to those currently serving.  It is especially good to see young people participating in these commemorative services. 

“We must be sure to also pay tribute to those who return from duty injured, both physically and mentally.  This time of year is a great time to highlight the fantastic work which is done year round by the Royal British Legion and other charities, such as Help for Heroes.

“There have been some great events in the area this year, including the Marske United football match which I attended last Sunday.  It was great to see so many people taking part and coming out to show their support.  I was really impressed by the footballing prowess of our local councillors, but the Legion were worthy winners in the end”

Ian will be attending services in Normanby (Sat 11am), Redcar (Sun 11am), Lazenby (Sun 12pm) and New Marske (Sun 2.30pm), as well as laying wreaths at the remaining 6 war memorials across the constituency over the weekend. 

He added  ‘’I would encourage anyone who can to attend their local Remembrance Day service.  It is always nice to see a good turnout at these events.’’   
Details of local services can be found here

Soil conditioner give away at Redcar Racecourse

Following popular demand Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is holding another big heap, soil conditioner give away to any residents who would like to come along, bag it up and take it away.
The giveaway is being held at Redcar Racecourse, in the car park at the Redcar Lane main entrance, on Saturday, November 20 between 10am and 12noon.
There will be a three bag limit to each vehicle, given on a first come, first served basis. Shovels will be available, but you will need to provide your own bags.
The soil conditioner has been collected through the Council's green waste scheme and can be spread about an inch thick into garden borders to give plants plenty of nutrients and improve the soil.
If you would like more information please call, Area Management Promotions and Marketing on 01287 612305.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Lib Dems condemn lack of notice on green waste

Liberal Democrats on Redcar & Cleveland Council are concerned about the Labour Council stopping green waste collections without enough warning.
The Council has stopped its alternate weekly collection of green waste from 1 November for the winter as a cost cutting exercise. However, the Council only informed the press of this on 26 October.
Lib Dem Councillor John Hannon (Kirkleatham Ward) said:
"I appreciate the need to save money, but the Council should have given people much more notice. How are people supposed to plan ahead when big changes like this are sprung on them?"
“I have already received several complaints from residents who are angry about this, and they have good reason to be.”
“The Lib Dems will be asking the Labour Cabinet member responsible what went wrong.”

Lib Dem unites Redcar swimmers

Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Carling has reunited the swimmers, coaches and parents from Redcar Swimming Club for a pre-Christmas swim thanks to the temporary pool at Rye Hills School.
Mike was a swim coach with the club until its closure 10 years ago.
The club had 120 young members and provided a valuable resource for the town. The closure of the baths was a real blow to Redcar.
The British Gas Pools for Schools programme has helped to make this possible, along with Tees Valley Leisure, the Council and the School Sports Partnership.
Cllr Carling said:
"The temporary pool will provided much needed swimming lessons for local children and help them understand water safety."
Fellow Lib Dem Councillor Mary Ovens, who is also a governor at Rye Hills School, added:
“Congratulations are due to all the staff and partners who have made this possible.”
“The new pool has to be seen to be believed. I urge local people to go along and see for themselves how good it is.”

Friday, 22 October 2010

Jobcentre communication not acceptable – Ian Swales

Local Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales has been contacted by concerned residents about the need for a local number to contact Redcar Jobcentre.  After investigating, it appears that the 0845 number not only charges people 4p per minute, there is no alternative local number. 

The website has local numbers for both Middlesbrough and Guisborough Jobcentre, but there is no such number for Redcar Jobcentre. 

Ian said: ‘This is a disgrace.  Not only do I have constituents who are trying to contact the Jobcentre as asked, they are also being made to wait for 30 minutes or more on a line that is costing them money.  Anyone contacting the Jobcentre is likely to be short of money. 
‘’I am calling on all local jobcentres to publicise their local numbers.’’

 ‘’In difficult times like this we should be helping people save money, not making it hard for them.  The Jobcentre is a lifeline to for some people and easy access is essential.  I will be speaking to Redcar Jobcentre, and will ask them to provide a local number for my constituents’’.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lib Dems demand Surestart swimming for Redcar, Marske & New Marske

A Liberal Democrat councillor is demanding access to swimming through Surestart for families in the Marske, New Marske and Redcar areas.
Councillor Margaret Wilson, who represents St Germains ward in Marske, raised the issue at last Thursday’s meeting of Redcar & Cleveland Council. She feels that children from Marske, New Marske and Redcar are not getting a fair deal.
Local children in these areas qualify for free swimming sessions via Surestart, but cannot get them because of the booking system at Saltburn baths. This gives priority to families from Saltburn and other eastern parts of the borough.
Margaret Wilson said:
“Above all this highlights the need for a pool at Redcar. But until that time we need an arrangement which does not deprive children from Marske, New Marske and Redcar of free swimming.
"I hope a solution can be found so that our children are not deprived of swimming. We are after all a coastal borough, which makes learning to swim all the more important.
“The Council could look at providing sessions at Kirkleatham Hall School baths as a short-term measure. This happened in the past so why not again?”

Friday, 24 September 2010

Local MP Ian Swales champions Olympics bid to get kids involved

Local Liberal Democrat MP, Ian Swales has written to all schools in his constituency to encourage them to take part in the ‘Get Set’ London 2012 education programme. Ian met with Seb Coe earlier this week and was encouraged to hear about how many schools were involved in the ‘Get Set’ programme. This programme aims to engage with young people in many different ways from encouraging active lifestyles to enterprise and creativity.

Become part of it

Ian Swales said ‘’There are plenty of ways in which we can and should be encouraging children to get involved. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for people to engage with a variety of events and ultimately being part, even if only in a small way, of the London 2012 Olympics.’’

‘’I have visited many of the schools in the Redcar and Cleveland area since being elected in May, and have been impressed with what I have seen. ‘Get Set’ seems to me to be an exciting way to encourage our young people to get involved with the many events surrounding the Olympics.’’

‘’I am happy to support any school that wishes to get more involved in these projects’’.

For more information on this or any other events relating to the Olympics visit

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Who said Politics wasn’t fun?

The Liberal Democrat Conference this week has seen motions debated by the grass roots of the party, it’s had more fringe events discussing a wide range of topics and we were privileged to hear from many senior figures both in the party and in Government.

But conference would not be conference without a little light relief and this year, Ian Swales MP competed against his Liberal Democrat colleagues in a Virtual Archery game as well as (without knowing) competing in the badge competition!

Mr Clegg, hit a perfect ten with his final shot, shouting “bullseye” across the hall however, his efforts fell just short of Ian Swales and John Hemming MP who filled the top spots in the early part of the game. More MPs then joined in the fun and Ian soon found himself further down the leader board than he would like. He made up for it by selling out of the badges at the Liberal Democrat Image stand and coming third in this competition. Who said that MPs don’t know how to have fun!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ian Swales backs Theresa Cave’s call for the removal of Voodoo Knife Set

Ian Swales MP for Redcar, supports Mrs Cave’s campaign to have the ‘Voodoo Knife Set,’ which depicts a man being repeatedly stabbed, removed from shops around the country. Ian believes that the set’s design promotes violent behaviour and sends worrying messages to impressionable youngsters.

The set was first discovered by Mrs Cave on a recent visit to Whitby, where it was displayed openly in a shop window. Theresa was horrified to overhear a young boy shouting at his mother to ‘buy me a stabbing man’ and after reading this Ian felt compelled to publicly support Teresa in her campaign.

The debate over these knives comes at a sensitive time for people in Redcar and Cleveland after recent series of incidents of knife crime and unprovoked violent attacks. Cleveland Police recently reported that incidents of knife crime had dropped in 2010, however, over 10 days in August, a succession of five attacks took place, two of which happened in Ian’s Redcar Constituency.

The designers of the knife block have claimed that they are not ‘designed to incite violence’, that it is an ‘artistic design, made tongue in cheek’, however Redcar MP Ian Swales said “ The artist may take a light hearted view of his creation but I feel this image should not be freely displayed to all ages. Anything which makes stabbing a human shaped figure seem OK, particularly to children, is offensive and should be withdrawn.’

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Ian Swales gets on his bike

The Member of Parliament for Redcar, Ian Swales, will be joining a fundraising bike ride on Saturday 4th September. The event is one of around 50 'Fresh Air Miles' events taking place across the country to celebrate 15 years of the National Cycle Network.

The event is being hosted by leading UK charity Sustrans who help people to make smarter, healthier, cleaner and cheaper travel choices.Sustrans work with families, communities and partner organisations so that people really do have options.

Ian Swales will be joining Philip Chisholm who is Sustrans' volunteer liaison ranger in Redcar on the bike ride.It will start from Saltburn Allotments/Howard Drive,Marske at 2pm and he will ride to the Council's old Cargo Fleet Offices in South Bank. All are welcome to join in on the ride and Ian hopes to see a lot of local people get involved.

Ian said: “I am looking forward to taking part in the bike ride, it’s been a while since I was on a bicycle but its all good fun and for a good cause. I hope to have the chance to see the constituency from a different perspective and I am sure it will provide me with the opportunity to see where we could improve the green transport routes around the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland. Cycling is a great form of exercise, made all the more enjoyable by the many beautiful, scenic routes available to peddle around across the Borough.

For anybody who cannot join Ian on Saturday, but do want to get involved there is another bike ride taking place on Sunday 5th September starting on Majuba Road in Redcar at 10.30am.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Brotton by-election result

Labour  have won Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s Brotton Ward by-election.

The result was as follows:

Doreen Rudland (Lab)... 565
Barry Hunt (Ind).......... 351
Val Miller (Lib Dem)...... 315
Donald Alan Agar (Con).. 220
Michael George (BNP).... 33

There was a 27.76 per cent turnout.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A perfect day

A good morning's campaigning in Brotton was followed by Leeds 3 Millwall 1 on Yorkshire Radio and then off to Green Lane with Daniel to watch Redcar Athletic thrash Prudoe 6-0.

Lib Dems see off David Miliband at Brotton

The much publicised visit of Labour leadership contender David Miliband to the Co-op at Brotton was upstaged by the Liberal Democrats today.

Labour's election stunt was their biggest shot in the Brotton by-election but it backfired when the only residents who turned up were Lib Dem activists with "Lib Dems Winning Here" poster boards.

In the face of loud questioning from Chris Foote-Wood, Mr Miliband was soon urging his half dozen Labour Councillors and activists to abandon the stunt and slope off.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Ian Swales first 100 days in office

 Ian Swales MP is pictured with HRH Prince Charles on his visit to Redcar

On Sunday Ian Swales MP for Redcar had been a Member of Parliament for 100 days, and to mark this occasion Ian took some time to reflect on everything that has happened since he was elected on the 6th May. Time seems to have flown by since that night and when Ian looked at everything that he has achieved so far it seems almost unbelievable.

Ian said: "Time seems to have just disappeared and some days I still cannot believe that I am actually here doing this job, representing an area that I passionately care about.  When I reflect on the work that I have done so far it seems amazing that so much can happen in such a short space of time.

"I have been in London every day that parliament has sat and back in Redcar all the rest of the time apart from 4 days travelling to Thailand to meet a potential Corus buyer and 2 days in Belgium for a wedding.
"When I was elected I was working out of my front room. Now I have organised support in Westminster and a fully staffed office in Redcar Station Business Centre which is operational and working well.  
"I have attended 20 advice surgeries in 8 locations across the constituency; I am trying to get to all areas as I know how important it is to have access to your MP. 
"In Westminster, I have spoken 7 times in the House of Commons, asked a number of questions and proposed 4 Early Day Motions on a range of subjects, one of which was in relation to Corus and another proposing a transaction tax on banks. 
"I have been elected to the prestigious Public Accounts Committee and elected as Vice Chair of the All Party Group for the Steel industry and the one for the Chemical Industry.
"In my constituency I have been campaigning on issues important to people. These include the sale of Corus TCP, St. Peters School South Bank, Ensus emissions and the need to get more jobs in the area. 
"I am especially pleased to have got the Government to sort out the position on biomass tariffs which has directly led to a new £500m investment in the constituency. 
"I have attended community events from the return of the Green Howards to concerts, coffee mornings and fetes. I have met many representatives from the voluntary sector and presented awards at the Redcar and Cleveland volunteer celebration. 
"I have met many local businesses as well as many of my constituents and have been trying to help wherever possible.  We have had hundreds of items of correspondence since I was elected and I'm happy that we have been able to make a difference for so many people. I hope to be able to help many more constituents in the years to come.
"It has been incredibly busy with virtually no time off and I'm now looking forward to a short break away with the family before parliament restarts on September 6th."

Newcomen Ward Community Forum: First Ever Community Gala Day

Newcomen Ward Community Forum are holding their first ever Community Gala Day, for local residents and the wider area of West Redcar.

The first ever Newcomen Ward Community Gala Day is being held in Locke Park, Corporation Road, Redcar on Saturday 21st August 2010 between 11am - 4pm.

A number of Attractions have been booked for the day, including, Bouncy Castle and Slide, Fairground Ride, Climbing Wall, Face Painting, Balloon Modelling, Walk-a-bout Magician, Miniature Railway, Urban Kaos Street Dance Workshops and numerous other activities. A number of Craft Stalls will be in attendance, along with representatives from Redcar and Cleveland College, Pertemps, Routes-2-Employment, Coast and County Housing and Sure Start and other organisations.

Free Car Parking for the event has been arranged at Redcar and Cleveland College, Corporation Road.

Newcomen Ward Community Forum has been established for over 10 years, and is an independent Community led organisation run by volunteers, It's main aim is to put forward the views of local residents who live and work in the area, to the Local Authority, and other Statutory and Community Groups.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Redcar Athletic FC - putting our town on the football map

We were invited to a football match yesterday evening!

Teesside Athletic has had a senior team in the Wearside League for three or four seasons now, coming third last season and just missing out on promotion to the Northern League.

This ambitious club, who will soon be erecting stands and floodlights at its tidy Green Lane ground, has changed its name to Redcar Athletic. We have campaigned for a long time to have a senior team playing at a decent level with Redcar as its name.

We were delighted when we heard this news and pleased to receive an invite as guests to the club's first home league match, under the new name, against Silksworth.

Charlotte and Daniel came with us. Daniel, aged six, is a Leeds United regular and knows all the songs, so it came as a bit of a shock to the Redcar players when he started chanting Redcarrr, Redcarrr as they walked passed him on to the pitch. It shocked spectators even more when Redcar scored and Daniel started shouting "It's the goalie's fault 1-0" over and over again. Redcar had the ball in the net a further twice but these were disallowed. A late goal by the visitors meant the points were shared.

We had a nice snack at half time and we were really impressed with the set up.

At only £2 entrance for adults it is not costly supporting Redcar Athletic. When time permits and it does not clash with a Leeds match, then Chris and Daniel will be down at Green Lane to support "The Reds."

Many thanks to all at the club for making us so welcome.

Yorkshire Day raises £468 for Redcar Lifeboat

Yorkshire Ridings Society, assisted by the Redcar Ladies Lifeboat Guild and Redcar MP Ian Swales raised £468 for Redcar Lifeboat on Yorkshire Day from the sale of white roses.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Ian Swales calls for democratic consultation process on Redcar viewing tower

Ian Swales MP has received numerous complaints about the proposed 80' viewing tower on Redcar seafront. He is calling for the Council to have a clear and transparent consultation process with local people so that the real balance of views is known.
Ian said, "I have had adverse comments about the viewing tower by phone, email, letter, on my pier campaign website and from residents in the street. I know that some residents are mounting successful petitions and there are regular letters in the newspapers. I recently received a sheaf of letters from the Coastal View newspaper and the Council Area Committee meeting last Wednesday was also highly charged. It's hard to think of a proposed change that has produced so much adverse criticism with so little positive support.
In my new role I am constantly trying to work constructively with the Council and have so far kept private my discussions with them over this. However the Chief Executive, Head of Regeneration and Council Leader know about my concerns. I have been critical of using the term "vertical pier" which I think inflames the many residents who want to see a proper pier again in Redcar. I am also concerned about what activity will take place in the tower, whether it is appropriate for THE prime sea front location inthe town and whether it will be sustainable.
The recent consultation process appeared to only allow positive comments and few of those attending made any comment at all. I am calling on the Council to carry out a simple exercise to gauge overall public support for the scheme. If it is shown that the protesters are indeed a small, but vocal, minority as the Council claim this will be shown clearly. Either way democracy should prevail so that the town can move forward positively in the agreed direction.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Continental Market returns to Redcar

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council welcomes back the Continental Market to Redcar High street. The market will be open between 10 am - 4 pm on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th August.
These events with professional traders from across Europe are always very popular with visitors and shoppers  who come to see the high quality items including cheeses, olives, bread, spices and craft goods.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Yorkshire Day Success

A big thank you to everyone, especially Councillor Irene Curr, who made the Yorkshire Day celebrations in Redcar a big success.

We just about sold every white rose we had, the tombola stall was sold out within an hour or so and we almost sold our entire stock of Yorkshire flags.

More to follow when we get some pictures. All the money raised from the sale of white roses is counted on Wednesday and every penny will go to Redcar Lifeboat.

Happy Yorkshire Day

A full day of fun events has been organised in Redcar town centre to celebrate Yorkshire Day on Sunday 1st August.

The mighty Viking, Sicga Draugluin, (played by Corus steelworker John Curr) will be present to deliver the annual Reading of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity in Old Norse at 11.35am near Redcar Town Clock. Redcar MP Ian Swales will read the modern English version.

All proceeds from the sale of white roses will go the Redcar Lifeboat.

From 11am to 3pm in the High Street there will be craft stalls, trampolines, kiddies rides, tombola and a circus performer. There is a children’s treasure trail to look for 12 pictures of white roses in Redcar shops. On the beach, between 12 noon and 2pm there will be kiddies rides and sports,

The events have been organised by Councillor Irene Curr and the Yorkshire Ridings Society, with the support of Redcar & Cleveland Council’s Town centre management and events team.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Ian Swales questions Minister over hostel proposals in Redcar

Proposals for hostels for people on bail or on remand in Redcar may not be the given the go-ahead under the new coalition government according to Communities Minister, Andrew Stunnell, who in response to concerns raised by local MP, Ian Swales, confirmed that the new government would allow local communities to control plans in their own area.

Speaking on Tuesday in a Westminster Hall debate on coastal towns, Mr Swales expressed his concern that residents and local authorities in Redcar were powerless to stop Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) from being established because of the planning laws put in place by the previous Government.

In his reply, Mr Stunnell confirmed the new coalition government’s commitment to devolve the planning framework to local authorities, so that they can establish their local plans and the have the freedom to take those decisions.

Commenting Mr Swales said:

“There is a pending planning hearing in Redcar and Cleveland about HMOs-which will involve two developments of secure accommodation in the heart of our resort.

“There will be large financial returns for the people involved, but even though local residents don’t want those hostels in that place, the local authority has little power to do anything about it because of the planning laws put in place by the previous Labour government.”  

“It may be too late to stop these HMOs from being established this time, but I’m delighted that as a result of the actions taken by this coalition government, from now on local authorities and residents will be given the freedom to make those decisions in the interests of their own community.”

Friday, 16 July 2010

Ian Swales calls on Government to introduce Robin Hood Tax

MP, Ian Swales, who has called for the introduction of a financial transaction tax.

Mr Swales has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to introduce a ‘Robin Hood’ tax, which would take an average of 0.05% from speculative banking transactions that could potentially raising hundreds of billions of pounds every year to tackle poverty and climate change.

Commenting Mr Swales said:

“Given that the banks had such a large role in causing the economic crisis it’s only fair that they should help pay to fix it.

“The bank levy announced by the Chancellor in the recent budget was a welcome first step, but there is still a lot of scope to explore further bank taxes, specifically the introduction of a Financial Activities tax on excess profits and remunerations.

“A ‘Robin Hood’ tax has the power to raise hundreds of billions every year and could give a vital boost to the NHS, our schools, and the fight against child poverty in the – as well as tackling poverty and climate change around the world.”

1. Early Day Motion tabled by Ian Swales MP entitled Robin Hood Tax

That this House supports the Robin Hood tax campaign which calls for the introduction of a financial transaction tax; notes that by taking an average of 0.05 per cent. from speculative banking transactions, hundreds of billions of pounds could be raised every year to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad; believes that banks, which had a large role in causing the economic crisis, should do more than just pay back the bailouts or insure against future crises; further believes that a Robin Hood tax would be an effective and popular response, with a recent poll finding that 80 per cent. of respondents supported the introduction of a Robin Hood tax; commends the work of all those organisations backing this campaign who have mobilised their supporters to increase the pressure for such change; believes that this tax is an idea that has come of age; and urges the Government to do all possible to ensure that the Robin Hood tax becomes a reality.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Ian Swales elected to Public Accounts Committee and vows to ensure “value for money” for Redcar constituency taxpayers

Newly elected MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, has today been elected as the Liberal Democrat representative to the prestigious Public Accounts Committee; a team of MPs responsible for ensuring the Government delivers value-for-money for taxpayers.

Mr Swales’ appointment comes just two months after he was elected to the House of Commons and is recognition of the experience and expertise he can bring to the role having worked for many years as an accountant. The Committee is responsible for overseeing government expenditures to ensure they are effective and honest and is seen as a crucial mechanism for ensuring transparency and accountability in government financial operations.

Commenting Mr Swales said:

“I’m delighted to have been chosen by my Liberal Democrat colleagues to serve on the Public Accounts Committee, particularly as I’m still relatively new to being an MP.

“The role of the PAC will be even more crucial given the current economic climate. It’s vital that the Committee holds the Government to account to ensure we don’t see a repeat of the scorched earth spending policies of the previous Labour government.

“Serving on the PAC will allow me to see first hand exactly how local taxpayers’ are having their money spent to ensure that every penny they give in tax is spent in an honest and effective manner.”

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Ian Swales calls on George Osborne to introduce legislation against “punishing” bank charges

Banks should be prevented from imposing “punishing” overdraft charges onto customers according to Redcar MP, Ian Swales, who has called on the new coalition Government to step in and prevent banks from issuing excessive charges

Mr Swales has warned against excessive overdraft fees, which he believes can tip vulnerable customers already walking a financial tightrope into debt and has tabled a written question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP, to ask him to introduce legislation to bring an end to unfair bank charges.

Commenting Mr Swales said:  

“Some UK banks only exist because they have been bailed out by British taxpayers, yet financial service companies are still ripping people off.

“It simply isn’t right that someone on a low income should pay £25 or more to their bank just because they’re overdrawn by a pound or two. Punishing overdraft fees like these only serve to push vulnerable customers further into debt.

“I hope George Osborne agrees that legislation is absolutely necessary if we’re serious about scrapping unfair bank charges once and for all.”


News that the Building Schools for the Future programme has been frozen has been greeted with disappointment by Redcar MP Ian Swales.

He said “I am well aware that the Labour government left this country in a desperate financial state. It’s inevitable that all plans without funding in place will have to be reviewed.

“However, This is not the end of capital investment in schools. I know much preparation has been done for BSF in Redcar and Cleveland and how important many of the projects are. I will be speaking to Schools Minister Sarah Teather to press for the funding that we need as soon as it can be made available.”

Friday, 2 July 2010

Ian Swales welcomes “much needed” funding for Teesside hospices

News that a £40million grant for hospices will be reinstated by the new coalition Government has been welcomed by Redcar MP Ian Swales as providing “much needed financial support” to local hospices Zoe’s Place and Teesside Hospice.

The £40m capital scheme for hospices was announced as part of the End of Life Care Strategy but was later recalled by the previous Labour Government as part of its review of spending commitments made since 1 January.  Liberal Democrat Health Minister, Paul Burstow confirmed the grant on 17 June and has written to all hospices affected, including Zoe’s Place and Teesside Hospice to confirm their grants.

Zoë's Place in Normanby offers palliative and respite care for babies/infants from birth to five years old who have life limiting or terminal illnesses, special and complex needs to varying degrees. Teesside Hospice Care Foundation was formed in 1982 as a response to the shortfall in specialised care for those suffering from a life limiting illness in the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire region. Both hospices will now be eligible for funding under the grant provided by the coalition Government.

Commenting Mr Swales said:

“Hospices’ good work extends far beyond their buildings. Although only a comparatively small number of people actually die in a hospice, a great many more benefit from their services and expertise in other ways, such as through day therapy or hospice-at-home.

“We’re fortunate in Teesside to have two world class hospices in the Teesside Hospice and Zoe’s Place in Normanby, one of the few dedicated children’s hospices in the UK.

“I’m delighted that the coalition Government recognises the outstanding service provided by Teesside Hospice and Zoe’s Place and has acted to reinstate the grants cancelled by the last Labour Government. I’m certain that these grants will provide much needed financial support to these fantastic organisations. “

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Treasury to consider Tees Valley as location for Green Investment Bank

Tees Valley is in the running to become the new administrative centre for the Government’s proposed ‘Green Investment Bank’ after Redcar MP, Ian Swales, put forward the case for Teesside in a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt. Hon George Osborne.

In his letter to the Chancellor, Mr Swales stressed the need for increased Government support to help the North East recover from the economic crisis and deal with the continuing high levels of unemployment.

Under the coalition Government’s proposals, the bank will be used to provide investment for ‘green’ projects such as upgrading ports to make them suitable for off-shore wind turbines.

In response to Mr Swales’ letter, Treasury Minister Justine Greening MP, confirmed that the Treasury were “open–minded to all options” for the location of the administrative centre, “including the Tees Valley”.

Commenting Mr Swales said:

“I’m delighted that Treasury Minister, Justine Greening, has agreed to consider Teesside as the administrative centre for the new Green Investment Bank, which if successful would provide a much needed injection of highly skilled jobs to the area.

 “Teesside has been badly neglected by the previous Government, which is why it is vital that it receives support to help rejuvenate the area.

“Choosing Teesside as the site for the Green Investment Bank would not only create jobs now, but would also provide the North East with stable, long term employment for many years to come.”

Liberal Democrats create £1bn fund for communities hit by cuts - Ian Swales

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched a £1bn Regional Growth Fund to help communities that may be particularly affected by public spending cuts.

Liberal Democrat Ian Swales MP for Redcar has today described the move as a vital step in protecting jobs and promoting growth in the North East.

Commenting, Ian said:

“The reckless Labour government left the country nearly bankrupt, with an unprecedented challenge ahead.

“The Coalition Government has had to make incredibly difficult choices, but the Liberal Democrats are helping ensure that no community gets left behind.

“We can now deliver a more focussed approach in the North East and provide more business support, encourage entrepreneurs and protect jobs.”

Speaking in Bradford after the first regional Coalition Cabinet meeting, Nick Clegg said:

“The Regional Growth Fund will create the conditions for growth and enterprise by stimulating investment and creating sustainable private sector jobs.

“Alongside our commitment to waive some employment taxes for new businesses starting up in targeted regions of the country, this fund can make a real difference to companies during difficult times.”

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Residents of Coatham and Redcar are being encouraged to check out exciting plans for a £37m revival of part of Redcar – and have their say on how their community should be improved.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is holding a public exhibition next week on the proposals for the new swimming pool and leisure centre for Redcar and consultation session on its plans to improve the Coatham area.

The authority’s cabinet has given its backing to proposals to build a new swimming pool and leisure centre, ‘myplace’ young people’s arts and media centre, multi-storey car park, library, civic and community facilities.

The new scheme for a Civic Centre in Redcar replaces plans for new leisure facilities and 357 new homes, which were abandoned earlier this year after the Supreme Court ruled that part of the land earmarked for development is a village green.

The Council will host an exhibition at Redcar Library from Monday, June 28, to Friday, July 2, from 10am to 4pm each day.

Visitors will be able to ask questions and see the plans for themselves, ahead of work beginning next spring, subject to the necessary planning approval being gained.

The week will also provide residents and traders in the area with the chance to air their views on initial environmental improvements that are planned and suggest ideas about what they would like to see in the area.

The Council is eager to hear about any improvements that local people feel would benefit the area – and visitors to the library will have the chance to give their comments.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Redcar's new Leisure Centre to be sited between Kirkleatham Street and Ridley Street

A Multi-million pound regeneration scheme for Redcar has been given the go ahead today by Redcar and Cleveland Council.
The Council’s Cabinet held a special meeting to discuss options to invest in and develop the town and have agreed to:
· the creation of a ‘myplace’ arts and media centre for young people
. a leisure centre and swimming pool developed between Kirkleatham Street and Ridley Street
· a new library and civic and community facilities
· a multi-storey car park.
The total cost of the scheme, which will be developed in two phases, is projected to be £36.9 m, providing significant investment and job opportunities to the area.
The leisure centre facility will include a six lane, 25 metre swimming pool, leisure and children’s pool, eight court sports hall, junior gym and fitness suite and performance and dance areas.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Coatham Links future under spotlight

Fresh options for the multi-million pound Coatham Links regeneration scheme are to be considered tomorrow.
Initial proposals to bring new leisure facilities and hundreds of homes to the area were abandoned earlier this year after the Supreme Court ruled that part of the land earmarked for development at Coatham should be registered as a village green.
But Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s cabinet will meet on Friday, June 4, to assess two options designed to enhance the area, providing first-class swimming and leisure facilities.
One option for a £22.7m scheme would see a new leisure centre and swimming pool developed on the existing Coatham Links site, while the creation of the £5m ‘myplace’ arts and media centre for young people would go ahead as already planned.
The second proposition would involve building ‘myplace’ on the Coatham site, with a leisure centre and swimming pool developed between Kirkleatham Street and Ridley Street.
A second phase for the latter project would also include a new civic and community suite being established, with the entire scheme costing £36.9m.
The leisure centre aspect of both options would lead to a facility offering a six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool, leisure and children’s pools, eight-court sports hall, junior gym and fitness suite, performance and dance areas.
Subject to approval being gained, work on either option could begin in Spring 2011.
The Council will also continue to seek alternative sites that could accommodate up to 350 new homes across the Borough, to satisfy demand for housing in Redcar.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Ian Swales announces next surgery date

Ian Swales MP will be holding surgeries on Saturday 5th June. Redcar constituents are invited to speak with Ian regarding issues or concerns by joining him at Redcar Library, Coatham Road, 9.30am-10.30am or at the newly-opened South Bank Library, Low Grange Health Village, Normanby Road, 11am-11.30am.

Anyone wishing to attend either surgery can book an appointment by calling Ian on 01642 292847.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Labour's so-called "open and transparent" Council places restrictions on petitions

Redcar & Cleveland's Labour controlled Council today altered the petitions scheme for the Council, limiting them only to residents of the Borough and attaching minimum numbers of signatures before they can be debated by the Council.

Petitions to be debated by the Council is now set at "1500, but reduced to 500 where the petition related to a local issue, affecting no more than two electoral wards within the authority"

Petitions requiring attendance by a senior council officer to answer questions at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting is now set at "750, but reduced to 100 where the petition related to a local issue, affecting no more than two electoral wards within the authority."

Petitions and signatures will only be accepted from residents of the Borough.

A Conservative amendment also restricted the time that petition organisers have to present their petition to five minutes.

Lib Dem members opposed the changes arguing that there should be no restrictions.

There could be many reasons why visitors or residents from outside the Borough may want the Council to consider a petition. It should not be beyond the wit of Councillors to assess the relevance or merits of a petition regardless of how many signatures or who sent it in. Previously a petition signed by only three people was considered equally with one signed by thousands.

The Labour Councillors keep going on about being open and transparent but in reality they are selective and choosy.

Ian Swales welcomes tax freeze for PD Ports

Ian Swales MP has welcomed the coalition agreement to freeze the controversial backdate tax rates on port operators.

This week, David Laws and George Osborne announced the decision to freeze the backdated tax rates.

Under the Labour government, the Valuation Office Agency, believing it had been under-taxing port companies for some time, altered the tax system and backdated the new taxes to April 2005, giving firms up to eight years to repay millions of pounds.

Now, the new Liberal Democrat – Conservative coalition government has decided to freeze these rate demands. Ian Swales said, “I am delighted that the government has recognised that this backdating of taxes needs to be looked at. This is good news for PD Ports at Teesport.”

Ian Swales shows support for local schools

Within a fortnight of becoming Redcar’s new Member of Parliament, Ian Swales paid visits to Eston Park and St. Peter’s schools in Eston and South Bank. Both schools have been scheduled for closure and visiting the schools was high on the new MP’s list of priorities.

Ian Swales said, “I felt that it was important to meet with staff and find out more about the situation. I’ve had contact from staff, pupils and parents about the issue and I visited the schools to understand fully the concerns I am hearing

“I intend to find out the details of what will be happening to the previously agreed Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, under which these closures were taking place, and discuss with the council what any changes to BSF means for the future of these schools.”

New MP fights for Corus

In his first couple of weeks as Redcar MP, Ian Swales has been working tirelessly on the issue of the mothballed TCP plant at Corus. He has met Corus and Tata management, Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon and union officials. He has also had discussions with representatives of potential buyers of the steel making assets and others who are interested in investing in potential surplus land.

He is now heading to Thailand with a delegation of union officials to meet SSI, who are interested in the steel-making assets. Ian said, “Corus is obviously the number one issue for local people. Our community urgently needs jobs and resolving the future of Corus is vital in moving forward.

“I hope we will start to see more people employed on the huge Corus site and reverse the decline that has been going on for decades.”

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ian Swales announces his position on tuition fees

Questions have been raised over whether and how the coalition government will influence Liberal Democrat MPs’ stances on the issue of higher education funding.

The coalition agreement has seen both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats give ground on certain policies and issues to make compromises in order to form a stable government capable of solving the nation’s debt crisis.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto proposed phasing out tuition fees and many Liberal Democrat MPs – including Redcar’s Ian Swales – have signed the National Union of Students pledge to “vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.

Ian Swales said, “I am heartened by the provisions set out in the full coalition agreement. The government will await Lord Browne’s final report, and has stated that it will judge its proposals against the need to address a number of issues, including the need to: ‘increase social mobility’; ‘take into account the impact on student debt’; and ‘attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“If these issues are addressed properly, the coalition government will have acted in the student interest.”

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Ian Swales welcomes major Lib Dem policies in Queen’s Speech

Newly elected Lib Dem MP for Redcar constituency, Ian Swales, has welcomed today’s Queen's Speech saying that many important Liberal Democrat policies will be implemented by the coalition Government in the next 18 months.
Mr Swales said:

“I am very pleased that so many Liberal Democrat priorities that I have campaigned on during the election campaign will now be put in place to make our country fairer.

“Policies like a fairer and simpler tax system, restoring the link between earnings and pensions, restoring freedom and civil liberties by scrapping ID cards and passing a Great Repeal Bill that we have long argued for, will now be put in practice.

“We all know that our public finances are in a very bad state and spending cuts will be inevitable. However, I will be making the case in Westminster that this area needs a helping hand after more than a decade of Labour neglect and failure. I will now concentrate on providing a strong voice for Redcar constituency and Teesside as a whole in Westminster.”
    • Making the tax and benefits system fairer and simpler, including a significant increase in the personal allowance and an ambition to increase it to £10,000
    • Restoring the earnings link to pensions
    • Greater freedoms for teachers over the curriculum
    • Measures to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses
    • Support for low carbon energy production
    • Financial services regulation to learn the lessons of the financial crisis
    • Fixed term parliaments of five years
    • A referendum on the Alternative Vote
    • The right to sack MPs guilty of serious misconduct
    • Reform of party funding
    • Moving towards a wholly or partly elected House of Lords, elected by proportional representation
    • A Bill to restore freedoms and civil liberties, through the abolition of Identity Cards and repeal of unnecessary laws
    • Giving greater powers to councils and giving neighbourhoods and communities more control over planning and housing decisions
    • Ending child detention
    • Fair compensation for Equitable Life victims
    • Enabling the creation of a national high speed rail network
    • The modernisation of the Royal Mail
    • Flexible working and promotion of equal pay
    • Strengthening the voices of patients and the role of doctors in the NHS
    • A commission on long-term reform of social care
    • Cutting Quangos and government bureaucracy
    • Implementing the recommendations of the Calman Commission
    • A referendum on further powers for the Welsh Assembly
A full list of Bills and other items from the Queen’s Speech is available here.

Marske Post Office may be saved

 Ian Swales with local residents unhappy about the potential closure.

The planned closure of Marske Post Office has been postponed, as a potential new owner has been found.

Ian Swales, MP for Redcar, is reported to be delighted that the post office may be saved.

He said, “I have spoken to the person interested in taking over and given advice about running the business and sources of funds. There’s still a way to go, but I am very hopeful that the post office operation will continue. I will help in any way I can.

“I want to thank the hundreds of local residents who have signed the Liberal Democrat petition over the last few weeks. The big response shows the strength of feeling from local residents.

“Post offices are a vital part of local communities and I am pressing the new Government to adopt policies to reinvigorate the network.”

Friday, 21 May 2010

£30m seafront revamp goes on display

An exhibition taking the wraps off £30m plans to regenerate the iconic Redcar seafront will be launched to the public this weekend.

The exciting proposals are designed to create 60 new jobs, support businesses and attract fresh investment to the area.

The ambitious project includes the creation of strengthened flood defences, a spectacular new promenade, 80ft viewing tower and ‘The Hub’ - a showpiece base designed to allow the area’s creative industries sector to thrive.

And Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is hoping that residents, traders and visitors will take the chance to see the plans when the scheme goes on public display.

The community exhibition will be staged at the new Mayfair Hub, at 18 Esplanade – between Redcar Rock Shop and Chips ‘R’ Russ - from Saturday, May 22 to Friday, June 4, from 10am to 4pm each day.

Display panels illustrating the plans and a scale model of the proposals will be available for viewing, while council officers and architects will be on hand to answer any questions.

Visitors will also be able to complete questionnaires, with their responses helping to shape the planning process for the developments.

A planning application is expected to be submitted in the summer and, if approval is granted, work could begin in the autumn.

Creative Industries Hub boost for Redcar

The transformation of Redcar seafront moved a step closer today as ambitious plans were unveiled for a landmark focal point for creative and digital industries in the area.

The Hub, an innovative business centre, will provide an exciting new base for up-and-coming firms to flourish on the site of the former Palace Theatre.

The new facilities will be closely linked to a unique 80ft viewing tower which was announced last year, to include 3,000 sq ft of business space, a digital café, and gallery space for digital and commercial arts.

The Hub will provide 35,712 sq ft of business space, including 32 managed offices, along with workshops, studios and communal spaces.

Both buildings are being funded by £2,823,000 from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, £2,534,000 from Regional Development Agency One North East, £4,655,110 through the European Regional Development Fund and £940,000 from the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative. This funding will also cover initial revenue costs at both new buildings.

As well as prime office space, The Hub will provide businesses with an array of support and opportunities to thrive in the 21st century. Planned measures include mentoring services through Teesside’s pioneering Digital City Business; fellowships with the Institute of Digital Innovation and events and festivals highlighting the burgeoning industry.

The project was developed in the wake of extensive consultation with both the business community and Redcar residents. The area’s existing creative industries sector presently boasts about 300 companies, generating a combined turnover of some £31m – figures that partners believe could be significantly boosted by having a flagship focal point.

Council officials spoke to hundreds of firms during the project’s planning stages and already have 41 expressions of interest in taking up work space in The Hub. The scheme would also address residents’ calls during the Council’s “Love It, Hate It” consultation exercise to bring the Palace Theatre site back into use to benefit the community.

The current building has been vacant and semi-derelict for more the past few years, with only its shell now remaining and structural surveys showing that it could not have been retained.

The proposals will go out to public consultation, starting on Saturday, May 22, with planning permission then to be sought and, if approval is granted, a year-long construction programme would start this November. A website charting progress is also being planned.

"Campaign for jobs is my number one priority," says Ian Swales

The Office for National Statistics has published new unemployment figures for the country.

The statistics for April 2010 show an unofficial unemployment rate of 10% in Redcar constituency – the 41st worst in England and the 46th worst in Great Britain, according to the rating.

The Job Seekers’ Allowance claimant rate in Redcar constituency is 6.9%. This includes 1,180 under the age of 25 (a rise of 0.4% since April 2009), 1,955 between the ages of 25 and 49 (a rise of 12.7% since April 2009) and 545 over-50s (a rise of 32.9%).

New Redcar MP Ian Swales said, “these figures make grim reading and underline the desperate local job situation. With redundancies continuing from Corus, things are unlikely to improve in the short term. The campaign for jobs is my number one priority.”

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Ian Swales urges Chancellor to bring 'green investment bank' to Teesside

Newly elected MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, today began his campaign to bring hundreds of Government jobs to Teesside by writing to George Osborne, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, to formally request that he consider Teesside as the location for the administrative centre of the Government's proposed 'Green Investment Bank'.

Under the coalition Government's proposals, the bank will be used to provide investment for 'green' projects such as upgrading ports to make them suitable for off-shore wind turbines.

In his letter to the Chancellor, Mr Swales stressed the need for increased Government support to help the North East recover from the economic crisis and deal with the continuing high levels of unemployment.

Commenting, Mr Swales said:

"I'm delighted that the coalition Government has given the go-ahead for the creation of a new Green Investment Bank and am hopeful that Teesside will be able to play a significant role in its ongoing development.

"I've written to George Osborne to ask him to consider Teesside as the location for the bank's administrative centre, which, if successful, will provide a much needed injection of highly skilled jobs to the area.

"Teesside has been badly neglected by the previous Government, which is why it is vital that it receives support to help rejuvenate the area.

"Choosing Teesside as the site for the Green Investment Bank will not only help create jobs now, but will also provide the North East with stable, long term employment for many years to come."

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Ian Swales MP announces first surgery date

Ian Swales MP will be holding surgeries on Saturday 22nd May. Redcar constituents are invited to speak with Ian regarding issues or concerns by joining him at Redcar Library, Coatham Road, 9.30am-10.30am or at the newly-opened South Bank Library, Low Grange Health Village, Normanby Road, 11am-12pm.

Anyone wishing to speak to Ian who cannot attend either surgery on Saturday can arrange a meeting by calling his office on 01642 292847.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Liberal Democrat policies agreed by Tories

The policy agreement for the new Government is full of Liberal Democrat policies. It is a real chance to put into action the ideas that we have campaigned for.

A Fair Start for Children

·        Introduce a Pupil Premium to give all children a fair start.

Fairer taxes and Economic Reform

  • A substantial increase in the personal allowance from April 2011 with a longer term policy objective of further increasing the personal allowance to £10,000, making further real terms steps each year towards this objective
  • Reform of the banking system, ensuring a flow of lending to businesses and a Banking Levy. An independent commission on separating retail and investment banking.
  • Capital Gains Tax reform

Fair Politics

  • Fixed-term parliaments and a referendum on electoral reform for the House of Commons.
  • A power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing.
  • A wholly or mainly elected House of Lords on the basis of proportional representation.
  • Giving Parliament control of its own agenda so that all bills are properly debated.
  • Enacting the Calman Commission proposals and a referendum on further Welsh devolution.
  • A statutory register of lobbyists.
  • A limit on political donations and reform of party funding in order to remove big money from politics.
  • Radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups.

A fair and sustainable future

  • Establish a smart electricity grid and the roll-out of smart meters.
  • Establish feed-in tariff systems in electricity
  • A huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.
  • The creation of a green investment bank.
  • The provision of home energy improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.
  • Retention of energy performance certificates when HIPs are scrapped.
  • Measures to encourage marine energy.
  • The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.
  • Establish a high-speed rail network.
  • Cancel the third runway at Heathrow and refuse additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
  • Replace the Air Passenger Duty with a ‘per plane’ duty.
  • The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.
  • Make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence.
  • Promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.
  • Reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.
  • Increase the target for energy from renewable sources.


  • Restoration of the earnings link for the basic state pension from April 2011 with a “triple guarantee” that pensions are raised by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%.
  • Phase out the default retirement age and end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75.
  • Implement the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman’s recommendation to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policyholders.

Civil Liberties

  • Scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the ContactPoint Database.
  • Outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • Extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • Adopt the Scottish approach to stopping retention of innocent people’s DNA on the DNA database.
  • Defend trial by jury.
  • Restore rights to non-violent protest.
  • A review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
  • Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
  • Further regulation of CCTV.
  • Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
  • End the detention of children for immigration purposes.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Congratulations to Leeds United

Congratulations to Leeds United promoted to the Championship at long last.

What a great week this has been - a Lib Dem MP for Redcar and the Mighty Whites get out of League One.

Redcar Lib Dem victory was the result of years of hard work

Posted by Chris:

Gosh, I am exhausted! Had I not been so tired I would perhaps not be so bothered about the attempts by some sections of the local, regional and even national media to brush off the Lib Dem's spectacular victory in Redcar as a protest against the closure of Corus steelworks.

This victory was achieved as a result of years of hard work by a dedicated and united campaign team that has been largely ignored by the local media but not by the residents of Redcar constituency. The story of how we won Redcar deserves to be written sometime and perhaps it will be but here is a brief summary.

Lib Dems in Redcar have been making progress in local government for more than twenty years. In 2003 we began a four year stint as the largest group in a three party coalition, with the Conservatives and East Cleveland Independents, taking the Council from a two-star rating to four-star excellent. We felt we were doing well but clearly needed that extra something to make a real breakthrough at both local and Parliamentary level.

That came the day when, out of the blue, Ian and Pat Swales walked into a monthly meeting of Redcar Lib Dems. Ian was a founder member of the SDP but his high powered job at ICI Wilton had prevented him from being active in the party for many years. Ian had recently taken early retirement from ICI and wanted to become more active in the local community.

It was like we were waiting for him to turn up and very soon Ian was selected as our Parliamentary Candidate for the 2005 General Election. He had energy and enthusiasm and he reinvigorated those of us who had got bogged down in the running of Redcar & Cleveland Council. Ian transformed our organisation and we became much more focused on meeting aims and targets.

At the 2005 General Election we were a much better organised team than we had previously been and this resulted in us overtaking the Tories and moving into second place, albeit 12,116 votes behind Labour.

At the 2007 Council Election we held all 13 of our seats in the Redcar Constituency part of Redcar and Cleveland Council and received 35% of the vote, to Labour's 37% and the Tories 13% in the same area.

Ian Swales plan was to work hard, initially with the aim of reducing Labour's majority at the 2010 General Election to make Redcar a marginal seat. We were more than willing to look at what has worked in other areas and in particular we listened closely to people like Carl Minns and  Dave McCobb over in Hull.

Then in the autumn of 2008 a series of Council by-elections in the constituency, over an 18 month period, led to three spectacular wins in previously ultra-safe Labour wards of Kirkleatham and Dormanstown, a near miss (88 votes) by my lad, Steven Abbott, in South Bank, one of Labour's safest wards and a huge victory in Lib Dem held Ormesby Ward.

Ian Swales hard work inspired a huge army of helpers and in spite of the local media reminding us that a 12,116 majority needed a 15% swing we actually achieved a 21% swing, with a majority of 5,214. This is probably the largest swing to the Lib Dems in the land this time.

The result:

Ian Swales (Lib Dem).. 18,955 - 45.1%
Vera Baird (Lab).......... 13,741 - 32.7%
Steve Mastin (Con)......   5,790 - 13.8%
Martin Bulmer (UKIP)...   1,875 - 4.5%
Kevin Broughton (BNP)   1,475 - 3.5%
Hannah Walter (TUSC).      127 - 0.3%

Majority: 5,214
Turnout: 62.6%

Monday, 3 May 2010

Nick Clegg's visit to Redcar in pictures

 Ian Swales and supporters get ready to greet Nick Clegg

 Ben Sheperia, Steven Abbott and Chris Abbott

 Ian Swales and the Battle Bus

Nick Clegg and Ian Swales face the cameras

George Selmer, Becky Selmer and Glyn Nightingale watch on as Nick and Ian enter the hall

 Nick Clegg addresses the audience

Nick Clegg listens to Redcar Folk...

 ...but who let these Labour Councillors from Middlesbrough in?

Pictures by Amanda Proud