Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas pork pie problem solved at Alan and Sons

Christmas Eve was always a sad day for Glynis. It is her late mother's birthday and she would get quite upset at times.

Glynis always insisted on having all the shopping and present distribution done in the days before so she could spend Christmas Eve preparing food and getting ready for Christmas Day.

Today has been especially hard for me as the smells of Christmas Eve, all the baking and the turkey and the gammon cooking were not there for the first time in 32 years.

But all our children and grandchildren have been here today and we are all having Christmas dinner together tomorrow. Although Glynis used to do all the cooking I am capable of it myself and I know Mark and Kelly will help. The only difference is that it is all getting over and done with at once in the morning and there will be no baking this year.

One thing, however, has been solved this year which has been a problem for us since we moved to Redcar in 1984.

We always like a large pork pie at Christmas and when we lived in Whitby we had a choice of either Botham's or Johnson's. It was something I always enjoyed at Christmas when I was young. My mum and dad always made sure we had a large pork pie. I think we got them from the Coop Butcher's in Starbeck. This was managed by a Mr Mitchell and I went to school with his son. Both of us also started out as apprentice electricians in 1965 and attended Harrogate College of Further Education together on day release. I wish I could remember his first name.

Obtaining a nice pork pie at Christmas has always proved difficult in Redcar for some reason. We have often gone without rather than buy one that has been stuck in a fridge at one of the supermarkets. I am not criticising our local butchers. I have had hundreds of nice pork pies from the likes of Goodswens, Newbolds and the other one near the town clock whose name escapes me at the moment. Perhaps we never ordered one because they were in town and we did our shopping in the supermarkets.

Very recently I have been getting them early in the morning  when they have been freshly delivered to our local Wine Lodge in West Dyke Road. You can't beat a nice warm pork pie straight out of the oven  for breakfast. Specially when it saves me cooking bacon.

Even more recently I have had them from the new butcher's Alan and Son's in Roseberry Shopping Centre. They are baked on the premises and are piping hot at 8.30am, when I am on my way to work. They must also do another batch because I have had them at lunchtime as well and they are warm too.

I was annoyed at first when I saw this butcher's shop opening up because Glynis and I had understood that the empty shop space was being reserved for a post office. It was, we thought, only a matter of time before someone invested in a post office in this shopping centre. There was talk of a local residents' group setting one up and combining it with a hairdresser.

Glynis would have loved this new butcher's, which opened up just a month after she passed away. It is stocked with the type of things we liked from a butchers. It appears to be doing a roaring trade judging by the huge number of large pork pies waiting to be collected when I called in at 8.30am this morning to collect mine. She would have been delighted that the Christmas pork pie problem has been solved.

I gave a good portion of this pie to our lad Steven and his wife Debbie to take home with them today and by the time Mark and I had a slice for lunch there is only a third left for the rest of Christmas and they are all coming back tomorrow. I wish I had bought two.

Alan and Son's excellent pork pies are like the ones we used to get from Johnson's in Whitby. They are made with bacon and these were my favourite. Glynis's favourite was Botham's which are made with pure pork. Glynis always insisted on us getting a couple of Botham's pork pies whenever we were in Whitby and they are a treat. I often had one with a bag of Fusco's crinkle cut chips.

Johnson's, however, closed down now quite a few years ago. I have heard rumours that their pork pie recipe was bought by Goodswens. Whether that is true or not I don't know but they certainly remind me of Johnson's pork pies.

Friday, 16 December 2011

More scurrilous Labour smears against the Lib Dems in Coastal View

Coastal View free newspaper has long been in the habit of publishing verbatim the scurrilous exaggerations and twisted logic of recently elected St Germain's Ward Councillor T. Learoyd but they surpass themselves in issue No 18.

Apart from the fact that there is no balance in any of the articles they publish, no journalism or even a hint of impartiality the subject is so childish it beggars belief.

No Liberal Democrat Councillor would laugh at the disabled and no decent person would suggest that they did.

I was not present at the meeting, due to my bereavement. It is I think the first time I have ever missed full Council, but I am absolutely sure if my colleagues were laughing they were laughing at Councillor Learoyd and the bizarre remarks he makes. He reminds us of Citizen Smith in the 1970s comedy sit com. His comments are based on the same 1970's rhetoric which was bonkers then and is even more bonkers now.

Councillor Learoyd is desperate to smear hard working Lib Dem MP Ian Swales and Lib Dem Councillors. He keeps accusing us of anything and everything and Coastal View publish it all for him verbatim. His bizarre allegations about the Lib Dems are often for things his own Labour colleagues or the Labour Government have done or were responsible for. Whatever it is twist it round and blame it on the Lib Dems must be his motto.

When we protested at not being allowed to respond to Cllr Learoyd's attempts to blame the Lib Dems for the last Labour Government's cuts to the NHS, we walked out of the Council chamber in protest whilst Cllr Learoyd made his allegations and then came straight back in, no more than five minutes. Councillor Learoyd photographed what he claimed were the empty seats, even though some of the Lib Dems were already back in the room by then.

No body made a fuss or photographed his empty seat when Councillor Learoyd was missing from the Cabinet meeting that discussed in private proposals to sell off Council land and property. Nor did we photograph his empty seat when the Council was debating the budget and the 3.5% Council Tax increase being imposed on us by the Labour Council. Ducking out of the meeting and letting the decisions be taken by others is the same as voting for them.

I feel sure the electors of St Germains Ward will not thank the Councillor when they find out he has let them down so badly.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lib Dems slam Labour Council Tax increase

Labour today announced their Christmas present to the people of Redcar & Cleveland – a council tax increase of 3.5%.
This comes despite the Government’s offer of a 2.5% grant to all councils which will freeze their Council Tax next year.
Refusing the Government’s offer means Labour have lost the area £1.4 million – that’s over £10 for every single person in the borough.
At today’s meeting of the Council the Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment which would have meant a Council Tax freeze. But Labour voted this down.
Lib Dem Leader Cllr Glyn Nightingale said:
“The 3.5% rise will be built in for future years – so this is not just a 3.5% increase for this year, it is forever.
“Labour Councillors constantly complain about the impact of the budget on local people, but this Council Tax rise reduces people’s incomes all round. So it hurts the people they are claiming to protect.
"Less money in people’s pockets means less spending in the local economy, which in turn means less employment.
“It’s short-sighted, contradictory and politically motivated.
“It’s a good job that pensioners will be getting the biggest ever pension increase of £5.30 a week in April.
“The Council’s scrutiny revealed that many budget changes were reforms that were unrelated to any cuts. Many were sensible, overdrew or did what other local councils were doing already.
“If the Council Tax rise made the Council smarter in its working, the Lib Dems would support this budget. But it doesn’t – so we can’t and we haven’t.”

Monday, 12 December 2011

Labour Cabinet in turmoil again

Yet again Council Leader George Dunning’s leadership is in tatters as a third resignation since May leaves a key area of Council activity with no Cabinet Member.
By resigning Cllr Learoyd has walked away from his responsibilities to local people. He has clearly been unwilling to tackle the problems of the Adult & Children’s Services Department which is overspent by £6 million or respond to the independent Audit Commission’s damning Audit Letter on his portfolio and his competence.
Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Glyn Nightingale said:
“Cllr Learoyd has been more interested attacking the work of our hard-working local MP Ian Swales than to tackle his Cabinet responsibilities. He has repeatedly put his extreme views on national politics, often well out of tune with his own party, ahead of service to local people.
“His decision to resign shows a failure to make a serious commitment to do his real job. He is clearly not prepared for the tough decisions and responsibility the job demands.
“The Council Leader must sort out his administration, its priorities and do what’s right for local residents. The Council needs to do things smarter and get the basics right. I have little confidence this will happen with or without the distraction of Cllr Learoyd's presence in the Council’s Cabinet. Cllr Dunning cannot afford any more internal Labour problems.”

Monday, 21 November 2011


Glynis was born Glynis Ellen Jenkins in Whitby on the 10th February 1952. She attended Eskdale School and often talked warmly about her time there and the friends she made.

Glynis always talked fondly of her years growing up and of her close relationship with her mother Mary, her brothers David and Steven and her sister Marilyn. Glynis was devastated when her father died when she was 11. She had good memories of going to Monmouth in Wales, her father’s birthplace, for a time after his death to stay with her Aunty Dorothy and Uncle Leslie. Recently we visited the area together so that she could show me the house where she stayed and the places she visited.

In her mid to late 20’s Glynis was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, the same illness that took her father away from her. She had part of her bowel removed and had to spend the rest of her life wearing a colostomy bag, which she did with great dignity and courage. Most of her friends and the people she came into contact with never knew. Glynis was always grateful to her family, especially her mother, who helped her through the long road to recovery by helping to care for her sons Steven and Mark. At the time Glynis was a single parent as her previous marriage had broken down.

Glynis and I married on 19th April 1980 and our wedding was attended by the Mayor of Whitby. Our wedding night at home even made the local newspapers when we had to rush out of bed to go to the aid of a motor cyclist who had crashed outside our house in Helredale Road.

The early years of our marriage were spent in Whitby where our daughter Kelly was born. Glynis at that time had problems with her stoma prolapsing and was regularly taken into Scarborough Hospital to have it put right.

In 1984 the cost of me having to travel into Redcar each day to work mean’t that Glynis had to take the heart wrenching decision to move to Redcar and leave behind her Mother, who had been such a help to her.

Shortly after moving to Redcar in May 1984, Glynis was taken to what was then called South Tees Hospital and a surgeon there put right her stoma. It was not to trouble her again until September last year when she was admitted for the first of a number of stays, in James Cook Hospital and The Friarage at Northallerton, spread over the past 14 months.

Over our 32 years of marriage we had our ups and downs like most people. Glynis was particularly depressed for a period after her mother died. Glynis was a loving and lovely person. Anyone who telephoned the house, knocked on the door or spoke to her in the street would testify to this.

We did everything together. Glynis joined in with me in the Liberals and later the Liberal Democrats, in the Yorkshire Ridings Society, even going fishing and watching football with me.

She looked forward to our holidays abroad and especially enjoyed those where we drove through the Alps or were just touring with the little caravan we used to own. Glynis also loved her occasional all inclusive holidays, particularly in Greece and the Greek islands, where it was warm. She was a warm hearted person who loved sunshine.

For some years, whilst working freelance for DJ Tucker Ltd at Marske, my job took me all over the north-east, visiting customers in their homes to give quotations and Glynis used to travel with me, with our enormous flask of tea. I will never forget the pleasure we both got from doing that together out in the countryside and from occasionally seeing wild birds like buzzards and red kites.

In recent years, during the football season, we would repeat these trips in the Yorkshire Dales every Saturday afternoon, so I could listen to Leeds United games on the radio, whilst we both enjoyed the countryside. The area around Pateley Bridge was our favourite area. I shall miss those trips because it would never be the same without Glynis.

Right from our early years, whilst I was out working, Glynis would be delivering leaflets and typing casework letters, helping me to get elected as a Councillor, both in Whitby and again within a year of moving to Redcar. Without her hard work it would never have happened. Glynis would lead the whole family out delivering leaflets, not just for ourselves but for colleagues all over the region. Later, in May 1999, Glynis was elected alongside me for Newcomen Ward on Redcar and Cleveland Council and we have stayed in office together ever since.

Glynis was the person people came to for help with their housing problems or to sort out problems with passport or driving licence applications. Highlights of our time together were our visit to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in 1986, her period as deputy Mayoress for her friend Councillor Mary Ovens. Glynis enjoyed the Licensing Committee, which she chaired for some years and was proud recently to serve as a member of Cleveland Fire Authority and on the Board of Coast and Country Housing. In May 2010 we achieved the ultimate reward for all our work over the years in Redcar when together we helped Ian Swales become MP for Redcar.

In 1996 we both got involved with the Yorkshire Ridings Society, campaigning for recognition of our status as part of Yorkshire for all cultural, ceremonial and sporting purposes. Through this Glynis and I made lots of new friends and enjoyed our regular trips to York and Saddleworth. Glynis set up YRS Products and has sold, by mail order, hundreds of Yorkshire flags, which have been sent out all over the world. As a result she has raised hundreds of pounds for the Ridings Society.

Glynis went with me fishing one day, 15 years ago, and found she was good at it. We spent many happy days together fishing on some of the best waters in the country. Nearly always Glynis caught bigger fish or more of them than me but would get cross if I mealy hinted at competition. She was proud of her garden pond that she nurtured fish in. Many scraggy little goldfish, broughtfrom fairs by her grandchildren were turned into one and a half pound whoppers by Glynis. She was devastated when we had to give her fish away when we moved house last year.

Having grandchildren also brought happy times for Glynis. Emma, Matthew, Charlotte, Daniel and Jessica brought sunshine into our lives and we have spent so many happy times with them. Charlotte, in particular, has been a daily visitor to her nana and will have many special memories of their times together, that I hope will last the rest of her life. Glynis also has another grandchild Stacey, who she has sadly rarely seen.

Glynis loved her family and we all loved her. She warmly welcomed into the family our daughter-in-law Debbie and was especially grateful to our son-in-law Ashley who was a most useful help to her on many occasions. Glynis also enjoyed a happy relationship with my mother and father, Barbara and Stanley, whom she called mum and dad. We will all miss her and never forget her love for us all.

She loved her garden. At our previous house this needed a lot of work to keep it tidy and Glynis did it all her self, very rarely insisting that I should help. She knew the names of all the flowers and all the plants and had begun discussing her plans for her much easier to manage garden in our new home. She wanted an apple tree and a pear tree in planters and they will come eventually for her.

The new house has most of the things she likes but has never demanded. Glynis liked simple things and was never extravagant. She always put her family first and was always doing things for us all. This is what she was doing the weekend that she passed away. She gave her grandchildren and me a weekend together to remember. It was as if she knew she was going to leave us that Sunday evening and wanted us to have a happy time before she passed away.

When any of us annoyed Glynis by being untidy, or by trampling over her light coloured carpets in outside shoes, a note would appear scribbled on the back on an envelope (underlined twice to indicate “or else”), instructing us what to do. The last of these appeared at the bonfire night party she organised, the night before she died. Attached to the side door it read: “No shoes beyond this point.” We have now framed this note and will keep it where she put it and hope we can abide by it.

Monday, 7 November 2011

My dear wife Glynis

Posted by Chris:

Glynis passed away peacefully last night after a very special weekend spent with her grandchildren and me.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Another Labour NHS gaffe

Posted by Chris:

Labour councillors embarrassed themselves again last Thursday after attacking NHS efficiency savings that were actually introduced by their own Labour Government in 2009 .
At the meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Council Labour members attacked the Coalition Government on the NHS, including accusations of cuts in local provision.
However, Lib Dem Group Leader Glyn Nightingale pointed out that the previous Labour Government had announced a £20 billion spending cuts programme in 2009!
Department of Health figures show that Redcar and Cleveland NHS Trust is getting nearly £7 million more from the Government this year.
Glyn Nightingale, Leader of the Council Liberal Democrat Group, said:
“The Liberal Democrats left the meeting, because they are concerned that Council meetings have rapidly become dominated by Labour Party propaganda and political antics rather than getting on with the business of running the Council for local people.
Labour is not just wasting the Council’s time. They get their facts wrong. We have complained about this for months. Last week Labour set up two factually incorrect questions on the NHS that had nothing to do with Council business.
A question from Councillor Massey speculating about the impact of the NHS bill was unnecessary, as the bill is still going through Parliament and is not yet the law.
Councillor Wendy Wall’s question blaming the Government for cuts in the Tees health budget was unbelievable. The Coalition is actually protecting NHS spending in real terms each year. What the Government has been struggling to get on top of in the NHS is the previous Labour Government's five-year programme of £20 billion spending cuts announced in 2009.
The Borough faces serious challenges over the coming years. It’s the business of Councillors to face these rather than waste time on party political stunts."

In all the years I have been a Councillor (I was first elected in 1978) I cannot recall any other occasion when I have felt it necessary to walk out of a meeting albeit only for the duration of the two planted questions. The desperation that the Labour party has shown in seeking to blame Liberal Democrats and MP Ian Swales in particular for absolutely everything is shocking. Their claims are bordering on bonkers and do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny but they are relentless in repeating misinformation and not checking the facts.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Local Labour Councillor gets Labour MPs into bother

A local Labour Councillor's petty complaint about Ian Swales MP having a party logo on a Government funded website led 19 other MPs into bother. 8 of them were Labour, of which 2 were Labour Co-op. Two of them were from the north east and not new MPs either.

The second Ian realised that a mistake had been made by the provider of the site he paid the small amount of money back and has claimed nothing at all for the site. Yet at every opportunity local Labour activists have abused him about it  in leaflet after leaflet, even accusing him of stealing money from taxpayers.

They say nothing about all the former Labour MPs now languishing in jail for massive MP expenses fraud, nor do they mention the hundreds of pounds former Redcar MP Vera Baird tried to claim for Christmas decorations or the thousands she claimed for repairs to her Redcar home and then refused to pay it back after the property was sold.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bad losers Labour and their Kangaroo Court

A press statement from Redcar Labour Party claiming that the Lib Dem Councillors for Zetland Ward, Ron Harrison and Jim Rogers, who were forced by Labour to resign their seats because they worked for a foundation school, were incompetent is disgraceful. 

Ron and Jim did everything correctly and acted in good faith. They included their place of work on the forms and their nomination papers were validated by officers of the Labour controlled Council.

It was not until three months after the election that bad losers Labour began their campaign to get Ron and Jim out. They started on the very day the Council was debating a Lib Dem motion to abandon the "vertical pier." This prevented Ron and Jim voting for the motion which could have gone either way. This was the first and only time that Councillors had the opportunity to vote on the "vertical pier."

Labour’s campaign to get them out threatened them with tens of thousands of unaffordable legal costs. Labour even held their own Kangaroo Court in the Town Hall after first wasting thousands of pounds of public money obtaining legal advice when the Council has its own lawyers on the staff. Why did they need specialist legal advice if the issue was clear as they claim in their press release?

It’s a legal minefield. No-one should need to plough through masses of legal red tape before standing for the Council. Any legal doubt about disbarring people who work in foundation schools like Ron Harrison and Jim Rogers did from being councillors needs clearing up. To clear the air once and for all, Ian Swales MP has promised to raise the matter in Parliament.

On the doorstep we have found that local residents can’t understand why two well-respected local people have been forced to resign from the Council and cause a by-election.

Labour's accusations are unfair. It was Labour who spent public money on legal advice and it was Council officials who issued letters of validation when Ron and Jim's nominations were submitted.

Labour ignored public opinion and just ploughed on with the "vertical pier" regardless of what local people wanted. And then when the Lib Dems soundly defeated Labour in Zetland Ward they could not stand it. They stumbled on an obscure loophole in the law, that may or may not prevent teachers at foundation schools from becoming Councillors and used bully boy tactics in Kangaroo Courts to force a re-run of the election in the Ward. They don't deserve to win and we are determined to make sure that they don't win.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Coastal View

Posted by Chris:

I see that Coastal View is claiming, in its letters page, that my letter in issue 13 was crass and they were only reporting news. This was not news reporting it was pure propaganda with hardly a sniff of the truth. It was a series of exaggerated claims and smears about the Liberal Democrats with no balancing comments, no journalism, no editing, no right of reply, just Labour press releases published verbatim without any check on the facts at all. It was unfair, biased and most unprofessional.

There appears to be no end to it or any hope of more balanced reporting in the future. Claims by the same Labour Councillors, published in issue 15, give the impression that a company is considering building a wind farm on the Stray. A simple check with the company concerned would show that there was no truth at all in these claims. It was pure scaremongering. The next thing we will read is a story claiming they have successfully fought if off.


Coastal View would like to point out that the comments appeared on the letters page and was a readers letter not their comments.
They were, however, unlike all the other letters on the page, unattributed to anyone .

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Andy Lonergan hands his goalie gloves to our Daniel

Leeds United keeper, Andy Lonergan, saved a penalty today, at Elland Road against Bristol City. After the match he ran over and gave his goalie gloves to our Daniel, aged 7, who was delighted.

Ian Swales MP joins youngsters fishing in Locke Park

Posted by Chris:

Redcar's Lib Dem MP Ian Swales is pictured with Glynis watching fishing tackle being set up for the free fishing day at Locke Park lake organised by Redcar and Cleveland Council's Neighbourhood Management team and sponsored by Coast and Country Housing. Local youngsters from the Closes and Roseberry Road area, who helped with the recent litter picking days, were invited to attend and provided with some basic fishing tackle and bait. The lake was freshly stocked by Glynis and I earlier this year, with carp bream and ide, using £3000 of our annual £4000 from the Redcar Area Committee Environment Improvements Budget. In response Middlesbrough Angling Club, who lease the fishing rights from Redcar and Cleveland Council, agreed to allow 12 free fishing days per year for local youngsters.

It was nice to see so many youngsters enjoying themselves - see pictures below. They were very quiet as you would expect when fishing. Since we stocked the lake there has been a noticeable increase in young people fishing the venue. Day tickets can be obtained from local tackle shops.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Labour red-faced over NHS funds

Labour councillors were left red-faced last Thursday after their NHS claims were exposed as rubbish by the Liberal Democrats.
At the meeting of the Council Labour members accused the Coalition Government of cutting funds to the NHS in Redcar & Cleveland by £4.9 million this year.
However, Lib Dem Group Leader Glyn Nightingale produced Department of Health figures which show that Redcar & Cleveland NHS Trust is getting nearly £7 million more from the Government this year.
This contrasts with the Labour-run Welsh Assembly, which is cutting the NHS budget there by more than 5%.
Cllr Glyn Nightingale said:
“This Government is increasing funding to the NHS. Labour may think that if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it, but I think local people will see through this.”
“Bizarrely, Labour seem to oppose more money for health. In Wales they are slashing funding, and former Labour minister Andy Burnham has called it “irresponsible” to increase NHS spending in real terms.”
What makes Labour’s behaviour worse is that the true figures showing that the Government provided an extra £7 million is available from the Council’s own Corporate Resources Directorate.”

Saturday, 3 September 2011

10-man Redcar Athletic beat Jarrow at Green Lane with a late strike

Posted by Chris:

My Grandson Daniel and I went along to a windy Green Lane today to watch local Wearside League team Redcar Athletic FC in action against fellow high flyers Jarrow FC.

Redcar Athletic started the match joint top of the League on 13 points along with today's opponents Jarrow FC and Darlington Cleveland Bridge FC. Promotion from the Wearside League would take Redcar into the Northern League. Redcar needs a successful team playing in a decent league and everyone connected with Redcar Athletic is trying to achieve this.

What they lack is local support and many local football fans are missing out on a good level of exciting football for only two quid adults - 50p juniors and concessions. Daniel and I go when we can - we also follow Leeds United.

Current attendances at home matches appear to be around 30 to 40 and I think we can do much better than that in Redcar. Check out the club's website for the next home match and come along. The club provide reasonably priced hot pies, chips and things as well as hot drinks. There is a matchday programme, containing match reports and fixtures, price £1. Also on sale are good quality scarfes, in the club's colours of red and blue, for only £6 and a lapel badge for around £2.

Redcar went down to ten men early in the first half, having just taken the lead, but there was still plenty of action in the Jarrow goal mouth with Redcar on top for much of the game. Jarrow equalised late in the second half but a late strike by Redcar gave 'the reds' all three points.

One annoying thing about these matches is having to put up with the foul mouthed shouts of the players. Which makes a change from the fans at Elland Road and the Riverside I suppose. One of the worst offenders was Jarrow's captain and number 5 who appeared to get himself booked in the second half for using foul language at the referee. He is pictured below slumped on the ground ffing and blinding at his fellow defenders, straight after Redcar's winning goal.

Redcar Athletic 2 - 1 Jarrow.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Yorkshire Ridings Society raises more funds for Redcar Lifeboat.

The Yorkshire Ridings Society's North Riding Group raised £159. 50p for Redcar Lifeboat from sales of white roses. Events included the annual reading of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity on Yorkshire Day (1st August) in Redcar High Street. This year it was read by Chris Foote-Wood.  "It is not as much as in previous years but considering the weather its not bad." said group secretary Mrs Nancy Hudson.

Labour want to increase Councillors allowances to fill party coffers

Posted by Chris

The Mail on Sunday reports that Ed Miliband is behind secret moves to get more money for Labour by increasing the Councillors levy and "Labour's frontbench team has called for increases in wages paid to Councillors, which would benefit the party by resulting in an increase in the value of the new levy."

This of course is the same Labour Party who have for years claimed that Redcar and Cleveland allowances were "obscene" yet still claimed every penny. They promised there would be no increase in them then promptly increased them.

It is not the levy I am concerned about. What people do with their own money is their own business. It is the fact that they secretly propose increasing allowances to benefit the party.

Labour in this area have always used allowances to claim the moral high ground. When they went up in 2008 it was as a result of an independent review of allowances which was commissioned under Labour control but came into force during the Lib Dem/Con/Ind Coalition and they spent years condemning the resulting increases as "obscene"  but have claimed every penny of them ever since.

Then there was the saga of the Labour Leader's refusal to accept a huge pay rise resulting in that fact being reported over and over again in the local press. The recommendation for the increase in the Leader's Allowance was made by the Independent Renumeration Panel at the request of senior Labour Councillors - see previous posting on the subject.

Local Lib Dems have always said that Councillors should not decide their own allowances. It should be completely independent without any involvement of those who benefit from it.

Monday, 4 April 2011

"Vertical Pier" - Labour's desperate lies exposed

Posted by Chris:

In desperation Labour candidates have been distributing leaflets in the Council elections which are blatent lies about the Lib Dems and the "vertical pier.". Some are even trying to distance themselves from the Labour Council's decision to go ahead with this folly.

Below I answer some of these lies and half truths.

LABOUR LIE: Even after they knew the results of their survey (with 97% against) the Lib Dems carried on voting for the vertical pier.

Quite simply there were no legal grounds to refuse planning permission. You can't turn it down just because people don't want it. The Council would simply appeal, at huge public cost and win. Clearly the Labour candidates do not understand how planning committee works.

Giving something planning permission is one thing going ahead with it is something quite different.

LABOUR LIE: They backed the pier from the very beginning.

We desperately wanted the vertical pier to be an iconic feature that will help regenerate the town. But by August this year we were becoming very concerned about the amount of public opposition to it. We were also concerned about the fact the Labour Council was failing to convince people that the proposed use of the building for a café and low rental offices was sustainable.

In August we tabled a motion asking the Council to carry out a survey of residents views. When it became clear that Labour and the Conservatives were against a survey, we withdrew the motion and said we would carry out our own freepost survey to save the public the expense.

LABOUR half truths "Watch my lips - I support the viewing tower" Lib Dem Leader August 2010

The actual quote which appeared in the Evening Gazette:
Accusing the council of putting out “misinformation,” Cllr Abbott said: “Watch my lips - I support the viewing tower. But support for something does not mean slavish subservience to what the council is doing and saying.”

Stange how they were so selective about which part to quote!

When we carried out our survey, which showed 97% against, it was Labour that carried on supporting it not us. We have listened to what the public said and have acted appropriately.

LABOUR LIE: “The bulldozers have gone in and work on the “Vertical pier” has started.”

The work currently underway is for the Environment Agency funded SEA DEFENCE work.

At the end of February the Council’s Project Manager for the “vertical pier” development announced, at Redcar Area Committee,  that the Contract for building the “vertical pier” would not be signed until after the Council Elections. This is why the Lib Dems were able to announce, even at this late stage, that if we won control of the Council we would abandon the pier.

LABOUR LIE: "The grant money would be lost" 

The grant money would not be lost. It would be available for use by something more worthwhile.

LABOUR LIE: "This could cost you £75,000,000."

This is pure nonsense. The sea defence work, which is expected to cost half of that amount,  is quite separate from the Council’s plan for a “vertical pier," as is the rest of total regeneration spend in Redcar. None of it is dependent on the "vertical pier" going ahead. The Council will save at least £3/4million.

LABOUR LIE: "A real pier would cost £50,000,000 don't believe us that is what the one just finished at Weston Super Mare cost."

Lib Dems want the Council to provide a real pier at Redcar and four or five years ago it was estimated that it would cost £3 or £4 million for a pier similar to the one at Saltburn. That cost will have risen now but, grant funding will be available and possibly even government funding. If the Council made it a priority they would use prudential borrowing. One thing is for certain a real pier will be used by people over and over again. We can't say that about a "vertical pier."

The pier at Weston Super Mare cost £39 million not £50 million as Labour claimed and it included the most enormous and grandiose "Crystal Palace" type facility on the end. See picture above.
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Published and promoted by Chris Abbott for the Liberal Democrats at 3 Rydal Avenue, Redcar, Yorkshire, TS10 1JB.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Labour war graves gaffe

Labour Councillors at Redcar & Cleveland were today left red-faced after their attacks on Government plans for war graves proved unfounded. They were then forced into an embarrassing climbdown.

Labour Councillor Wendy Wall put forward a motion condemning the Government after an article in a national paper said that there were plans to cut the budget for war graves maintenance by £16.5 million.

The motion was seconded by the Labour Leader of the Council. 

But Lib Dem Leader Chris Abbott produced not just one but two letters from Government Ministers confirming that the claims in the paper were untrue. 

A letter from the Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey says that:

“The Ministry of Defence will continue to meet its obligations to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and will be providing them with over £42 million this year to continue the excellent work they do.”

A further letter from Andrew Robathan MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare & Veterans says:

“I can confirm that the story on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission published in the Sunday Mirror on 20 February is completely untrue.”

Cllr Mrs Wall then withdrew her motion, saying "I never got the right facts."

Lib Dem Cllr Eric Howden, who does a great deal of work for the British Legion, said:

It is disgraceful that Labour once again tries to make headlines for itself with false information. To attack the Government based on nothing more than unsubstantiated information mentioned in a national newspaper is downright cold-hearted. To put the relatives of those who paid the ultimate price for their country in the fear that their graves, some in lands too far away to visit, that they would be left neglected, is about a low as one could go just to try and gain a few political points.

Lib Dem Group Leader Chris Abbott added:

“I am particularly staggered that the Leader of the Council should be so unprofessional as to put his name to a motion like this without checking his facts. This incompetent scaremongering shows that Labour are not fit to run the council.”

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lib Dems will ditch Labour's "Vertical Pier"

Posted by Chris:

If Liberal Democrats win control of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council at the elections in May they will abandon the Labour Council’s controversial plans to erect an 80’ "Vertical Pier" On Redcar seafront.

Labour have simply not convinced people that building an 80’ tower on the seafront and renting the space to a cafe and craft industries is sustainable. The attraction of climbing up it to see the view is pretty limited and the huge cost of paying back the debt and maintaining the facility does not justify going ahead with something no-one seems to want.

A Focus survey carried out by the Lib Dems in Redcar  this autumn asked residents: "Should the Council build the proposed 80’ "vertical pier" on Redcar sea front? Hundreds responded with more than 97% answering NO.

It is hard to find anyone who thinks the "vertical pier" plan is a good idea and we need to listen. Giving it planning permission is one thing, there were no legal grounds to turn it down but going ahead in the face of such solid opposition is just plain ridiculous.

Local Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a proper pier at Redcar and this should be the Council’s aim

The Council have recently put the "vertical pier" out to tender but the contract for the work is not due to be signed until after the Council elections. If the Liberal Democrats win we shall abandon it.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Councillors should not set their own pay – Lib Dems

Redcar & Cleveland’s Liberal Democrat Group today abstained on the issue of councillors’ allowances.
The Independent Remuneration Panel which looks into councillors pay recommended no change this year.
Lib Dem Leader Councillor Chris Abbott, who represents Newcomen ward, said:
“We welcome the freeze in councillors’ allowances. To increase the amounts would have been quite wrong in the current economic climate.”
But there is a more fundamental issue here. Councillors should not be setting their own pay, and we have asked the Government to consider taking the decision away from councillors altogether.”

Labour’s cop-out budget

Redcar & Cleveland’s Liberal Democrat Group today voted against Labour’s budget, calling it a “cop-out” which delays big decisions until after the May elections.
Liberal Democrats have welcomed the Council’s decision to set a 0% Council Tax rise. This has been made possible by a generous £1.4 million grant from central Government.
But other aspects of Labour’s budget are very concerning to Liberal Democrats. A major one is the lack of detail in the budget proposals.
Lib Dem Leader Councillor Chris Abbott, who represents Newcomen ward, said:
“We welcome the 0% Council Tax increase. In these tough economic times this will be a real help to low and middle income households. I am pleased that the Government has made this possible with its grant. I am also pleased that Labour has listened to advice from Liberal Democrats. We have been proposing a 0% increase since December.”
However, Labour’s budget does not say specifically where the cuts will be made. It is a cop-out budget, with Labour hoping to delay big decisions about spending until after the local elections in May. Councillors cannot be expected to vote for a budget without knowing the detail. For example, we do not know what charges are going to be increased.”
“Tackling Labour’s disastrous financial mess was always going to be hard. Because local government spends 25% of all public money, councils were always going to have to play a big part in fixing the black hole in the country’s finances.”
“If Labour claim they can avoid making cuts to frontline services then there must have been a great deal of waste before. Much of what they are doing now could have been done over the two years they took to reorganise the Council. If they didn’t foresee this they need their heads examining.”