Louise Baldock

Standing up for Stockton South

Louise Baldock, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South

Recent Activity

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I am very disappointed with the announcement that Richard Branson’s Virgin and Stagecoach have been awarded the franchise for the East Coast Line over the next 8 years.

I have spoken directly to commuters on the East Coast Line and talked to them about their views. This and other surveys and online polls clearly show that a majority of people want to see the line stay in public hands – even Conservative voters would prefer this. Run for the last 5 years by the Department of Transport, the line was making a profit for the treasury, whereas the previous two private franchises ended in abject failure. It makes absolutely no sense for this discredited Government to risk our services just for political dogma.

The Conservatives may well say that we could potentially see £3bn returned to Treasury coffers but equally, if past experience is anything to go by, we may see nothing at all.

I am also bitterly disappointed that although Sunderland is being promised a connection by December 2015, Thornaby and Middlesbrough passengers have to wait until 2020.

Had the DoT been allowed to bid for and run the franchise we could potentially have seen this date brought forward considerably.

With his unqualified support for the privatisation of the franchise, James Wharton MP has allowed Teesside commuters to be cheated out of a better service, he should have been fighting for our area and ensuring that the link to Thornaby and Middlesbrough was not allowed to fall so far behind that of other parts of the North East.

Awarding of East Coast Rail Franchise

I am very disappointed with the announcement that Richard Branson’s Virgin and Stagecoach have been awarded the franchise for the East Coast Line over the next 8 years.

I am very concerned that people with a learning disability are not engaged in the political process. There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but less than 10% vote in general elections. This means the views and challenges faced by this group of people are under-represented in politics. I want to make sure this is not the case with my campaign.

I have already have signed up to the Mencap’s ‘Hear my Voice’ initiative where people with a learning difficulty are asking politicians to take into account issues that affect them, such as poor health care, hate crime and social isolation.

I will also be producing Easy-to-Read versions of my leaflets in future which will be available to download on my website.

I must say I am quite disappointed that despite trying to find a way of distributing hard copies of these leaflets through various charities and support groups, it has not been possible due to data protection and other barriers. I feel this is further evidence of the discrimination that people may face in our society. If you have any ideas about how I can distribute these leaflets then please get in touch.

This initiative has been suggested by local Labour Party members with specialism in this area and I am delighted to support it.

 

Please download the Easy Read version of Louise Baldock’s latest leaflet. If you would like a paper copy of the leaflet or to volunteer or share your views with Louise please contact her on:

Telephone: 07774 786532

Email: louise@louise-baldock4stocktonsouth.org.uk

Letter: 8 Cribyn Close, Ingleby Barwick, Stockton on Tees, TS17 5EQ

 

Click here to download Louise's Summer 2014 leaflet.

Politics for people with a learning disability

I am very concerned that people with a learning disability are not engaged in the political process. There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but...

Many people raise immigration on the door step. This article by Rachel Reeves explores the measures a Labour Government would take.

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RACHEL REEVES: Change rules to ban EU jobseekers from claiming benefits for two years

Last week Ed Miliband set out how Labour will build a country that works for working people, reforming our economy to make work pay, and ensuring that our system is built on the British values of fairness and contribution.

Those are the values that I will apply to the social security system as Labour’s secretary of state for work and pensions. And they are the values that we apply to controlling immigration and making it work for Britain.

UKIP would have us leave British values of fairness and toleration at the door, not to mention taking us out of the EU and risking jobs and investment here in Britain.

And the Tories look increasingly like they are desperately attempting to out-UKIP UKIP.

I will never pander to those who would deny the positive contribution that immigrants have always made to our country or the economic benefits we gain from our membership of the EU.

UKIP would have us leave British values of fairness and toleration at the door

But I also believe that we have to listen to the real concerns that people have about how immigration is being managed.

That’s why I’m setting out a credible three point plan for reforming our social security system, which was never designed for the levels of migration we are now seeing, to ensure it works for people who come here from the EU. This will ensure the system is fair, and seen to be fair.

First, we know that our welfare state was built on the principle that people should work and contribute before drawing on the system.

Other countries, like Germany, have already gone further than us on this issue. So we believe that it is right to extend the period that EU jobseekers need to live and support themselves in the UK before claiming out-of-work benefits from three months to two years.

We don’t need to walk away from Europe to put the principles of work and contribution at the heart of our system. We can deliver these changes through negotiation and reform and we will.

Second, if we are serious about making the economy work better for working people we need to be honest about the impact that some employers’ reliance on low-cost, short-term labour from abroad can have on workers’ wages, conditions and job security.

To build a recovery that works for the many not just a few at the top we need to address that.

That means stronger enforcement of the minimum wage and banning recruitment agencies that only hire from overseas.

We believe that it is right to extend the period that EU jobseekers need to live and support themselves in the UK before claiming out-of-work benefits from three months to two years.

And, I believe we must also look at the role of in-work benefits. It is far too easy for employers in Britain to undercut wages and working conditions by recruiting temporary workers from elsewhere in Europe on very low pay and with no job security, knowing that the benefit system will top up their income.

There are 252,000 working households from the EU now receiving tax credits, including 12 per cent of all single, childless people receiving Working Tax Credit.

Some may have been working for several years, but others may be recent arrivals on short-term contracts.

The House of Commons library estimates total spending on in-work tax credits for EU migrant households amounts to £1.6bn a year.

Our country’s social security system was never intended to subsidise and perpetuate low-paid and insecure work. The European single market should not be about a race to the bottom on working conditions.

So while some have said that we cannot negotiate changes to benefits paid to people in work, I am determined to look at how we can deliver reform in this area too.

Third, we will work with European countries to end the absurdity of child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries.

We will work with European countries to end the absurdity of child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries.

The most recent estimates from the House of Commons library showed 20,400 people receiving child benefit for 34,268 children living in other countries, and 4,011 people receiving Child Tax Credit for 6,838 children living in other countries.

Nowhere is the defeatism of the Conservative approach to Europe more evident than how they have handled this issue.

David Cameron has complained that it “seems extremely difficult, if not impossible” to do anything about this.

Yet the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has recently expressed support for the change we want to see, and I have already raised the issue with government ministers in France and Germany. I promise that a Labour government won’t give up until we have put this right.

Whether it is welfare reform, or reform of the EU, it is the Tories who are letting Britain down.

While they break their promises and pander to prejudice it falls to Labour to set out clear principles of fairness and responsibility.

These are Labour values and British values, and the values on which we will reform our welfare system, and get a better deal for Britain in a reformed European Union.

Rachel Reeves is shadow secretary of state for work and pensions

It's okay to talk about immigration

Many people raise immigration on the door step. This article by Rachel Reeves explores the measures a Labour Government would take.

foxtime.jpgIt was ten years ago today (Tuesday 18th November) that the Labour Party finally ended the cruel and inexcusable practice of hunting with dogs.

Last month Angela Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Animal Welfare visited Stockton South and I took the opportunity during our time together to raise the issue of the fox hunting ban. The current Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Conservative MP

Liz Truss, recently said that the Hunting Act was a ‘mistake’ and that she would ‘vote for a repeal’. I wanted reassurance from Angela that Labour would continue its long and proud tradition of protecting and improving the rights of animals.

I was pleased and reassured when she told me that she would do everything she could to ensure that the ban stays and that there is no appetite at all within the Labour leadership, particularly when our country is facing a cost of living crisis, to use up valuable time in Parliament discussing this. This Tory obsession to hold another vote shows just out of touch they are with people’s day to day lives.

The Hunting Act remains one of Labour’s proudest achievements and is widely supported across the country.

If you agree with me that the hunting ban should stay, please sign our petition at https://donation.labour.org.uk/index.php/site/dont-bring-back-fox-hunting

I am backing the fox hunting ban

It was ten years ago today (Tuesday 18th November) that the Labour Party finally ended the cruel and inexcusable practice of hunting with dogs.

Hundreds of events will be taking place this week as charities use Trustees’ Week as a time to thank the one million trustees across England and Wales for their time and dedication.

There are 124 voluntary organisations in Stockton South that all rely on the dedication, energy and commitment of around 700 trustees in order to support their beneficiaries. Catalyst, Stockton's VCS umbrella have said that the third sector across the whole borough contains around 800 organisations.

Trustees are the people ultimately in charge of a charity. They make decisions that help charities achieve their aims and change their beneficiaries’ lives.

It is also a time to encourage more people to become trustees, as many voluntary organisations find it difficult to recruit new trustees. As many as one in five charities are looking for a new trustee.

Being a trustee allows you not only to make a difference to the lives of others, but to learn new skills, meet different people, and develop your career. Voluntary organisations are always looking for a range of skills and different backgrounds on their boards, as well as more young people. You can find out more about trustee vacancies in your local area through NCVO’s Trustee BankCharity Job and Do It.

Please do think about how you can help – this is the real “Big Society” where local people with a big heart do everything they can to support their neighbours and communities.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

“Trustees’ Week is a great opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate trustees and the valuable contribution they make to our society. They play a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity's work. Good governance is at the very heart of an effective charity.”

Trustee facts and figures

  • There are over 160,000 charities in the UK, all of which rely on trustees.1

  • There are one million trustee positions across England and Wales. However, the number of people who are trustees is likely to be considerably less. Research shows that 45% of trustees are members of two boards.2

  • There are 124 voluntary organisations in Stockton South with 700 trustee positions.

One in a Million

Hundreds of events will be taking place this week as charities use Trustees’ Week as a time to thank the one million trustees across England and Wales for their time...

Remembrance Sunday gives the nation the chance to show its gratitude to our Armed Forces and recognise those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. This year's commemorations are particularly poignant because they mark the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, in 1914.

It was an incredible tribute to our servicemen and women and veterans, and their families, to see such high attendances at Remembrance Services in Stockton South. It was an indication that as we reflect on the loss of that generation who went to war in 1914, we are also keenly aware of those who currently serve, most notably those who are returning home from Afghanistan.

At a time when so many millions gather together to thank the Armed Forces, it’s sad to think that those who fight for our country might need the protection of our laws, but some do. That’s why Labour is supporting a change to the law so that discrimination against the Armed Forces would be illegal and for the first time ever it would be a specific criminal offence to attack servicemen and women. Labour is also committed to enshrining the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant in the NHS Constitution, to ensure that those with physical or psychological injuries receive proper care and support. And we are also committed to introducing a Veterans Register, so that those leaving the Armed Forces can access health, housing and employment services to help them transition to civilian life.

Labour is a patriotic party that is proud of our Armed Forces and veterans and their families. We will honour the Armed Forces Covenant, and ensure that our servicemen and women are treated with dignity and respect. Their bravery and dedication deserves no less.

In terms of a personal reflection, earlier this year my Dad and I applied for the Arctic Star on behalf of my Grandad who served in the Navy as a medical orderly in the Second World War. It arrived with Dad last week, too late for me to bring together with his other medals for today's service of remembrance but early enough to make me feel proud. I will also be remembering my Great Grandfather wounded in the First World War; my maternal Grandad who was in a reserved occupation - and all of their wives who kept everything together throughout both wars.

Image: Good to see the children and young people taking part in the Act of Remembrance today in Thornaby

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Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday gives the nation the chance to show its gratitude to our Armed Forces and recognise those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. This...


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