Louise Baldock

Standing up for Stockton South

Louise Baldock, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South

Recent Activity

If it were necessary for the People’s March for the NHS to have a symbol or a figurehead who embodied the purpose of the endeavour, then I found it today in Geoff Berriman. On his 82nd birthday he joined NHS campaigners on the fourth leg of their march from Jarrow to London to draw attention to the plight of the NHS and the relentless drive to privatisation. Geoff told me that he was originally from the North East and had marched yesterday on the Ferry Hill to Darlington leg and again today on the Darlington to Northallerton leg. He lives now in North Staffordshire where he is in remission from prostate cancer.

He said he had come on the march to show his love, support and thanks for our National Health Service, that he was quite literally the image of the NHS working and walking.

What Geoff had not realised but was horrified to hear was that the cancer care service he has received in Staffordshire is currently out to tender and there is every chance that it will soon be run by a private operator. Imagine that if you will; shareholders somewhere could be making a profit out of treating men like Geoff in the future.

As I said to the marchers as I spoke to send us off, if that isn’t a good enough reason to get behind this campaign to save the NHS then I don’t know what is.

Many hundreds of people will join the march on its way to London, some walking all the way, some walking a leg or even part of a leg. NHS campaigners who are ordinary citizens like the (extra)ordinary Darlo Mums who have so brilliantly organised it, Trade Unionists, and members of the Labour movement – including Fiona Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Windsor who intends to walk the whole route following in the footsteps of the Jarrow marchers of 1936, health workers and patients and members of their families.

We took a big contingent of Stockton South members today and were proud to be able to play our small part in this historic undertaking. Let’s hope that our present – and future national leaders are listening.

People’s March for the NHS – Jarrow to London

If it were necessary for the People’s March for the NHS to have a symbol or a figurehead who embodied the purpose of the endeavour, then I found it today in Geoff...

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I was up early this morning to join commuters on Thornaby Railway station. Alongside other Rail campaigners I talked to people about the news today of the latest hike in rail fares which will come into effect in January. Passengers were miserable at the news that annual season tickets have risen an eye watering 25% since 2010.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the latest rises:

Thornaby to Darlington - will cost £845 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £29 on last year

Thornaby to Durham - will cost £2043 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £71 on last year

Eaglescliffe to Darlington - will cost £746 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £26 on last year

Eaglescliffe to Durham - will cost £1948 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £68 on last year

Rail fares have risen faster than wages in every year. Over the same period, average earnings have increased by just 10.7 per cent, meaning rail fares have risen more than twice as fast as wages under the current government.

New official figures out this morning are forecast to show that RPI inflation rose by 2.6 per cent in July. Regulated rail fares – which include season tickets – are allowed to rise by July’s RPI figure plus one per cent, and would therefore increase by 3.6 per cent in January 2015.

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Last year I was on Darlington station to tell commuters that the East Coast line has shown the benefits of a publicly-owned railway by returning over £1bn to the taxpayer in the last five years – all of which will be re-invested in the service, instead of going into the pockets of company shareholders. If all the train operators were publicly owned, more money could be retained for higher investment in safety and better trains, as well as lower ticket prices. But despite the evidence, the government is pressing ahead with re-privatising the East Coast Main Line, even though two private companies previously failed to deliver.

Public ownership of our railways has widespread public support. A YouGov Poll in November 2013 found that 66 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of returning the railways to public ownership.

Speaking days before the news of the latest price hike, Ed Miliband said that “a Labour government would cap annual fares on every route and drive through the biggest reforms of the railways since privatisation."

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'Action For Rail' on Thornaby Station

I was up early this morning to join commuters on Thornaby Railway station. Alongside other Rail campaigners I talked to people about the news today of the latest hike in rail fares...

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As a co-operator (a long time member of the Co-operative Party who believes in the co-operative model) I am a big supporter of credit unions.

A credit union is a ‘not for profit’ financial institution owned and controlled by its members, just like a mutual building society – with no traditional shareholders to pay. They have generous rates of interest for borrowers and traditionally pay a decent dividend to savers too. They are a great way to keep people out of the clutches of pay day lenders and loan sharks which is one of the main reasons I am so keen to support them.

I have spent quite a lot of time with Tees Credit Union, a community based organisation who work directly with local residents. I was very interested therefore to be contacted by the Police Credit Union which is an employment based organisation drawing its membership from the local force. I wanted to see and understand the differences between the two models and found it very useful.  The Police Credit Union was set up by the police, for the whole of the police family – serving and retired police officers/police staff and members of their households. It now serves the wider law enforcement family and has 23000 members.

It is obviously much easier to recruit members for an employment based credit union as potential members are easy to identify and contact whereas community credit unions are hindered by their ability to market themselves and their services across the geographical areas they cover.

Carol Thorburn who kindly and ably hosted my visit explained that the majority of their members find the interest rates to be so good that they use the credit union to consolidate loans and credit card balances and thus considerably reduce their family outgoings. At a time when we are experiencing a cost of living crisis this is very welcome. I was also delighted to see in the PCU newsletter that both Barry Coppinger and Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioners for Cleveland and Northumbria respectively have become members of their respective branches of the Police Credit Union.

During the Labour Party’s policy making process I joined with the Co-op in calling for the establishment of an Armed Forces Credit Union and the more I heard about the work of the Police Credit Union the more I could see what a good idea this really is. I am delighted that the Party has agreed to take it forward.

The Cleveland branch is located on Yarm Road in Stockton in the old Electron House which was one of the campaign centres in the 1997 General Election for Dari Taylor, being owned then by the Electrician’s union. It is now in the hands of the Police Federation and while I was there I was introduced to the current officers and will be going back for a proper visit and to hear about their members’ concerns very soon.

Visit to the Cleveland branch of the Police Credit Union in Stockton

As a co-operator (a long time member of the Co-operative Party who believes in the co-operative model) I am a big supporter of credit unions.

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Despite the rain, the festival was a success on Sunday. Councillor Mohammed Javed and his lovely family, accompanied by Councillor David Rose introduced me to stall holders and members of the community in the marquee – and we ran into Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner, at the entrance so he joined us too. There were Asian stalls of lovely food, some great clothes and jewellery in particular caught my eye but also stalls some from the voluntary and independent sectors. I was called over to a cake stall by an old school friend and we had a good catch up.

I also took the opportunity to join Friends of Ropner Park who were hosting the event in conjunction with the Community Welfare Trust. My Grandfather and Great Grandfather, plus two Great Uncles were Park Gardeners so I am a big supporter of our public parks and Ropner has the best floral display of any I have seen anywhere.

Outside three of my friends, Tony, Anne and Sam were showing off their unicycle skills and encouraging people to have a try but I suspect the rain probably stopped them from having a great response. What a shame!

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I was invited to have a henna tattoo, a mehndi, on my hand with the proceeds going to Gaza. I have never had one before so it was fascinating watching the women at  work, such intricate detail, they are very talented. Having looked online it will last up to four weeks so will be a great reminder of a happy afternoon in great company.

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Eid Fusion Festival in Ropner Park

Despite the rain, the festival was a success on Sunday. Councillor Mohammed Javed and his lovely family, accompanied by Councillor David Rose introduced me to stall holders and members of the...

RESIDENTS in Stockton Borough will soon receive a letter through the post telling them about the biggest change to the voter registration system in nearly 100 years.

The new more secure Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system was recently introduced by the Government to replace the old system where the ‘head of household’ registered everyone living in a property.  IER makes every individual responsible for registering themselves and offers the opportunity to register online for the first time.

Most residents will automatically transfer onto the new electoral register. However, some will need to take action to complete their registration.

In a press release from Stockton Council, Councillor David Harrington, Cabinet Member for Corporate Management and Finance, said: “It is important that you are registered in the right name and at the right address otherwise you could miss your chance to have your say in vital elections.

“If you are not registered, you can’t vote. Many people don’t realise that failure to register also means you may be refused a bank account, loan, credit card or mortgage as being on the electoral roll acts as proof of address for many companies.  Look out for the letter as it will tell you if you have been automatically transferred, or if not, what information is needed to complete your registration. Now that you can also submit your information online, it’s much quicker and more convenient to make sure you are registered.”

Personally I can’t help thinking it is a cynical way to disenfranchise Labour voters who often have too much on their plates to find time for paperwork like this. I will certainly do what I can to get the word out there about how much this matters.

For more information about Individual Electoral Registration, visit www.gov.uk/yourvotematters   

If you do not receive a letter please contact (01642) 526196 or email electoral@stockton.gov.uk

The way you register to vote is changing

RESIDENTS in Stockton Borough will soon receive a letter through the post telling them about the biggest change to the voter registration system in nearly 100 years.

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I took time out today to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War I. 

I attended a church service at St Francis of Assisi in Ingleby Barwick followed by a short service and laying of flowers and rosemary (for remembrance) at the new war memorial in Romano Park.

From there I went to Yarm to the Drum Head Service on Willey Flatts Field.

The organisers of both events worked hard to achieve commemorations that did not glorify war but recognised the immense contributions of local people; on the front line or at home; and gave time to reflect on today's wars too.

Both were very moving and gave us all time to reflect on our own family histories and engagement.

Thanks to Ingleby Barwick Town Council, St Francis of Assisi and the team at Yarm 2014 led by Cllr Peter Monck. You did us proud today.

Tomorrow and Tuesday I will be attending further events in the constituency.

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Today I am taking time to also remember the fantastic and vital efforts of so many women in WWI.

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First World War Centenary

I took time out today to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War I.  I attended a church service at St Francis of Assisi in Ingleby Barwick followed...


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