Louise Baldock

Standing up for Stockton South

Louise Baldock, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South

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This letter was written in response to one printed in the Gazette on 2nd December but has not been published so I am reproducing it here for your information.

Dear Editor

Re Sick of this hospital mantra (2nd December), I welcome the opportunity that Terry Chapman has afforded to set the record straight on what my views are concerning health services at North Tees hospital.

He says that I want to see North Tees closed. That is not true. What I want is for the people of our area to have access to the top quality health care they need and deserve.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government has had North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals dangling on a string for nearly five years, falling behind in terms of technology and facilities, treading water when they could each have been investing in much needed improvements and enhancing services. It is rubbish for Tory James Wharton MP to say he's sticking up for the NHS; he has ensured that our health services have fallen even further behind, with units closing, longer waiting times and the lowest ever morale amongst health workers. His party is, at least for now, still in Government and he should say exactly how he intends to bring our local NHS services up to the best standards of the 21st century.

If Labour win the next general election we will seek a solution which is clinically based and which commands broad public support from across all the communities involved. 

Best wishes,

Louise Baldock

Labour and Co-operative Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South

Letter: Future of North Tees hospital services

This letter was written in response to one printed in the Gazette on 2nd December but has not been published so I am reproducing it here for your information.

Totally unacceptable delays with planning decision in Ingleby Barwick

The Conservative Secretary of State for Department of Communities and Local Government has failed to issue a decision on a controversial planning application in the borough of Stockton.

We were due to hear on or before November 10th 2014 whether 550 new houses would be built on green fields south of Ingleby Barwick but there has been only silence.

Following my enquiries, Mr Pickles’ office have acknowledged they had missed the date but said they “can give no cast iron” date when we can actually expect to hear. They also offered absolutely no explanation for the delay. This is a disgrace.

Stockton Council officers, councillors, concerned residents and I spent three solid days in good faith in a hearing before a national planning inspector, as did the agents for the land owner and developer. There was also the considerable expense of hiring barristers and the hours spent in preparation.

The Planning Inspector confirmed he had hit his target of producing his report for the Government on September 10th, so it is not as though Mr Pickles hasn’t had long enough to look at the matter.

As I said to his office when I made my enquiries about their tardiness, this also really matters because of a knock on effect.

The council has already turned down two further applications for more housing on neighbouring fields and those developers have had to put in appeals in the dark. It is unreasonable to expect either the public purse in the shape of the local authority (Stockton Borough Council) or the landowners and their agents to fund appeals, barristers and spend time at planning enquiries without knowing the outcome of this earlier linchpin application. Knowing whether this appeal is to stand or fall will make a crucial difference to the progress of those other applications – and indeed other green wedge applications across the borough.

Local representatives and residents will also once again need to give up their own time in attending, listening and speaking.

It’s a disgrace to expect all of this without knowing the outcome of the first application.

We don’t want these houses building on our green wedge, after a lengthy campaign we deserve an answer.

Local people are suspicious that politics have been brought into play here, that Mr Pickles is going to leave the decision until after the General Election so that the result wont damage his candidate’s chances. Let’s hope that is not true, it would be a very dark day for democracy.

This article was sent to the press but not published

Why are we waiting?

Totally unacceptable delays with planning decision in Ingleby Barwick

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Today is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support the local small businesses and traders at the heart of our economy.

I've enjoyed speaking to independent retailers in Ingleby Barwick, hearing about their businesses and how they are doing.

One trader told me about their rent going up 62% in one year and the rates shot up accordingly! These are the kind of issues I would like to support our local small businesses in addressing.

It was great to visit two new independents, Two Moons Hairdressing and Hepworth Opticians. I look forward to seeing them continue to thrive.

I run my own firm looking after other small businesses with their marketing needs and it is always great to talk to other entrepreneurs so I really enjoyed today.

I am also delighted to have been mentioned twice in Parliament this week for my work and support for other independent traders, particularly but not exclusively women.

Help support the local economy by shopping small, independent, local this Christmas!

Small Business Saturday

Today is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support the local small businesses and traders at the heart of our economy.

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You can’t trust the Tories on the economy, that’s the simple fact.

It’s a phoney recovery and a false dawn not felt on Teesside.

Borrowing

The Conservative Chancellor’s figures have unravelled today even since he sat down.

In 2010 David Cameron said “In five years time we will have balanced the books”. That’s a broken promise the country can ill afford.

I am proud of Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor who took George Osborne’s figures apart like the Economic professional he is.

Conservative back-bench MPs tried to drown him out with heckling and shouting when he stood up, hoping to bring on his stammer, disgraceful behaviour because they don’t want people to know the truth.

Nevertheless, with grit and determination Ed Balls proved that in this Parliament the Conservatives will have borrowed £219billion more than they planned in 2010. Imagine that. That’s not just getting your sums a bit wrong, that’s a massive failure; they have no idea what they are doing with the economy and appear to make it up as they go along.

And that £219bn is not an old problem that is slowly being gotten to grips with, in fact it is set to get worse this year and for the next two  years, these were the facts the Tories don’t want you to know.

Employment

Why are they borrowing so much more? As we all know on Teesside, it is because the jobs people are now in are low paid, part time and zero hours. The Government is paying out on tax credits and housing benefit to top up pay where people should be on a decent wage in a decent job and paying their own way – and they are not receiving anything like the levels of tax and national insurance into the exchequer that they thought they would because people are earning so little.

Cost of living crisis

52 of the last 53 months have seen wages fail to keep pace with prices.

It is a real cost of living crisis with no sign of any improvement on the horizon.

Public spending

The Government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility has said today that public spending is set to fall to the lowest levels since the Second World War, the lowest in 80 years – and that means all the things Teessiders value, like schools, hospitals, police, looking after vulnerable children and older people, even street cleaning is being damaged by cuts. If you think you have too many pot holes in your street, now you know why.

When Government’s talk about cutting expenditure they generally meaning getting rid of jobs because that is what most of the money is spent on. In the North East we have lost 55000 jobs in the public sector since 2010, that’s a lot of people who are really struggling.

Stamp Duty

The reduction in stamp duty for first time buyers and those at the cheaper end of the housing market is a welcome move – it is clear that the Chancellor has been listening to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls about the mansion tax and the need for those in big expensive houses to pay more, and this is his way of achieving that. Ed has said that Labour will keep these changes if we come to power in 2015.

Summary

Austerity measures have been built on the backs of the poor and low earners. Osborne says the top 20% have been asked to pay the most towards austerity measures. What he doesn’t tell you – but the Office of Budget Responsibility told us this afternoon – was that the next hardest hit group was the bottom 20%, those in poverty – and they can least afford to pay off the national debt!

The figures don’t add up, the plan is simply not working and North East people are being left behind. If this is the autumn statement then what we are being offered is shrivelled leaves.

Thoughts on the Chancellor’s Final Autumn Statement

You can’t trust the Tories on the economy, that’s the simple fact. It’s a phoney recovery and a false dawn not felt on Teesside.

The Tories like to boast about their so-called ‘long term economic plan’ but the truth is David Cameron and George Osborne have now failed every test and broken every promise they made on the economy.

The Government’s failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis has cost the Exchequer £116.5 billion in lost tax revenue and higher social security spending – almost £4,000 for every taxpayer – new research from the House of Commons Library indicates. This has led to higher borrowing and broken promises on the deficit.

The research shows that low pay and stagnant salaries, combined with soaring housing costs and the failure to tackle the root causes of increased welfare bills, means that over the course of this Parliament:

  • Income tax receipts have fallen short of forecasts by more than £66 billion.
  • National Insurance Contributions are £25.5 billion lower than expected.
  • Spending on social security is £25 billion higher than planned.

Health workers in Ingleby Barwick have told me how the value of their pay has been falling for five years, due to pay freezes and below-inflation rises under this government. Increasing numbers of families are having to use the Thornaby food bank, including those who work. I have also spoken to many Stockton workers who have to top up their low pay with tax credits, putting a strain on the benefits bill.

This Conservative government has done a great job of squeezing the living standards of people on low and middle incomes, but a bad job of squeezing the deficit.

Building a recovery that works for the majority of ordinary people, not just a few at the top, is the real test of the Autumn Statement. But that isn't a separate priority from tackling the deficit; it’s an essential part of balancing the books.

A Labour Autumn Statement would focus on tackling the cost-of-living crisis so that work is properly rewarded again and so that our public services including the NHS are safe.

Our economic plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, and cut business rates for small firms.

Let’s all work hard to make sure this is George Osborne’s last ever Autumn Statement.

Tory policies weaken Britain's public finances

The Tories like to boast about their so-called ‘long term economic plan’ but the truth is David Cameron and George Osborne have now failed every test and broken every promise...

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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 or a mutual, co-operative or not-for-profit been allowed to bid for and run the franchise who knows what extra services they would have promised? We could potentially have seen this date brought forward considerably. But irrespective of that, our MP should never have accepted the position where Thornaby and Middlesbrough will lag five years behind Sunderland.

With his unqualified support for the privatisation of the franchise, James Wharton MP has let Teesside commuters down.

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.


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