Louise Baldock

Standing up for Stockton South

Louise Baldock, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South

Recent Activity

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Phil Wilson MP arranged for Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary and me to have a briefing and update from Darren Cumner, Plant Manager at Hitachi Rail Europe in Newton Aycliffe today.

Darren talked about the great advances on site with the steelwork being finished any day. It has come along a long way since my visit in November.

I was particularly interested to hear about his extensive plans for recruitment and training of engineers. These jobs will be vital for the Tees Valley.

He has also asked about the possibility of opening a local Skills and Technology College which makes good sense. 

Exciting times for NE manufacturing!

Exciting times for NE manufacturing

Phil Wilson MP arranged for Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary and me to have a briefing and update from Darren Cumner, Plant Manager at Hitachi Rail Europe in Newton Aycliffe today....

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The Planning Inquiry into an appeal from Tiviot Investments Ltd in respect of Stockton Borough Council’s rejection of an application for 550 houses to be built to the south east of Ingleby Barwick closed on Thursday after a three day hearing.

I was pleased to attend throughout the hearing alongside other local residents and a number of representatives of both the Town Council and Borough Council for Ingleby Barwick.

Much of the enquiry turned on legal technicalities about the status of the fields which Tiviot wish to build upon, with other arguments being put forward that Ingleby Barwick is now “full” and further development would be unsustainable. Barristers for both sides put forward witnesses who were then cross-examined. Councillor David Rose, Cabinet Member for the Environment and a member of the planning committee appeared at length for the Council and was excellent, supporting our local community.

Residents were given an opportunity to speak and ask questions at various points.

Graham Walker talked about the lack of green space within Ingleby Barwick since houses had been constructed throughout the estate on almost every piece of land and how consequently these fields were of particular value. He also talked about ongoing problems with congestion across, into and out of the whole of Ingleby Barwick.

Peter Hadfield talked about the concept of Localism and stressed the importance of allowing local people and their democratically elected representatives to have their own say over local matters. Peter drew the inquiry’s attention to the fact that the rejection of these plans had been unanimously supported by councillors “of all parties and none” at the Planning Committee and that the Tory MP and his would-be Labour successor were both also opposed. He said it was refreshing to see such unity and urged the Inspector to take this into account if thinking to overrule local opinion.

I asked questions on the first day about a proposed new service direct to Stockton which would be subsidised by Tiviot for three years if the housing went ahead. I pointed out that a former X6 on the same route had been ditched and then a 17 also heading into Stockton, once their subsidies had been withdrawn and wondered what guarantees there were about this one.

On the second day I spoke for about ten minutes covering the history of Ingleby  Barwick and how it was now almost complete with the development of The Rings and how the council in conjunction with the town council had already funded circular walk ways around Ingleby clearly showing where the edges of the new town should be. I talked about the current lack of facilities in Ingleby and how house building here would exacerbate those problems. I drew the Inspectors attention to the need to consider the effects of housing on the settlements of High Leven, Little Maltby and Maltby. I also criticised what I described as “disingenuous” arguments from Tiviot.

A final resident, Neil McCabe, also talked about the impact of extra traffic on Leven Bank.

On the third day I spoke again to let the Inspector know that I had learned at the previous evening’s town council meeting that the township is bordered by the beck and therefore residents of these houses if they went ahead would not be part of Ingleby, would not be paying the precept, would not play a full part in the community and of course that they had never been meant to be built there.

It was a tough three days, local residents had to listen to what seemed to us at times to be spurious arguments. We hope the Inspector will be able to see through the smoke and mirrors and accept these fields are precious to us and should not be built upon. The impact of development here would cause untold problems for existing residents in so many ways and we were pleased to be able to describe that to the Inspector.

It is disappointing that despite his media bluster and regular mention of this application in his campaign leaflets, our MP has not submitted any objection at any stage and did not turn up to the inquiry.

 

Update on Planning Inquiry into the building of 550 houses on fields outside Ingleby Barwick

The Planning Inquiry into an appeal from Tiviot Investments Ltd in respect of Stockton Borough Council’s rejection of an application for 550 houses to be built to the south east...

Presenting petitions and responses to the consultation to the leader of the council

On Thursday I attended Stockton Borough Council’s Cabinet meeting to hear them vote to recommend to full council that they should heed the overwhelming results of the consultation on future Gypsy and Traveller Sites and remove the initially suggested sites from any future plans.

They have also voted to ask council on Wednesday to write to the Secretary of State and the Borough's two MPs to seek support for putting forward the long awaited Local Plan without a conclusion on gypsy sites but with a promise to carry on working on that in the meantime. The local plan should, once agreed with the secretary of state, resolve many of the housing battles the borough has been engaged with and is therefore vital.

Having fought alongside residents, particularly in Thornaby, I am pleased that the council has listened. It's particularly good news that these six sites will be taken off the list permanently. I will also be calling for land on Eltham Crescent to be officially listed as recreational so that no-one can threaten it ever again.

Image: Presenting petitions and responses to the consultation to the leader of the council

Stockton Cabinet agree to drop gypsy and traveller site proposals

On Thursday I attended Stockton Borough Council’s Cabinet meeting to hear them vote to recommend to full council that they should heed the overwhelming results of the consultation on future...

Yesterday Stockton planning committee approved the council's plans for a new long stay car park behind Barclay’s Bank, off Silver Street. This is good news for Yarm residents, businesses and for visitors to the High Street.

At the public consultation on Pay and Display last year I pressed the council to secure long term parking. I am pleased they are now delivering on this.

These extra long stay spaces will allow visitors to remain in the town longer, benefiting local retailers, and freeing up spaces on the High Street for short stay visits. It will also make parking on side streets less attractive.

However I also hope the council will be able to find another location very quickly if problems with the other proposed site behind the Blue Bell cannot be resolved. Whilst the additional 38 places are very welcome, further provision will still be needed.

New long stay car park in Yarm

Yesterday Stockton planning committee approved the council's plans for a new long stay car park behind Barclay’s Bank, off Silver Street. This is good news for Yarm residents, businesses and for visitors to...

You decide!

chauffeur.jpgOur MP was in hot water not once but twice in Parliament this week and here is Hansard, the official record, to explain just what happened.

7 July 2014: Column 63

Point of Order

5.46 pm

Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) (Lab): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance. The Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), visited the new Hitachi factory in my constituency this morning to make a Government announcement. He was joined by the hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton), but neither of them informed me of their intention to visit my constituency, although the hon. Member for Stockton South informed me of his visit after the event. What can you do or say to ensure that hon. Members, and especially Ministers, show the common courtesy of informing the sitting Member of their intent to visit his or her constituency before the visit happens?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): I am grateful for that point of order and for prior notice of it. I would like to remind Members that Mr Speaker has made it clear on several occasions recently that if any hon. Member intends to make an official visit to another hon. Member’s constituency on political business, they are under a strong obligation to inform the constituency Member as far in advance as possible. Ministers in particular, with their private office to help them organise their business, have no excuse for failing to fulfil this obligation. I sincerely hope that this will not happen again. Mr Speaker has been quite clear about this.

James Wharton (Stockton South) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I want to make it clear that I do not wish to cause discomfort to any hon. Member in this place. My role this morning was to drop off my hon. Friend the Minister, at which point I tweeted that I had dropped him off. Realising that I was in the constituency of a neighbouring Member, I asked my office to inform him by e-mail. Are hon. Members obliged to inform other hon. Members when they drive through or drop people off in their constituencies?

Madam Deputy Speaker: That is really not a point of order, Mr Wharton. I think we are all grown-up enough to know what the conventions imply about visiting another Member’s constituency. We do not need to go this level of detail in the form of a point of order at this time. We shall move on.

 

But the plot thickened when local newspapers picked up Mr Wharton’s attendance at the visit showing him in a photograph with the Minister at Hitachi. So the next day Phil Wilson MP came back for a second time to castigate his parliamentary neighbour.

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8 July 2014: Column 163

Points of Order

Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, I raised a point of order about a ministerial visit to my constituency of which I was not given prior notice. The hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) was also at the visit without informing me in advance. The hon. Gentleman said in the House last night that his role

“was to drop off my hon. Friend the Minister”.—[Official Report, 7 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 63.]

It now appears in the local media that his role was more than that of a chauffeur, as the photographs suggest that he was an integral part of the visit. Have you received any indication from the hon. Gentleman that he wants to put the record straight and apologise to the House?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I have received no such indication, although the hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) is in his place and if he wishes to say something, it is open to him to do so. He is stirring from his seat.

James Wharton (Stockton South) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I stand by what I said yesterday. My role was to drop off the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), who was visiting Hitachi, that great investment that this Government have brought to the north-east, creating thousands of jobs and bringing in millions of pounds. I did not stay throughout the full visit. I dropped him off, spoke briefly to the media, got a quick photograph and left before the visit was complete. My role was to drop the Minister off, Mr Speaker. How may I most accurately put on the record my honest and well-meant suggestion to the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) that rather than continually making points of order of this type in this place, which of course he is entitled to do, he would perhaps be better served asking Hitachi why they did not invite him to attend?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have listened to his explanation and I do think that we should operate in a fashion informed by common sense. My colleague in the Chair at the time that the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) raised his original point of order about this matter said that

“we are all grown-up enough to know what the conventions imply about visiting another Member’s constituency.” —[Official Report, 7 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 63.]

I have no intention of having a lengthy debate on the matter, but suffice it to say that the question of how long a Member was present on a particular visit is pretty immaterial. I do not doubt that the hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) is a first-class driver. I have not benefited from his skills in that regard over the years, but I have no reason to question that he would be a very satisfactory chauffeur. If in fact he took part in the visit, I think he must know the logic of that. I appeal to Members, particularly in this sensitive time in the run-up to a general election, to take care to observe not merely the letter but the spirit of the convention about prior notification. I do not want to go beyond that, so let us leave the matter there. Let us try to ensure that we behave in a way that is seemly and the public would think is seemly. Let us leave it there.

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ABOVE PICTURE: James Wharton MP, third left, at the Hitachi site alongside Communities and Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis. Sharing the platform, from left, is Geoff Hunton, director of Merchant Place Developments, Neil Matthias, senior project manager for Shepherd, Darren Cumner, plant manager for Hitachi Rail Europe, and Paul Woolston, chairman of the North-East LEP

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. This is the man who once told a colleague in an email: quotewharton.png

It hasn’t gone down at all well on the doorstep I can tell you, so it looks like he might be needing that chauffeurs cap after all!

James Wharton MP: Shameless electioneering or practising for a new job after May 2015?

You decide! Our MP was in hot water not once but twice in Parliament this week and here is Hansard, the official record, to explain just what happened.

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Government figures show that 5005 homes in Stockton South constituency are officially classified as being in “fuel poverty”. We need far more action to tackle this scandal of cold, draughty homes.

The figures lay bare just how hard rising energy prices have hit household budgets in recent years. Millions of households both above and below the poverty line are noticing a real squeeze.

Labour has already promised to freeze energy prices after the General Election in 2015. We also need to do more to help people insulate homes in Stockton South. It has long been known that UK homes are among the hardest to heat in Europe, with too little insulation and leaky windows and doors.  Countries such as Sweden have very little fuel poverty, despite much colder weather and energy prices that are similar to the UK.  That’s because their homes are so much more energy efficient.

Despite this, boiler installation and insulation schemes under the Coalition Government have been drastically cut back, making it more difficult for people to improve their homes and keep them warm.

I have therefore joined with over 180 charities, campaign groups, unions and companies making up the Energy Bill Revolution coalition to call for a huge programme to upgrade the energy efficiency of our homes, starting with those lived in by our poorest and most vulnerable households.  Previous work by the Energy Bill Revolution has shown that improving homes like this would create more jobs, be better for the economy, and be more popular with the public than any other major building project.

I have heard from one local man who was managing a company fitting new boilers for people in fuel poverty. With the watering down of the Energy Company Obligation he had to close the firm and lay off all the gas engineers. The same week I heard from a woman who was expecting a new boiler from them which of course never came.

Far from being “green crap”, these schemes were making a real difference. With unemployment figures still rising in the North East a revival of such programmes could put many people into much needed jobs at the same time as providing warm homes.

To add insult to injury, we have recently learned that wholesale prices of gas and electricity have fallen considerably but the savings have not been passed on to customers by their energy providers.

This out-of-touch Government prioritises big business instead of the millions condemned to live in cold homes.

5005 cold homes in Stockton South: Time to end the scandal of cold homes

Government figures show that 5005 homes in Stockton South constituency are officially classified as being in “fuel poverty”. We need far more action to tackle this scandal of cold, draughty homes.


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