Thursday, 28 May 2009

Simon Hughes MP in Redcar to support Fiona Hall

Fiona Hall Liberal Democrat Euro Candidate and Simon Hughes MP visited shops in Redcar town centre on Tuesday 26th May to carry out a survey on how small businesses are coping with the recession.

Simon Hughes is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and MP for North Southwark & Bermondsey.

Pictured left to right Simon Hughes MP, Cllr Chris Abbott, Cllr Irene Curr, Fiona Hall MEP, Ian Swales Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar, Cllr Josie Crawford and Cllr Glyn Nightingale.

What a pleasure it was to see Simon in Redcar and what a good reception he received. The last thing he did before heading off for another engagement was to "have a look at the sea from our superb beach."

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


The memory of Redcar and Cleveland residents who have lost their lives at sea and the debt of gratitude to those who battle to save lives is being honoured at a special ceremony in Redcar cemetery on Sunday, May 24.

A parade will leave Redcar Racecourse at 2pm for the cemetery, led by the Hartlepool Sea Cadets' bugles and drums, and include ex-servicemen, organised by parade marshall Eric Howden plus representatives from the sea cadets, the RAF, the Army, the Redcar lifeboat crew and the lifeboat itself.

Then at the cemetery, there are plans for a 45-minute service and the unveiling of two commemorative plaques.

The event marks the culmination of three years work by the Friends of Redcar Cemetery that has restored the cemetery's old rose garden and created two facing memorial gardens, with stones and plaques.

The first plaque, to be unveiled by Dave Buckworth, the secretary of the Merchant Navy Association, has an extract from an old 1800s hymn:

"Fierce was the wild billow, dark was the night. Men laboured heavily, foam glimmered white. Trembled the mariners, peril was nigh. Then said the Lord of Lords, Peace: It is I."

The second plaque, to be unveiled by Redcar lifeboat's senior helmsman Mike Picknett, who lost three relatives in a sea tragedy in 1900, uses an extract from a poem, For I am a Lifeboatman, by John Hanvey, the chairman of Seahouses RNLI.

It reads: "When I am called to duty Lord, wherever gales may rage, give me strength to save a life whatever be their age. Help me to brave the tempest before it is too late and save some struggling seaman from the horror of their fate."

The 45-minute service, to be jointly conducted by the vicar of St Peter's, the Reverend Canon John Weetman and Colin Worwick, chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers, will include addresses from the Council's newly-elected Mayor, Councillor Brian Briggs, Redcar MP Vera Baird and Lord Zetland, the Friends' patron. Marske Fishermen's Choir will also perform three sea shanties.

The Friends' chairman Ged Fleming said: "Sunday will be the realisation of so much hard work. We all hope it will a special and memorable day."

The Council's Cabinet Member for the Environment Councillor Sylvia Szintai said: "We have been only too pleased to help, not only with grant aid, but also with the creation of these two memorial gardens."
The £7,000 funding package includes £2,000 from Redcar and Cleveland Council's Community Fund, £1,500 from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, £100 from the Freemason Lodge of Philosophy, a personal donation from the Friends' 95-year-old president, Vera Robinson MBE, and money raised from sales and tombolas.

*Anyone wishing to attend the Sunday service is urged to park at the Racecourse car park, via its entrance off Redcar Lane.

Monday, 18 May 2009


The story of Britain's 300,000 travellers will unfold in a new month-long touring exhibition at Redcar's Kirkleatham Museum.

The National Education Officer for the Showman's Guild, Valerie Moody MBE, will spend the day at the Museum on Saturday, May 30, from 10am-4pm.

She plans to talk at drop-in sessions about the gypsies, Roma and travellers who have lived, worked and travelled throughout Britain for over 500 years.

Her stories will reveal how the travellers have been almost entirely written out of British history, creating a widespread ignorance about who they are, which has sometimes turned to hatred, fear and misunderstanding.

Then the Museum becomes the latest venue to host a small exhibition of photographs and examples of Roma crafts, during Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, from Tuesday, June 2 to Friday, June 26.

Monday, 11 May 2009

"Fight harder for the economic regeneration of our area" - Ian Swales

Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Redcar Ian Swales is urging the Government to do everything it can to generate new jobs in the area following the Corus announcement.

He said: “I really hope the closure of Corus can be stopped or delayed but the steel industry on Teesside has been in decline for many years. We need a more diversified economy to cope with changes. The Government could do a lot to improve prospects for local people. They have been promising for years to move well paid civil service jobs to the area

"The need has never been greater than now. It was also disappointing to see Hitachi looking at sites in Gateshead last week for a new factory building train rolling stock. There would be ample space for such a facility here on Teesside and the skilled work force to make it happen. Once again Tyneside seems to dominate wherever One North East is concerned

"I hope our local politicians will now fight harder for the economic regeneration of our area. They should also press for Corus to start the environmental restoration of their huge site. This will be a big undertaking and would itself generate a number of jobs.”


A group of young people, who helped secure a £5million lottery win, are now turning their dream into a reality and drawing up final plans for the new beachside 'MyPlace' arts and media centre at Redcar.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council supported the 16-strong young people's steering group drawn from youth organisations across the Borough, giving them the responsibility to shape the new Coatham 'MyPlace' centre.

The new centre - an iconic seashell design - will provide a large flexible arts and media space, a stage and music recording studio along with access to support services, including health advice and information about education and work opportunities.

Following design and consultation, the building work is due to commence in 2010 and it is hoped this building work will take place alongside the new Redcar leisure centre and swimming complex, providing a whole range of fantastic new beachside facilities for young people and residents throughout the Borough.

In securing the funding for the new building, the group's background work has included seeking the views of over 3,000 young people, talking to arts groups and service providers, organising promotional events and recording a DVD to accompany their successful bid for the £4,946,280 cheque.

The partnership supporting the young people and funding bid includes the Council, police, health services, Tees Valley Arts and Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, who will now continue to work with group during the summer months to finalise business plans for the beachside location.

The aim will be to prepare a business case for September, with a hoped-for completion, after 12-18 months construction work, in 2011.

Saturday, 9 May 2009


Liberal Democrat members of Redcar & Cleveland Council's Audit Committee are concerned that the Labour Council is failing to address the serious issues raised by their investment of £4 millions in Icelandic banks last October. Public money was deposited in an Iceland bank ignoring warnings about its poor financial standing.

The Council's claimed investigation was far from independent. It was merely a report from a finance officer to the Audit Committee. Until a more independent enquiry takes place, the only judgment that can be seen as impartial is that of the Audit Commission.

It was only Labour members of the Council's Audit Committee who voted to dispute Government inspectors' judgment of negligence on the Council's £4 million investment.

Councillor Glyn Nightingale said: "The Labour Council has a duty to take care of the public's money. This was breached when they ignored clear warnings about Icelandic banks. The writing was on the wall months earlier. In May 2008 the outlook of Icelandic banks was rated as "negative". Labour has damaged the Council's financial position with the potential loss of £4 million of public money and the actual loss of interest earnings.

If Labour believe this is not negligence, what is it? It is far from prudent. Local people would be right not to trust Labour with their money. They will pay for Labour's mistakes and mismanagement."

Councillor Mary Ovens said: "For the sake of losing interest they rushed to plough a massive amount of money into a bank which they should have known was on the brink. Common sense should have told them not to go ahead in what Council officers admit were 'turbulent' times."

Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Ian Swales said: "We can hardly be surprised that Labour Councillors have decided that they were not negligent in their handling of Icelandic bank deposits. This latest judgement by them means little and until a full independent enquiry takes place the Audit Commission judgement of "negligent" must be the most accurate assessment."

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Coatham Links development - MP's disassociate themselves from objectors campaign tactics

The following has been posted on Redcar and Cleveland Council's web-site:

Coatham Enclosure

Statement published by Vera Baird MP (6th May 2009)

"I know that most Redcar people support the Coatham Links development and want it to start as soon as possible. I have had doubts in the past about the number of houses to be built there, versus the amount of leisure facilities. But things like the fantastic new "MyPlace" seafront youth centre have tipped the balance. Coatham Links should be a great boost to Redcar, bringing more new people here and giving us all a leisure centre, swimming pool and many more facilities of which we can feel proud. The political parties on Redcar council oppose each other as they should in the interests of democracy, and if anything had been done wrong as this development evolved one political party or another would certainly have said so. But they are all, to a member, committed to Coatham being built as speedily as possible, in the interests of the people of the Borough.

"A very small group of protestors have got attention over the years. They have made serious allegations against the council and recently against me but these are untrue. They showed the MP for Scarborough, Robert Goodwill, an edited version of their protest film "Coatham - A Common Concern" to persuade him to show it in Parliament and then yesterday, having obtained his consent, showed in Parliament a longer version of the film that he had not seen that contains the nasty allegations and which he has totally disowned.

"The long legal campaign waged by these few protesters paid for through legal aid - has also held up this much needed and much desired community development.

"I look forward to sitting by the new pool with you - as soon as we can."

Statement issued by Robert Goodwill MP (6th May 2009)

"On Monday, I arranged for a group who call themselves the Friends of Coatham Common to show a film in a room in Parliament about Redcar Council's proposed development at Coatham. I had insisted on seeing the film in Scarborough before agreeing to book a room in Number One Parliament Street near the Houses of Parliament but as it was shown yesterday I realised that ten or more extra minutes had been added.

"I would not have agreed to show the film if I had know that in that ten minutes there were at least three allegations of financial corruption or conspiracy against the Council and its officers. There were also allegations that the local MP had been aware of this corruption and chose to ignore it. I immediately distanced myself from these new allegations to the audience when the film was over.

"Whilst I am sure that there are lessons to be learned from the whole Coatham Enclosure saga and the way a few local residents still feel dissatisfied with the way their objections were discounted, I refuse to endorse allegations of dishonesty against the Council and I have discussed what was said about her with Vera Baird, the local MP, and I am satisfied that it is untrue.

"This is the end of my involvement with the Friends of Coatham Common."

Coatham Links ..... the facts
A seafront destination forming a key part of the regeneration of Redcar, Coatham Links will be a mixed use development which will provide:
  • A new state-of-the-art leisure centre with 6 lane 25m pool, leisure pool, dance floor/performance space, 8 court sports hall, junior gym, 75 station fitness suite
  • 357 new dwellings offering a range of new homes for first-time buyers, families and retirement
  • New public spaces, lighting and landscaping
  • Combined public sector and private sector £millions investment
  • The creation - either directly or indirectly of up to 200 new jobs
  • New public house and restaurant
  • LifeStyle Sports Village
  • Health Village
  • Childrens Nursery

The Need For Change
Redcar has a history of being an extremely popular seaside resort - attracting visitors from the industrial heartland of Teesside and the north of England and lowland Scotland. Up until the 1960s the town prospered. Over the last 40 years, with changing holiday and visitor patterns and a decline in the traditional industrial base, spending within the local economy has declined.

Redcar annually attracts over 1 million visitors a year it is the Boroughs main retailing and commercial centre serving a wide catchment area as well as being a popular seaside resort for day visitors.

Facing the north sea, subject to the mood and landscape of an ever changing coastal light, with mile after mile of beaches, Redcar really is a jewel on the East Coast. There is no better place to feel the salt air, experience the fury of a winter storm or see the rising or setting of the sun turning the waves into beautiful back-lit artworks. Its stark relationship with the sea makes the town a special and unique place. Sitting or walking on the beach on a warm summers day there can be no better place to be. But visit the town in the winter months and it is all too apparent that its natural setting is let down by the quality of the streets, buildings and spaces with very few things for visitors to do. As a result there has been a lack of investment and deterioration of many buildings, streets and spaces within the town. This has contributed to a lack of quality and negative perception, which inhibit revitalisation and diversification.

Although Redcar has made dramatic steps to reverse its decline, apart from residential development on the south of the town and the new Regents Walk Shopping Centre in the heart of Redcar, the pace of regeneration has been slow and we now need a step change in our approach. The Coatham Links Scheme forms a part of a multi-million pound regeneration investment programme for Redcar. It will bring a whole new community to Redcar and increased visitor numbers, which will help to raise economic prosperity and raise the quality of the immediate environment to compliment the tourism experience.

The Coatham Links site covers an area of 35 acres at a seaside location on the west side of Redcar. In 2002 the Cleveland Golf Club was relocated to accommodate the development, the remaining parts of the site have been previously developed.

Today the site offers a unique opportunity to regenerate a run down area at a coastal location.


Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council is ready to give the green light to start the design and construction of the new £13.8 million Redcar Leisure Centre

The Council's Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, May 12 with a recommendation to approve the award of a contract to a preferred contractor for the first stage of the detailed design build contract for the new sports and leisure centre.

If the recommendation is approved this will allow the detailed design stage to start and, following a period of consultation, it is then expected this stage will be completed by November with the publication of the final designs.

The Council's development partner, Persimmon Homes Ltd, have recently completed the tendering process for the design and build contract for the new sports and leisure centre, this is an essential next step in the project plan for the whole Coatham Links development.

Persimmon Homes Ltd, were granted planning permission in May 2007 for the scheme. The new sports and leisure centre is to be provided as part of the first phase of the Coatham Links development.

The new sports and leisure centre will have a six-lane 25metre swimming pool, a leisure pool, a children's pool and a sports hall, including badminton courts.

There will also be a fitness studio and separate junior gym, performance space including a dance floor to replace the current dance floor, beauty therapy treatment, party function room, bar and kitchen.

The scheme also includes provision for two outdoor five a side pitches, high quality changing facilities, reception and cafe area with work planned to start in the late summer."

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


The leaders of all the political groups on Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council have joined forces in condemning the tactics being used by a minority of protestors opposed to the Coatham Links re-development project. This follows the distribution of a leaflet and production and screening of a film by protestors.

In a joint statement, Cllr George Dunning, Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Chris Abbott, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Valerie Halton, Leader of the Conservative Group, and Cllr Steve Kay, Leader of the East Cleveland Independent Group, said: “Right across the political spectrum and in the seven years covering three different administrations, as a Council we have always put the needs of the Borough first in promoting the Coatham Links re-development project.

“The Coatham Links re-development project will deliver a massive improvement in the sports and leisure facilities available within the Borough, including a new competition-level swimming complex, a dance floor, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, and a space for the performing arts alongside a further development following the announcement of a £5millon Big Lottery Funded world-class youth, arts and media facility.

“The protestors’ allegations have now been investigated by the Police, Courts, Audit Commission, the local Member of Parliament and the Ombudsman – all of which has confirmed that the Council has done nothing wrong. Given this, a minority of protestors has decided to promote a fantastical conspiracy theory which is untrue. We urge the public not to be taken in.

“All that has ever motivated all of us at the Council is to do what is best for the Borough. We do have our political differences but on this issue we are all in agreement – the re-development project at Coatham Links is an opportunity to provide new facilities and benefits to the Borough and, as a Council, we are determined to deliver this to our residents.

“Throughout the development of the Coatham Links project, across all political parties, we have taken much time to listen to both supporters of, and objectors to, the scheme - as have our hard-working Council officers. We are convinced that the scheme is the right thing for our Borough and that it is widely supported. The latest tactics by a minority of protestors are a sad reflection on the way some people behave if they don’t get their own way - to accuse innocent people of wrongdoing because you can’t win the argument on merit is extremely reprehensible.

“But the protestors should know that as a united Council on this project we are not going to be turned away from doing the right thing by this hateful behaviour. We are going to continue to put the needs of the Borough first - because it’s the right thing to do.”