Friday, 28 May 2010

Ian Swales announces next surgery date

Ian Swales MP will be holding surgeries on Saturday 5th June. Redcar constituents are invited to speak with Ian regarding issues or concerns by joining him at Redcar Library, Coatham Road, 9.30am-10.30am or at the newly-opened South Bank Library, Low Grange Health Village, Normanby Road, 11am-11.30am.

Anyone wishing to attend either surgery can book an appointment by calling Ian on 01642 292847.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Labour's so-called "open and transparent" Council places restrictions on petitions

Redcar & Cleveland's Labour controlled Council today altered the petitions scheme for the Council, limiting them only to residents of the Borough and attaching minimum numbers of signatures before they can be debated by the Council.

Petitions to be debated by the Council is now set at "1500, but reduced to 500 where the petition related to a local issue, affecting no more than two electoral wards within the authority"

Petitions requiring attendance by a senior council officer to answer questions at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting is now set at "750, but reduced to 100 where the petition related to a local issue, affecting no more than two electoral wards within the authority."

Petitions and signatures will only be accepted from residents of the Borough.

A Conservative amendment also restricted the time that petition organisers have to present their petition to five minutes.

Lib Dem members opposed the changes arguing that there should be no restrictions.

There could be many reasons why visitors or residents from outside the Borough may want the Council to consider a petition. It should not be beyond the wit of Councillors to assess the relevance or merits of a petition regardless of how many signatures or who sent it in. Previously a petition signed by only three people was considered equally with one signed by thousands.

The Labour Councillors keep going on about being open and transparent but in reality they are selective and choosy.

Ian Swales welcomes tax freeze for PD Ports

Ian Swales MP has welcomed the coalition agreement to freeze the controversial backdate tax rates on port operators.

This week, David Laws and George Osborne announced the decision to freeze the backdated tax rates.

Under the Labour government, the Valuation Office Agency, believing it had been under-taxing port companies for some time, altered the tax system and backdated the new taxes to April 2005, giving firms up to eight years to repay millions of pounds.

Now, the new Liberal Democrat – Conservative coalition government has decided to freeze these rate demands. Ian Swales said, “I am delighted that the government has recognised that this backdating of taxes needs to be looked at. This is good news for PD Ports at Teesport.”

Ian Swales shows support for local schools

Within a fortnight of becoming Redcar’s new Member of Parliament, Ian Swales paid visits to Eston Park and St. Peter’s schools in Eston and South Bank. Both schools have been scheduled for closure and visiting the schools was high on the new MP’s list of priorities.

Ian Swales said, “I felt that it was important to meet with staff and find out more about the situation. I’ve had contact from staff, pupils and parents about the issue and I visited the schools to understand fully the concerns I am hearing

“I intend to find out the details of what will be happening to the previously agreed Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, under which these closures were taking place, and discuss with the council what any changes to BSF means for the future of these schools.”

New MP fights for Corus

In his first couple of weeks as Redcar MP, Ian Swales has been working tirelessly on the issue of the mothballed TCP plant at Corus. He has met Corus and Tata management, Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon and union officials. He has also had discussions with representatives of potential buyers of the steel making assets and others who are interested in investing in potential surplus land.

He is now heading to Thailand with a delegation of union officials to meet SSI, who are interested in the steel-making assets. Ian said, “Corus is obviously the number one issue for local people. Our community urgently needs jobs and resolving the future of Corus is vital in moving forward.

“I hope we will start to see more people employed on the huge Corus site and reverse the decline that has been going on for decades.”

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ian Swales announces his position on tuition fees

Questions have been raised over whether and how the coalition government will influence Liberal Democrat MPs’ stances on the issue of higher education funding.

The coalition agreement has seen both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats give ground on certain policies and issues to make compromises in order to form a stable government capable of solving the nation’s debt crisis.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto proposed phasing out tuition fees and many Liberal Democrat MPs – including Redcar’s Ian Swales – have signed the National Union of Students pledge to “vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.

Ian Swales said, “I am heartened by the provisions set out in the full coalition agreement. The government will await Lord Browne’s final report, and has stated that it will judge its proposals against the need to address a number of issues, including the need to: ‘increase social mobility’; ‘take into account the impact on student debt’; and ‘attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“If these issues are addressed properly, the coalition government will have acted in the student interest.”

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Ian Swales welcomes major Lib Dem policies in Queen’s Speech

Newly elected Lib Dem MP for Redcar constituency, Ian Swales, has welcomed today’s Queen's Speech saying that many important Liberal Democrat policies will be implemented by the coalition Government in the next 18 months.
Mr Swales said:

“I am very pleased that so many Liberal Democrat priorities that I have campaigned on during the election campaign will now be put in place to make our country fairer.

“Policies like a fairer and simpler tax system, restoring the link between earnings and pensions, restoring freedom and civil liberties by scrapping ID cards and passing a Great Repeal Bill that we have long argued for, will now be put in practice.

“We all know that our public finances are in a very bad state and spending cuts will be inevitable. However, I will be making the case in Westminster that this area needs a helping hand after more than a decade of Labour neglect and failure. I will now concentrate on providing a strong voice for Redcar constituency and Teesside as a whole in Westminster.”
    • Making the tax and benefits system fairer and simpler, including a significant increase in the personal allowance and an ambition to increase it to £10,000
    • Restoring the earnings link to pensions
    • Greater freedoms for teachers over the curriculum
    • Measures to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses
    • Support for low carbon energy production
    • Financial services regulation to learn the lessons of the financial crisis
    • Fixed term parliaments of five years
    • A referendum on the Alternative Vote
    • The right to sack MPs guilty of serious misconduct
    • Reform of party funding
    • Moving towards a wholly or partly elected House of Lords, elected by proportional representation
    • A Bill to restore freedoms and civil liberties, through the abolition of Identity Cards and repeal of unnecessary laws
    • Giving greater powers to councils and giving neighbourhoods and communities more control over planning and housing decisions
    • Ending child detention
    • Fair compensation for Equitable Life victims
    • Enabling the creation of a national high speed rail network
    • The modernisation of the Royal Mail
    • Flexible working and promotion of equal pay
    • Strengthening the voices of patients and the role of doctors in the NHS
    • A commission on long-term reform of social care
    • Cutting Quangos and government bureaucracy
    • Implementing the recommendations of the Calman Commission
    • A referendum on further powers for the Welsh Assembly
A full list of Bills and other items from the Queen’s Speech is available here.

Marske Post Office may be saved

 Ian Swales with local residents unhappy about the potential closure.

The planned closure of Marske Post Office has been postponed, as a potential new owner has been found.

Ian Swales, MP for Redcar, is reported to be delighted that the post office may be saved.

He said, “I have spoken to the person interested in taking over and given advice about running the business and sources of funds. There’s still a way to go, but I am very hopeful that the post office operation will continue. I will help in any way I can.

“I want to thank the hundreds of local residents who have signed the Liberal Democrat petition over the last few weeks. The big response shows the strength of feeling from local residents.

“Post offices are a vital part of local communities and I am pressing the new Government to adopt policies to reinvigorate the network.”

Friday, 21 May 2010

£30m seafront revamp goes on display

An exhibition taking the wraps off £30m plans to regenerate the iconic Redcar seafront will be launched to the public this weekend.

The exciting proposals are designed to create 60 new jobs, support businesses and attract fresh investment to the area.

The ambitious project includes the creation of strengthened flood defences, a spectacular new promenade, 80ft viewing tower and ‘The Hub’ - a showpiece base designed to allow the area’s creative industries sector to thrive.

And Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is hoping that residents, traders and visitors will take the chance to see the plans when the scheme goes on public display.

The community exhibition will be staged at the new Mayfair Hub, at 18 Esplanade – between Redcar Rock Shop and Chips ‘R’ Russ - from Saturday, May 22 to Friday, June 4, from 10am to 4pm each day.

Display panels illustrating the plans and a scale model of the proposals will be available for viewing, while council officers and architects will be on hand to answer any questions.

Visitors will also be able to complete questionnaires, with their responses helping to shape the planning process for the developments.

A planning application is expected to be submitted in the summer and, if approval is granted, work could begin in the autumn.

Creative Industries Hub boost for Redcar

The transformation of Redcar seafront moved a step closer today as ambitious plans were unveiled for a landmark focal point for creative and digital industries in the area.

The Hub, an innovative business centre, will provide an exciting new base for up-and-coming firms to flourish on the site of the former Palace Theatre.

The new facilities will be closely linked to a unique 80ft viewing tower which was announced last year, to include 3,000 sq ft of business space, a digital café, and gallery space for digital and commercial arts.

The Hub will provide 35,712 sq ft of business space, including 32 managed offices, along with workshops, studios and communal spaces.

Both buildings are being funded by £2,823,000 from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, £2,534,000 from Regional Development Agency One North East, £4,655,110 through the European Regional Development Fund and £940,000 from the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative. This funding will also cover initial revenue costs at both new buildings.

As well as prime office space, The Hub will provide businesses with an array of support and opportunities to thrive in the 21st century. Planned measures include mentoring services through Teesside’s pioneering Digital City Business; fellowships with the Institute of Digital Innovation and events and festivals highlighting the burgeoning industry.

The project was developed in the wake of extensive consultation with both the business community and Redcar residents. The area’s existing creative industries sector presently boasts about 300 companies, generating a combined turnover of some £31m – figures that partners believe could be significantly boosted by having a flagship focal point.

Council officials spoke to hundreds of firms during the project’s planning stages and already have 41 expressions of interest in taking up work space in The Hub. The scheme would also address residents’ calls during the Council’s “Love It, Hate It” consultation exercise to bring the Palace Theatre site back into use to benefit the community.

The current building has been vacant and semi-derelict for more the past few years, with only its shell now remaining and structural surveys showing that it could not have been retained.

The proposals will go out to public consultation, starting on Saturday, May 22, with planning permission then to be sought and, if approval is granted, a year-long construction programme would start this November. A website charting progress is also being planned.

"Campaign for jobs is my number one priority," says Ian Swales

The Office for National Statistics has published new unemployment figures for the country.

The statistics for April 2010 show an unofficial unemployment rate of 10% in Redcar constituency – the 41st worst in England and the 46th worst in Great Britain, according to the rating.

The Job Seekers’ Allowance claimant rate in Redcar constituency is 6.9%. This includes 1,180 under the age of 25 (a rise of 0.4% since April 2009), 1,955 between the ages of 25 and 49 (a rise of 12.7% since April 2009) and 545 over-50s (a rise of 32.9%).

New Redcar MP Ian Swales said, “these figures make grim reading and underline the desperate local job situation. With redundancies continuing from Corus, things are unlikely to improve in the short term. The campaign for jobs is my number one priority.”

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Ian Swales urges Chancellor to bring 'green investment bank' to Teesside

Newly elected MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, today began his campaign to bring hundreds of Government jobs to Teesside by writing to George Osborne, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, to formally request that he consider Teesside as the location for the administrative centre of the Government's proposed 'Green Investment Bank'.

Under the coalition Government's proposals, the bank will be used to provide investment for 'green' projects such as upgrading ports to make them suitable for off-shore wind turbines.

In his letter to the Chancellor, Mr Swales stressed the need for increased Government support to help the North East recover from the economic crisis and deal with the continuing high levels of unemployment.

Commenting, Mr Swales said:

"I'm delighted that the coalition Government has given the go-ahead for the creation of a new Green Investment Bank and am hopeful that Teesside will be able to play a significant role in its ongoing development.

"I've written to George Osborne to ask him to consider Teesside as the location for the bank's administrative centre, which, if successful, will provide a much needed injection of highly skilled jobs to the area.

"Teesside has been badly neglected by the previous Government, which is why it is vital that it receives support to help rejuvenate the area.

"Choosing Teesside as the site for the Green Investment Bank will not only help create jobs now, but will also provide the North East with stable, long term employment for many years to come."

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Ian Swales MP announces first surgery date

Ian Swales MP will be holding surgeries on Saturday 22nd May. Redcar constituents are invited to speak with Ian regarding issues or concerns by joining him at Redcar Library, Coatham Road, 9.30am-10.30am or at the newly-opened South Bank Library, Low Grange Health Village, Normanby Road, 11am-12pm.

Anyone wishing to speak to Ian who cannot attend either surgery on Saturday can arrange a meeting by calling his office on 01642 292847.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Liberal Democrat policies agreed by Tories

The policy agreement for the new Government is full of Liberal Democrat policies. It is a real chance to put into action the ideas that we have campaigned for.

A Fair Start for Children

·        Introduce a Pupil Premium to give all children a fair start.

Fairer taxes and Economic Reform

  • A substantial increase in the personal allowance from April 2011 with a longer term policy objective of further increasing the personal allowance to £10,000, making further real terms steps each year towards this objective
  • Reform of the banking system, ensuring a flow of lending to businesses and a Banking Levy. An independent commission on separating retail and investment banking.
  • Capital Gains Tax reform

Fair Politics

  • Fixed-term parliaments and a referendum on electoral reform for the House of Commons.
  • A power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing.
  • A wholly or mainly elected House of Lords on the basis of proportional representation.
  • Giving Parliament control of its own agenda so that all bills are properly debated.
  • Enacting the Calman Commission proposals and a referendum on further Welsh devolution.
  • A statutory register of lobbyists.
  • A limit on political donations and reform of party funding in order to remove big money from politics.
  • Radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups.

A fair and sustainable future

  • Establish a smart electricity grid and the roll-out of smart meters.
  • Establish feed-in tariff systems in electricity
  • A huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.
  • The creation of a green investment bank.
  • The provision of home energy improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.
  • Retention of energy performance certificates when HIPs are scrapped.
  • Measures to encourage marine energy.
  • The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.
  • Establish a high-speed rail network.
  • Cancel the third runway at Heathrow and refuse additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
  • Replace the Air Passenger Duty with a ‘per plane’ duty.
  • The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.
  • Make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence.
  • Promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.
  • Reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.
  • Increase the target for energy from renewable sources.


  • Restoration of the earnings link for the basic state pension from April 2011 with a “triple guarantee” that pensions are raised by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%.
  • Phase out the default retirement age and end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75.
  • Implement the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman’s recommendation to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policyholders.

Civil Liberties

  • Scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the ContactPoint Database.
  • Outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • Extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • Adopt the Scottish approach to stopping retention of innocent people’s DNA on the DNA database.
  • Defend trial by jury.
  • Restore rights to non-violent protest.
  • A review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
  • Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
  • Further regulation of CCTV.
  • Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
  • End the detention of children for immigration purposes.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Congratulations to Leeds United

Congratulations to Leeds United promoted to the Championship at long last.

What a great week this has been - a Lib Dem MP for Redcar and the Mighty Whites get out of League One.

Redcar Lib Dem victory was the result of years of hard work

Posted by Chris:

Gosh, I am exhausted! Had I not been so tired I would perhaps not be so bothered about the attempts by some sections of the local, regional and even national media to brush off the Lib Dem's spectacular victory in Redcar as a protest against the closure of Corus steelworks.

This victory was achieved as a result of years of hard work by a dedicated and united campaign team that has been largely ignored by the local media but not by the residents of Redcar constituency. The story of how we won Redcar deserves to be written sometime and perhaps it will be but here is a brief summary.

Lib Dems in Redcar have been making progress in local government for more than twenty years. In 2003 we began a four year stint as the largest group in a three party coalition, with the Conservatives and East Cleveland Independents, taking the Council from a two-star rating to four-star excellent. We felt we were doing well but clearly needed that extra something to make a real breakthrough at both local and Parliamentary level.

That came the day when, out of the blue, Ian and Pat Swales walked into a monthly meeting of Redcar Lib Dems. Ian was a founder member of the SDP but his high powered job at ICI Wilton had prevented him from being active in the party for many years. Ian had recently taken early retirement from ICI and wanted to become more active in the local community.

It was like we were waiting for him to turn up and very soon Ian was selected as our Parliamentary Candidate for the 2005 General Election. He had energy and enthusiasm and he reinvigorated those of us who had got bogged down in the running of Redcar & Cleveland Council. Ian transformed our organisation and we became much more focused on meeting aims and targets.

At the 2005 General Election we were a much better organised team than we had previously been and this resulted in us overtaking the Tories and moving into second place, albeit 12,116 votes behind Labour.

At the 2007 Council Election we held all 13 of our seats in the Redcar Constituency part of Redcar and Cleveland Council and received 35% of the vote, to Labour's 37% and the Tories 13% in the same area.

Ian Swales plan was to work hard, initially with the aim of reducing Labour's majority at the 2010 General Election to make Redcar a marginal seat. We were more than willing to look at what has worked in other areas and in particular we listened closely to people like Carl Minns and  Dave McCobb over in Hull.

Then in the autumn of 2008 a series of Council by-elections in the constituency, over an 18 month period, led to three spectacular wins in previously ultra-safe Labour wards of Kirkleatham and Dormanstown, a near miss (88 votes) by my lad, Steven Abbott, in South Bank, one of Labour's safest wards and a huge victory in Lib Dem held Ormesby Ward.

Ian Swales hard work inspired a huge army of helpers and in spite of the local media reminding us that a 12,116 majority needed a 15% swing we actually achieved a 21% swing, with a majority of 5,214. This is probably the largest swing to the Lib Dems in the land this time.

The result:

Ian Swales (Lib Dem).. 18,955 - 45.1%
Vera Baird (Lab).......... 13,741 - 32.7%
Steve Mastin (Con)......   5,790 - 13.8%
Martin Bulmer (UKIP)...   1,875 - 4.5%
Kevin Broughton (BNP)   1,475 - 3.5%
Hannah Walter (TUSC).      127 - 0.3%

Majority: 5,214
Turnout: 62.6%

Monday, 3 May 2010

Nick Clegg's visit to Redcar in pictures

 Ian Swales and supporters get ready to greet Nick Clegg

 Ben Sheperia, Steven Abbott and Chris Abbott

 Ian Swales and the Battle Bus

Nick Clegg and Ian Swales face the cameras

George Selmer, Becky Selmer and Glyn Nightingale watch on as Nick and Ian enter the hall

 Nick Clegg addresses the audience

Nick Clegg listens to Redcar Folk...

 ...but who let these Labour Councillors from Middlesbrough in?

Pictures by Amanda Proud

Redcar agrees with Nick

Posted by Chris

Coatham Memorial Hall was packed for Nick Clegg's visit to Redcar last night.

The enthusiastic audience even included Labour Councillors from Middlesbrough Barry Coppinger, Len Junier and John McPartland who assured me they had been invited by the BBC. I wonder why? They are pictured above seated directly behind Pat Swales, wife of Lib Dem Candidate Ian Swales. The UKIP candidate for Redcar also sneaked in.

Retiring MP for Harrogate, Phil Willis, making his second campaign visit to Redcar, warmly welcomed the Labour and UKIP observers and impressed us all with his knowledge of the area and its problems.

Nick Clegg spoke about Labour's neglect for the area over many years and answered a whole range of questions from the audience which included a large proportion of young voters. The topics raised included, Corus, defence, education, the NHS and immigration.

It is interesting that  of all the people who turned up to see Nick Clegg's brilliant performance The tacky  Sun  choose to quote only one person, John McPartland, without mentioning he is a Labour Councillor from Middlesbrough.