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Welcome to the betterMiddlesbrough blog. First you will notice that there are a number of tabs across the header. These can be clicked on to view the relevant information. If you want to search through posts here on the blog, there are a number of categories that you can search under. Simply select the desired subject from the drop-down menu just over on the right hand side. This information has been posted a ‘sticky’, it will stay at the top of the blog. Regular updates and fresh posts will appear below.

Well, Osborne has, inadvertently, screwed Middlesbrough. But, make no mistake, the blame cannot be laid at the feet of George Osborne or the Conservative Government. The deliberate mismanagement of Middlesbrough is a Labour-created problem, for which Mayor Budd and his Labour cronies must accept full responsibility.

The Chancellor is ‘allowing’ councils to raise Council Tax by 2%, rather than encourage CT freezes, as has been done in past years. This money is to be spent on Adult Social Care.

But Middlesbroughs Labour-led Council has been putting up the Council Tax by 1.99% for the last five years anyway, with Mallon trotting out the line that, to accept the CT freeze deal, whereby they would receive 1% from central government and make savings (cuts) for the other 1%, would ‘store up problems for the future’.

Well, guess what. Putting up CT by 1.99% year on year has actually stored up problems for the future, which are now coming home to roost.

If MBC are already spending the 2% that they are expected to spend on Adult Social Care on other things, where the hell is the extra money for Adult Social Care going to come from? They can only sell-off publicly owned land and buildings once. After that, they’ll have nothing left to sell. And, let’s face it, if they sell everything to their mate and former campaign manager to Mr Mallon, Nasser Din, they’ll not get the full price for it anyway!

That leaves the business rates which local councils will now be allowed to keep. Except our self-confessed pro-trade union Labour-led council scare away private investment. We have high unemployment because of this, the local economy falters because of this and it means that there will be less money going to MBC than there will be to other councils.

Thanks, Labour, you’ve done it again.

Coming soon…

Hello folks,

My apologies for the total lack of anything new since the elections. An apology that, not only I am making, but MBC should maybe also make!

Anyway, I’m a bit pushed for time today but I thought I’d just take five minutes to give you all a heads-up about something to be released to the general public via this blog in the near future.

It appears that a serving Labour councillor STOLE some confidential information about the relatives of a particular individual, then offered this information around that individuals political adversaries, thus abusing the position they then held within a local Housing Association. Essentially, the councillor concerned tried to peddle dirt on a mayoral candidate to people. And that information came from their place of employment. If that information was held on computer, it was almost certainly a breach of the Data Protection Act.

In addition to this, many of our local politicians, both current and former and a number of local ‘institutions’ were ALSO aware of the actions of this current Labour councillor. And did nothing. No investigation, no media reportage, no police involvement.

Names will named in the near future.

This morning, our local BBC station broadcast a live debate between most of the remaining candidates for the next Mayor of Middlesbrough. Since my “7 runners, 1 winner” post a few weeks ago, Green Party candidate David Masterman has bowed out of the race and Conservative candidate Lloyd Cole-Nolan has, I am told, been dogged with personal problems which have meant that he has been unable to attend a number of ‘hustings’- type events or mount any sort of campaign.

So, left in the race, and in this mornings debate, we had Independent candidates Len Junier, Andy Preston, Dave Roberts, Michael J Carr and Labour candidate, our current deputy mayor, Dave Budd.

I noticed a couple of things about the debate, chaired by BBC presenter Mike Parr. First, every time a question was asked, he went to Andy Preston first almost EVERY time. Was this a deliberate attempt to trip Andy up in a live broadcast debate? Was our left-leaning BBC (don’t believe me, take a look at the number of pro-Labour stories on the BBC election website!) deliberately trying to catch out the main contender, Andy Preston?) But enough about the format, there was some interesting revelations made during the debate.

First, I learned today that Dave Budd was not the only mayoral candidate to vote to get rid of the role that they are now all competing for. Independent Len Junier admitted that he too voted against keeping a democratically elected mayor. I’m not implying that he’s kept it a secret thus far, just saying it’s something I didn’t know. But now that I do know, then my personal feelings are that, whether you wear a red rosette, or whether you keep it in a drawer at home, hypocrisy is still hypocrisy.

But the biggest revelation of the morning came from current deputy mayor, Labour councillor Dave Budd. In separate responses, Dave Budd claimed that he expected that Middlesbrough will elect lots of Labour councillors [i.e. there will be a Labour majority on the council]. With this in mind, Dave Budd then went on to say that he thinks it will be difficult for any other mayor than himself to achieve anything if Middlesborugh Council has a Labour majority. This, quite clearly is a veiled threat that, if he is not elected, then Labour will do everything they can to stop the new mayor of Middlesbrough – democratically and directly elected by the people of Middlesbrough – from taking Middlesbrough forward and improving the lives of those same people. Clearly, Labour think that, if they maintain a majority on Middlesbrough Council, it gives them a mandate to hold the town to political ransom, even if that means defying the will of the people and their elected mayor. And why wouldn’t they believe that they had such a mandate? After all, that has been the status quo for decades!

Clearly, the only way to ensure that an Independent, directly elected mayor has the support of the council is to make sure that no single party has the ability to over-rule the mayor purely to gain political points.  I’m not saying that the mayor and the council should not hold each other to account – that is fundamental to my support for a directly elected mayor. If the whole of the council disagree with a plan, scheme or general direction that the mayor wants for the town, then they SHOULD vote against such plans. But there’s a whole world of difference between a mayoral proposal being knocked back for being defective or counter-productive for the town, and a sound proposal which would be of benefit to the town simply being knocked back “because Labour says so”.

For this reason, I am urging everyone in Middlesbrough to use their vote wisely. If we vote in a majority of Labour councillors, Middlesbrough will not change. It will either continue to fail, as at present, with a Labour compliant mayor or it will falter as Labour continue to use our town as a political football, blocking progress in order to devalue the role of the mayor. Wherever possible, if you habitually vote Labour or Conservative, then seek to elect your local Independent candidate instead. If, as a Labour voter, you feel the need to retain a Socialist ideal to your vote, then consider voting Green or even LibDem. Now, more than ever before, Middlesbrough has a chance to change course, be steered by it’s people, rather than a single political party.

For example, in Ayresome Ward, there are now TWO Independent candidates. One is a proven advocate and champion for Ayresome, Bill Hawthorne. By giving their second vote to new Independent candidate Brian Taylor, Ayresome can rid itself and Middlesbrough of Labour Councillor Bernie Taylor – the odious individual who wrote the letter to a fellow Labour councillor reprimanding him for supporting the people that elected him, against Labour policy. A man who doesn’t even live in Ayresome Ward, he chooses to live in the nicer, leafier, Conservative Kader ward.

In the new Berwick Hills and Pallister Ward, there is scope for their third councillor to be an Independent – Derek Loughborough.

In the new Central Ward (formerly Gresham*, in general) there is the potential for the people of the Town Centre to register their disgust at what our Labour-led council has done to their community by electing at least one additional Independent candidate, possibly giving the Independents a full-house of three council seats and a team of people who will put the people of Gresham before their party.

In Coulby Newham, there are now three Independent candidates standing for election. Coulby currently has one Independent councillor and two Labour councillors, one of whom works off-shore for half of the year (but still claims his full allowances from the public purse) and another that lives miles away in Linthorpe.

In Hemlington, Ian Hamilton is standing as an Independent Candidate. A vote for Ian, as well as being a vote for real representation for the people of Hemlington, would also help to reduce the number of Labour councillors on the council and break Labours choke-hold on the whole town.

In Linthorpe, where there are no Independent candidates, consider giving one of your votes to the Green candidate, or the LibDem, depending on how far left you swing, rather than ensuring a Labour whitewash.

In Longlands and Beechwood, support BOTH of your Independent candidates, McTigue and EDWARD Rooney and, if you REALLY feel like your third councillor should be a Labour candidate, at least vote for one of the two ladies who actually live in the community and NOT the parachuted parasite that is CHARLIE Rooney.

In Newport, the choice for their three councillors is clear. Three Labour stooges, who live in Marton, Nunthorpe and Linthorpe, two of whom were councillors for Gresham when its community was decimated by our Labour-led council, or two Independent candidates and a UKIP candidate, all of whom live in the communities that they seek to represent.

In North Ormesby, where Labour have persistently failed to tackle the multitude of social problems in the area, it’s time to vote for Peter Hall, one of your own, who will stand up for the community that he lives in, without the interference of a party pullinghis strings.

In Park End and Beckfield, there are three seats up for grabs and three Independent candidates ready to serve those communities. Two of them have been doing so for many years.

In Park Ward, there’s a welcome return for Independent candidate Jackie Elder, who served Linthorpe so well for many years. Also in Park Ward, Joe Michna, a current Green Party councillor who has served his community so well for a number of years. If his protege, second Green Party candidate Martin Bulman, is cast from the same mould as Joe, then these three could achieve great things for Park Ward.

And finally, in Trimdon Ward ( formerly Brookfield*) where Labour have traditionally held both seats, Stephen Dee & Dennis McCabe are two Indpendent candidates who, again, live in the heart of the community they seek to represent, who will not be tied to a party vote or forced to put party interests before the best interest of that community.

It IS possible to overcome the Labour majority in Middlesbrough. All that is needed is for the people of Middlesbrough to give something new a chance. When you look at how hard Labour are working to maintain their grip on the town, you have to ask, “What are they really working for? Middlesbrough? The Labour Party? Themselves? Me?”

Well, they’re hardly doing great things for Middlesbrough. And they’re hardly doing great things for the people that live here, like you & me. So we can only assume that they’re fighting for the Labour Party, which has held the town back for decades. And for their place at the trough.

In just over seven weeks, seven men will line up against each other in the race to be Middlesbroughs next mayor. On May the 8th, six of those men will wake up to the reality that they have failed, despite their best efforts and, for some, the efforts of the parties which support them.

The seven candidates to have declared their intention to stand for election thus far are as follows.

Deputy Mayor Dave Budd (Labour)

Michael J Carr (Independent)

Lloyd Cole-Nolan (Conservative)

Len Junier (Independent)

David Masterman (Green)

Andy Preston (Independent)

Dave Roberts (Independent)

Yesterday, I used Twitter to ask each of the seven candidates not what they would do if they were elected as mayor, but what they would do if they weren’t successful.

I was pleased to get responses from over half of the candidates (four, to be precise).

First to respond was cllr Len Junier. Len has been a councillor on Middlesbrough council for many years, mainly as a Labour councillor, unitl last year when he was deselected by the party and chose, along with others, to become Independent councillors. Len is now standing as an Independent mayoral candidate.

bM: What will you do if you DON’T win the mayoral election?

Len Junier: carry on regardless I was an activist long before a politician.

bM: Carry on with what, though Len? You won’t be mayor or councillor

Len Junier: as I said activism isn’t about being a Cllr, activists are vital

bM: Who or what (and how) will you be an activist for?

Len Junier: my community

bM: And the ‘how’?

Len Junier: many ways as before I became a Cllr

Next up, I received a response from former Boro commentator and Independent candidate Dave Roberts. Dave has given up his role as a Vice President with Fox TV to return to Boro from Singapore to stand for election as mayor.

bM: What will you do if you DON’T win the mayoral election?

Dave Roberts: Give my initiatives to successor & return to business… as sadly, I’m not wealthy enough to toy with things.

bM: Would that mean moving back out of Mbro, Dave?

Dave Roberts: Only been out 5yrs from total of 50 John. Watch spin.

bM: From your leaflet “to return home to stand as mayor”

Dave Roberts: All true, last yr I was split between Boro & Singapore

bM: Therefore, valid question, would you leave Boro again?

Dave Roberts:  Much prefer to stay Boro, but if only option I’d have… to look at it due to responsibility to family

bM: Fair point and thanks for an honest answer, Dave.

bM: Is your post at Fox still open for you to return to?

Dave Roberts: No John. That chapter has permanently closed… 4 clarity John, I resigned from my job to run 4 mayor.

Because of constraints on my time, I wasn’t at my keyboard when I received the two other responses. Next to respond was relative newcomer to this years mayoral race Michael J Carr. Michael is another former Labour Party member to ‘go Independent’. He stood in the last mayoral election as a Labour candidate against Ray Mallon.

bM: What will you do if you DON’T win the mayoral election?

Michael J Carr: I would keep living and working in Middlesbrough. I enable unemployed local people to find work and realise their potential.

And, finally, this morning I received a response from Andy Preston. Andy is yet another Independent candidate for the mayoral election, the only one to live outside of Middlesbrough, but has business interests in the town, as well as being the founder and chairman of Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, which raises money for local charities and good causes.

bM: What will you do if you DON’T win the mayoral election?

Andy Preston: I’ll use the time to really push my charities & launch some new social ventures Also see my kids!

I think that it’s quite telling that all of the Independent candidates have responded to the question, yet I’m still waiting for responses from any of the party-tied candidates. I appreciate that I make no excuses about being pro-Independent myself, which may be off-putting to the party candidates as they may feel that they won’t get a fair crack of the whip.

So, given the limitations of Twitter and the fact that I myself have my own political opinion, here’s the opportunity I’d like to offer all seven of the mayoral candidates. You are all welcome to submit an answer to the question “What will you do if you DON’T win the election?” via the comments system here on the betterMiddlesbrough blog. All seven candidates are welcome to do so, as those who took the time to respond via twitter may wish to give fuller responses or elaborate further on their responses and it would be unfair to restrict them solely to their twitter response, then give others a fuller opportunity to respond. All comments on the betterMiddlesbrough blog are ‘moderated’ before being posted; i.e., I get to read them before I approve them in order to ensure that they’re not spam and that they’re not rude, offensive or likely to get me into bother by hosting them. Occasionally I’ll correct obvious typos. For the purposes of this invitation to our mayoral candidates, I would seek to assure them that their responses will be approved without amendment or omission, as long as they are happy to accept responsibility for their responses. In order to rule out any ‘mischievous’ responses from people presenting themselves falsely as electoral candidates, any response from a candidate needs to be accompanied by a Direct Message to my twitter account, @JohnFromBoro, confirming that you have sent a comment for inclusion. So it’s three easy steps.

1) Write your response to the question

2) Submit it as a comment to this thread

3) Send a confirmation via Direct Message, from your official twitter account to @JohnFromBoro.

I’ll try to approve your replies as quickly as possible.

One last thing, only responses from candidates will be posted on this thread. Comments from others will not be accepted.

Just a quick new post to bring the actions of Scarborough Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council and North Yorkshire Police to the attention of as many people as possible.

For a number of years, Nigel Ward and Tim Hicks have acted as ‘citizen journalists’. Indeed, Nigel was one of my inspirations in setting up the BetterMiddlesbrough blog. I only wish I had the time, skills and temerity that he and Tim Hicks have shown in their endeavours.

Initially, Nigel & Tim published their work on the website ‘Real Whitby’. More recently, they have agreed to leave the Real Whitby website and now write for the North Yorkshire Enquirer. I understand that they made this decision following pressure placed upon the owners of the Real Whitby website by the authorities mentioned above.

Rather than re-write the whole story here, I’d ask readers to take a look at this piece on “Before Its News”

 

In short, EVERYTHING that Nigel Ward and Tim Hicks have exposed to the public about Scarborough Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council, North Yorkshire Police and individuals within those organisations acting in an official capacity has been found to be true. Because of this, nine INDIVIDUALS associated with these organisations – NOT the authorities themselves – are to spend public money on seeking an injunction against Nigel and Tim to silence them from making further embarrassing public revelations about the way that their corrupt local authority operates.

This is a disgrace. When publicly funded organisations can spend public money to protect its employees, members and officials from the warranted scrutiny of the public that have no option but to pay their allowances and wages, it is time to draw a line in the sand.

Please, if you have five minutes, take the time to share the ‘Before It’s News’ article on your Facebook account or tweet it on twitter. The more people that speak out about this continued outrageous behaviour by local authorities, the more chance it will fail.

In the past, cllr McTigue has actually reported me to the police for expressing my opinion on some of her actions. So what I’m about to say may come as a shock to some people.

The English language is ‘fluid’ and definitions of words and their usage changes over time. Take ‘gay’ for example. It once meant ‘happy’, then changed to describe a sexual ‘preference’ in a derogatory way. The Gay Rights movement changed that, liberated the word ‘gay’ and the word has been used as a legitimate adjective to describe people of that same sexual ‘preference’ for years. Now, it would seem, younger people are using the word ‘gay’ to describe anything that they don’t like or agree with. “That’s just gay…”

Cllr McTigue did NOT apply the words in question to anyone. They were not used against any person, group of people or any ethnicity. She simply asked when the words quoted became automatically ‘racist’ and stated, truthfully, that they were commonplace in the 70’s. It’s true, there’s a lot about the 70’s which we now look back on with shame but those of us who lived through those times (I was very young but heard those words used freely in everyday speech) are left wondering when and how their usage became derogatory. That doesn’t mean that cllr McTigue uses those words to describe people or that cllr McTigue judges people based on their race, colour, religion or ethnicity. THAT would be racism.

In my opinion, cllr McTigue is a human being and, as such, is not perfect. She divides opinion like Marmite, often goes the wrong way about doing things, frequently rubs people up the wrong way by ignoring protocol and some people love her for it, others hate her for it in equal measure. Those who approve of her methods will call her ‘old-school’ and ‘no-nonsense’, while others will call her a dinosaur, stuck in a time long-gone. But, whatever else you think of her, I’ll tell you something, she’s no racist.

The move at last nights council meeting was politically motivated. There’s an election in four months time and the Labour Party in control of Middlesbrough Council are running scared from the surge of Independent Councillors who have gained more support in each local election for over a decade. Executive cllr Charlie Rooney is standing in the same ward as cllr McTigue this time around even though cllr Rooney, a long-term Labour trougher who moves from ward to ward wreaking Labours havoc on some of the poorest communities in Middlesbrough in order to fill ‘safe’ Labour seats and continue his ride on the gravy-train doesn’t live in that ward. Ironically, he prefers to propagate his Socialist agenda from a nicer, Conservative area of Kader Ward.

As it would look highly suspect for cllr Rooney to make the racism allegations himself, another Labour councillor was called upon to make the allegations. Then, once those allegations were made, yet another Labour cllr, Bob Kerr, who is the chair of the council REFUSED to allow cllr McTigue to speak in her own defence.

If Labour have to stoop to turning the Council Meeting into a Kangaroo Court, it only serves to show just how scared they are of the coming election and the strong, community-focused, community-accountable Independent candidates that have put themselves forward this year.

I may not agree with much of what cllr McTigue says. But I would fight with my dying breath to defend her right to say it.

This is Labours candidate for the mayoral election, current deputy mayor, Labour cllr Dave Budd.

Deputy Mayor, Labour cllr Dave Budd

One of Daves election promises is that he will set up a Credit Union for Middlesbrough, offering affordable loans to people in the town. Sounds very philanthropic on the surface, doesn’t it?

But hang on because, as with all of Labours financial shenanigans, you have to scratch beneath the headlines to find out what this really means for Middlesbrough. First of all, let’s remember that the council and the mayor have no money of their own. They spend OUR money – the money they take from us in taxes.

Now councillor Budd wants us to be grateful that he’s prepared to lend us our own money back – at a ‘reasonable’ rate of interest! It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so painfully exemplary of the typical Labour attitude to the people of Middlesbrough.

If that wasn’t bad enough, let’s look at how the ‘Mayors Credit Union’ would operate. As cllr Budd is currently deputy mayor of Middlesbrough and a Labour Party representative, we can only assume that he will operate under the auspices of Labour Party dictat, which have clearly served Middlesbrough so well and raised Middlesbrough to the heady heights of financial stability that it currently enjoys. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Deal with it.)

In order to understand how Middlesbroughs Labour-controlled council operate under party dogma, we should look at their current record on debt collection. Under a Labour government, Middlesbrough Council were woeful in their collection of Council Tax arrears, and the Labour government allowed them to be. Better to keep the benefit-dependent Labour voters comfortable, than pay their share. In the years since the change of government, Middlesbrough Council has become more pro-active in prosecuting for non-payment of Council Tax. Is this a co-incidence, or are Labour intent on making people feel the implications of the coalitions austerity drive? The subliminal message to the people of Middlesbrough is that Labour government makes you better off, Coalition / Tory / LibDem government take you to court and make you pay.

So, how will this translate to Mayor Budds “Bank of Middlesbrough Council” plans?

IF we have a Labour-controlled council, or a Labour government, you can guarantee that Mayor Budds Credit Union will play fast and loose with the money that they take from us in taxes, then lend back to us at a profit. First of all, Credit Unions lend to people refused loans by the banks – people with little or no collateral and/or low / unstable incomes who are more likely to default. I’m not saying everyone who lends from a Credit Union or loan company will default, but they are definitely higher risk. The mayors Credit Union will be gambling our money on people that have poor credit records and then, when they can’t pay, the money will be ‘written-off’. It will become known as a ‘soft touch’ for free money that you don’t have to pay back. All in the name of perpetuating the good name of the Labour Party, at the taxpayers’ expense.

Alternatively, IF we have an Independent Council, or Labour do not hold a majority in MBC, we will see the Credit Union chasing people down to repay those loans, adding fines and legal fees to their burden. This will be followed by Labour councillors and Labour candidates doing lots of hand-wringing in the Gazette, shedding false tears for the beleaguered and promising that this wouldn’t happen under a Labour majority council. Again, it’ll be a Labour Party propaganda tool.

Either way, Middlesbrough loses. Under a Labour council, the Credit Union will write-off debts in order to maintain it’s ‘people-friendly’ credentials, losing huge amounts of taxpayers money, which could have otherwise done so much good for the town. Under a non-Labour council, more of the poorest people in the town will be plunged into debt and suffer a poor credit rating (whic Labour will blame on either a non-Labour government or non-Labour council, whichever convenient scapegoat happens to be available at the time.)

The whole idea of a Council-owned (taxpayer-funded) Credit Union stinks. It’s set to become yet another Labour Party propaganda tool, paid for by every member of the taxpaying public of Middlesbrough, irrespective of whether or not they voted for Dave Budd.

Same old Labour, filling their troughs at the expense of everyone else. Don’t fall for this smoke and mirrors financial con-trick by former banker, Dave “Wonga” Budd.