Friday, October 31, 2008

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon demand tax cuts to help beat recession

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have called for a cut in income tax for people on low and middle incomes to help them beat the recession.

“Inflation is at its highest for years,” said Councillor Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon. “Residents of Blaydon are struggling with rising fuel and housing costs. They need money in their pockets now.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a cut in income tax of 4p in the pound. It will be paid for by closing the loopholes used by the most wealthy to avoid paying tax. And we will increase the level of tax on the most polluting activities.

“Too many people are faced with the prospect of either eating properly or heating their homes. Action is needed now to help residents of Blaydon who are struggling with rising prices.

“Many residents on low incomes are paying more in tax following the government’s decision to double the starting rate of income tax to 20p in the pound. Though the government was eventually forced to come forward with a package to compensate people for the tax increase, many are still worse off.

“Cutting income tax will therefore give residents and our local economy a boost at a time when it is desperately needed.”

Chopwell's children's centre opens

The new children’s centre at Chopwell Primary School, Chopwell has been opened. The centre provides information to parents of children below the age of 5. There is a baby clinic and drop-in space as well.

The sort of information available for parents of young children includes local groups and children’s health.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unemployment rises in every ward in Gateshead

The Credit Crunch is hurting Gateshead with unemployment rising in every council ward in the borough, claim local Liberal Democrats.

Councillor Peter Maughan, speaking after the publication of the latest figures for the number of people on Jobseekers’ Allowance, said that rising unemployment is likely to lead to more home repossession and business closures.

The figures show that 555 more people were unemployed and receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance in September than in the same month in 2007, bringing the total in Gateshead to 3,906.

“The actual number of people unemployed is about double this as the published figures do not include those out of work but on other benefits,” said Peter.

“With Britain going into recession, there needs to be a big cut in interest rates. This will help businesses and homeowners keep their heads above water.

“The danger is that, without a big interest rate cut, there will be more house repossessions and business closures.”

The ward with the highest rate of unemployed residents on Jobseekers’ Allowance is Bridges where one in ten of the working population receive the benefit (10.8%).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Demand for North East to be given share of new building work – Maughan

A LEADING Liberal Democrat on Tyneside has warned that the North East could be left behind if the government brings forward planned building projects designed to tackle the recession.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling is considering bringing forward to 2009 projects originally planned to begin in 2011 in a bid to kickstart the recession hit economy.

But with most of the big government building projects being outside the North East, there are worries the region will not get the boost needed to get people back to work.

Peter Maughan, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Blaydon and a Councillor in Gateshead, has written to the Chancellor calling for the region to be considered seriously for new investment.

“I am particularly concerned to ensure that the transport system is included in any government plans to boost building projects,” said Peter.

“But I am very worried about the poor record of the government on supporting an upgrade to the Al and rail improvements in the region.

“Many of the big projects such as Crossrail and the Olympics will benefit London and the South East. We need a cast iron guarantee that the needs of the North East will not be ignored any more.

“In the long run better transport links for the region are vital for the long term growth of our economy. The poor main road and rail links we have are holding back our economy.

“Improving them will therefore create jobs in the long run, and not just boost employment during the recession.

“As things stand with the government at the moment, there is a huge danger that no serious investment in big projects will take place in the North East.”

Councillor Maughan highlighted the need to develop the Metro system, improve other local rail links, improve rail links to London and upgrade the A1 as key government projects to boost the local economy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Award for Gateshead Liberal Democrat

GATESHEAD Liberal Democrat Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, has won an award from the party for the use of email to keep in touch with residents.

Councillor Wallace, who represents Whickham South and Sunniside on Gateshead Council, launched a monthly email newsletter called eFocus, five years ago. It was originally sent to 50 residents. Now three different editions are produced and which are sent to over 1500 households.

The award was presented to Councillor Wallace at the Liberal Democrats’ North East Regional Conference at Gateshead Civic Centre on Saturday 18th October.

“I invented the email newsletter as I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with residents,” said Jonathan.

“We know that many people find it useful and forward it on to family and friends as well. We have heard that it gets sent to expats living as far away as Australia!”

The newsletter was named after the Focus newsletter printed and produced by Liberal Democrats and delivered to every house in the Whickham area.

The award was made by Andrew Stunell MP, former Chief Whip of the party who is now running the election campaign for the Liberal Democrats for 2009 when the European Parliament elections will be held.

Photo: Andrew Stunell MP (left) presenting Councillor Jonathan Wallace with the party’s award for his email newsletters to constituents.

Friday, October 17, 2008

North East Liberal Democrats meet in Gateshead

LIBERAL Democrats from across the North East will be gathering at Gateshead Civic Centre for their annual meeting on Saturday 18th October.

The meeting starts at 10am and amongst the speakers will be Andrew Stunell MP, former chief whip of the party who chairs the party's campaign for the local elections next year.

"We are pleased the party is meeting in Gateshead," said Cllr Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon. "And we are delighted that Andrew will be lending us his campaigning expertise."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kibblesworth residents asked about cost of living

Residents of the village of Kibblesworth in Gateshead have been asked about how the rising cost of living is affecting them by local Liberal Democrats.

Councillor Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon constituency, carried out the survey as he is concerned that many are struggling with rising food and fuel proces.

“Many residents of the constituency have raised with me the serious impact on family budgets of the steep increases in the cost of basics, such as meals on the table and power to heat and light homes,” said Peter.

“It seems wherever I go in Blaydon constituency, people express their worries to me about how they will cope with the extra costs.

“So we have delivered 500 survey forms to residents in Kibblesworth village and will be carrying out the survey elsewhere in Gateshead as well.

“The survey results already show that people are tightening their belts. Many are cutting back on heating. Some older people are making personal sacrifices for their children or grandchildren.

“With unemployment rising, many people are telling me they are not sure how they will cope with Christmas.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a cut in income tax for people on low and middle incomes. It would be paid for by closing loop holes used by the rich to avoid paying tax, and by putting up taxes on pollution.

“This will put money into the pockets of the people who need it now.”

The survey will continue to be carried out across communities in Gateshead over the coming weeks and the overall results will be published later in the autumn.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The banking crisis and Gateshead Council’s cash

The crisis in the banks and financial sector has already begun to be felt in Gateshead. The Council has £4.5 million of reserves in an account with the Heritable Bank, which is the UK subsidiary of failing Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

Heritable has gone into administration though it continues to trade. A new buyer for the bank is being sought. Gateshead’s deposit is not due to be repaid until between mid-December and February.

The Council is seeking clarification on the bank’s administrators about the situation. However, the government’s current deposit guarantee scheme does not cover council or business deposits.

So far, the government has not shown any willingness to guarantee any deposits made by local councils in the failed bank.

"The only way to end the uncertainty is for the Government to guarantee local authority deposits,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “If ministers can come to the aid of the big banks, they can come to the aid of councils providing vital services such as schools and social services for the vulnerable.”

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Euro MPs strengthen climate change commitment

Euro MPs on the Environment Committee have voted to strengthen the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – widely viewed as the corner stone of EU strategy to combat climate change -in order to to ensure that carbon emissions are cut by at least 20% by 2020 and that the EU has a strong hand in global emissions reduction negotiations.

The ETS ‘cap and trade’ system allows companies to buy and sell carbon allowances within a progressively tightening cap. Until now the ETS has included a generous amount of free allowances but the changes voted this week mark the start of a much more restrictive regime. The power industry will have to buy all its allowances from 2013, for example, and there will be an increasing requirement for purchase of allowances for CO2 emissions from aircraft

Fiona Hall MEP, Lib Dem MEP for Gateshead, says that the changes are an essential step towards an international consensus on carbon emission trading and vital if global temperature rises are to be kept under 2 deg C and not allowed to "go critical". In the New Year, preparations will get underway in Poznan for the 2009 global climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Fiona said, “This result is a victory for progressive industry which recognises the Stern conclusions that global warming has huge long-term costs. Of course there has been some pressure from industry but it has been important to avoid loopholes which would have undermined the foundations of the Emissions trading process.

"The way to deal with worries about global competitiveness is through the forthcoming Commission analysis of carbon leakage and I will continue to work closely with North East companies who have specific concerns on this.”

As well as emissions trading, the Environment Committee also voted to ban the building of new coal-fired power stations from 2015, unless they are equipped with carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) to curb their CO2 emissions. A report by Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies which calls for the use of up to 500 million allowances from the emissions trading scheme (this could easily exceed £7 billions) to meet the additional costs of CCS installation has been adopted and would ensure carbon capture and storage technology could make a healthy contribution towards saving thousands of CO2 emissions.

Following the Environment Committee votes, negotiations will start with the Council (Member States ministers) with the aim of completing the legislation in good time for the Poznan negotiations in the New Year.

Fiona said, “The North East is at the forefront of new energy technology and can really benefit from this week's Environment committee votes. In the negotiations that are now starting I will continue to work closely with North East industry to make sure that our lead position on efficient processes and forward looking technology is supported.”

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nick Clegg welcomed on visit to Tyneside

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg was welcomed to Tyneside by the party's local Parliamentary Candidates on Friday 3rd October.

Peter Maughan (Blaydon), Ron Beadle (Newcastle North) and Greg Stone (Newcastle East) met Mr Clegg at Newcastle Central Station. The Liberal Democrats' leader was in the region to visit flood victims in Morpeth and to speak at the annual constituency dinner in Berwick upon Tweed.

"I was delighted Nick was in the North East," said Peter. "Nick is a northern MP, representing a constituency in Sheffield, and he knows the problems faced by our region.

"We discussed the Conservatives' policy to leave the North East out of a high speed rail network.

“We know the Conservatives have little interest in the region. However their announcement that they support a high speed rail network for the country except for the North East and Scotland shows they are not prepared to give the region the investment it needs."
Photo: Greg Stone, left, Cllr John Shipley, Leader of Newcastle City Council (to left of Nick Clegg), Peter Maughan (behind John and Nick) and Ron Beadle, front right, are joined by other Lib Dem members to greet Nick Clegg and protest about the decision of the Conservatives to leave the North East off their proposed high speed rail system.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Liberal Democrats launch credit crunch survey

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have launched a survey to find out how people are being affected by the credit crunch and rising prices.

The survey is being co-ordinated by Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, where he is a councillor.

The survey asks residents about the impact of rising prices for food and power and whether or not people are tightening their belts, and if so, how, in response.

“Many people I have spoken to across Blaydon constituency have told me how hard they are being squeezed by the rising cost of living,” said Peter.

“The survey will give us a clearer picture of the effects of the credit crunch on people’s pockets. We will use the results to argue for a fairer deal from the government and Gateshead Council for our area.”

300 copies were delivered to households in the village of Kibblesworth on Sunday 28th September and local members will be carrying out the survey over the coming weeks.

The overall results will be published when the survey has been completed.

Unemployment rise in Gateshead is “worrying sign” – Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have warned that rising unemployment is a sign of the credit crunch affecting the borough.

In August, there were 346 more people claiming jobseekers allowance in Gateshead than in August 2007. The jobless figures rose in 20 of the 22 council wards in the borough.

Councillor Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokseman for Blaydon constituency, said, “The newly published figures are a worrying sign that the credit crunch is biting in Gateshead.

“The actual number of unemployed residents however is likely to be double the figure of 3756 which is the figure for those who are on jobseekers allowance in Gateshead. There are many people who are unemployed but do not qualify for this benefit.

“I have already launched a survey of residents about how the credit crunch and the rise in the cost of living are affecting them. It is clear from some of the replies we have already received that many residents are concerned they may be out of work soon.

“The government must act now to help people though the hard times. Rising unemployment is likely to lead to more house repossession.

“The government must step in to give councils the power to buy the homes of those facing repossession so that they can be rented back to the very same people who would otherwise be made homeless.”