Dave's News Extras 2012


 
19/12/12 Back to the Past
17/12/12 Allow me to stand
07/12/12 Implement Leveson
04/12/12 Alarm at hospital death rate
22/11/12 Barriers faced by young disabled
10/11/12 Appeal for Axwell victims to come forward
05/11/12 Vote for a charity
01/11/12 Minister's 'insult to region'
24/10/12 Hunt review 'disgraceful'
17/10/12 Public workers should be paid the same
15/10/12 Sad reality of youth unemployment.
12/10/12 Dave backs air ambulances
04/10/12 Region's history won't be changed
02/10/12 Stand up for the welfare state
24/09/12 Cable tied to Tories
20/09/12 Vote for your cancer champion
13/09/12 Cutting 'red tape' threat to family communities
11/09/12 What about the workers?
30/08/12 State must do more to get people into work
31/07/12 Cut the bomb, not the troops
17/07/12 Welcome for rail cash
13/07/12 Runway delay will cost North-East
11/07/12 Sadness at home closure
10/07/12 Health cuts for Gateshead
25/06/12 Addressing the voters' concerns
21/06/12 Support for Spanish miners
19/06/12 PM starts regional pay U-turn
15/06/12 Workers, not slaves
14/06/12 Help Sahel
11/06/12 Ministers should heed local advice
10/06/12 Police appointment branded a 'gimmick'
01/06/12 Rip Off Britain comes to MetroCentre!
29/05/12 Heat taken out pasty tax furore
28/05/12 Backing for Vera
25/05/12 North-East NHS set to lose millions
23/05/12 MP 'relaxed' on EU
22/05/12 Dunston wins!
19/05/12 Support for dystrophy register
15/05/12 Happy Birthday, Journal
03/05/12 Taxing church repairs
01/05/12 Age, not deprivation
27/04/12 Welcome for Ed to Gala
12/04/12 Children's services deadline extended
11/04/12 Coalition charity attack slammed
05/04/12 20% VAT slapped on church repairs
30/03/12 Women bear the brunt
29/03/12 Justice at last
26/03/12 Pasty tax pasting
22/03/12 Ruffled feathers
21/03/12 Regional pay must go
08/03/12 Just the Job gets Commons notice
08/03/12 'Lost for words' over Remploy closures
06/03/12 Supporting Abbas
02/03/12 Tribute to David Rathband
01/03/12 A wider view of heritage
23/02/12 Youth services review
21/02/12 Servants, not masters
17/02/12 Climbing for Gateshead College
15/02/12 Change needed to tackle alcohol problems
13/02/12 Support for NHS changes fading fast
10/02/12 Coalition red tape cutting could endanger children
09/02/12 Campaign for care
08/02/12 Stopping the Health Bill
06/02/12 Coalition U-turn on MOTs
02/02/12 Cuts threaten anti-racist football charity
31/01/12 Firefighters paying for deficit
15/01/12 Call to curb 'Pubcos'
14/01/12 Plaque victims not forgotten
13/01/12 Backing for HS2, not for Astor
13/01/12 Clean windows
09/01/12 Taxpayers subsidising rail shareholders

Homepage | Current News



 

Back to the Past

Dave in Prime Ministers Questions 19 Dec 2012

Dave challenged the Prime Minister in the Commons today about increasing poverty.

He quoted the rise of rickets and TB, food banks, hungry kids and a stagnant economy. The Prime Minister quoted the new Nissan jobs and said the economy was 'rebalancing'.

Dave later said that for him this was also personal.

"My mother failed her 11 plus in 1933 because she couldn't take her part 2 of exam because of TB. On her death bed in 2001 it still preyed on her mind. It changed her life for the worse. This is not just an academic debate for some of us."

Dave asks the PM the question


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Allow me to stand

'Rail seating' at a stadium in Germany
'Rail seating' at a stadium in Germany
17 Dec 2012

We are used to hearing about MPs standing, but this time not for Parliament but at football matches.

Dave is among a group of MPs who are calling for a trial return to standing at Premier and Championship football matches, which was banned after Hillsborough.

Dave said,

"I am convinced that standing at football grounds can be done safely in today's grounds. "The problem at Hillsborough wasn't caused per se by people standing, it was caused by overcrowding and loss of control and by the inability of fans to be able to escape from the areas into which they were effectively penned.

"Using properly ticketed and gated areas with open access on to the pitch as is now the norm would remove those issues."

The plan would be to introduce a continental style of seating called the "rail seat"


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Implement Leveson

Leveson report 7 Dec 2012

Dave has received many enquiries from constituents calling for the full implementation of the Leveson Report.

He has written to the Prime Minister asking for just this, and is also urging people to sign an on-line petition by the 'Hacked Off' group.

Dave's reply letter to constituents reads:

Re: Leveson Report

Further to your recent correspondence.

I have written to the Prime Minister calling for the findings of Lord Justice Leveson's report to be fully implemented, when I receive a reply I will contact you again.

However I fear that the Prime Minister would rather serve the desires of newspaper editors and proprietors than the people whom we are elected to serve.

You may be interested in the on-line petition set up by the 'Hacked Off' group which campaigns for a free and accountable press. The petition can be found at: http://hackinginquiry.org/

In the meanwhile if you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Yours sincerely

Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson MP


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Alarm at hospital death rate

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead 4 Dec 2012

Dave has voiced his concern at an unexpectedly high mortality rate at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

The recent Dr Foster Good Hospital Guide report found that the rate was 11.3% higher than expected with 1012 deaths instead of an expected 909.

Dave said:

"While I am concerned by the report, I am happy that the hospital is taking this report seriously - although they have some issues around the methodology of how statistics are collected.

"I have been contacted by the chief executive of the hospital and I will continue to closely monitor their work and response to this report."

The hospital has set up a task group to investigate the results and senior medical staff with work with the Chief Executive, Ian Renwick, to get to the bottom of the problem, although they point out that the rate is marginally higher than the expected.


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Barriers faced by young disabled

Disabled student 22 Nov 2012

Dave has tabled a Commons motion urging action to help the young disabled.

He points to the many barriers still faced by this group in using transport, getting a job or education, suitable accommodation and generally living a life as close as possible to other young people.

Dave's Early Day Motion reads:

Removing barriers and promoting independence for young disabled people
Session: 2012-13
Date tabled: 21.11.2012
Primary sponsor: Anderson, David
Sponsors: Bottomley, Peter, Corbyn, Jeremy, Meale, Alan, Sharma, Virendra
That this House welcomes the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People's report Removing barriers, promoting independence; is deeply concerned that young disabled people still face challenges using public transport, finding and retaining employment, accessing higher education, finding accommodation and living independently and accessing leisure facilities; notes that Government, businesses and public bodies need to liaise and consult with young disabled people on improving their standard of living; expresses the hope that the recommendations put forward in the report will be implemented; calls for Government policies like Access to Work and the Disabled Students' Allowance to be better promoted and in some cases expanded; and further calls on businesses and Government to recognise the unique needs of young disabled people and their wish to live full independent lives like their non-disabled peers.

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Appeal for Axwell victims to come forward

10 Nov 2012

Dave is urging anyone with information about alleged child abuse at Axwell Park School to come forward.

He is asking the investigators looking into the Bryn Estyn affair in North Wales to extend their inquiry to Axwell Park where Peter Howarth taught before moving to Wales.

Dave said

"I am clear there should be absolutely no no-go areas in getting all the facts of this horrendous abuse exposed. I would urge anyone who has any information to come forward, particularly any people who may have been abused whilst in care.

"If there is any suggestion of wrong-doing at Axwell Park, no matter how long ago, the authorities must do all in their power to get to the truth, support anyone who suffered abuse and bring to book everyone involved in these despicable acts."

Peter Howarth was jailed for abuse in 1994 and later died in prison.


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Vote for a charity

6 Nov 2012

The Postcode Trust is asking people to vote to see which charity in the North-East gets £15,000.

Six local charities are in the running and the public are invited to vote before November 18th at www.votethatcounts.org.uk.

Dave said,

"We have the chance to give our support to some great local charities who are doing great work across the North East"

The letter that Dave received about this may be read here.


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Minister's 'insult to region'

1 Nov 2012

In a letter to The Journal today, Dave says the government is insulting the region by saying local councils are failing to join forces.

Greg Clarke, Financial Secretary at the Treasury, says the region is missing out on cash and grants, but as Dave points out, the region had one of the most effective joint organisations in OneNorthEast - which the government forcibly demolished, Dave says for reasons of "ideological hatred of the public sector".

Dave's letter reads:

The Whitehall farce keeps on rolling as Cities Minister Greg Clark tells our local councils that we risk missing out on cash and jobs unless we join forces to have greater strength.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tells us he wants us to come up with ambitious and innovative proposals that will be felt by everyone across the region. Have these two buffoons been asleep for the last two and a half years as their government dismantled the most effective Regional Development Agency in the country, casting hundreds on to the dole and costing millions in redundancy payments?

We were developing local, national and international business links which were having a hugely positive impact on our region. Genuine partnership working between all bodies across the North East gave us an optimistic outlook even as recession hit us hard .

Sadly the ideological hatred of the public sector and the lapdog subservience of the Liberal Democrats saw the dismantling of the RDA. We will work with whatever hand the Government deals us in the North but please don't tell us that it's all our fault if it isn't as effective as it should be. It insults our region as well as our intelligence.


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Hunt review 'disgraceful'

24 Oct 2012

Dave has hit out at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for once more placing the Freeman's children's heart unit at risk.

The Minister has ordered what he calls an impartial review into the decision to save the Freeman but which led to the planned closure of others in Leeds and elsewhere.

Dave said,

"It's disgraceful. He has given way to political pressure and he should hang his head in shame. A properly constructed, professional process, which deliberated fully and then produced a clinically-driven way forward, may now be torn up."


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Public workers should be paid the same

17 Oct 2012

News that there would be no regional pay for MPs has created an outcry.

Dave argues that public sector works should be paid the same for the same job wherever in the country they are.

Dave said,

"All public sector workers should be paid the same and not where they are doing it, including him [George Osborne] and me and nurses in Newcastle and New Cross in London,"

It is argued that apart from being intrinsically unfair, lower pay for workers in the North-East would place the region at a disadvantage in attracting talent and would suck money out of the region down to the south.


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Sad reality of youth unemployment

Young unemployed 15 Oct 2012

Dave has called for drastic action to reverse the rising tide of youth unemployment.

This comes as the TUC releases figures showing that in the North-East the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work has jumped nearly 20% since the Coalition came to power.

Dave said,

"I'm really saddened by this situation. But unless drastic action is taken I can only see it getting worse - yet that message is not getting through to the Government and I think more of the same will be a the sad reality of it."

The TUC also reports that the government has cut support for jobless people by £7.73m a year, a 26% reduction and says the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance, rising tuition fees and the planned abolition of housing benefit for under 25s are al devastating blows for young people in the job market.


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Dave backs air ambulances

Great North  Air Ambulance in flight 12 Oct 2012

Dave has joined a new all-party parliamentary group to support air ambulances.

The group is the first of its kind to represent the interests of the air ambulance service in Parliament.

Air ambulances are not state funded but are charities. There are eighteen such in the country and they fly twenty-nine helicopters, including the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).

Dave said,

"The air ambulances do vital work and have saved many lives that would probably have been lost had the victims had to travel by road. In serious accidents, time is often crucial to the outcome.

"I am happy to join this group which will advance the interests of these charitable organisation in Parliament."

One major issue facing air ambulances is the requirement to pay VAT on their fuel, which is a big burden and a solution to this is a priority.

The group consists of about thirty MPs and will be chaired by Hexham MP Guy Opperman.


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Region's history won't be changed

4 Oct 2012

Dave has written to the press in response to a Tory MP's description of the North-East.

He says that the region has a proud history of hard work and compassion, despite the tough times endured by millions over the centuries which led to the formation of unions and the building of a welfare state.

His letter reads:

As usual we see the real ignorance by out-of-touch Tory MPs in James Wharton's attempt to air brush our history in order to build a platform for Tory support in the North East.

Clearly we are not all the same up here, but we do share a common history of hard work and compassion whether we live in Redcar, Ryton or Rothbury.

Fisherman, chemical workers, coal miners, hill farmers, steel workers and ship builders all lived through centuries of tough times, living in lousy conditions and seeing their lives being looked on as worth very little by the wealthy and powerful people who would see the Tory Party as their natural home. And they all, by and large, share a common history in the fact that these industries are a shadow of their former selves due, in no small part, to Tory policies.

We were prepared to work hard, but we also determined that we would not sit back and just accept the contempt of those who ruled us. That's why we created trade unions and a political party that took control of key industries, built a welfare state, created a truly equitable National Health Service and encouraged our young people to seek better lives through education.

The truth is that these are acts that changed the lives of millions in this country, but those from the privileged classes never accepted that as the norm. And that is why, under the cloak of tackling the economic problems facing us, James Wharton and his ilk are subjecting our region and its people to an unprecedented ideological attack.

He needs to understand one other thing. We may be easy-going up here, but we aren't stupid. We can see through his bluster and we will continue to reject the philosophy that he espouses.


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Stand up for the welfare state

2 Oct 2012

Dave says the leadership of the Labour Party should stand up more for those on low incomes..

He said that he and others thought the leadership should be proud of the welfare state that Labour created and offer support to people on benefits whether unemployed or low income families.

Dave said,

"We have to start saying enough is enough. We see the Conservatives using the cover of the recession to attack the welfare state. We have suggested a financial transaction tax to try to help safeguard the help given to those people, raising some £2bn a year.

"I think now we are at a position where the party has to start standing up for these people. Some in the leadership are clearly worried that if they say we stand by those on welfare it is like saying we stand by scroungers. That's rubbish, I have no time for those who take from the state if they are not entitled to it but that is not what we are talking about here.

"The leadership is allowing the debate to be set by people who are ideologically opposed to the welfare state. We created it, we should be proud of it."

Commenting later on Ed Balls' speech, Dave said the Labour Party could not be expected to announce firm policy pledges so far from an election.

"I think the truth is that it is blaming people for the failings of the economic system and it's far too early to say what they are going to do."


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Cable tied to Tories

Vince Cable 24 Sep 2012

Dave has commented that Vince Cable has no more credibility than other Lib Dems.

This comes amid speculation about a future Lib-Lab coalition after reported contacts between senior Lib Dems and senior Labour politicians, with Cable being touted as a possible Chancellor.

Dave said,

"I don't see it happening. We will win a majority. If we don't, I don't see that Cable has any more credibility than all of the other Lib Dems who betrayed the people who voted for them

"They have supported the Tory Plan A, which has put us into the longest double-dip recession in our history and Cable is part of the economic team."


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Vote for your cancer champion

Logo of FACT 20 Sep 2012

Dave is encouraging people to vote for their charity cancer champion.

The Cancer Carers Awards will be made at an event in November but nominations close in just a few days and people can nominate relatives, friends, neighbours, medical staff - anyone who they feel goes out of their way to offer support to someone with cancer..

The event is being organised by FACT (Fighting All Cancers Together) a North East-based charity founded by Joanne Smith who herself has been a cancer sufferer.

Dave has been privileged in the past to give his support to FACT and wants people to send in their nominations. You can download a poster and a nomination form at www.fact-cancersupport.co.uk. Nomiations must be in by 30 September.


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Cutting 'red tape' threat to family communities

Aerial viw of housing 13 Sep 2012

Dave has expressed his concern in Parliament about the relaxation of planning rules.

In a Commons motion which he has co-sponsored, it argues that communities could be threatened by an upsurge in houses of multiple occupancy as family homes get extended and converted.

The full Early day Motion reads:

Consultation On The Government's Plan To Extend Permitted Development Rights
Session: 2012-13
Date tabled: 11.09.2012
Primary sponsor: Leech, John
Sponsors:
Anderson, David
Bottomley, Peter
That this House notes that following the recent announcement by the Government, additional permitted development rights will be granted to homeowners to build large extensions and conservatories until 2015 without necessarily planning permission being required; recognises that there will be a consultation before this is implemented; urges local authorities and community groups to raise their concerns about the potential impact on areas with large numbers of homes in multiple occupation; further recognises that under the proposed changes, restrictions will apply in conservation and other sensitive areas; and further urges the Department for Communities and Local Government to include in the definition of sensitive areas those areas covered by an Article 4 direction, and where local authorities have recognised the threat to sustainable communities by the conversion of too many family homes to houses in multiple occupation.

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What about the workers?

11 Sep 2012

Dave has welcomed the establishment of a commission to revitalise the region's economy.

But he is also critical of the make up of the commission because there are no representatives of ordinary working people on it.

Dave said,

"The government has found a role for an old Etonian, two peers of the realm and an economist, but where are the union representatives?

"This is genuinely good news, but what about the workers? Why is there no place for someone like Northern TUC head Kevin Rowan who has a real grasp and understanding of the North East economy and he also has credibility and respect from all sides.

"Where is the nurse, the car worker or the cleaner? Where is the person just made redundant or the young people facing up to the challenges of a world that those who went before them messed up?

"It seems as always in this nation that those perceived as the great and good will know best and those who actually deliver for this nation will be given warm words and a pat on the head."

The membership of the commission is Lord Adonis, former Transport Secretary in the Labour government, who will lead the panel of business leaders and economists, including Heidi Mottram (Northumbrian Water chief executive), Will Hutton (Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, chair of the Big Innovation Centre and former editor-in-chief of the Observer), Bridget Rosewell (economist and a former adviser to the Greater London Authority) and the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby.


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State must do more to get people into work

Jobcentreplus 30 Aug 2012

Dave has called for the state to do more to help create jobs.

With a quarter of North-East households having nobody in work, he argues that government should spend more getting people into work rather than supporting them at home.

Dave said,

"It is a huge issue and it is above party politics. And unless we get a grip as a nation, it will just go on. The big thing for me is that the state has to play a more interventionist role in many ways."

"The cuts are part of it. But I do believe it does become a cultural thing because people have no self-esteem, they see the lives their parents are living. It might not be a very good life, but they are surviving.. We are better off providing state support to get them into work than giving them state support to stop at home."


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Cut the bomb, not the troops

31 Jul 2012

Dave is supporting the campaign to save a local regiment.

The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers face the axe under government cuts but Dave argues for a better way to save the money.

Dave said,

"I am completely behind this campaign. I'm going to be writing to Philip Hammond [Defence Secretary]. In my opinion, if they want to find the money, they should look at not renewing the nuclear deterrent."


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Welcome for rail cash

17 Jul 2012

Dave has given a qualified welcome to the government's plans to spend £9 billion on the rail network.

It remains to be seen just how much new investment there will on the East coast Main line however.

Dave said,

"I welcome it if they are starting to get their act together and put money in and create jobs and improve infrastructure, which is what they should have done from day one."


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Runway delay will cost North-East

Aircraft at terminal 13 Jul 2012

Dave has attacked the government's decision not to make a decision about the UK's airport capacity.

The Transport Secretary Justine Greening has deferred a consultation exercise that would have looked at the UK's aviation policy and the need to make stronger air connection with the growing economies especially in the far east.

Dave said,

"The Government has no aviation strategy in the wake of its opposition to a third runway at Heathrow that Labour approved and business wanted to ensure Britain remained competitive.

"It is all part and parcel of the transport mess they have got themselves into. They are economically and politically incompetent. They are trying to breathe life into the Coalition and not upset the Coalition partners, and that is why they are where they are."

"If ministers wanted to help regional airports they could overhaul air passenger duty,"

The North-East has been leading the country in developing new export markets and good aviation links are an essential part of this. Failure to upgrade these speedily place the UK and this region at a disadvantage.


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Sadness at home closure

11 Jul 2012

Dave has expressed his sadness at the closure of a mining rest home.

The Sam Watson Rest Home in Richmond is to close in December 2013.

PDF information


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Health cuts for Gateshead

Nurse at work 10 Jul 2012

Changes in the way government funds health mean the region and Gateshead will lose money.

Dave has hit out at the change in a letter to the press accusing the government of gerrymandering to favour certain areas over others.

Dave letter reads:

"Your report on the gerrymandering of public health resources (The Journal, July 7) is a damning indictment of the Government's bias against those who live in parts of the country that have the temerity not to vote for it.

"My colleague, Easington MP Grahame Morris accuses the coalition of being cynical and politically motivated, and the simple fact that every Labour led area in the North East is facing cuts bears him out.

"Additional proof, if it were required, is shown by the fact that Liberal Democrat led Northumberland and Conservative dominated North Tyneside both get increases. It again emphasises the nonsense that we are all in this together."

The government is changing how health money is allocated from one based on deprivation to one based on age, meaning those areas where people already live longer will get even more money while those where people die younger will see reductions.


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Addressing the voters' concerns

Ed Miliband 25 Jun 2012

Dave has said that the government is 'losing grip' and that his party needs to address what really concerns voters.

He is backing Ed Miliband's stance on working with President Hollande and says the austerity package needs easing off.

Dave said,

"As always, part of winning is that the Government loses grip, as they are at present. We need to develop an agenda that the public will respond to.

"For me, that means an easing off on the austerity drive and the decision by Ed Miliband to work with the French president is welcome. I believe we should be discussing how we control businesses that are, frankly, fleecing people and not delivering.

"In particular, we need to get control over utilities who have failed to invest for the future at the same time as they make record profits. We face a future where energy is at the whim of very unstable providers while we ignore our natural resources.

"These are the sort of issues that are impacting on the daily life of ordinary folk and these are where our focus needs to be and not on, for example, constitutional changes."


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Support for Spanish miners

21 Jun 2012

Dave has signed up to a campaign to urge the Spanish government to negotiate with striking miners.

This week, over 1,000 trade unionists representing 50 million workers in manufacturing and mining founded a new global union federation: IndustriALL and its first on-line campaign -- hosted by LabourStart -- aims to pressure the Spanish government to negotiate with coal miners who have been on strike, and occupying their mines, for several weeks now.

You can add your support here.


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PM starts regional pay U-turn

Pay packet 19 Jun 2012

As the government indicates the support for regional pay -which would mean lower pay in this region - is cooling, Dave has told the government to concentrate on things that matter.

Critics say that such a move would suck money away from the North-East economy, already extremely fragile and public sector workers would fall behind colleagues in affluent parts of the country.

Dave said,

"There is no justification for it. And if the Liberal Democrats really want to help workers in the public sector, they should tell their colleagues in the coalition to back off and to concentrate on things that really matter in the world."


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Workers, not slaves

15 Jun 2012

Dave has written to the local press in response to a letter advocating curtailing freedom of expression.

He takes issue over not his not commenting on the Metro strike, stating he was abroad at the time and was not contacted for a comment, but adds that the right to strike differentiates workers from slaves.

Dave's letter reads:

"Peter Curtis proposes anti-democratic stances which undermine individual and Press freedoms.

"He appears to think that that the Press should dictate when a person must reply when asked. We all have the right to comment or not on any issue and the editor has the right to decide what then to do.

"Mr Curtis also suggests that the Press should punish someone who is reluctant to comment by denying them space on other issues.

"For the record, I didn't comment on the Metro dispute because I was never asked as I was abroad. If I had responded, I would have said that I believe that it is in the best traditions of a democratic society that workers have the right to strike. It differentiates workers from slaves.

"I also know that such decisions are not taken lightly by those who care about the service they provide. My fervent hope now is that a resolution is found without recourse to further action."


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Help Sahel

14 Jun 2012

Dave is urging people to support Oxfam's crisis appeal for the Sahel region of Africa.

Sahel is a region of West and Central Africa which is facing a massive food crisis leaving the lives and livelihoods of 18.4 million people under great threat. The government has already pledged £10 million, but in order for the government to fully meet its global aid target it now needs to pledge a further £10 million.

Oxfam welcomes the UK Government's announcement of £10 million in aid for the Sahel and are calling on international donors to commit extra funding to help address the rapidly worsening food crisis in the Sahel. Oxfam has launched an appeal for £23 million which will help over 1 million people but more than 18 million people are in the grip of severe food shortages across west and central Africa and these people desperately need our help.

Oxfam is asking supporters for £23m in donations and are calling on the Government to increase its contribution.

The link allows people to write a letter calling for the government to do more to help in this urgent case.

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/sahel2012


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Ministers should heed local advice

Tyne and Wear Firefighters 11 Jun 2012

Dave has written that fire service cuts are being forced by a minister who thinks he knows better than local people.

He accuses the government of incompetence, arrogance and ignorance and that they face the charge of being out of touch.

Dave's letter to The Journal reads:

The new Tyne and Wear chief fire officer Tom Capeling rightly sounds the alarm about "unbalanced and unfair" fire service cuts.

Once again, on an issue that directly affects people's lives, the minister in Whitehall seems to think that he knows better than those who dedicate themselves to a crucial public service.

The minister really should heed such local expertise or face the charge that they are out of touch. This was highlighted by the outgoing chief fire officer, Ian Bathgate, who told MPs that, on advising the Fire Minister that he could only meet 50% of the demanded savings even if he cut all so-called backroom services, he was told simply to "manage it".

We are led by a Government of incompetents whose arrogance is only matched by their ignorance.

Dave Anderson, MP for Blaydon


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Police appointment branded a 'gimmick'

Tom Winsor 10 Jun 2012

Dave has poured scorn on the Home Secretary's plans to appoint Tom Winsor as Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

He likens the appointment to that of Ian McGregor to run the National Coal Board, saying the former rail regulator doesn't have the experience and is intended to provoke confrontation.

Dave said,

"The appointment of Tom Winsor as the Chief Inspector of Constabulary reminds me of the appointment of Ian McGregor to run the National Coal Board. Neither had experience of the sector they were catapulted into. Both were picked to provoke confrontations. It ended with Ian McGregor putting a plastic bag over his head to disguise himself. Tom Winsor may not do that but will either go down in history as a hatchet man or a useful idiot. The police service and the public deserves better than student politics gimmicks from the Home Secretary. "


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Rip Off Britain comes to MetroCentre!

1 Jun 2012

Dave wants local people to know that Rip Off Britain is coming to Gateshead.

Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville will be bringing the Rip Off Britain team to film at the MetroCentre on Sat 16th & Sun 17th June.

A range of consumer experts will be on hand to offer free advice on all sorts of topics; from consumer rights to utility tariffs.

You can download a poster here. (PDF file)


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Heat taken out of pasty tax furore

Pasties 29 May 2012

Dave has welcomed the governments decision to cool down the pasty tax.

Under new rules, it seems VAT will now not be charged on pasties that are cooked but then allowed to cool before sale.

Dave said,

"It's tremendous. This U-turn is down to the great pressure from ordinary people and it is right and proper that they have scrapped it."

VAT will still be charged on food sold hot, advertised as hot food or sold in heat retaining packaging.


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Backing for Vera

Vera Baird 28 May 2012

Dave has made public his support for Vera Baird to be Labour's candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Northumbria.

In a letter to the press, he praises her work and commitment and outlines her career from campaigning barrister to solicitor general in the last Labour government.

Dave's letter reads:

I am writing to support Vera Baird, the best person to be our Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Northumbria and to urge Labour members to vote for her in the postal ballot. I have known Vera for more than 20 years and greatly respect her contribution to our movement. She is very able and very committed to our people. She proved that from her work as a campaigning barrister, representing the miners throughout the 1984/85 strike.

She has worked in the North East for 30 of the last 40 years and has served the Labour Party solidly in every office she has held, fighting Berwick in the 1983 general election, becoming MP for Redcar and in that role, fighting hard for North East industry.

She was solicitor general in the last Labour government, showing that she has the skills to hold the highest legal job in the House of Commons. She knows the police through her court work and through her role as solicitor general which includes running the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is vital that we have a strong candidate to fight the first police commissioner elections to send a strong message to Cameron and the Lib Dems that the North East is going to fight its corner against policing cuts.

She has made very clear that there will be no privatisation of police services if she is commissioner and that she will work tirelessly in partnership with our Labour councils to cut crime and make Northumbria a safer place.

As her leaflet shows, Vera is also the candidate of choice of Unison, of the Durham Miners' Association, and of Community, the steelworkers union.

Dave Anderson, MP for Blaydon


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North-East NHS set to lose millions

Hospital nurse 25 May 2012

Dave has called on the Health Secretary to say exactly he wants to take millions from the NHS in the region.

The government is considering plans to change the formula for NHS funding from one based on a range of deprivation factors to age alone.

Dave said,

"Mr Lansley should set out his exact plans for NHS funding and highlight why he's wanting to change the formula,"

The effect could be to move money from the North-East to more affluent areas where people live longer. Clare Bambra of Durham University has calculated that in Gateshead, a 17.8% loss would mean a £333 reduction per head and a loss to region overall of more than £690 million.


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MP 'relaxed' on EU

EU logo 23 May 2012

Dave has said he would be 'relaxed' about a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the EU.

But he went on to point out the benefits of EU membership and toll on jobs if we were to withdraw.

Dave said,

"I would be relaxed about an early referendum on Europe as we need to be clear about our relationship with our nearest neighbours who are our most important export markets.

"Without membership we would not have the most productive car industry in Europe in our area and we would risk three million job losses if we walk out.

"However, it is fair in a democracy to be called to account and we should not be frightened to let the people's voice be heard."


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Dunston wins!

Gary is pictured with Blaydon MP Dave Anderson at Wembley after the game. 22 May 2012

In what turned into a decisive victory at Wembley, Dunston UTS triumphed over opponents West Auckland by 2 goals to nil in the 2012 final of the FA Carling Vase.

Both teams had goals disallowed but Dunston ended the first half one goal up despite West Auckland proving to be worthy opponents, and looking dangerous at times, regularly attacking Dunston's defence.

However, the famous Dunston second half performance, in the end, proved too much with our second goal coming in the 80th minute, closely followed by half a dozen more attempts at goal in the closing minutes, two of which ended with shots rattling off the woodwork.

Around 2500 fans made the journey south and were easily the most audible throughout the game, with West Auckland's fans strangely silent following our second goal.

Dunston councillor Gary Haley, who made the trip to Wembley said,

"We are all delighted that Dunston played so well and came out on top after a great game and a great day out for those fans who made the journey. We want to congratulate the team, their sponsors and all of the club's officials who have helped to make this such a great season for Dunston. Above all, we want to thank the fans for their continuing support of this successful local team."


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Support for dystrophy register

19 May 2012

Dave is urging people living with Type 1 myotonic dystrophy to add their names to a new register.

Based at Newcastle University's Institute of Genetic Medicine, the register will mean researchers can contact people more quickly for research and clinical trials.

Dave, whose family has been blighted by the terrible condition, said,

"The more people that become part of this registry, the more hope that we have to beat myotonic dystrophy in our lifetimes."

There are an estimated six thousand people in the UK living with the condition.


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Happy Birthday, Journal

15 May 2012

Dave has wished The Journal a happy birthday.

He praises the work of the paper in keeping the region in touch with itself and the outside world.

Dave said,

"Happy birthday to The Journal. We are very lucky to have a paper of record for the region. It brings our community together, bolsters our identity, keeps us in touch and helps impress the urgency of our problems and the depth of our potential on the rest of the country."


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Taxing church repairs

Holy Cross Church, Ryton
Holy Cross Church, Ryton
(Photo: © Copyright Andrew Curtis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)
3 May 2012

Dave has written to the local press backing their stance on VAT on church repairs.

His letter supports an editorial in The Journal and reminds people of an epetition calling on the government to drop the VAT change.

Dave's letter reads:

Your editorial (This tax idea should be withdrawn, 2 May) is spot on about the uncanny ability of the current government to lose friends and alienate people and, more importantly, do needless damage to activities that make Britain great.

Prompted by the Rector of the Holy Cross Church in Ryton I have taken up the issue of the imposition of VAT on improvements to listed buildings such as churches. The Rector and his parishioners have diligently raised funds for many years to modernise their facilities and make them more accessible to the local community. Suddenly they face a raid on their voluntary efforts which will deprive them of one-fifth of their collection.

It will also, as you argue, reduce demand in the construction services industry which, like the rest of the economy, can ill afford such a cut in work.

I tabled a Commons motion, with fellow North East MPs, which urges people to support an e petition on the issue at www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petititions/32229. Public support can move this government.

Dave Anderson MP,
Blaydon


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Age, not deprivation

1 May 2012

Dave is concerned that the NHS in the North-East will suffer under government plans to change how the service is funded.

Currently, indices of deprivation are used to allocate NHS funds, but Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is to change this to age.

The government argues that age is a major predictor of health needs and that the age of a population should determine funding.

Dave said,

"I am deeply worried that this move will substantially distort that priority and once more disadvantage the North and further widen the North-South gap."

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown said,

"This would have a major impact on health care budgets for the North East where life expectancy for less affluent areas is significantly lower than the national average."


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Welcome for Ed to Gala

Durham Miners' Gala 27 Apr 2012

Dave has welcomed the news that Labour leader Ed Miliband will speak at the Durham Miners' Gala this year.

When he addresses the 'Big Meeting' on July 14th, he will be the first Labour leader to so since Neil Kinnock in 1989.

Dave said,

"I am very pleased. I am sure that he will be most welcome. He genuinely knows how important the Durham Miners' Gala is and I am sure it will be a great event for all concerned, both him and us and all the people there."

Previous leaders have not attended the Gala, once seen as a very influential force in the Labour movement. Last year Mr Miliband didn't attend.

Dave also reacted positively to the news that Tom Watson would also be speaking at the Gala.

Dave said,

"I have worked with Tom for 20 years since he was working with Labour students. And I am really pleased that he has got the role he really deserves in our party," he said.

"He brings years of experience, which will help us in our campaign to reconnect with ordinary working people and making sure that they understand we are on their side."


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Children's services deadline extended

12 Apr 2012

Dave is encouraging more people to give their views on children's services in Gateshead.

Some children's services would be moved away from Gateshead, and Dave wrote about this in February. Now the deadline for responses has been extended.

Dave said,

"Despite lots of publicity and engagement, the number of responses to the consultation to date is low. While the consultation formally closed on 31 March, the timeframe for accepting responses has been extended until 30th April 2012 and I would like to encourage you to take part."

Full details of the consultation and meetings can be found at http://www.sotw.nhs.uk/yoursay/consultations/acute-health-services-for-children-and-young-people/


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Coalition charity attack slammed

HMRC 11 Apr 2012

Dave has criticised the Chancellor's capping tax relief on donations to charities.

The move has caused outrage in the voluntary sector but the government says it is tackling abuse of the system by a few wealthy people.

Dave said,

"As we have seen in the case of the granny tax and the hit on pasties this Chancellor is not immune to taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In taking on those who hide their money away by using front organisations they are also putting at risk great charitable bodies like the Community Foundation.

"At a time when charities are being urged to fill the gaps created by Osborne's attacks on the public sector the last thing we need is to hamstring genuine charities who do a great job day in, day out."


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20% VAT slapped on church repairs

Durham Cathedral, one of many buildings affected. 5 Apr 2012

Dave has slammed the Chancellor's tax on listed church buildings.

From October, all alterations and repairs to listed buildings face a 20% VAT charge, and although a grant will be made, church leaders say it is not enough to cover the increase.

Dave said,

"We already have across the region far too many buildings on the at-risk register. This will make it even harder for these to have repairs carried out on them.

"It is worrying that George Osborne should move in such an underhand way to try and make money out of our heritage."

"This sudden imposition of 20% VAT to alterations to listed places of worship targets 12500 listed cathedrals and church buildings of the church of England."

In the North East there are over seventy sites deemed at risk among several thousand buildings which will be affected.

Dave has also signed an on-line petition, saying,

"I have gladly backed a church e-petition which if it gets 100,000 signatures could trigger a debate in Parliament. That helps encourage the Chancellor to revise this entirely counter-productive policy of slapping VAT on such important projects."

The petition is at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229

Both English Heritage and the National Trust have commented negatively on the tax hike.


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Women bear the brunt

30 Mar 2012

Dave has accused the coalition of attacking women and families.

Union figures have shown that more than two thirds of council job losses are by women with almost 15,000 people made redundant by North East councils since the coalition came to power, over 10,000 of whom were women.

Dave said,

"This is exactly what we said would happen because the easier to get rid of jobs are those which are lower paid and with shorter-term hours.

"That was always going to hit women worse and we warned the Government about it. With the cuts in tax credits and particularly child tax credit there has been an attack on women and families."


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Justice at last

Pleural plaques in the lungs caused by asbestos 29 Mar 2012

Asbestos sufferers have welcomed the Supreme Court's decision on the liability of insurers in asbestos claims.

Dave, who has campaigned long and hard, blamed greedy insurers for the deaths of those who didn't live to see the court's decision.

Dave said,

"Justice at long last but sadly far too many people will have died without being properly compensated by their employers who deliberately ignored the well-understood dangers of working with asbestos.

"That has been compounded by greedy insurers who have consistently tried to dodge their responsibilities in this matter."

Dave is a patron of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund.


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Pasty tax pasting

26 Mar 2012

The Chancellor's decision to impose tax on pasties has come in for a pasting from MPs.

Dave points out that locally based company Greggs has already suffered and there may be more pain to come.

Dave said,

"His raid on our pies and pasties has already wiped £30m off Greggs shares, it risks the jobs of hard-working folk and it imposes a huge rise on popular foods."


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Ruffled feathers

22 Mar 2012

In response to criticism of his attacks on coalition policy, Dave has written to the local press.

He says he is bound to speak out when he sees public services under attack and when he has had hundreds of people contact him on the government's policies and their effects.

His letter reads:

I seem to have ruffled a few feathers with my forthright attacks on the coalition Government.

I feel duty bound to speak out when any government exploits a deficit crisis to impose an ideological attack on public services while clearly being unconcerned about the impact on its workers and users.

Likewise, when hundreds of my constituents contact me to express their disgust at the undermining of their NHS it would be wrong to stay silent.

I agree that the previous government was far from perfect even if it did conclude the peace process in Northern Ireland, introduce the National Minimum Wage and preside over the largest number of people in work in our nation's history.

We did make mistakes usually when we tried to emulate the Tories. Sadly, we now have the real thing back, albeit with Lib Dem collusion, and everyone can see the results, especially on regions such as ours


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Regional pay must go

21 Mar 2012

Dave is angry at government proposals to bring in regional pay.

He has signed a public letter as one of a number of local MPs against the plans to vary public sector depending where the worker lives.

The letter reads:

We are writing this open letter in opposition to the Government's proposals to introduce regional pay.

We refute the Government's central argument that public sector pay is crowding out private sector jobs in the North East.

The economic facts speak for themselves: the North East is the region with the lowest wages and the highest unemployment, with nine unemployed people chasing every vacancy. It is the lack of demand in the economy not the wages of nurses and teachers which is causing the problem.

The Government's proposals will lead to different wage rates between regions and possibly within the region. The North South divide will grow and the least prosperous areas of the country will be the hardest hit, demand will be sucked out of the local economy as the money will not be there to spend; impacting on jobs in the private sector.

We are committed to a strong and thriving private sector in the North East. The way to help private sector pay is to see investment in high value jobs such as those at Nissan in Sunderland, Hitachi's soon to be built train building factory in County Durham, the renewables industry and the re-lighting of the TCP blast furnace in Redcar.

We can also protect pay in the public and private sectors with the minimum wage, something introduced by a Labour Government and opposed tooth and nail by the Conservative Party.

We see the Government's proposals as short-sighted, divisive and without economic credibility. We call on the Government to withdraw their plans and concentrate on a plan for jobs and growth.

The letter was published in the local press.


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Just the Job gets Commons notice

8 Mar 2012

Dave has put down a Commons motion praising the local press for the Just the Job campaign.

The Evening Chronicle is allowing both employers and job searchers to place adverts free of charge and aims to publish every vacancy on Tyneside.

Dave said,

"The Chronicle's Just the Job campaign is just the sort of thing that a decent newspaper connected to its community should do.

"The Chronicle and its sister paper, The Journal, have a commendable record of initiatives designed to win widespread support and home in on the key issues affecting the North East."

Dave added:

"They help amplify our collective voice with Government and, in the case of Just the Job, do something very practical to help people get into work and thereby reduce the waste of individual talent and social potential that is what unemployment is all about. "I hope that my Commons motion will help build important campaign."

Dave's Early day Motion, which has already attracted support from other MPs, reads,

"That this House warmly supports the Newcastle Evening Chronicle's new campaign, Just The Job, which has cross-party and business support and aims to get the North East back to work by opening up for free its weekly jobs supplement to make it simpler for employers with vacancies and job hunters to find each other".


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'Lost for words' over Remploy closures

At work in a Remploy factory 8 Mar 2012

Dave is appalled at the coalition's decision to close 36 out of 54 Remploy factories.

This will make over 1500 disabled people redundant, including some in Blaydon, many of whom have little hope of finding new employment.

Dave slated the cuts, saying,

"The government says it costs £25,000 per head to subsidise Remploy and as they only employ around 2,000 of the 6.9m people who identify themselves as disabled why should all this money be spent on them.

"They say they want to help the wider disabled and I've no problem with trying to get those people into work - but taking money off people isn't the way to do it. I'm just lost for words by this decision."

"I've done the sums, and if they save the full amount from this scheme, which I doubt, then that would be £43m, but that's still less than £6 per head for disabled people, and that won't help many into work.

"One of the places where a factory will close is Ashington, where only this week it was reported 55 people for every one job available, and these people are going to have to compete with them. I'm just lost for words by this decision,"


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Supporting Abbas

Kamal Abbas 6 Mar 2012

The sentencing of Egyptian trade unionist Kamal Abbas to prison has sparked protests in Parliament.

Dave has tabled Commons motion condemning the sentence for insulting a public officer, the acting president of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, the pre-revolution government-controlled labour front, at a meeting of the International Labour Organisations and calls on the new Egyptian government to enact legislation that would guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Dave's Early Day Motion reads:

KAMAL ABBAS
Session: 2010-12
Date tabled: 05.03.2012
Primary sponsor: Anderson, David
Sponsors: Glindon, Mary, Hepburn, Stephen, Lavery, Ian, Meale, Alan, Mearns, Ian.

That this House regrets that Kamal Abbas, the General Co-ordinator of the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services has been sentenced in absentia to six months in prison for insulting a public officer, the acting president of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, the pre-revolution government-controlled labour front, at a meeting of the International Labour Organisations (ILO); believes that this ruling is a clear attack on freedom of expression, as guaranteed in Article 12 of Egypt's Constitutional Declaration, and on Egypt's independent unions, an essential bedrock of civil society and democracy, and on the right of Egyptian workers to decide their own representatives; welcomes the campaign for the lifting of this sentence by the International Trade Union Confederation, the TUC and LabourStart; and urges the Egyptian authorities to pass the draft law on trade union freedoms that would guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining and bring Egypt in line with the core conventions of the ILO.


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Tribute to David Rathband

PC David Rathband 2 Mar 2012

Dave has paid tribute to PC David Rathband who was found dead at his home on Wednesday night.

He said that Raoul Moat had claimed another victim and backed calls for a parliamentary debate on support for injured officers.

Dave said,

"The news is deeply saddening. His life was ruined by Moat and sadly David Rathband can be added to the list of those murdered by Moat."

He also backed a Parliamentary debate on support for injured officers, saying:

"I think it is a serious issue that ought to be in the main chamber in Government time. It is a really important issue and it is about showing respect to people who look after us."

David Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation


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A wider view of heritage

Durham Miners' Gala - a celebration of a lost culture?
Durham Miners' Gala - a celebration of a lost culture?
1 Mar 2012

Dave has welcomed a grant from English Heritage to help children learn local history.

In a letter to The Journal, he says such visits should include the industrial heritage of closed collieries, closed shipyards, closed ironworks as well as local groups that preserve the culture of those times; thereby learning the true cost of failing to learn from history.

Dave's letter reads:

IT is heartening to read that local children will be better able to understand their own local history thanks to a grant to English Heritage (The Journal, February 27).

I hope that it means that as well as visiting iconic sites like Durham Cathedral, they can also visit sites such as the former colliery villages, the deserted shipyards where no work has taken place for decades or the windswept land on which Consett steel works stood that will tell of a much more recent history.

They could learn of the incredible social history of our area by visiting some of the local folks clubs or banner groups that relate to the great tradition of social solidarity of our region.

And they could visit some of the thousands of homes built for aged miners, or the welfare halls and reading rooms that were built to improve lives at a time when an uncaring state refused to help.

They could then see that the real relevance of learning from history is not to repeat past mistakes.

DAVE ANDERSON, MP for Blaydon


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Youth services review

23 Feb 2012

Young people, parents, and youth workers have been urged to contribute to a major new review into how to deliver high-quality youth services at a time of austerity.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said:

"Youth services enrich the lives of young people away from their schools and their homes. They are especially important to those who have difficult lives and whose potential can be reduced in these circumstances. Good youth services can do much to curb crime and anti-social behaviour."

Dave Anderson added:

"Anyone with ideas can contact me and I can feed their views into Labour's review and use it to raise pressing issues in Parliament."


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Servants, not masters

City of London financial district 21 Feb 2012

Dave has written to the local press about the inequalities in this worsening recession.

Commenting on press reports of rising oil prices, Dave points out that this will make the rich richer while the rest suffer, and says that finance capital and big business should be the servants of society, not its masters

Dave's letter reads:

Dear Sir

Most people know that the big banks and finance capital failed the people of the world as we all continue to struggle to move on from the collapse of 2008. Our coalition government insists that ordinary folk across this country pay long and hard for this market failure.

But big business sails blithely on. This newspaper yesterday reported the rise in oil prices and the terrible impact on drivers and all goods transported by road. But while we ordinary mortals look to these rises with trepidation, Fat Cats in the Stock Exchange are breaking out the bubbly and lighting up the cigars as the FTSE rapidly rose and, guess what, BP was the big winner

There is something manifestly immoral about a system that rewards huge bonuses to failing bankers, lauds employers who are slashing jobs by the thousands and rewards companies that profit from the misery of the poor. It is well past the time when we all said enough is enough and joined together locally, nationally and internationally to create a new consensus that puts finance capital and big business in its proper place as regulated servants rather than arrogant masters of the people.

Yours sincerely
Dave Anderson MP (Blaydon)
House of Commons, London SW1A OAA


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Climbing for Gateshead College

17 Feb 2012

A father and son are set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Gateshead college Foundation.

Dave is backing the pair, Kim Davies and his son Nick Dimond, who are hoping to raise £5000 to help disadvantaged students continue their education.

Dave said,

"Kim Davies and his son literally have a mountain to climb and for a change it is not rhetoric but real.

"Their hike up Mount Kilimanjaro will take the Gateshead College Foundation to new heights if enough people sponsor them. This will grow their ability to help people start and continue their education and training."

Kim recently retired from the post of deputy principal of Gateshead College in 2009 and his son works in London.

The sponsor page for the climb is at www.justgiving.com/kimdavies1.


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Change needed to tackle alcohol problems

Dave speaking on BBC Look North 15 Feb 2012

Dave has said the government must change its tactics to deal with the binge drinking culture.

He accuses the government of withdrawing support for those working with people who alcohol problems while failing to tackle binge drinking.

Dave was speaking on BBC Look North, saying,

"You won't change alcohol abuse just by setting a minimum price. You need to have programmes in place that involve health professionals, local government professionals other people in the care side of things taking care of people, giving education.

"And what we're doing in this country at the moment is withdrawing support for all those projects that have actually been helping people with alcohol problems."


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Support for NHS changes fading fast

13 Feb 2012

Dave says the support for the Government's health reforms is fading fast and extends to the upper reaches of the Conservative Party

He writes in a letter to the press that at the top of the Tory party, 'wiser counsels' realise what a burden this will to the government, while the Lib Dems stay silent.

Dave's letter reads:

However brave a face the Prime Minister and his beleaguered Health Secretary put on it, the truth is that support for the Government's health reforms is fading fast and extends to the upper reaches of the Conservative Party where wiser counsels understand that it will be an albatross round their necks.

There has, however, been silence from their partners, the Liberal Democrats and I suggest they join the many professionals and others who urge the Government to drop this unwanted and unpopular plan.

DAVE ANDERSON, Labour MP for Blaydon, House of Commons, London SW1A OA


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Coalition red tape cutting could endanger children

Child victim 10 Feb 2012

Dave has called on the government to get the balance right when relaxing the rules about criminal checks for those working with children.

The government wants to make volunteering easier and says people are put off by the need for CRB checks, but Dave, who has had experience in dealing with cases of serious child abuse, says there could be loopholes opened up which could be exploited.

Dave said,

"Ministers should exercise great care in making sure that changes to Criminal Records Bureau checks don't open up loopholes that could be exploited by manipulative and predatory paedophiles.

"The Government is concerned that CRB checks don't deter adult volunteering for work with children with too much red tape but they must also get the balance right and ensure that they don't dilute safeguards in such a way that allows paedophiles to slip through the net. We need to ensure that we put protection of our children before any other priority. Any changes must not make it easier for abusers to come into contact with them. To conflate this with debate around red tape is a misnomer that belittles the seriousness of this issue."

Home Office minister Lord Henley says that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their child in how to react to an approach from an adult if it goes beyond that adult's normal role.

Lord Bichard, whose report after the murder of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by caretaker Ian Huntley led to the present system being set up, warned the safety of children "must come before our desire to minimise regulation and bureaucracy".


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Campaign for care

9 Feb 2012

Dave has signed a petition calling for the Government to reform the care system to ensure people in later life receive high quality care and support.

The on-line petition is being run by AgeUK who argue that care is in crisis. Many of those who need help and support are being badly let down by a faltering system, while others find themselves having to sell their homes in order to pay for support they need.

The text of the petition reads:

"We, the undersigned, demand that the government takes action to ensure that:

For more information and a link to the petition, go to http://www.ageuk.org.uk/careincrisis


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Stopping the Health Bill

NHS logo 8 Feb 2012

As the Health and Social Care Bill is debated again in the House of Lords, Dave has responded to constituents who continue to express concern about the changes.

He has had a huge number of contacts from constituents expressing their concerns and has pledged to keep on pressing the government to recognise the concerns which many constituents have about this the changes which will come about from the Health and Social Care Bill.

To further this Dave has signed the e-petition on direct-gov. You can sign the e-petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670


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Coalition U-turn on MOTs

MOT logo 6 Feb 2012

Dave says a coalition U-turn shows that backbench MPs and public pressure can sometimes work.

Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, has made a government U-turn on the frequency of MOT tests.

Dave said,

"Pressure from MPs and the public can work as we have seen in the U-turn on MOTs executed by the Transport Secretary. She wanted to drop annual MOTs but was forced to do a three-point turn by a wide range of organisations which said that it would be dangerous, expensive and unwanted. Back-seat drivers are not always popular but backbench MPs and others have this time been helpful in telling the driver she had lost her way."

The government wanted to first test cars at four years old and then only every two years after that. But road safety and motoring groups argued that road safety could be compromised after it was found that more than a quarter of MOT tests carried out in 2011-11 missed routine defects and also wrongly passed thousands of cars as being roadworthy when they were not.


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Cuts threaten anti-racist football charity

Show Racism the Red Card 2 Feb 2012

Dave has voiced his concern about funding threats to the charity, "Show Racism the Red Card".

As the government cuts support to the voluntary sector, charities such as this face a very uncertain future.

Dave said,

"Any risk to the campaign being unable to carry on the work they do is something we should take very seriously. There's a general feeling that we've come a long way but there's a few things happening of late that are worrying signs."

"There's a general feeling that we've come a long way, but there are a few worrying signs of late - FIFA chief Sepp Blatter's comments, stuff that's happened on the pitch, intolerance towards immigrants and a rise in xenophobia."

"Ultimately it's the young people that can make a real difference. The more we can get young people to understand the issues around racism the more likely it is to become a way of life."

You can learn more about the charity at http://www.srtrc.org/


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Firefighters paying for deficit

Tyne and Wear firefighters 31 Jan 2012

Dave has attacked pension proposals for firefighters.

They are facing a pension contribution increase from 11% to 16% for no extra pension and it is argued is in effect a 5% pay cut.

Dave said,

"These proposals are a disgraceful attack on some of the bravest public servants in this country. They are being forced to pay the price for the failure of the global financial system and the attack on public servants being waged by the Government."

Dave is a member of the Fire Brigades Union Parliamentary group and has been closely involved with the negotiations. The FBU is considering strike action, their first in ten years.


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Call to curb 'Pubcos'

Dave at the Black Bull pub as a long time supporter of local pubs 15 Jan 2012

Dave is backing calls by a committee of MPs for fairer rents for pub tenants.

The Commons Backbench Business Committee is calling for a statutory code of practice to govern the relationship between the companies that own pubs and the landlords that run them.

Dave hopes this will lead to a halt in the spate of pub closures and said it was time for the government to change the rules on pub ownership, adding,

"I'm hoping this will finally mean we are going to see the start of a movement where publicans are treated with respect, rather than being exploited by big companies. My sister and at least three friends have had to leave the pub trade in the last 10 years because of the actions of pubcos - they just keep moving the goalposts.

"Some of my close friends had a pub in Teesdale and worked their socks off, but even they lost £45,000 of their own money and had to walk away after three years."

Landlords should have more freedom to choose which beers to sell and there should be an independent adjudicator to resolve disputes between tenants and the pubcos.


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Plaque victims not forgotten

14 Jan 2012

Dave says that those suffering from pleural plaques, for whom he has campaigned vigorously, have not been forgotten.

Despite the fact that there has been little progress recently and that the government now says the evidence does not support compensation.

Dave said,

"What we are being told by this government is that the medical evidence does not support them being able to make payments. It is a disgrace these people have suffered without compensation because truth is they were exposed to poisonous materials at work.

"The people laughing all the way to the bank are the employers and insurers. When this first was challenged in the Lords and compensation was stopped it was said insurers saved £4bn. But these people are suffering from a disease which may or may not get worse. If I had a scar on my finger because of work I would expect to get compensation."


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Backing for HS2, not for Astor

High speed train 13 Jan 2012

Dave is backing the government's plan for high speed rail.

But he also condemned comments by Conservative Peer Lord Astor who said northern Labour MPs were backing the line because they relished the idea of despoiling the Chiltern Hills, a mainly Tory area.

In the Spectator, Lord Astor wrote,

"It is supported by Northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed, particularly in Conservative-held seats."

Dave said,

"It's total tosh. I like the countryside and I certainly don't want the Chilterns dug up, but it's the only way."


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Clean windows

Dave's office in Blaydon 13 Jan 2012

Dave has defended spending money on cleaning the windows of his office in Blaydon.

He says that the building is now 100 years old and part of the town's heritage and as such need to be cared for. He explains the £150 cost over six months by pointing out the difficult access and the need for specialists.

Dave said,

"It's an old church hall and the windows are behind 4ft high railings with an 8ft gap and a 10ft drop in between, so you have to use specialist industrial machinery to clean them. If you tried to do it yourself you'd end up impaled.

"The building is 100-years-old this year and I feel I have a responsibility to keep it in as good a condition as I can."


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Taxpayers subsidising rail shareholders

East Coast train 9 Jan 2012

As rail fares soar above inflation, Dave has called for a return to British Rail.

The taxpayer pays for about 40% of the cots of the railways but the profits go to the shareholders of the privatised rail companies.

Calling for the 'botched' privatisation to be reversed, Dave said,

"We now have a system that doesn't work in an integrated way and we still see taxpayers funding a railway system over which they have no say.

"Public money is subsidising shareholder profit when it should be being reinvested into improvements in rolling stock, new lines - or redeveloping closed ones - and in promoting an integrated transport system."


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