Budget Consultation Middlesbrough PO BOX 506 Strategic Resources Civic Centre MIDDLESBROUGH TS1 9GA VIA EMAIL Friday

, 23 November 2012 CC: Mr Ray Mallon, Mayor of Middlesbrough; Cllr N Walker; Cllr J Walker; Cllr C Rooney; Cllr D Budd; Joe Mann MBE, Deputy General Secretary, Community Union; Margaret Wotherspoon, Community Union; Mr Darren Melroy, President, Prior Pursglove College Students’ Union. Dear sir/madam, I am writing to respond to the Budget Consultation for 2013/2014. Firstly, can I highlight how I appreciate Middlesbrough Council is facing unprecedented budgetary pressure due to the Coalition Government’s decision to hit the North East of England’s local authorities with the country’s harshest cuts. I have been lobbying for the past two-and-a-half years for a fairer deal for Teesside and its local authorities in Parliament, and I welcome the fact that the Mayor of Middlesbrough is now also criticising the disproportionate cuts to which the Department for Communities and Local Government is subjecting Middlesbrough. Whilst I am under no illusion that the necessary budget reductions can be met purely through efficiency savings, I would like to urge the Mayor to do all he can to find savings from elsewhere to protect certain vital frontline services.

Hemlington Library
One of the proposed cuts which I find most concerning is the closure of Hemlington Library. I know that the ward councillors are fighting to save this, and I have had representations from dozens of constituents asking me to lobby for its retention. We should all be doing our very utmost to prevent library closures, with councils—according to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee—having a “statutory duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service”. Hemlington Library is vital to my constituents, not just serving as a library but also serving as a central part of the community. This library is one of the newer ones within the Borough, and I Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency office: 6-8 Wilson St, Guisborough, TS14 6NA Email: info@tomblenkinsop.com | Phone: 01287 610878

believe that the Council would struggle to find an alternative use for the building should it cease to function as a library. As such, not only would its closure leave my constituents in Hemlington, Stainton and Thornton without easy access to a library, but it would seem inefficient and imprudent to abandon the building. I urge the Mayor to undertake a full impact assessment of its proposed closure, paying particular attention to its role in the community, to the effects of its closure on young people and older people, and to the opportunity costs of leaving such a building unused. I believe that any such impact assessment would lead to the conclusion that the library should not close.

Ayresome Industries
Before I make representations as to the future of Ayresome Industries, please may I declare an interest, as I represented members of the National League of the Blind and Disabled at Ayresome Industries as a Community Union official prior to my election in 2010. I consider it vital that disabled workers have a choice about the environment in which they wish to work. Fundamentally, whilst supporting disabled workers within an integrated workplace is not to be discouraged, I feel that disabled people—if they so wish—should be able to choose to work for an organisation like Ayresome Industries or Remploy. Employing disabled people is essential to our society, helping them not only earn a living, but gain confidence and independence. Employers like Ayresome Industries do a good job at helping them do so, at a time when unemployment—especially for disabled people—in the North East is so high. Whilst I appreciate that the Council feels it could save £180,000 by closing Ayresome Industries, I believe that the people working there benefit in an unquantifiable manner. I therefore urge the Mayor to do all he can to protect this vital employment and to work alongside Community Union, who represent many of its workers. I do, however, seek clarification from the Council. In an Evening Gazette letter dated 2 November 2012, Conservative Cllr Chris Hobson claims that she has “been assured that all employees have been offered other positions throughout the council”. Please can this confirmed to me, in writing, as well as details of the positions that Ayresome Industries workers have been offered.

Teen Mover
My constituents at Prior Pursglove College have approached me expressing their concern over the proposed axe of the ‘Teen Mover’ scheme. I understand this has been previously suggested to be cut, but was ultimately retained in those instances following campaigns by local young people. Young people in Middlesbrough are getting a particularly bad deal from this Government. The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, scrapped Educational Maintenance Allowance, Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency office: 6-8 Wilson St, Guisborough, TS14 6NA Email: info@tomblenkinsop.com | Phone: 01287 610878

which many of the Borough’s residents received to incentivise their continuation in education as well as to help pay for vital costs, replacing it with a poorly-funded, piecemeal bursary system. Similarly, the labour market is stacked against them, with long-term youth unemployment in Middlesbrough having increased by 110% between May 2010 and September 2012. Local authorities should be doing all they can, therefore, to assist them. Retaining this scheme in its current form is my preferred option, but may I ask whether Middlesbrough Council has considered the alternatives listed below to make savings: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Limiting its use to a certain time period (e.g. 7:30am to 6pm); Limiting its use to journeys to/from a place of study/employment; Entering into negotiations with bus operators for a better deal; Working alongside Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council to operate a joint scheme; Reducing administrative costs.

Other cuts
I would also like to express particular concern about proposed cuts 7, 11, 24, 26, 40, 50, 64, 72, 78, 79, 80, 82, 83, 85, 86, and 87. I would also appreciate more information about proposed reductions in contracted bus services (cut 88), and would urge you to further ensure that compulsory redundancies are avoided where possible. Yours faithfully,

Tom Blenkinsop MP

Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency office: 6-8 Wilson St, Guisborough, TS14 6NA Email: info@tomblenkinsop.com | Phone: 01287 610878