Author: Julia Mazza

Julia Mazza grew up in Middlesbrough, the descendant of Irish Famine refugee ironworkers and a Tyne shipyard union organiser. She is in awe of how the North East industrial workers, enduring intense hardship, still managed to create a formidable labour movement. Retired after a career in campaigns and commercial and policy research, she now lives in London

The Transporter Bridge: past and future

Julia Mazza

The Transporter Bridge, that monument to Middlesbrough’s iron age,  is 110 years old in October and its age is beginning to show. The unique Grade II* listed structure received a Risk of Death notice in 2019 and has been closed ever since. At the time of its construction in 1911 the bridge provided a vital […]

Hartlepool: nuclear waste and a council civil war 

Julia Mazza

August is the silly month, with the press scrabbling for copy to fill column inches left empty by the political recess. It is the perfect season for Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, sultan of spin, to create a “secret radioactive waste dump” conspiracy theory. In eleven August days, he accused Hartlepool Labour Group, smeared a local charity, ousted […]

BREAKING

Hartlepool Deputy Mayor resigns in nuclear waste war fall-out

Julia Mazza

Mike Young, the Conservative Deputy Mayor and Deputy Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council has resigned his posts.  He remains a Conservative Party councillor. His resignation comes hot on the heels of a war of words with Ben Houchen, the mayor of Tees Valley. Houchen had first accused the council’s minority Labour Group of holding “secret” […]

Hartlepool’s storm in a nuclear teacup

Julia Mazza

A war of words has broken out in Hartlepool about early discussions on a possible offshore radioactive waste storage facility. Material in the Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)  would be stored one kilometre below the surface in concrete containers. The opening salvo came from a press release by Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen: “I have […]

Stobart pulls out of Teesside International Airport

Julia Mazza

Esken, the  company behind struģgling Stobart Aviation Ltd, has returned its quarter-share in Teesside International Airport for a “nominal” sum.  The aviation sector has been blindsided by Covid-19. However, Stobart Aviation Ltd posted losses of £53 million in the year to 29th February 2020 – before the first lockdown. Should the airport be sold before 25 […]

UPDATED

Dominic Cummings: made in the North East?

Julia Mazza

Cummings followed the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) with two easy, false arguments: the money spent on more politicians could be spent on doctors; and the Assembly would raise Council Tax. In hindsight it could be Brexit: The Prequel.

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Lindy Delapenha: Boro’s Jamaican legend

Julia Mazza

Delapenha turned down a transfer offer from Manchester City to stay with his wife-to-be, local schoolteacher Joan Crawford. The decision endeared him to the fans. He was always popular, but there was a racist undercurrent, and with any minor mistake the racial epithets would fly. Remarkably it didn’t put Lindy off his game.

North East money: U-Turn or pork barrel politics?

Julia Mazza

There’s a financial weather warning in place across the North East. Every day a blizzard of banknotes swirls around the region, smothering the press with good news: Towns Deal millions here, Freeport billions there. And with it a warm front of jobs, jobs, jobs. As we gaze on in wonderment are we seeing a U-turn […]

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Middlesbrough controlled by Tory and Independent ‘coalition’

Julia Mazza

A new ruling coalition of Tories and Independents has taken over Middlesbrough Borough Council. The three Conservative councillors have joined forces with 13 representatives in the Middlesbrough Independent Group and the ten strong Middlesbrough Independent Councillors Association, together with two other ‘independent’ Independents.

May elections special

Hartlepool: the last leg

Julia Mazza

If Brexit amnesia has combined with the current Covid ‘vaccine bounce’, then Mrs Mortimer could win.

Opinion

Can the North East do a Biden?

Julia Mazza

The Republicans weren’t just beaten by a superior presidential election campaign, but with a four-year grassroots fight to weaken their authority and prevent the Trump agenda from becoming law. With some adjustments we can copy their game plan.

Russians, Tories and the North East

Julia Mazza

Fedotov is former head of a subsidiary of Lukoil, Russia’s largest oil company. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism recently reported on a 2008 review by Russian state pipeline enterprise Transneft, of huge commissions charged by contractors during construction of the US$4 billion Siberia-Pacific pipeline. Fedotov was Chair of two companies thought to have benefitted – VNIIST and IP Network, but his name was never mentioned in the inquiry and no charges were brought. The review was revealed by opposition figure and Novichok survivor Alexei Navalny.

Recipe

Our mam’s recipes

Julia Mazza

It was a huge steaming rectangle, not the small buns of the Godless South, that she’d cut into wedges and we’d smother in thick gravy. Only after we’d polished off the pud would come the roast.

Carbon capture: where there’s green there’s gold

Julia Mazza

Then there’s the politics. Tees Valley’s Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen has claimed ownership of the CCUS idea, a handy way of shoring up support for his new mayoral role. The South Tees Development Corporation has no Labour representatives on its board. After the May 2019 local elections of the five member councils – Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Darlington – the Labour Party controls no council outright.

The North East’s last slave owners

Julia Mazza

The scale of slavery was matched only by the owners’ double standards. Like the anti-slavery campaigner James Mather of South Shields who, in a feat of moral contortionism, lodged a claim on behalf of his slave-owning wife, Grace Ainsley. He received £2,469 for 121 slaves at their plantations in Jamaica.

How will Baroness Fox vote?

Julia Mazza

As the House of Lords takes its seats for the new session of Parliament, we can expect the 36 new peers to have their ‘formal introduction’ to the chamber over the next few weeks, after which they can take part in debating and passing legislation. The question is, how will the new Baroness vote? As […]