Section: Region

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Resisting the far right in the North East

Stephen Lambert

There remains a real danger that UKIP or even Nigel Farage’s re-launched Brexit Party into the new Reform Party could become more racialised. If Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy and programme fails to deliver in the North and Midlands, these parties could enjoy a future resurgence in the region’s urban towns and coastal communities. They already hold a number of council seats in both Hartlepool and Sunderland, and they polled well in local elections in Newcastle’s east end.

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.

A real living wage is good for both North East workers and employers

Stephen Lambert

6,500 British employers now pay their staff the Real Living Wage of £9.30 an hour including Newcastle and Sunderland Councils. The implementation of the RLW has benefitted 1,200 city council employees. These staff are primarily based in schools or are ancillary workers, such as cleaners and cooks. Most are £1,100 better off as a result of this pay policy.

A writer in Covid times

Peter Lathan

There’s very little happening in theatre – but just wait five minutes for that could change at any time as the government keeps changing its mind, knee-jerking to everything that catches our masters’ attention – so news and reviews are very thin on the ground, and as for writing new plays…

The welfare state’s forgotten army?

Stephen Lambert

The notion that the ‘family’ no longer cares about its older kin and has abdicated its responsibilities to the state is misplaced. Pre-industrial society is often portrayed as ‘The Golden Age’ of the family and ageing, when older relatives were respected and cared for by their own families. The assumption was that people lives in ‘extended’ type families. This is a myth.

Tynedale Transformed: the second Sunday throughout winter

Yvonne Wancke

Following its festival launch, Tynedale Transformed is now holding a series of events throughout the winter called The Second Sunday, where they will hold events around a particular issue. The topic on Sunday 8th November is,” From the High Street to the Villages; Keeping our Communities alive”:

Revisiting the Youth Training Scheme in the North East

Stephen Lambert

Falling profits, automation and the demise of heavy industry meant that the number of new jobs was shrinking in the region’s manufacturing industries. By 1981, the number of apprenticeships had halved since the mid-1960s peak, when over a quarter of male school leavers got an apprenticeship.

Please sir, can I have some more?

Sally Young

From the 1970s onward, successive governments have pulled back from the state provision of a nutritional meal. Remember “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”? Usually the dogma was around the Nanny State – though I’m rather taken with David Baddiel’s comment that the ”people who most object to the Nanny State are nearly all brought up by nannies”. The growth of the food industry, junk food, consumer choice and fast food – also the drive of privatisation, reduction of council costs, crackdowns on benefits and the reduction in numbers of those entitled to Free School Meals resulted in a decimation of the school meals service.

Music

Sunderland indie rock band releases new single

Daisy Windsor

Plastic Glass is no stranger to the local live scene, having played sold out headline shows at venues such as Think Tank (Newcastle) and Independent (Sunderland) as well as supporting indie outfits The Snuts, The K’s and The Pale White. Now working with nationally acclaimed promoters Scruff of the Neck and This Feeling, the Sunderland four piece are travelling further afield, having already played shows in Leeds, Glasgow, Carlisle and Manchester this year before being cut short.

Let them eat Christmas cake-Tory policy and child poverty

Lesley Anne

How have we come to this is the question I have asked most often in the last week, why is leadership on the most fundamental of issues coming from a young man of 22 with no political experience or ambitions other than to make sure children are fed. I think it’s clear Marcus Rashford’s own experience has given him a deep seated understanding and empathy; he knows what it’s like to be a child who is hungry and to feel the accompanying shame and stigma.

Weardale Railway: an opportunity for a unique community

Owain Gardner

Yes, the railways in 1963 may have been old fashioned and a bit dirty but they provided a space where people could talk in an unhurried environment and also, certainly if you read the references to railways in Howards End, an environment where the whole gamut of life could be seen.

Lucy’s story

Louise Brown

With Lucy’s freedoms curtailed in so many ways she, and many other young people, are certainly having a tough time of it at the moment. With no nights out with friends allowed to ease the pain it’s going to be a long hard winter. Let’s hope Boris Johnson considers this during the current crunch time Brexit talks and gets a good deal for the sake of everybody but especially our young people.

To have and have not: the north’s growing education class divide

Stephen Lambert

The stark reality is to many disadvantaged youngsters living in inner-city wards and the outer-council estates are trapped in over-crowded housing conditions where there’s little space to do homework. Many lack personal computers or laptops – termed ‘digital exclusion’ – a situation compounded by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Unsung Heroes in Hexham

Kate Bredin

Communities in and around Hexham have nominated their Unsung Heroes, sharing stories about the everyday people who have inspired them, and now song-writer and performer Bridie is looking for North East musicians to take part in the next stage of the project. Bridie explains, “For me, writing songs is all about capturing stories that would otherwise be lost so it’s a real joy to write about these Unsung Heroes who have made a difference in their local community, and until now, not received the recognition they deserve. We’ve had some really heart-warming nominations and now we’re looking for local people with a passion for music to get involved. “

Food glorious food!

Peter Benson

But this food bank, like all others throughout the UK, is likely to see a new surge in demand as furlough ends and new Tier 2 or 3 Lockdowns are announced, causing losses of tens of thousands of jobs. It’s estimated London could lose 200,000 jobs in ‘hospitality’, and hundreds of thousands more are at risk all round the UK. So, a huge crisis is developing as we approach Christmas.

Princesses and makeup at the local virtual xmas market: Part 2

Yvonne Wancke

Jill is keen on the idea of supporting other businesses to help us all overcome challenges and move into 2021 with greater optimism. She says: “I love the idea of the Christmas market as I think and hope this year people want to support small businesses and buy locally if they can.“