20/05/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew is joined by the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

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In the artist: Well plans to set up more free schools mean greater


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1801 seconds


choice for parents or chaos in the Welcome to your part of the show.


Coming up: Three new free schools are planned for Newcastle. Is it


widening choice for parents or is it a recipe for educational chaos


and the City? Joining me to talk about that and the latest news on


employment is the Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham and Sunderland


Conservative councillor Robert Oliver. We will also have our very


own singing MP. First, unemployment may have fallen nationally but it


has gone up in the north. 6,000 more people were added, according


to the latest figures, pushing the unemployment rate to 11.5%, the


highest in the UK. It was also up in Cumbria. Here is Mark Denton.


This man lost his job last July in a railway call centre, and is still


out at work. I am looking all the time, in the papers, TV, and I am


not getting anywhere. I have got a wealth of knowledge of the railway,


and it is not being used. Sometimes I don't want to get a because I


wonder why I should. Robert says the government is for getting older


unemployed people like a him. tend to look at the youngsters.


Kids leaving school, late 20s, early 30s, but there is nothing for


myself. I would like to see them make some sort of effort to get


older people like myself into work. Robert is one of 140,000 people in


the north-east who are unemployed. Behind the overall figure there are


some particular blackspots. Unemployment in we're Valley is


11.7%. Things are even worse on Teesside. Unemployment is 12.7%.


Hartlepool has a figure of 14.1%. The highest unemployment in the


region is Middlesbrough. But here, one bright spot. This local


engineering firm is expanding and taking on 50 new staff. It has also


moved into this new factory as a result of a grant from the


Government. This is an example of what grant funding can do. We won 2


significant contracts of, but we would not have one men if we could


not demonstrate the strength of the business. Hopefully we will


continue to maintain the greater growth. And more jobs? That is the


plan. But many other workers across the region are worried about the


future. The chairman of the Institute of


Directors is Ian Dormer who runs his own engineering firm in


Berkeley. Does this paint a grim picture? There is nervousness. We


must not ignore that fact. Maybe the rise in numbers is due to a


high number of public sector workers losing their jobs over the


last months. But your report said there are some really good core


businesses. I think that is one thing we must not forget. The


north-east has a terrific engineering history, which is where


the strength of the area comes from. But it is going to be difficult for


certain groups, including Robert who has an older worker, and youth


unemployment, some of those people struggle for employers to take them


on. Robert was at a cost centre, and it looks like he has changed


his job several times, and he has been able to modify and work in


several things. But at the moment no one will went -- will employ her.


But they will. Someone who can be flexible like that has a much


greater opportunity at getting it job. We saw a successful recipient


of the regional growth fund. But we have heard that it is costing too


much to keep this going. Does the fund need changing? I always treat


these funds with a little bit of scepticism. Also, when we look at


their investments we have to take a longer term view. Being able to


take a 12 month snapshot is a bit early, so we have to take a longer,


midterm sorter view, then we can decide if it has worked. Does the


government need to do more? Some people say business needs to work


harder, but does the Government need to work harder to create


growth? There are so many rules and regulations that businesses have to


tackle, and we need to be able to give business the chance to work


hard and achieved something. That would be the great thing. But what


government can do is put infrastructure expenditure in. The


north-east has shouted about having a better road network for many


years. That is something that would make a difference here.


Thank you very much. Alex, we had a couple of months


where unemployment fell in the north-east sources hard to draw too


depressing a conclusion from one month. No, when you have 6,000


people added to the list, and a vast number of people who are long-


term unemployed. This morning I met with the people responsible for a


work programme who told me they had managed to place 500 people in the


last 12 months which is not a lot. She is working extremely hard to do


the right thing but it is not working for the people. As Ian


Dormer said, you must know when stopped and there is a hard core of


noughties businesses that are creating jobs. -- north-east


businesses. There are. Many businesses want to create the


things for the offshore wind industry but we need the jobs


coming through on the orders coming through to create more jobs. I know


there are people to invest but companies across the country are


sitting on billions of pounds and they are afraid to invest at this


time. We need to encourage them to invest and create the jobs we need.


Robert, with unemployment growing, is this the sign that the


Government is failing in the regions? It is too early to tell.


We have also got to take into consideration that the


international context is difficult. We are facing the largest


financial... I do not want are going to Europe. -- to go into


Europe. Unemployment is higher here, and we must not forget what is


happening in Greece which has to have an impact. That is the major


trading partner. But some parts have seen their unemployment fall.


There is a story within a story there. Unemployment has fallen in


Sunderland by 183 which has a small fall, but it has fallen. One of the


reasons is the Government increases in funding for companies like


Nissan, where you have sustainable jobs and jobs that are very


accessible for the population of Sunderland. That is the way forward,


to ensure companies like Nissan who are able to expand have the tools


to do the job. But there are not working for the people. We have


seen an increase of 544 % in the number of young people unemployed


over 12 months. It is not working for young people. Surely we need to


see something more in order to stimulate jobs and opportunities


for them. Youth unemployment has been around for a long time, but


one of the things that is being done to tackle youth unemployment


is apprenticeships, and the take-up of apprenticeships in the north-


east has been a very large indeed, and that shows that apprenticeships


are quite suitable for a lot of people in the north-east. They have


the right skills to be matched to it. Robert Oliver, the figures this


week also suggested that, particularly among men, there has


been a drop in earning power. Weekly wage has dropped �45 a week.


How well the economy increase when people earn less money? You can


also see this in a different way that wage restraint may be


cushioning some of the blow for unemployment because there are


certain countries in Europe that have a higher unemployment than the


United Kingdom. Alex Cunningham, people are keeping their jobs even


if they are being paid less? Yes, and they are cutting their hours.


People are now a part-time workers, and that is why the unemployment


figures are not higher than the Danaher. They are earning less and


gone to parting which has to be worse for the economy. Thank you


very much. The Government has given parents,


teachers and voluntary groups the chance to run their own free


schools. They say it will mean more choice. What about that schools


that already exist? What will be the impact on them? Two of the new


schools will be opened in the West End of the city. That has prompted


a fierce war of words with the council claiming it could lead to


existing schools closing down. These mums have already signed up


their toddlers for a potential new free school. A free school like the


proposed one gives emphasis to certain things that are valued like


an outdoors learning. Especially in the area early years. A massive


influence to me was the idea of nurturing each individual child's


passions. Phases of the future and concentration in the classroom here.


-- faces. This was built with financial and issued... There will


be choice for parents to have a larger catchment area, which may


mean that they choose to free school rather than our School, and


I think that is quite detrimental because in Newcastle we all try to


serve her own communities, and it splits up the community a bet. It


would be a little bit of a mistake, I think, to be divisive in the area.


Where would the free schools go, and who is behind them? One is


being put forward by the parish church, and would educate pupils


from four years until 18, and have a Christian ethos. The other would


be in the West End of Newcastle and would be aimed at pupils between


the ages of 11 and 18. Thirdly there is a proposal for a primary


school, again in the West End of Newcastle, which has been put


forward by a charity. But the council says they would be in


competition with the other schools in the region, including this one.


There is a debate around with are not you think education should be


open to market forces or not. In Newcastle we have 3,000 surplus


places which means we have to manage the schools effectively.


Introducing new schools into the system without any proper controls


and regulation of those schools means it simply exacerbates the


surplus places problem and would lead to school closure us. Those


behind a free school proposals denied they would be disrupting


education in the city. They say they would enhance it, offering


more choice and flexibility and a unique style of education not


available elsewhere. I appreciate any child that are tens of free


school will be taken... We would hope this school would respond


positively and work with the City Council to provide a better quality


of education throughout the city for the children. It is the


children who are important. All the proposals for free schools are now


being considered by the Department for Education. Supporters say they


will shake up education, and critics say they are an experiment


that could go wrong. Alex, the truth is that councillors


resist this because it threatens their control over schools. If the


schools are good for the system, that it is what counts. No, local


authorities are coming to terms with academies that had been


created. People are opting out of the local authority world, and free


schools are part of the new thing that is coming to the fore. But if


there are going to be free schools, which I am not against, they should


be in the right place to serve and need. Whether this is a need in the


Newcastle West End, I very much doubt. But our parents not in the


best place to describe this? they think the local schools are


not good enough, they should be working with this goes on putting


pressure on politicians and school governors to drive up standards,


which is important. We do not want to create a situation where we


spend millions of pounds opening a new school for people to leave one


school into the other. That is not the way forward. We need to drive


up standards. Robert, this is madness in any area where there are


surplus places to be opening potentially three new schools.


lot of the news about free schools has been exaggerated because demand


is important to any application for free schools. He will never get


loads of free schools opening and damaging the system. They will only


happen where there is evidence based demand from parents for it.


Michael Gove is keen on this idea. He will not try to stop parents


doing a list. But if you look at the first tranche of free schools,


only one in 10 is accepted by the Department for Education. It has


never been the idea that you will get lots of free schools in the


city, you will get them where they are needed. A free school would


lift all schools in a local authority, not just one school.


There is a good example in the constituency next to mine, there is


an application for a free school which needs a more secondary school


places, but pupils have a choice of the best three schools in the


region already. But surely the good schools will have nothing to fear,


the parents will not leave schools that are good schools are. But what


will happen is there will be adrift of pupils from the other parts of


the region into the schools... does that matter? It does matter


because it is important that communities have a school, and it


is about driving up standards. It is not about building buildings. We


have to work with schools where they are feeling and not doing so


well, to make sure they drive up standards. Another building with a


different set of governors is not the answer. Robert, people just


want good schools, don't they? Hundred it would be better


concentrating resources on the existing schools. -- it would be


better. People have the opportunity to set up free schools. Including


charities. But you are giving more people choice of every school has a


good school for. One of the ways to do this is by introducing other


competitors and allowing them to make sure that other schools


respond to that. If you look at evidence on academies, reports show


that where you have academies it drives up quality in all the


schools round about it, not just the Academy.


Thank you. Sometimes I feel like breaking into song. It must be


something to do with working at the BBC. I am not the only one, it


seems. This week the Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell did his own


audition for he Voice when the The first shipment of steel from


the blast furnace has sailed from Teesport. The Newcastle North MP


has joined Labour's Treasury team as part of Ed Miliband's reshuffle.


The Bishop of Durham has criticised the impact of higher interest loans.


The Church has always been an a position to say that certain things


oppress people on the edge who are vulnerable, and that is wrong.


Finally, the Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell has criticised David


Cameron by breaking out into song. He turns to the Deputy Prime


# I beg your pardon, I didn't It is a yes from me! Ronnie, the


bishop and what he raised about pay their loans, is he right to raise


the issue? He is right to raise the issue and the church has a very


strong voice in politics. It has to be consistent, it has to criticise


Labour governments and Conservative governments equally on behalf of


people who are marginalised. He has criticised pay-day loans, and I


think his views are a little exaggerated because they are not


doing anything illegal. Some people might want to take these loans


tough -- to tide them over until next pay-day. But he has an


important issue about how much interest is paid and about how we


should be very clear to anyone who is taking a loan. Alex, these pay-


day loans sometimes help through a short-term crisis. Are they any


worse than high-street bang? bishop is right to be involved, but


before we came out I checked some of the offers. 2770 % for a pay-day


alone, or you can get a bargain of 1170 %. They are legal sharks and


they are taking advantage of the most vulnerable people in the


society. We have to do something about it. But is there. Not that


people do in the short term loans sometimes? -- is the point not that


sometimes people need short-term loans? I am working with the teas


credit union to try to create capacity there so they can enter


this market, but we need to be able to have the capacity to do it, and


it takes a long time. Government is starting to deal with this, and we


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