10/07/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


10/07/2011

Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.


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Every council in the North East has cut jobs except one. How have they

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done it? From cuts in schools sport too big

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 219 seconds

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The event was organised by after as part of the royal visit to the

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 219 seconds

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The warmest of welcomes to your local part of the show. The final

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one of the series. Six months ago, these youngsters

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were looking for a job. Did they find one? They had a big society

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idea to run their own cinema in Cumbria, if they could raise the

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money. We will find out later what happened.

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First, the warnings were dire. They would be a haemorrhage of council

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jobs across the North. So how bad is it proving to be for those

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working, or no longer working, in our town halls? We contacted every

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council in Cumbria and the North East to find that just how many

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redundancies there have been. The findings are surprising. Every

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local authority has cut jobs beside one, which is one of the biggest.

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Billingham Ice Rink, newly refurbished by the local council.

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Things are not only chilly for the skaters. Budget cuts are cold. They

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have been planned for, but 79 redundancies took place a new wave.

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When you have to get so much money out of the budget, redundancies

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will always take place. The main expenditure any cancel next is on

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staff. That is the picture across the

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Most of Gateshead's 967 redundancies were voluntary. This

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is Sunderland council. They rose �39 million budget squeeze here,

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too. Here is the thing, nobody has lost their job in the building

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behind me. Not a single compulsory redundancy, not a single voluntary

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redundancy. Around here, they call it the Sunderland way. So how does

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it work? Workers whose jobs disappear do not

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end up sacked. They ended on what is called the switch team, a

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waiting room for jobs, of a sort. If your job disappears, we would

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try and match you with another post somewhere in the council, or one of

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our partner organisations if possible. If that proves to be

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impossible, we will employ you him what we call these which team. --

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switch team. It is better for the city's economy and for the council.

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We believe it is a win-win situation for us stop while the

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council says on redundancy bills, 200 us so people are in deep sea

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which team, waiting for a new job. This former accountant runs the

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canteen, now. It is very different, walking

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around, familiarising myself with what this cafe brings to the public

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and workers. Unions say this should be a model

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for other councils. I do not understand why other local

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authorities are not doing it. It is working here. Other authorities

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need to take a close look at what we are doing here in Sunderland.

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Not everyone is convinced that the Sunderland we can actually save

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money. The worry is for the workforce. Whether the adjustments

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in public spending will be put forward in a sustainable way. The

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level of jobs at the council has to be adjusted in a way that will last,

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and not store up problems for the future.

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We will reach the end of this year within our budget. We will meet our

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savings targets. We have the agreement of the unions and the

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workforce to work towards Withe what we are doing. -- towards what

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they are doing. We have excellent, long-serving people here. We

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Avoiding redundancies at a time of cuts seemed like a neat trick, but

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there are still years of squeezed budgets head. Will the Sunderland

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way end up as a cautionary tale or a model for the council's?

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Have the job cuts really been necessary? Joining me now is the

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Conservative candidate for Berwick. If Sunderland can do this, why are

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other councils making so many redundancies? Should Sunderland not

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be the muddled? We need to be clear, all councils

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are currently doing their best in a difficult situation. The funding

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settlement and the cuts imposed from central government, on all

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councils, are a difficult challenge to face. The way it is being

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imposed, front loaded, with big cuts to be made in the first year,

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has put councils and a difficult position. Some are clearly managing

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better than others in Sunderland can do it without making

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redundancies. I think every council is doing it as best they can.

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Sunderland have used an interesting model. We have is a success. I

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think this is a deficit reduction plan, over four years. It is

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heavily front loaded and one of the big criticisms is that front

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loading it in this way, not going councils time to prepare, has left

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them in a position of being forced to make redundancies. It will cost

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more upfront than if they could have stretched the savings out over

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a longer period. A Labour councillor in Sunderland,

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delivering huge savings, without losing job. It is a very

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interesting scheme which I have just heard about for the first time.

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If they are able to bring in the savings without losing jobs, that

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is an excellent proposition. It reminds me very much of what you

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see in the private sector, where you need to make cuts across the

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board to bring budgets into line with deficit positions, they are

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agreeing to that and moving people into jobs that may well have lower

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salaries but the employers are staying within the organisation. --

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employees. If it works, that is fantastic. We have to be sure that

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budgets will be met by the end of the year. But I very much of it

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works. Have other councils got it wrong? I think as Catherine says,

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every council takes on a budget as best they can. The key is to have a

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council leadership which is flexible and can see where they

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need their frontline work to be kept, and where they can make back-

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office savings. Your government could have made it a lot easier by

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spreading the cuts over a longer period, rather than forcing

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councils to make deep cuts so early? It was the opinion of the

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Treasury that the state of our finances, ASLEF to us by Labour,

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was so perilous that he had to make it clear quickly how serious we

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were about bringing those numbers down. -- ASLEF to us. It is

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difficult for everybody, but we are close to being a bankrupt nation.

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We need to be clear and tough, up front. Everybody has had to make

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that judgment. If Sunderland's proposition eases the pressure on

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immediate redundancies, that is great. Most redundancies are

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voluntary, it is not as bad as we fear it. Only one in six

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redundancies are compulsory, does that mean Labour and the unions are

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crime will? I do not think so. There is a bigger picture at play.

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-- crying wolf? People are looking at services delivered... They are

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getting more efficient, as they should. Just this week, I have been

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speaking to Newcastle constituents, elderly residents, who are very

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concerned about the cuts imposed prior to this current

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administration being in place. They are delivering the cuts as

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established and it is putting elderly residents in a difficult

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position. The price has doubled for their care for. If you had listened

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to your party, it was going to be cataclysmic. This suggests it is

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not. It is not pain-free but neither is it a cataclysm. We are

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looking at a rising unemployment and we need to look as well at who

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is actually being targeted by this. We need to look at general fairness

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across the country. Our region and London and Manchester, and

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Liverpool, are suffering. The highest level of cuts in the

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country. This is storing up a serious problem, not just for now

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but for the future. Take Sunderland, who did avoid redundancies. They

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say they have had to keep 600 jobs vacant. This is not pain-free,

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those jobs which were doing something before were providing

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services. I am sure somewhere and we all knew this would be a painful

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time, we have to get our finances back on track. It is down to the

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local councils to use the reduced budgets which they have and spend

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them, if they can, on frontline services. It is down to the

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management and modernisation of services. In Northumberland, we

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have seen it difficult progress through modernising services in

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adult care, for instance. But that is what must be done. If financial

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constraints forced the councils into that position, from my point

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of view, that is a good thing. the financial constraints in

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Northern councils have been a lot worse than some of the leafy

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suburbs of the Home Counties. are differences across the country.

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In education, in Northumberland, we have one of the fourth lowest grant

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allocations and the country editors in the case for 25 years. It needs

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to be reviewed and these are battles we need to fight. The North

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East should continue to fight if it feels it is no getting its fair

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share. In Surrey, they are able to manage the budget better, and if so

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we need to look at that. I have to object, I do not think it is about

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managing budgets better or worse. Here in the North East, we face

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particular challenges and we have done and things have improved. That

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is why budgets have been allocated to areas of deprivation, do try and

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tackle some of those fundamental issues and social problems which he

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to be addressed. I think we are in grave danger of all of the good

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work that has been done to put money and resources into these

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problems, but what will be reversed. We are storing up a bigger problem

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for the future. Ultimately, we are not reducing the deficit but

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increasing it. Because we are only going to increase the benefits bill

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and the NHS bills which will result. Thank you very much.

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If you visit my blood you can see the details of our survey and see

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how many jobs your local council -- my blog. It is our final programme

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of the series so what better time to catch up on some of the stories

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we have covered during a remarkable year. We will hear any moment from

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Durham campaigners fighting cuts and community projects. First the

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story of young job-hunters who appeared on a programme five months

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ago. They were under 25, from the North

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East, and desperate for full-time employment. Back in February, they

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had their message to the politicians. What it is, as soon as

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you walk into the JobCentre you become a number. It would be more

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helpful to be treated as an individual. What happens next to

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our trio of job-hunters? When we last spoke to Scott, he had lost

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his job in IT and set his heart on being a youth worker. Five years

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later, it has not happened, but there has been good news. I have

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been accepted for an IT apprenticeship which is really

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promising. It is full-time work, 35 hours, five days a week. Although

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it is an apprenticeship wagered is still great.

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Joe, a few months back, had to make do with a part-time job. Has his

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search for part-time work been successful? Know. -- full-time

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Work I have only found part-time work. Becky set her sights on

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photography, and is considering going back to college or more

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qualifications. In a year when spending cuts dominated debate, I

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plan to reduce funding for School sport proved controversial. We had

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complaints in November but less games like this one, in County

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Durham, would take place. Ministers insisted their aim was more

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competitive sport and ended up restoring some, but not all, of the

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money. There was more on the buses on direct funding to schools. But

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that has not reassured teachers. But we have gone from three full-

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time workers on a project to one and that is what will happen next

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year as well. This will mean, in practice, they would be less

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competitions and festivals for young people. There will be less

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money to bring coaches in And bless activities. From rugby balls to

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wrecking balls. End-October, reported on a plan to run --

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demolish a run-down housing in Middlesbrough and replace it with

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new builds. Huge delays led to complaints of dereliction and

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abandonment. What has happened since? Since last October, the

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ground has at least been grassed over to make it more pleasant.

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There have been no new builds. The community has set up their

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Community Land Trust. At the end of the day it means the community

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coming together and hopefully in future, having full consultations

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with Middlesbrough Council. Local people getting involved in

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refurbishment themselves? Yes, if that is the way we have to go, and

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look for funding to redevelop the area, I am in favour of.

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People power was the name of the game in the Cumbrian town of

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Penrith. In January, we heard why locals there were determined to

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save their cinema from closure. Maybe we are in with a chance to do

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something. The idea of the Society working together... Maybe we can do

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that. And do what they did. After street

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demonstrations and the raising of tens of thousands of pounds, the

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campaign has finally can pay the dissimilar's owner -- persuaded the

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cinema's owner to extend the lease and give cinema-goers the happy

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ending they want. Let's talk about those three young

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unemployed people. Two still looking for permanent work. The

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government is not live record for those young people are as it?

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excited to find that one of them has found an apprenticeship. The

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North East has had a good record of finding apprenticeships. That get

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people into long-term career is. lot of people remain on the scrap

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heap? Yes, but the private sector is starting to grow again in small

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business terms in the North East. Have you evidence that it is

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growing? We have run a study over the last 12 months. New jobs, over

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22,000, have been announced. What is Labour's big idea to get

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youngsters back into work? Youth unemployment soared under Labour,

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to. We have recently launched an idea for a bank bonus tax, it is

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about time the bankers paid us back for some of the chaos they created

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in the financial crisis. Some of that money will be allocated

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towards a youth job fund, which is a follow on lengths to the future

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jobs fund. If it was down to the private sector to create those jobs,

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what difference for that may? also fun for apprenticeships which

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I fully support and have done significantly through the bell. --

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a fund for apprenticeships. -- the bill. It is about the government

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working with businesses to create opportunities by providing funding.

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We saw the big society in action to save Penrith's cinema. The title

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has that day caused entertainment and difficulty in the media. It is

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empowering people to do that, legislation is coming through in

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lots of areas where people will be able to do things more easily. I

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have a seven Cr be checks for the seven organisations I am involved

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in and they only need one. -- CRB. I want more parents involved in

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community sport and so on, and we have to make it easier and much

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more difficult. That is what the big society is about, having the

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minimum legislation, to encourage people. Community housing trusts

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set up in Middlesbrough, community action, they cannot afford to do it

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in the counsels us something is doing - when been the latter by the

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Is it not good for people to take on responsibilities the council

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cannot? Yes. As far as I can tell, David Cameron is trying to take

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credit for the hard work of these communities and community

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associations up and down the country, as being his great idea.

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It is ridiculous. The funding which is being cut is making the

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society's small and not the bigger. That is it from us. We are off on

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our summer holidays. My thanks to all our guests and you for watching.

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