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Ed Miliband in Stockton to announce plans to help first-time buyers

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Yesterday was a special day for us.

Our Labour leader Ed Miliband came to Arc in Stockton to deliver an important speech, speaking not just to my excellent campaign team who were there in huge numbers but to the whole country about our pledge on housing - and I was very proud to introduce to him to the audience.

I have been fighting for a better deal for young people and first-time buyers for a long time, and our new policies on those who rent privately are also going to make a massive difference. I don't think there was anywhere in the country where it could have been more appropriate.

We will abolish stamp duty for first time buyers on properties up to £300,000. That means a saving of up to £5000 - which most people add to the mortgage and pay over and over again.

It would be funded by a clampdown on landlords who avoid tax, a cut in tax relief for landlords who fail to maintain properties and increased taxes for foreign property investors - with stamp duty on buyers from outside the EU also rising by at least 3%. (That will deal with the super rich who buy up houses and flats in our cities and then sit on them, leaving them empty while there is a housing crisis).

We will also stop absent landlords from buying up all the new houses for buy-to-let while playing no part in our communities by ensuring that local councils can determine - where it is an issue - that people who have lived in an area for more than three years are given first refusal on up to half of the new homes built there.

Our policies for private renting tenants (like me) have been published before but it was a good opportunity to remind people that we wont let agents charge potential tenants a fee for looking to rent and we will change the law to make three-year tenancies the norm instead of the six or 12-month short-term tenancies that most renters have now – so that landlords and tenants both have more stability, but with the ability to terminate contracts early with proper notice if they have to, just as they can now.

After the excellent speech, I popped over to Teesside Retail Park for a BBC hot-seat before going door knocking with the lovely Justine Miliband who was very warmly welcomed on the doorstep in Thornaby.

My very good friend Stephen Twigg and friends from across the north were also here and after the excitement we hit the streets of Stockton South in great humour.

It really was all happening here yesterday!

I hope you enjoy our photographs.

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