On this page I set out my local manifesto; those issues you have raised with me on the doorstep which I promise to focus on as your MP.
I was brought up in Yarm and have also lived in Thornaby, Stockton and now Ingleby Barwick but that doesn’t make me an expert on your views. So for almost two years I have walked across the constituency, knocking on over 35,000 doors.
You have told me your priorities and what really matters to you.
Some of those are national – like the need to protect our NHS, or secure decent jobs for our young people, tackle low pay and insecure work or support small businesses.
These are my five national pledges:
Labour has policies which will make a real difference to people in Stockton South. You can read more about each policy area on my national policy page here. Below I set out my local priorities.
Standing up for Stockton South
The communities of Eaglescliffe, Hilton, Ingleby Barwick, Kirklevington, Maltby, Preston, Stockton, Thornaby, and Yarm
GP appointment waiting times are a particular problem locally. My constituency wide NHS survey showed the majority of patients are regularly waiting 3 weeks to see their Doctor. Labour will bring back the 48 hour guarantee nationally and I will work with local practices and the Health and Wellbeing Board to help drive down waiting times.
At 50 years old, North Tees hospital is undoubtedly in need of investment. If it is shown that it cannot be upgraded and if a new hospital must be built I will be backing a consultation with local people about where it should be. Wynyard has thankfully been ruled out – the land has since gone – and I will be fighting for any new hospital to be built in Stockton.
Buses across Teesside are now run for profit as commercial companies; they are no longer a public service. The withdrawal of services and routes across our outlying villages and in our towns, alongside the cutting back of services in the evening and at weekends has left many passengers stranded and isolated. I will be pushing for a Labour Government to introduce its promised bus reforms as early in the new Parliament as possible to give local councils, working together, power once again over bus routes and fares.
Jobs and enterprise
Our young people are desperate for the chance to work. I will visit local employers to encourage them to take on apprenticeships under Labour's new plans and organise an annual apprenticeship fair within Stockton South to help local people into local jobs. I will also work with the council to encourage a wide adoption of local labour agreements to secure construction apprenticeships on new developments. I will offer a full-time apprenticeship in my team.
Older people who want to work are being left behind. Every day I meet residents in their 50s and 60s who are discriminated against in interviews. I support Labour’s plans to give older people the support they need with the chance to learn new skills, find work and contribute. I will work with local employers to sign up to our job’s guarantee scheme and I will guarantee a job in my team for an older person.
As someone who runs a small business, I know they are the backbone of our economy. I will continue to network with SMEs, offering support and encouragement, signposting budding and existing entrepreneurs to organisations who can help them grow and succeed. If a small business does well it will be able to take on more staff and help our local economy. I will engage every year in Small Business Saturday, as I have done for the last two years, and visit each of our towns in turn.
Pensioners have served the country well and deserve a peaceful retirement with good access to services. Labour will guarantee free TV licences and bus passes and protect the value of the state pension, maintaining the "triple lock" on the state pension, which ensures annual increases of at least 2.5%. The winter fuel allowance which Labour introduced will be maintained for everyone except those with a pension above £42,000. Unfortunately many pensioners are lonely and would love the opportunity to spend time with others. I will work with Age UK, our parish, town and borough councillors to identify and then promote activities and events that older people can join in with.
We need more for young people to do – I will actively support plans to build a new leisure facility, swimming pool, gym and a new youth café and community centre in Ingleby Barwick; promote our great youth clubs, Guide and Scout packs, sports, music and dance clubs across the borough; and encourage outreach to engage with young people who don’t like to go into formal buildings.
Education is very important to me. I will visit every school at least once a year and talk to teachers, parents, governors or pupils about their ambitions and plans. Teachers who have been treated poorly by this Government will always have my respect. Since the Coalition Government scrapped Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, many of our local schools have missed out. I will fight for the extra investment we need, whether that is a new school or an extra classroom. I support the right of parents to apply for a first choice school with a good track record to give their children the best chances possible and I will work with them to ensure that catchment areas are fair.
Crime and anti-social behaviour
Stockton South is a safe place to live with low levels of serious crime compared to some of our neighbouring areas, however there are still some problems at street level that residents want tackling. Anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and prostitution sadly do blight some of our streets, particularly since Conservative cuts have reduced the number of police on the beat. I have a good working relationship with our local police and will be fighting for better neighbourhood resources to prioritise these problems which stop people from enjoying their own home in peace.
I will work with local farmers, Farm Watch, the council and police to combat rural crime and fly-tipping which blights our countryside.
Labour have promised to bring back the planning policy that prioritises the building of new homes on brown field sites (where something has been built before) ahead of green fields, this was scrapped by the Conservatives. The Tory MP has never formally objected to a single application anywhere in the constituency since his election. I will continue to work hard to save our countryside and instead prioritise applications like those successful estates on the old Visqueen factory, in Parkfield or Mandale for much needed and affordable new homes. I will lobby housing associations and developers to build more one and two bedroom properties to get more people on the ladder and more affordable homes in general.
Even as a candidate, I have been pleased to work with Thirteen Housing to bring about improvements on Holmes and Middlefield in Thornaby for instance and will be looking for them, Endeavour and SBC to extend estate improvements across the constituency.
Scrap the bedroom tax which punishes 700 local families, many of them disabled. I have been campaigning against this vindictive and nasty benefit change since before it started, I set up Labour Against the Bedroom Tax, a national campaign to have it scrapped. I want your support to go to Westminster and vote to get rid of it. I have helped many local people with their bedroom tax problems and know how much damage it has caused.
Promote Stockton South and the wider borough
I will use the role of MP to actively promote Stockton South to attract visitors and much needed investors. We have so much to offer that people elsewhere simply don’t know about. I will highlight our great attractions like Preston Hall and Park, Ropner Park and the River Tees, working with our excellent Friends Groups; promote our special heritage – like Thornaby Green, Egglescliffe and Hartburn villages and Yarm High Street; our wonderful buildings and excellent schools; the countryside on our doorstep; our fantastic events and festivals. I will continue to campaign for the recognition of our ancient Yorkshire and Durham history; and let the world know this is a great place to live.
As a teenager nothing was more exciting than Stockton High Street on a Saturday. Sadly it fell into the doldrums but things are really looking up now with many new independent shops and a great new look. As your MP I will work with the council, Tees Valley Unlimited, and the various business networks I belong to, to bring new shops and businesses in and drive forward the change we need to bring the town centre alive again.
The villages in our constituency are rightly proud of their unique character and charm. Sadly they are in danger of being left behind as they see a diminishing of public services and disruption to their daily lives. I will join in with community events and support village life; work with local parish councils to support a renewal of public transport and to develop local community transport schemes
An effective, engaged and listening representative
I will have an office in the constituency, with well-trained staff who have great customer-service skills. I will hold weekly advice sessions and arrange home visits for those who cannot get out of the house. As a visible and engaged constituency MP, I will continue to knock on doors each week and attend as many community and civic events as possible.
I will work with representatives from all parties - and none, in a constructive way, working in partnership wherever possible, for the best possible outcomes for our area.