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Archives for November 2010

Barnsley Jobs - a happy outcome

Len Tingle | 16:34 UK time, Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Job seekers

So why is the dole queue so long in Barnsley?

Well according to academics at Sheffield Hallam University it is because there are simply not enough new vacancies being created by the private sector.

My report for Look North a few days ago on their findings featured unemployed electrician Steve Dodd.

Thirty-eight-year-old Steve, a trained electrician for 22 years, was made redundant eight months ago and he has been struggling on his £65-a-week Job Seekers allowance since then.

He eloquently explained that efforts by the Government to squeeze his benefits would make him poorer but would not get him any closer to his dream of getting back in work.

"There are no jobs," he told me. "If I was offered one tomorrow, I would take it."

Well, he didn't have to wait as long as that.

Within an hour of my broadcast two employers had rung me offering Steve a job.

So, on Sunday's Politics Show you will see him phoning his mum to say, "I've got the job".

He decided that his electrical skills were best fitted to becoming a technician for a company called "A Shade Greener" based at Tankersley just outside Barnsley.

It's a brand new business which installs solar roof panels for free and then makes its money by taking a cut of the excess electricity sold back to the energy companies.

It needs a new workforce of 300.

So does this prove the Government's case that commercial firms will thrive under the Coalition's stewardship and provide those much needed jobs in places like Barnsley?

Well, it has happened for Steve and I wish him all the luck in the world.

That leaves only another 7,099 more on Job Seekers Allowance in Barnsley.

Barnsley - where are the jobs?

Len Tingle | 13:07 UK time, Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Front cover of the Tackling worklessness in Britain's weaker local economies

I had a sneak preview this week of work by researchers at Sheffield's Hallam University which could almost be called the "Not the IDS" report.

It comes to exactly the opposite conclusions of the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith who just a few days before had published the results of months of consultation on how the Coalition Government can tackle the problem of long dole queues.

IDS suggest squeezing unemployment payments to make the benefit culture less comfortable.

Comfort is not a word used much by those I met checking out the job vacancies at the tiny community centre on Barnsley's Kendray Estate.

Steve Codd

Steve Codd - unemployed Barnsley electrician says squeezing his benefit will make him poorer but won't get him a job

For months redundant electrician Steve Codd has been living on £65-a-week Job Seekers' Allowance.

"It's existing not living," says Steve. "The Government says change your profile. So I applied for a job as a warehouseman."

"They take a look at my experience and say... 'what's an electrician doing trying to become a warehouseman?'"

Professor Steve Fothergill led the team who wrote the report, "Tackling worklessness in Britain's weaker local Economies". He's at Sheffield Hallam University's Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.

He says the Government is not thinking about the geography of its policies.

Professor Fothergill

"If someone in the South East was pushed a bit harder to get off benefit and find a job then there's an outside chance that they might do it. In places like Barnsley and Blackpool there simply aren't the jobs."

The report was commissioned by the National Worklessness Learning Forum which was appointed by the outgoing Labour Government with Barnsley Council leader Steve Houghton as its chairman.

He is calling for more work experience schemes to be set up paid by the profits of the banks.

"We want more jobs to be created by the private sector too. After all, we live here the Government doesn't.

But at the moment we have got to give more support because at the moment the Private sector is not producing any more jobs," he said.

Soldiering on - Major Richard Perkins

Len Tingle | 17:08 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010


December 2008 and Major Richard Perkins, aged 91, holds a one-man protest outside Parliament

December 2008 and Major Richard Perkins, aged 91, holds a one-man protest outside Parliament

At 92 former army Major Richard Perkins is still full of fight and willing to take on the entire Ministry of Defence single handed.

He is getting a little frail now but hit the headlines last year by staging a one-man protest outside Parliament and is fully prepared to do the same again.

Until 1998 Richard lived quietly in his rented retirement cottage near Pickering.

His transformation into one of Britain's oldest campaigners came when he was informed that a blunder by officials had indentified him as one of 1,600 veterans who had seen chunks of their army pension mistakenly deducted every month for over 40 YEARS.

It was at this point that the grit which had carried him through one of the most horrific campaigns of the Second World War resurfaced.

From the photo album of  Richard Perkins. 1941 and his tropp of Chindits pictured shortly before embarking on the aircraft taking them behind Japanese lines in the bloody Burma campaign.

Richard had been one of the famous Chindit commandoes fighting behind Japanese lines in the Burmese jungle.

The Ministry of Defence found it had a tiger by the tail.

It took him a few years but he eventually won his argument to have the withheld money reimbursed but has not had a penny to compensate him for the interest he lost as a result of the illegal stoppages.

Independent financial experts calculate he is tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

For a decade now he has been sending out floods of letters and press releases. He has had thousands of visitors to his web site and badgered newspapers, radio and television programmes to air his case.

On December 17 2008, then aged 90, he got into the tiny car he normally uses to pop down to the shops and headed for Parliament to stage his one-man protest.

He appeared wearing his numerous decorations on the front pages of national and regional newspapers. He was featured throughout the day on the BBC.

His case was pursued for years by his own former local MP John Greenway. Other MPs were convinced by the dozens of questions John Greenway asked before he left parliament at the last election.

Umpteen commanding officers, both current and retired, are on record as backing Major Perkins.

Unfortunately eight successive ministers responsible for army pensions have turned him down.

The Ministry of Defence has never wavered from the view that he does not qualify for compensation.

But does that ruling see Major R.L.Perkins, retiring from the field?

It does not.

Overturning the fox hunting ban - why bother?

Len Tingle | 17:55 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010


Rider with hounds


Hunts in Yorkshire are thriving despite the ban on using dogs

This week saw the start of the hunting season and to non-enthusiasts like me it looked just like business as usual.

The red coated horse riders were out in force at the famous-name hunts across Yorkshire.

And so were the hounds.

Now pardon me for being naive but my understanding is that hunting with dogs was banned over five years ago.

So how come they are still being used?

And why were the mud-splattered members of North Yorkshire's celebrated Bedale Hunt captured by the Politics Show cameras down the pub celebrating a kill?

Well, apparently it is all to do with interpretation.

Bedale operates as a "drag hunt" where a scent is laid across miles of open country for the pack of hounds to follow.

Good fun and exercise for the horses and riders with no chance of a fox being ripped apart by the pack.

Well, not exactly.

Foxes still live on the land where the drag trail is laid so those sensitive snouts are likely to pick up the scent of a real live animal.

According to the law this is the point when the dogs have to be called off.

Ever tried to stop a pack of hounds in full cry?

Len Tingle's dog Spyro


I have a small Patterdale Terrier called Spyro and getting him off a rabbit trail is beyond me.

The result? Exactly the same as if the ban on fox hunting with dogs had never been passed.

So is it any wonder that a national survey reveals that all the dire warnings of Armageddon in the countryside have simply not happened.

Hunts have seen membership increase; packs have not been put down and thousands of rural workers are still earning their livelihoods from hunting.

The anti-blood sports lobby including the International Fund for Animal Welfare says the hunts are "bending and breaking the law" and ask whether any other group other than toffs on horseback get away with it?

They also say they have been donated funds to investigate and prosecute privately if need be.

Well one thing is clear. The political pressure from Conservative ranks to overturn the ban has certainly fallen off.

A survey of Conservative MPs in Yorkshire shows rapidly reducing enthusiasm to spend valuable parliamentary time on the issue.

One senior Tory MP, who also happens to be farmer, says it is not very high on his priority list.

And as I stand at a field gate watching the local hunt near my home in the West Yorkshire Pennines pass by in all its pomp, I can fully understand why.

Spyro and I get back to our rabbit trails.

For your information, he has never yet caught one.

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