FAQs

Policies that work and fake news that doesn't
Labour is a movement that – at its core – is about delivering a fairer society in which everyone can achieve.  In Sunderland, we want to secure:

  • A vibrant and sustainable economy, with a wide variety of jobs for the talented people who call the city home
  • Healthy, happy communities, where the most vulnerable are taken care of and everyone has the best possible opportunity to realise their potential
  • A fantastic built-environment, with excellent places to live, work and enjoy; places we can all be proud of.

 

Specifically, Labour’s priority areas to help us realise these aims, include:

  • Support that helps to attract inward investment and assist indigenous businesses to succeed
  • Creating conditions for businesses to thrive – from improved road infrastructure, to attractive business centres and locations
  • Investment in housing, with a housing strategy that will see us create thousands of new homes – including affordable housing – that will meet the changing needs of the city as its population and economy develops
  • Protecting the most vulnerable people in our society, with ongoing investment in adult care – something made increasingly difficult to maintain due to shrinking Government support
  • And an ongoing focus on driving up children’s services, to ensure this is a place where the next generation have the best possible life chances
  • Developing innovative new partnership models, and nurturing those we already have, to deliver a more vibrant city culturally and economically, as well as an ongoing commitment to relationships with health colleagues which are ensuring we deal with health inequalities in the city
  • Investment in street-scene, to create attractive locations and communities that can be enjoyed by all
  • An ongoing commitment to delivering a world-class events programme, that can be a source of pride for the city, as well as attracting millions of visitors (and pounds) to Sunderland
  • Tackling some of the issues that undermine our efforts to improve the city, including tougher sanctions on litter louts.

Is it true that a Labour-led council sanctioned the payment of gagging orders, amounting to millions of pounds?

Firstly, to be clear, the council cannot and does not issue Gagging Orders.  That is the remit of a judge.

Since 2010, the council has been forced to reduce its workforce by more than 5,000 people due to the Government’s austerity purge, something we have done by voluntary means, rather than making compulsory redundancies.

At all levels of the business, people have moved on, and in each case, we have sought to reach an agreement that recognises their loyalty, commitment and overall contribution to the organisation.

It has been the right of every member of the council team to apply for voluntary redundancy, and clearly, for those who have taken severance, this has involved an enhanced payment, over and above statutory redundancy levels, for most employees.

Though settlement agreements include an element of confidentiality in respect of the terms of individual payments, they are categorically not gagging orders, and there is nothing in those agreements prohibiting staff from speaking about their work at the council or indeed stifling discussion or debate about the council itself.

Not all local authorities have used settlement agreements as part their voluntary severance arrangements, which accounts for the difference in the figures presented by local authorities such as Newcastle when compared with Sunderland.

Our pledge: We have not and nor will we seek to stifle discussion or debate about the council among former employees.

 

I have read on social media that the Labour Party in Sunderland is corrupt.  Is that true?

We are aware that there are a small number of individuals who continue to make unfounded and scurrilous accusations about our party and its councillors and MPs.

These claims are without foundation, and we have invited those perpetuating these allegations to come with us to local police stations and discuss them in person.  These offers have never been taken up.

Labour in Sunderland is a progressive party, made up of people who – like you – want the very best for this city.  Our councillors and candidates have entered politics to make a positive difference to Sunderland, and not for personal gain.  It’s disappointing that we continue to face often very personal attacks, based on lies and hearsay, and we refute them when we can, but there are far too many other important and pressing issues affecting our city to deal with than to spend our time online shouting down every false claim and unfounded allegation.

Our pledge: We will continue to fight for a fairer, better city – for the many, not the few.

 

I have heard that the Labour Party has been holding on to a report on the said-corruption in the council. Is this true?

A number of residents have demanded that the Labour Party releases a report that they refer to as the Wilkin Chapman Report.
It is important to state that this report was commissioned by Sunderland City Council’s Chief Executive, Irene Lucas, not the Labour Party in Sunderland – so was always for the council, not the Labour Party in Sunderland, to release the report.
We (the Labour Party in Sunderland) have not contributed to the report in anyway.
The council commissioned a firm of solicitors to consider the handling of various property transactions that have been queried by a member of the public.
The report was originally into the Pier Point land sale and development only.
We understand it was due to take 12-16 weeks to complete and therefore would have been complete by late October or early November 2017.
However, after an initial meeting with the member of the public who had raised the issues, he identified further sites he had concerns over.  At which point the council agreed to include these in the work of the report and as a result the scope of the report was widened.
As soon as the council received the report it was published on its website as a publically accessible document – with the full backing of the Labour Party.

The report confirms there has been NO CORRUPTION.

Our pledge: To be open and transparent and ensure fair processes are followed.

 

“Councillors are tucking into extravagant buffet lunches every day!”  Is this true?

No.  The only meetings that a meal is provided is after Full Council.  This takes place five times a year.  Full Council is attended by all 75 City Councillors – Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent.

This meal is provided because Full Council starts at 6pm and a lot of councillors come straight from work to attend the meeting making it difficult for those councillors to eat before the meeting starts.  It is not unusual for these meetings to finish after 9pm.

Providing this meal after Full Council is also cheaper for the council, as no councillor is allowed to claim a meal allowance because a meal is provided.

The days of free buffet lunches after every meeting are a thing of the past.  Labour put an end to that practice almost 10 years ago.

Our pledge: Every penny spent on council meals is accounted for in public documents.

 

I heard Labour councillors receive huge allowances and expenses – is that the case?

All elected members are entitled to claim reasonable expenses – this is true across the political spectrum in every council across the country.

Many Labour councillors choose not to claim any expenses, and this is a matter for each individual.

One falsehood we often read or hear from residents is that councillor allowances have been increased year on year.  This is not the case.

Councillor allowances have not increased for eight years, meaning there has actually been a drop in the ‘real wages’ when you take into account inflation.

No councillor comes into local politics ‘to make money’, they come into it because they have a passion for their area and the city.

We are aware of the public feeling around expenses and allowances, especially in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal of a decade ago.  All councillor allowances are open to scrutiny – they are published each year on the council’s website.

Our pledge: The council is not, never has been, and never will be a gravy train for false or excessive expenses claims.

 

I heard Labour councillors set their own allowances.  Is that true?

No.  All councillor allowances and expenses are set by an Independent Remuneration Panel.  

Our pledge: Labour will never get into the business of setting councillor allowances.  We think this is best handled by the Independent Remuneration Panel.

 

 

Are parking zones just about making money?

Resident parking zones in the city have been introduced in response to a large number of resident complaints about people parking outside of their homes, which can be a real nuisance, particularly in heavily congested areas, or streets that are close to busy workplaces.

Resident parking zones are only every implemented when they have clear support from a majority of residents in the area.

Our pledge: We will ensure safe and protected parking streets for Sunderland residents.

 

Why are Labour councillors on the board of Siglion?  Isn’t that a conflict of interests?

The Siglion delivery model is common practice and the set-up of the board is actually about ensuring that the voice of the city is represented.

Councillors sit on the board in their capacity as elected members of the majority party in the city, and therefore, with a mandate as the overall voice of Sunderland residents.

Our pledge: All Labour councillors declare an interest should there ever be a risk of conflict of interest