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Redcar & Cleveland Council leader dropped by Labour

Council leader George Dunning and his deputy Sheelagh Clarke have been deselected Credit: Redcar & Cleveland Council

The leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council has admitted his political career is coming to an end, after he was dropped by Labour for the next local election.

Party members decided over the weekend that Cllr George Dunning would not stand for Labour in the Teesville seat he has represented for the last twenty years.

He told ITV News Tyne Tees the news was "devastating" but he had expected it and decided not to fight it. He is now considering retirement.

Dunning's deputy, Cllr Sheelagh Clarke and two other councillors were also deselected for their wards.

In 2013, George Dunning survived a vote of no confidence brought by the Liberal Democrat members of the council.

This time, he said he has no plans to stand independently for the council, or for any other party. He said he felt "totally let down" by Labour.

"We've been put through the mill a few times, but we've always come through. But on this occasion, we didn't come through," he said.

He said he was particularly disappointed with the regional Labour party for not standing up to support him.

The regional party released a joint statement from figures including the Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop and the Chair of the Regional Campaign Forum, John McCormick, saying it was time for a change.

‘It is time for change. Today local Labour Party members have begun choosing a fresh, exciting and committed new team seeking to serve the people of Redcar and Cleveland.

Council Leader George Dunning and Deputy Leader Sheelagh Clarke have served the public for many years with great dedication and have much to be proud of. However, local Labour Party members have today voted to replace them with other candidates for the ward of Teesville.

We have a wealth of talent in the Labour Party and the bar has been set very high this year. The people of Redcar and Cleveland deserve the very best representation that the Labour party has to offer in the local community, and members have chosen some fantastic new local candidates.

We would like to thank all of those councillors who have served but now look forward to working with this excellent new group of Labour candidates who are passionate about their local communities and determined to put right the disastrous consequences of a Tory and Liberal Government on Redcar and Cleveland.’

– Joint statement, Labour Party

Plans to get people on their bikes

A new programme to encourage people to cycle more is underway on Tyneside thanks to a multi million pound grant from the Department for Transport.

Newcastle City Council has begun its Cycling in the City scheme to try to encourage people to get on their bikes.

Cycling levels in the North East are among the lowest in the UK so the authority is investing in projects to encourage people to use bikes.

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North East to receive least from government regional growth funds

The North East is set to receive the least from the latest round investments in the form of regional growth funds.

The government has announced today our region is to get over £40 million between 2016 and 2021, which is the smallest sum of any of the English regions.

The Deputy Prime Minister says its down to which local companies bid for the funds:

In total the government is investing £1 billion in local economies across England as an expansion of their regional growth funds deal.

There aim is to pass funding from the central government into the hands of local authorities, businesses and universities, who they believe can invest with inside knowledge of what is needed in their area.

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School Debate: Sunderland Academy gets involved

With only 100 days until the General Election, ITV News Tyne Tees has been working with schools to involve young people in the political process.

Pupils from the St. Aidan's Catholic Academy in Sunderland are using the ITV Schools Debate online tools to engage pupils and look ahead to the election:

Whatever your school is doing, please let us know at ITV News Tyne Tees as we would like to cover some of the events ahead of the election.

Our email address is: ITVTyneTeesElection@itv.com

For terms and conditions got to http://www.itv.com/terms

Around The House: Tonight at 10.40pm

Around The House at 10.40pm on ITV Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Paul Brand presents this month's political programme from Westminster.

North East MPs Bridget Phillipson and Ian Swales are among the guests to discuss the ups and downs of the election campaign so far.

Also in the programme; how much do we need to earn, to be able to have a decent life?

Join Paul Brand for Around The House, tonight (Thurs 22 January) at the new earlier time of 10.40pm.

Labour Party calls UKIP 'more Tory than the Tories' after Mayor of Bishop Auckland defects

Councillor Colin Race Credit: Durham County Council

The Labour Party has responded to the Mayor of Bishop Auckland's decision to defected to the UK Independence Party.

They have said the people from the County Durham town will "rightly be questioning the decision" of Councillor Race:

On the day Nigel Farage confirmed his plans to privatise the NHS, people in Bishop Auckland will rightly be questioning the decision of one of their town councillors.

UKIP’s policies include another tax break for millionaires, higher taxes on working families, scrapping rights as at work and higher bankers’ bonuses.

They can’t be described as a party who will stand up for working people. In reality, they are more Tory than the Tories."

– Labour Spokesperson
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