Tag Archives: richard

Richard Holden To Accept Local Funding For Transport Link Feasibility Study – Consett Magazine

Richard Holden To Accept Local Funding For Transport Link Feasibility Study – Consett Magazine

Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, has written to Durham County Council to confirm that his campaign for a feasibility study for a transport link between Consett and The Tyne has received an offer for it to be fully funded – ensuring that local council taxpayers won’t have to fork out.

Richard received the support of both the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary for his campaign to get a feasibility study done for a new rail line for North West Durham. A new and improved link would boost the local economy, create new job opportunities and opportunities for young people and boost tourism in the area. This project has been backed by constituents at a rate of three to one and must be 25% funded by local resources.

The Department for Transport will fund 75% of costs (up to £50,000) and Project Genesis, a local regeneration group formed after the closure of Consett’s Steel Works to benefit and invest in the local community, have now pledged to fund the local portion of the feasibility study, up to £15,000, in a move that shows their commitment to Richard’s campaign. This local funding would ensure that Durham County Council does not pay anything towards the feasibility study in a move that would save local taxpayer money.

Richard has written to Durham County Council to inform them of the offer from Project Genesis, stating that he cannot see any reason for the Council not to ‘accept’ the offer, which is in the ‘best interest’ of local taxpayers and hopes that the council will respond positively.

Commenting, Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to be able to confirm to Durham County Council that my campaign will be fully funded, not only on a national level but a local level too thanks to the support of Project Genesis. The offer from Project Genesis will mean that this feasibility study will cost local taxpayers nothing but will allow the campaign to continue for the benefit of constituents and the area.

“I have been working on this campaign ever since my election as it will be an enormous boost for North West Durham and the wider North East. I will continue to work with Project Genesis, my constituents and the Council on this project and I sincerely hope that the Council recognises the generosity and benefit of Project Genesis’ offer and accepts it immediately. This is not the time for playing political games or to turn down offers of financial assistance.”

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MP Richard Holden Speaks On February’s National Apprentice Week – Consett Magazine

MP Richard Holden Speaks On February’s National Apprentice Week – Consett Magazine

MP Richard Holden Speaks On February's National Apprentice Week
MP Richard Holden Speaks On February’s National Apprentice Week

“February brings National Apprenticeship Week and it left me reflecting on the opportunities and challenges facing our young people, especially with the global Coronavirus pandemic having caused so much havoc to people’s studies over the last year.

I think we force too many young people down the “University at 18” route. It works really well for some but for many, there are options that will better help them fulfill their potential and provide better on-the-job learning and experience.

This week is a great opportunity to celebrate and promote apprenticeships. Highlight the ‘earn and learn’ benefit for students and the professional skills they provide for those businesses that employ them. The focus this year was on “build for the future”.

The highlight for me was speaking to some of the young apprentices at Derwentside College in Consett on a video call on Friday. The young people I spoke to included my constituent Brittany Kears, a past apprentice of Durham Constabulary who won the ‘Excellence in Business Admin Award’ at Derwentside College’s awards evening, and Katie Walker, a past apprentice of County Durham and Darlington Foundation NHS Trust (CDDFT) who won NHS Apprentice of the Year. We were also joined by Susan Errington and Nicola McKegney who lead the College’s work on Apprenticeships and with who I’ve developed a good working relationship.

The professionalism and confidence of the young people were striking. It was great to hear from each of them about their individual journeys and it was great to see the Apprenticeship Programme, one of the things I worked closely on before I was an MP and working at the Department of Education is working well and with 394,000 people starting apprenticeships in 2018/19 compared to 240,000 in 2008/09 – it really is.

However, there is no doubt that the public health restrictions of the past year have made it more difficult for people to fulfill placements. Important steps through the Education and Skills Funding Agency to provide extra support for those businesses facilitating placements and has encouraged businesses to put work online. But challenges remain.

The one thing that we need to do as we emerge from the global Coronavirus pandemic is ensuring that the health crisis we’ve dealt with doesn’t become a job crisis for young people and people who need to upskill and reskill. I am encouraged that the Government is already on the front foot on this, such as introducing new incentive payments for businesses of £2,000 for apprentices between 16 and 24 and £1,500 for those over the age of 25. Meanwhile, the Government has also launched the Kickstart scheme which provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16-to-24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

Inspired by the energy of the enthusiasm of the young people at Derwentside College in Consett, I will keep making the case for Apprenticeships and Further Education.

Leaving the pandemic we’ve all got to do our bit to make sure we hit the ground running and will be holding the Government’s feet to the fire to make sure they keep their side of the bargain.”

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MP Richard Holden Pleased At Local Funding Offered For Study Into Consett-Tyne Project – Consett Magazine

MP Richard Holden Pleased At Local Funding Offered For Study Into Consett-Tyne Project – Consett Magazine

Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, has welcomed the offer of funding of the local 25% of funding for the feasibility study into a new public transport link with enhanced cycling and walking between Consett and Newcastle/The Tyne.

Richard received the support of both the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary for his campaign to get a feasibility study done for a new rail line for North West Durham. A new and improved link would boost the local economy, create new job opportunities and opportunities for young people and boost tourism in the area.

Richard submitted a formal application for feasibility to the Ideas Fund, a Government-led initiative being driven by the Department for Transport to improve transport links in areas without current transport links. The Transport Department will fund 75% of costs (up to £50,000) to fund transport and economic studies to create a business case. The other 25% must be met from local resources. Durham County Council has offered this but Richard has been keen to ensure that local taxpayers shouldn’t have to pick up the tab if at all possible.

Project Genesis, a local regeneration group formed after the closure of Consett’s Steel Works to benefit and invest in the local community, met with Richard and pledged to fund the local portion of the if the feasibility bid. Project Genesis has now pledged 25%, up to £15,000 into the project in a move that demonstrates their support for Richard’s key campaign.

Commenting, Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, said:

“I am absolutely delighted that Project Genesis has seen the potentially enormous value of a fixed public transport link with improved cycling and walking between Consett and the Tyne. They are a key local stakeholder for the project and this money means that the feasibility study would cost council taxpayers zero whilst ensuring that my constituents get the full benefit of this campaign.

“Since being elected I’ve pushed this and other local transportation projects to help level up our communities and I’m going to continue to work with local groups, businesses, the Council and constituents to level up transport in our area and ensure our community gets the funding it deserves. I really hope that the Council now accepts this funding to support this vital local project.”

Mike Clark from Project Genesis said:

“Project Genesis is committed to Consett and doing whatever we can to improve things locally.  A new public transport link with improved cycling and walking alongside would be a major boost to the whole area and help drive the economic regeneration we’re all so keen to see locally.”

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Richard Walker: Apologies from the BBC don’t make up for its failures

Richard Walker: Apologies from the BBC don’t make up for its failures

WHATEVER the outcry over the hike in the price of the BBC licence fee, it’s not really about the money. At least, it’s not about the extra £1.50 per year licence payers will be told to shell out.

The rise is just the last straw for consumers who have grown disillusioned with the national broadcaster and resentful at being forced to pay a licence fee when they are spending more and more of their time watching other platforms.

Those platforms are becoming more expensive, too. Netflix, for instance, announced just a couple of weeks ago that the price of its standard monthly package will increase by £1 and its premium package will cost £2 more a month. You don’t have to be a genius at maths to work out that’s a lot more than £1.50 a year and yet it has not provoked the anger the BBC is facing.

Recent surveys by newspapers and radio stations have shown a huge majority of BBC television viewers would consider a boycott, such is their opposition to the licence fee rise.

READ MORE: BBC staff are being taught how to be impartial … by Nick Robinson

There are a number of reasons for this. For a start, the rise for other platforms isn’t compulsory. You can go for a cheaper package, or cancel your subscription altogether. Technically you can stop paying the TV licence, but you may still be fined if you are found to be watching BBC programmes.

Then there is the timing. The licence fee rise comes not long after a controversial decision to scrap the free TV licence given to over-75s.

The blame for that decision arguably lies at the door of the Government, which stopped paying the benefit which covered the free licence – but whoever is responsible, the fact remains that more than three million people who received or were due to receive it are now paying full bung for it. And at £159 a year from April, for many people it’s a not-inconsiderable expense.

And worse, it’s coming as we’re spending much more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. At a time when heating, lighting and other domestic costs are also rising, it seems particularly cruel to increase the cost of home entertainment as well.

The huge salaries paid to some presenters and stars also stick in the throats of people struggling to find the money to pay the licence fee. Tweets such as that by Gary Lineker – who is paid £1.35 million by the BBC and posted on social media after the licence fee rise was announced: “But, but I’ve just taken a pay cut” – certainly don’t help.

But there seems to me to be more to it than all that. It’s hardly surprising that we regard the BBC as a national broadcaster. We have, after all, been encouraged for decades to do just that. That “national” status brings with it responsibilities and there are signs that more and more of us think the corporation is not living up to those.

Many independence supporters, of course, fell out of love with the BBC during the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum. Since then their complaints that the “national broadcaster” displays obvious bias against the case for independence have only intensified.

Personally I don’t feel all the complaints about bias have been justified and I admit to unease when demonstrators gather outside its Pacific Quay headquarters demanding the sacking of journalists accused of breaching the impartiality code. There are many BBC employees who support independence and many more who strive to hit the right note in BBC broadcasts.

But I do believe there have been and continue to be mistakes made by the BBC. Too many UK (ie London-based) news reports continue to ignore or misunderstand devolution. Too many unsubstantiated claimed by some politicians are regarded as true without any real interrogation. There have been apologies, most notably for a 2018 report on News at

One wrongly saying the Scottish Government spent £13.5 billion more than it raised and two years later when Scotland editor Sarah Smith “mistakenly” told viewers that Nicola Sturgeon “enjoyed the opportunity to set her own lockdown rules”.

But individual apologies don’t address structural and cultural flaws.

Worryingly for the BBC it’s not only independence supporters who are unhappy with its coverage of increasingly fractious political debates. It’s been accused of being simultaneously too right wing, too soft on and too close to Conservative politicians, too lefty liberal, too progressive, too woke.

TRADITIONALLY the BBC response to criticism is that if it comes from all sides of the political spectrum it must be doing something right but there is another way to look at the problem – it is doing too many things which are wrong.

Too often the BBC’s response to complaints has been silence or complacency. Valid complaints – for example over audience and panel selection on Question Time – are deemed not worthy of meaningful answers. I’ve been at BBC-led discussions of the 2014 referendum coverage which ended with executives smugly deciding the corporation’s performance had been just peachy.

It’s not just the BBC’s news output that attracts criticism. Its Scottish drama output is dismal, with the exceptions of the fantastic Shetland and Guilt. Also on the plus side, The Nine news show has been a step in the right direction, even if a 6pm national news show edited entirely from Scotland would have been better.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon coronavirus briefing: Labour lord demands BBC blackout

The main point I’d make is that when we vote for independence – hopefully soon after the Scottish elections in May – we need to take big decisions on the future of broadcasting in a new Scotland. What do we expect from a “national broadcaster”? Indeed do we even need such a thing? I’d argue that it’s time to have a national conversation around these and other media issues. How do we fund broadcasting? How can we make broadcasting genuinely accountable but protected from political interference? How can we afford high-quality drama that genuinely reflects the country we live in?

These are huge questions and we’re not going to come up with the right answers by simply replicating the arrangements and devolved structures we currently have.

And while we’re at it we might consider widening the conversation to include the future of Scottish journalism in general, the business model for which – certainly in print – was struggling even before the pandemic ravaged advertising revenues and distribution.

A “short-life” working group to consider ways of supporting what it describes as “public interest” journalism has been set up by the Scottish Government and is expected to make recommendations at the end of the summer.

Clearly this group has a lot of work to do. Its recommendations are almost certain to be torn apart by sections/most of the Scottish press, particularly if they involve some form of public subsidy. That doesn’t mean they should rule it out.

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Richard Heydarian on Southeast Asia’s Eventful Year – The Diplomat

Richard Heydarian on Southeast Asia’s Eventful Year – The Diplomat


What does 2021 hold for Southeast Asia?

Richard Heydarian on Southeast Asia’s Eventful Year

Chairman of the government office Mai Tien Dung attends the Special ASEAN summit on COVID-19 in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Credit: AP Photo/Hau Dinh

If, as many analysts hold, 2020 marked the start of a turning point in global history, 2021 will be the first year were we being to see the consequences. For Southeast Asia, it will be an eventful year. The incoming Biden administration will look to shore up its influence on the region, and Southeast Asian states will be keen to see what to expect from a post-Trump United States. COVID-19, meanwhile, will continue to be the most pressing issue, with potentially lasting ramifications for China’s role in the region. And, of course, there are long-standing problems like the South China Sea disputes and broader U.S.-China competition to be wrestle with as well.

In this interview, The Diplomat’s Sebastian Strangio asks Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based academic and author of “The Rise of Duterte” and “The Indo-Pacific: Trump, China and the New Struggle for Global Mastery,” about the biggest issues facing Southeast Asia in 2021.

In terms of its personnel, the incoming Biden administration looks something like a third Obama term, which would seem to suggest a break from Trump’s approach to foreign policy in general, and the Indo-Pacific in particular. Do you think the incoming administration will represent continuity or change in its Southeast Asia policy? If the latter, where do you expect the change to come?

While it’s true that President-elect Joe Biden signaled his categorical repudiation of Trump-era unilateralism by declaring “America is back,” there is a reason why the former vice president also made it crystal clear that “this is not a third Obama term.” One needs not to be a refined dialectician to figure out that it’s impossible to return to a past that has changed beyond recognition. At best, Biden can and should improve on the brazen deficiencies of his predecessors’ China policy, not only Trump’s but also those of his Democratic predecessors since the end of Cold War. The most realistic option is a “Cold Peace” with China, whereby Biden simultaneously seeks détente and cooperation in areas of common understanding, but also vigorously pushes back against any Chinese strategic aggression.

In the case of Obama, he was simply too predictable and risk-averse to prevent China from radically reshaping the global order with Chinese characteristics. The most potent expression of Obama-era strategic infecundity is the unprecedented, years-long geoengineering and, soon after, all-out militarization of the South China Sea disputes. Way more than the “Syria red line” debacle, it was actually Obama’s practical abandonment of the Philippines, a treaty ally, during the 2012 Scarborough Shoal crisis that emboldened China’s worst instincts. And what was Obama’s response to China’s mega economic projects from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to the Belt and Road Initiative? Snobbery and nonchalance, if not fecklessness? Biden clearly recognizes this, which perfectly explains his unmistakable abandonment of the whole “strategic empathy” gibberish in the early-2010s.


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MP Richard Holden Launches Campaign Against The Closure of Wolsingham’s Sixth Form – Consett Magazine

MP Richard Holden Launches Campaign Against The Closure of Wolsingham’s Sixth Form – Consett Magazine

Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, has launched a campaign to prevent the formal closure of Wolsingham’s Sixth Form.

Wolsingham Sixth Form was formally moved to a suspended status in 2019 due to low pupil numbers – to be financially viable, the Sixth Form would need 100 pupils in each academic year. Two years after a suspension of a school or sixth form, a formal review is currently taking place to formally close a facility. Keeping a school in a suspended status costs nothing and means that the school could, in the future, move a school from suspended to open, with relative ease, avoiding the complicated process of getting a school started from scratch.

Richard is now campaigning to keep the school in its suspended status to ensure that the possibility of reopening it in the future remains. Richard is working with Will Wearmouth, a Stanhope parish councillor, and Steve Cowie, a Wolsingham resident of over 25 years, as they, amongst many other Weardale, Tow Law and Crook constituents want to prevent the school’s formal closure.

Richard has spoken to the local Trust, the Head of Wolsingham School, The Chair of Governors, the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Education Secretary about keeping the school in its suspended status. He has now launched a constituency survey on his website about the campaign.

Commenting, Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, said:

“One of the biggest concerns that so many constituents are raising with me at the moment is education. Our teachers are doing their very best in very difficult circumstances, to provide both remote learning and to educate the children of key workers and vulnerable kids in schools, as well as planning safe reopening of schools.

“The last thing we should be doing at the moment is removing the possibility of education within my constituency in the future and making access to further education more difficult. Keeping the school in its suspended status ensures that there is the possibility to reopen it in the future, which would allow us to level up our local education provision and ensure that young people have the best opportunities to fulfil their potential.

“Reopening the school is not something that can be done immediately, but I will continue to work with constituents, many of whom are passionate about this campaign, to ensure that the threat of formal closure does not become a reality and that the opportunity of reopening the sixth form, even in several years’ time, is maintained.”

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DOJ Closes Probe into Richard Burr’s Coronavirus-Linked Stock Trades

DOJ Closes Probe into Richard Burr’s Coronavirus-Linked Stock Trades

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly closed its investigation into Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-SC) sale of upwards of $1.72 million in stock ahead of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Burr, the senior senator from North Carolina, was informed on Tuesday by the DOJ that its investigation into his “personal financial transactions” would not result in insider trading charges, according to the New York Times.

“Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year,” Burr said in a statement to the outlet. “The case is now closed. I’m glad to hear it.”

Last year, Burr caught the attention of the media and federal investigators for selling off thousands of dollars worth of stock before U.S. markets tumbled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the shares that Burr unloaded were in the hospitality and service industries, including companies  – like Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Hilton – that were hit especially hard  when coronavirus travel restrictions went into place. Burr’s timely decision to sell netted him between $628,000 and $1.72 million.

The sale came less than a week before the stock market tumbled because of the virus, and it sparked accusations of insider trading. Critics, in particular, pointed to the fact that at the time of the sale the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which Burr then chaired, was receiving daily briefings on the threat posed by the coronavirus.

Adding to the appearance of impropriety is that Burr’s brother-in-law, then-political appointee in the Trump administration, also dumped upwards of $280,000 in stock on the same day as the senator.

When news of the stock trades first broke, Burr stepped down from his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee and agreed to cooperate with both a congressional ethics inquiry and any outside probe by law enforcement.

Throughout the endeavor, the senator denied any wrongdoing, arguing that he had “relied solely on public news reports to guide” his trading decisions.

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Richard Leonard quits as Scottish Labour leader

Richard Leonard quits as Scottish Labour leader

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has quit with immediate effect, declaring his decision to step down is in the “best interests” of the party.

The move comes just four months before the next Scottish Parliament election – and after Leonard faced damaging calls from leading MSPs within the party to go.

Last September, Leonard insisted he would lead Scottish Labour into May’s election, despite party MSPs James Kelly, Daniel Johnson and Jenny Marra all speaking out publicly against him.

On Thursday, he said: “I have thought long and hard over the Christmas period about what this crisis means, and the approach Scottish Labour takes to help tackle it.

“I have also considered what the speculation about my leadership does to our ability to get Labour’s message across. This has become a distraction.

“I have come to the conclusion it is in the best interests of the party that I step aside as leader of Scottish Labour with immediate effect.

“This was not an easy decision, but after three years I feel it is the right one for me and for the party.”

He thanked those who had worked with him, saying the experience of leading the party “will live with me forever”.

His decision leaves Scottish Labour looking for its fifth leader since the independence referendum in 2014 – with Johann Lamont, Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale all having held the job since then.

Leonard, a left-winger and former trade union official, was voted into the post in November 2017, when Jeremy Corbyn was UK leader.

Sir Keir Starmer, who took over from Corbyn last year, thanked him for his service to the party and for his “unwavering commitment to the values he believes in”.

Sir Keir said: “Richard has led Scottish Labour through one of the most challenging and difficult periods in our country’s history, including a general election and the pandemic.

“Even from opposition he has achieved a considerable amount for which he should be very proud.

“This includes securing a commitment for the creation of a national care service, securing action on a Jobs Guarantee Scheme to deal with youth unemployment, securing a human rights-based public inquiry into the treatment of care home residents during the Covid pandemic, and securing support for a Fair Rents Bill to give new rights to tenants.

“He has done so with dedication to the values of our movement.”

He added that Richard Leonard will “continue to play an important role in Scottish Labour”.

Leonard himself insisted he still has “faith in the Labour Party as the party that offers hope to people and that remains the only vehicle for the realisation of that hope”.

He added: “Whilst I step down from the leadership today, the work goes on, and I will play my constructive part as an MSP in winning support for Labour’s vision of a better future in a democratic economy and a socialist society.

“Scotland needs a Labour government now more than ever before.

“Our National Health Service and public services are at breaking point under the strain of an out-of-control pandemic. Covid is rampant, claiming lives and striking down so many of our fellow citizens, who are grievously suffering from this awful virus.

“Workers’ incomes are being squeezed like never before, with job losses rife and businesses going bust.

“Too many employees go to work day in and day out, night in and night out leaving them vulnerable to the virus.”

He accused both the Scottish and UK governments of mishandling the response to coronavirus, adding: “It is essential now that we have an accelerated vaccine rollout – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to ensure that the most vulnerable and frontline workers are protected against Covid, and that the general population is given greater protection as quickly as possible after that.”

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Disunited States of America, by Richard Keiser (Le Monde diplomatique

Disunited States of America, by Richard Keiser (Le Monde diplomatique

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Police at a Covid-19 lockdown protest in Lansing, Michigan, May 2020

Jeff Kowalsky · AFP · Getty

Last November, the world was focused on the race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump for the US presidency. Yet Americans knew that elections for Congress, and county elections and referendums in each of the 50 states, would produce far more real policy. Federal legislation from Washington on issues on which Democrats and Republicans diverge has become difficult to pass because of the conundrum of divided government, where the Presidency, House and Senate are divided between the parties, which is impossible in parliamentary democracies. The power vacuum left by Washington — at least on questions unrelated to defence or foreign policy — has been filled by the states, and it is the states, and not just California or Texas, which deserve our attention.

In the states that produce the most policy experiments, one party controls the governor’s office and has a majority in both the state House and Senate; this is known as the ‘trifecta’. Currently, there are 23 states in which Republicans are the majority in both houses of the legislature and the governor is a Republican; for Democrats, there are 15 of these trifectas of unified government. In the remaining 12 states, there is a risk of policy paralysis, as in the federal government.

This is a sharp shift. In 1992 there were only 19 trifecta states. In the other 31 states the governor faced at least one legislature controlled by the other party. States in which voters leaned toward the Democrats have become even more Democrat and the same is true for Republican states, and this has often paralysed national government.

Legislative ideas, lobbying dollars

The parties and their supporters, frustrated for decades by Washington’s inability to pass policy, have brought their legislative ideas and lobbying dollars to the states; the 10th amendment to the Constitution reserves all powers to the states other than those specifically given to the federal government. Washington can (…)

Full article: 1 495 words.

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