A GENERAL election campaign was “put on hold” as a host of candidates in the borough united at a gathering outside South Tyneside College to express opposition to cuts in further education.
Earlier this year, the government announced a reduction in adult further education funding of 24 per cent in 2015-16.
It was good to see the Parliamentary candidates there and, although there was distribution of election literature, there was no argy bargy. It was all very civilised.Jon Bryan, UCU official
It was against that backdrop that Unison and the UCU trade unions invited anyone who opposed the cuts to gather outside the college in Westoe yesterday.
In the event, five of the candidates fighting to be MPs in South Tyneside attended – Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck, the Green Party’s Shirley Ford, UKIP’s Norman Dennis, all standing in South Shields, and Liberal Democrat Stan Collins and the Green Dave Herbert, both contesting the Jarrow constituency.
Also in attendance was South Tyneside College principal Lindsey Whiterod.
Jon Bryan, University and College Union regional support official, said: “The principal has signed up to a letter which has also been signed by 16 principals locally to show they are united against the Government’s savage cuts. It was good to see the Parliamentary candidates there and, although there was distribution of election literature, there was no argy bargy,
“It was all very civilised. Unfortunately, we didn’t invite the South Shields independent candidate Lisa Nightingale as she wasn’t on the list when we sent out the invites. There’s been a lot of talk about protecting budgets but further education is never one of those budgets mentioned.
“We wanted to at least put it in the mix.” Also standing in South Shields are: Lisa Nightingale (independent), Robert Oliver (Conservative) and Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat). Also standing in Jarrow are Stephen Hepburn (Labour), Nick Mason (Conservative), Steve Harrison (UKIP), Norman Hall (TUSC)