South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck is leaving her town base to be more accessible to her constituents – but her departure could hit Labour Party coffers locally.
In a historic move, the MP has decided to vacate Ede House in Westoe Road.
I need an office that is accessibleEmma Lewell-Buck
The building has been base to the town’s Members of Parliament for generations, with everyone from Chuter Ede to David Miliband making it their ‘home’ away from Westminster.
But Mrs Lewell-Buck said her office there is no longer fit for purpose, particularly for elderly, frail and wheelchair-bound constituents who are confronted with a set of steps at the front door and two sets of flights to reach her base upstairs.
Now she is to rent a new ground-floor office a short distance away at 19 Westoe Road, which she will move into officially on Friday, July 24.
But the move will result in at least a short-term loss of income for South Shields Constituency Labour Party, which owns and works out of Ede House.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “Ultimately this decision is all about being more accessible to my constituents, particularly the elderly, frail and wheelchair-bound who find it so difficult to access my office at Ede House.
“They have to navigate steps and two flights of stairs at the front and skips and bins from the backyard.
“I am always willing to carry out home visits, which I do, but I also need an office that is accessible to all. This is a practical move that will help me achieve that.
“The new premises is all on one level and it will also be more visible. Once we’re settled in we plan to have an open day there.”
Coun John Anglin, secretary of South Shields Constituency Labour Party, said the town party intended to retain Ede House as its base - at least in the short-term.
He said: “We will be staying put there for the time being. We have got plans to move out in the future but not in the short-term.
“The fact that the MP and party office will now be based in different buildings should not prove a problem, I’m sure we can work it out.
“We’ll be looking for something to fill the gap left by the MP’s departure from her office.”