CAST April 2024 newsletter

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monthly newsletter

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Now is the time for community-driven, people-powered change in South Tyneside.

In this issue:

News & Views

What are...the




Citizens' Assembly

South Tyneside

Contact us:




Welcome to your



Transforming Democracy in South Tyneside -


On April 6th, we launched our project to

remodel political representation in South

Tyneside at the museum in South


Transforming Democracy

in South Tyneside aims to

recalibrate the growing democratic

deficit in our borough with policymaking

power concentrated into the hands of 10 councillors - the

Leader of the council and a selected team of 9 colleagues.

Continues on page 2.

No movement in bin strike

Despite talks between the unions and South Tyneside

Council (STC) on operational issues such as the size of

collection rounds and finishing times, unfortunately there is

still no resolution to the dispute. Speaking to CAST, GMB

Organiser Mark Wilson said that the core issue remains the

two managers at the centre of the bullying claims.

Following 6 months of industrial action, a new ballot was

held resulting in fresh round of strike action meaning no bins

will be collected between Wednesday 1st and Tuesday 14th

May, so please don’t put your bins out during this period.

Collections will resume on Wednesday 15th May.

STC are providing a number of skips (recycling and general

waste) across the borough however these are few and far

between and, at time of writing, only available between 9am

and 3pm everyday until Sunday 5th May. With a total of 13

skips and a population of 147,800* that equates to one skip

per 11,369 residents!

Find the locations of the skips here: https://bit.ly/3wcr5ct

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News & Views

Transforming Democracy on South Tyneside

With confidence in South Tyneside Council (STC) steadily eroding across the borough due to ongoing

scandals, the visible lack of democracy in the current system and the general deterioration of our borough, it’s

hardly surprising that just over 30% of the local population actually vote.

STC is currently made up of 38 Labour Party councillors, 9 Greens, 6 Independents and 1 Conservative yet

decisions are made by just 10 hand-picked Labour Party councillors - this is not democratic! The current

Leader and Cabinet system deprives all other parties of representation and lacks transparency and

democratic accountability. CAST is campaigning for a return to the Committee system which would allow

other parties representation on the various committees, giving them the capacity to debate and vote on

policy proposals before they are implemented.

Following our April 6th event, we now have our steering group in place and we’re working on a number of

background tasks before we launch our petition for a referendum on the proposal to return to the Committee

system. By law, if 5% of those registered to vote sign a petition demanding a referendum, the council would

have to hold one. This would amount to 5658 signatures - this equates to just over 300 signatures per ward!

Want to get involved?

Just drop us an email at southtyneside@assembly.org.uk

CAST Family Festdays - coming summer 2024!

Although we can’t release the source of our funding just yet, we can confirm that the CAST FREE Family

Festdays will go ahead this summer!

With three dates planned at various venues across the borough and a creative presence at the South Shields Mela,

we’ll have a full run down of dates, venues and activities in next month’s newsletter - stay tuned!

CAST joins the union...the NEFirst Credit Union!

As a local grassroots organisation, we at CAST felt it was time we got our finances in order and move our money to

an ethical, community-based financial service provider to support our projects. Putting members and local

communities before shareholder profit, NEFirst Credit Union, felt a sound, logical choice.

Credit Unions (CU) typically offer a range of services to provide an alternative to banks, building societies and

doorstep/payday lenders. They are not-for-profit and traditionally set up within communities and designed to

benefit that particular group. Additionally, because CU are owned and run by and for their members, with a ‘one

member, one vote’ approach, members with more money don’t have more influence than those with less!

Created from a merger of smaller local community-based credit unions over the past 20 years, NEFirst Credit

Union operates across the whole of the North East. In common with all UK CU, it is authorised by the Prudential

Regulation Authority and regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation


We hope to have an article from NEFirst shortly letting us know all

about their aims, their plans for expansion in South Tyneside and

their For People, Not For Profit ethos.

Want more info? Visit their website: https://www.nefirstcu.co.uk/

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What are...the elections?

This May, you‘ll be able to vote in THREE elections:

Local Authority (council) election & Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)

election & North East Mayoral election!

On 2nd May, council elections will take place in 107 local authorities across England, England

and Wales will elect 37 Police and Crime Commissioners and voters will also choose the North

East Mayor...plus 10 mayors outside of our area.

Let’s take a quick look at what they all mean.

Local Authority election:

In local or council elections, you vote for a councillor to represent your ‘ward’ (local area/neighbourhood) on the

council. The council is responsible for local public services including education, social care, social housing,

planning and planning applications, the local environment and waste management.

Although many people consider voting in local elections meaningless, your vote really can make a difference. In

2023, two wards were won with less than 45 votes and one with a majority of just 6*! With only 31%* of the

borough’s residents turning out to vote, your ballot really could make all the difference.

Your LA election ballot will be on the white coloured paper.

Not sure which ward you’re in? This link will tell you: https://bit.ly/49BRFt7

Find out who’s standing for election in your ward with this link: https://bit.ly/3Ul1GXp

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election:

PCCs, responsible for policing in each police area in England and Wales, are elected every four years. Amongst

other duties, they set police budgets and priorities, appoint the Chief Constable, work with local councils and

organisations to develop approaches to reduce crime in addition to acting as a link between the public and the


The voting process for the PCC is different to LA voting. This vote is a Supplementary Vote (SV) system.

Although we’re unable to confirm the colour of the ballot paper at present, it will have three columns - the first

column is a list of candidates then you’ll see a ‘first choice’ column and a ‘second choice’ column. In the ‘first

choice’ column, you put a cross next to your chosen candidate. If you have a second candidate you’d also like to

vote for, you put a cross next to their name in the ‘second choice’ column.

You must put a cross in the ‘first choice’ column for your vote to count but you DON’T have to make a second


Check out the four candidates with this link: https://choosemypcc.org.uk/area/northumbria

This explainer on YouTube shows you how the SV system works: https://youtu.be/qzb8uRVsplI

North East Mayoral election:

But what are they all?

The Mayor is a new position bringing together County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside,

Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils. This DOESN’T mean the end of local councils, they

will still exist, the mayoral post sits on top of the current system. The new mayor will have control over

upgrading public transport, the Adult Education budget, the building of new affordable homes and a funding pot

of £20m (in this spending round) to drive place-based economic regeneration across our region.

The ballot paper will be the same as your LA one - you only need to make one choice. Your Mayoral election

ballot will be on the lemon coloured paper.

You can find a list of candidates using this link: https://bit.ly/3QcOz8f

How do I vote?

To vote in person, simply go to your allocated polling station (this is printed on your polling card) - you CAN’T go

to an alternative one! You don’t need to take your polling card but you MUST have an accepted form of photo ID

or you will NOT be able to cast your vote. Acceptable ID includes: UK passport/driving licence,

UK Older Person’s/Disabled Person’s Bus Pass or a PASS card. You can use your ID even if it has expired as long

as the photo still looks like you.

More info here: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/photo-id-youll-need

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* https://portal.southtyneside.info/elections/LocalGovernment.aspx?id=40

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community noticeboard


The right home environment is critical for health and wellbeing.

A home is classed as unhealthy if it’s cold and damp, not suitable for the

occupants and/or does not provide a sense of safety and security.

Initially in the NE33 5 and NE34 9 areas, the Healthy Homes Service

can support residents living in unhealthy homes.

If you are supporting someone who does not fit the criteria, you can

also get in touch. More info here


Are you a people-person?

Are you available weekly/a couple of times a month?

Are you over 16?

You could be just the person Big Local Jarrow are looking for to meet

and greet guests, get in touch with members and make sure everyone

knows what’s going on in Jarrow!

More info here


South Tyneside Libraries are running an event on Thursday 9th May

(1:30-3:00pm) at The Word with the idea of having a space to talk about

death and think about it before they have to deal with it.

The aim is to increase an awareness of death with a view to helping

people make the most of their lives. With a group directed discussion of

death with no agenda, objectives or themes this is not a grief support

or counselling session. More info here

Do you have an issue you want to raise or discuss with your

local STC councillor?

Why not pop along to their regular surgery?

To get the dates and times for your councillor, simply select your

ward councillor from this list and scroll down or call the Town Hall

on 0191 427 1717 and ask for details.

(news)letters & links:

click the white links for more info

Wear Together - weekly

over 55s @ Boldon CA

Facebook page


cards @ Action Station

Facebook page

Divest Tyne & Wear

Facebook page

ClimateReads Book Group webpage

Big River Makers Market

Facebook page

Save South Tyneside

Hospital Campaign

Facebook page

Tyne and Wear Centre

Against Unemployment

Facebook page

https://bit.ly/3ZDj2zI CITIZENSASSEMBLYST southtyneside@assembly.org.uk

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