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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Minister caught up in pay row on the campaign trail

By Julian Whittle

Political editor

CONSTITUTIONAL affairs minister Harriet Harman came to Carlisle to boost Labour’s local election campaign – and walked into a row over court ushers’ pay.

Ms Harman toured the combined crown/county court in Earl Street on Monday where staff handed her a letter complaining about new regional pay bandings.

Ushers are working to rule in protest at proposals which, they say, will mean they are paid less than colleagues doing the same job in Newcastle or Preston.

Ms Harman said: “They have concerns about being in an area where there’s low pay. They have given me a letter, which I will pass to the permanent secretary dealing with the negotiations. I am always sympathetic to people in the court service.”

Ms Harman, who is a front runner in the race to become deputy leader of the Labour Party, also met Labour candidates for the city council elections on May 3.

Yewdale councillor Joe Hendry took her to Hutton Way where he is fighting to reopen the post office, which closed in November.

And St Aidan’s councillor Reg Watson showed her flood defence works behind Brunton Park, part of a £12m scheme to protect the east of the city.

The minister appeared genuinely moved when youth worker Julie Nugent, herself a flood victim, recounted the lasting effects of the disaster.

Ms Harman said: “Carlisle’s MP, Eric Martlew, made sure everyone in government knew what was going on.

“Coming here you can see the terrible effect the floods had on people, but I’ve been so impressed by the way everyone has pulled together.”

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