Town hit by strike chaos

THOUSANDS of residents across Hartlepool were affected as the town was hit by strike chaos.

More than half of the town’s schools were closed and the majority of court cases did not go ahead because of the walk-outs.

Jobseekers were also affected as a large number of staff did not turn up for work at Hartlepool’s Jobcentre Plus office.

Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, in Hartlepool, was packed full of parents and children as more than 9,000 pupils were affected as teachers took industrial action.

But driving students with their tests booked for yesterday were breathing a sigh of relief when they arrived at the town’s test centre, in Mainsforth Terrace, to find examiners had not taken action.

Many of the strikers in the town attended a joint union rally in Middlesbrough.

The public sector strike saw 750,000 teachers and civil workers take action nationwide after the NUT, ATL and PCS unions voted on industrial action.

Parents were left to organise day-care after schools announced they would be closing at the end of last week.

Claire Hill, 31, was shopping with her son Derem Turner, six, who was given a day off from West View Primary School.

Claire, who lives in the West View area of Hartlepool, said: “I don’t work at the moment so I didn’t have to get Derem looked after.

“We decided to come shopping and he is getting spoilt rotten, there’s kids everywhere.”

Ashley Dickinson, 34, who works in administration had to take half a days holiday to look after her son Dylan Cooper, eight.

Ashley, who lives in Sunderland, said: “I have brought him through to Hartlepool so we can get out for the afternoon.

“I haven’t lost any money, but I have had to take some of my holidays.

“Luckily we have family who were able to look after him this morning so I didn’t have to pay for day-care.”

The waiting areas in Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court were abandoned yesterday as trial court and criminal cases were cancelled.

Up to 80 members of staff in the town’s Jobcentre Plus also walked out leaving only a handful of workers on the bottom floor of the Wesley Square employment office.

But driving instructors expressed their delight after they found examiners had not taken part in the strike.

One town instructor, who did not want to be named, told the Mail: “I was so nervous as I pulled into the test centre this morning.

“My student has been waiting for this test for eight weeks and we had received an email saying there was a chance it wouldn’t go ahead.

“Credit to the examiners, they didn’t have to turn up to work but they have done.”

The student, who also didn’t want to be named, passed her test and told the Mail: “I have waited so long for this.

“I was so happy when I turned up and saw the examiners weren’t on strike.”

l It’s your vote: Page 8