THE MP for Stockton South has spoken about his decision to continue to serve as a local councillor.

Matt Vickers MP for Stockton South and councillor for the Hartburn ward has said he has not claimed expenses for his councillor duties and that the money has been given to charity.

Mr Vickers said: "Like a number of other MPs across I continue to serve as a local Councillor, the pandemic meant that all elections were cancelled and the choice for me was whether to leave Hartburn without one of its councillors and increase Labour’s control of the council or carry on and hold the council to account.

"I continue to be an active councillor attending meetings and remaining available to help local people. I have never claimed a penny in expenses as a councillor and made the decision to discretely give the allowance I receive to a number of very important local organisations. Whilst I had chose not to publicise the donations a number of people contacted me following misleading and inaccurate coverage asking to me to do so.

"The thanks should go to these amazing charities who have helped get people through the pandemic and who help the most vulnerable in Stockton day in, day out.”

Gail Walker from Teesside Dementia Link Services, Julie Cooper from the Don War Memorial Bar and Brian Jones from the Moses Project have written a letter supporting Mr Vickers.

The letter said: "We write as representatives of charities and community organisations in Stockton to express our disappointment at the coverage of a recent council meeting where negative comments were reported about local MP, Matt Vickers.

"We’re not necessarily supporters of a particular party but since being elected, Matt Vickers has proved to be an immensely active and supportive MP.

"Matt is incredibly dedicated to supporting organisations like ours, standing up for our area and doing his bit for the most vulnerable. Our organisations support various members of society, from those suffering with dementia, those in poverty who need help accessing food, those who suffer from addiction or are homeless as well as our veterans.

"As well as supporting our causes and rolling his sleeves up where required, Matt approached us and offered a donation. He explained that for as long as he remains a councillor, he would split the allowance he receives between local community groups."