Friday, 29 August 2014
In a letter send to parents by the Council's Passenger Transport Operations Manager a Council officer informs parents "We have not so far received the same volume of applications for transport from Post 16 students that we would normally expect this time of year This is probably due to the recent changes regarding the provision of Post-16 transport." We warned the County Council that parents in rural areas could not afford their new £600 tax and already we have the evidence. The Council received dozens of letters from families in rural Northumberland warning they simply did not have the money for this new tax on school transport. It is very sad to see that already there are less applications.
Parents have been told by the Council it was "not in a position to award your child a seat from 2nd September." - which is the start of term!
In the Council's rush to impose charges on rural families they have created chaos in their own system. We now have the ridiculous state of affairs where some parents do no even know if their child will be able to get the school bus. That situation is not acceptable.
You can read the full story in the Journal:
Thursday, 28 August 2014
It makes sobering reading. But if you want a high tax, union controlled, job destroying, approach to an economy and a country then vote for the Two Eds.
"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Councils across the country can now bid for government funding to build thousands of new homes on brownfield land. The £200 million fund will be shared between up to 10 new housing zones, all which must be outside of London. It is hoped the sites will deliver between 7,500 and 20,000 homes.
Since 2010 the government has taken a number of steps to make sure that brownfield land as possible is prioritised for new housing development. By 2015 100,000 new homes will have been constructed on previously developed state owned land. If we are to protect the greenbelt here in Northumberland we must see the Council
plan to develop more brownfield sites.
The Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis, said “We need to build more homes in this country, but it’s also vital we protect the countryside that people rightly treasure. That’s why the government is offering councils a share of £200 million to prioritise development on brownfield land. The new dedicated housing zones will transform
disused and derelict land, and ensure the new homes are built quickly in a process that is more straightforward for councils and builders."
This is another valuable step to protect our greenbelt. I am delighted by this funding announcement which will
further help protect the greenbelt. I have written to Northumberland County Council to encourage them to prepare a bid for this project. Across the country the level of greenbelt development is at its lowest rate since records began in 1989. As it stands the Council’s draft housing policies are simply unsustainable.
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
If you have not signed up and want to come at this late stage - we leave Hexham at 9.45 sharp Saturday but please let me know if you are coming - email me on email@example.com
This week I have a young student, Joshua Babajide, helping Dan in the Westminster office, and trying to learn more about politics and the office of an MP, albeit I am based in Hexham this week.
Joshua comes to us via the Social Mobility Foundation, which is an excellent charity that aims to make a practical improvement to the lives of young people by helping them gain work experience in a range of professional environments. This is a charity that is doing so much to help young people get their first experiences of a number of different professions. Other students from the foundation go and experience what it is like to work in a variety of career sectors such as Accountancy, Media, Engineering and Law. It is nice to know that, out of all the possible fields, Joshua decided to learn more about politics.
The consultation is now being considered by the council. All letters or emails to me these last few months are definitely part of the consultation. Ten days ago there was a march in Hexham - I could not go as I had long booked surgery appointments with 2 local businesses and had agreed to visit several local constituents at their homes in Heddon on the Wall. Sadly the diary has to be planned in detail and a fair way in advance, particularly in August, which makes the ability to change plan spontaneously quite difficult.
My understanding is that we will get a decision on the consultation soon: what "early Autumn" is I am trying to find out but this is the recent comment of the county council spokesman Cllr Ian Swithenbank, policy board member responsible for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council, who said: “We are very keen to engage with and gain comments and feedback from as many people as possible on the options for the bus station. No decision will be made until early autumn, and only after further consultation has been completed.”
Monday, 25 August 2014
- Scotland at Home
- Scotland in the World
- What Happens after the Vote
Are you going to help, get involved, or host an event - or simply go along, meet your friends and neighgbours and raise money for a great cause? Last year I was in Heddon on the Wall Village Hall and a great time was had by the dozens of people who turned up.
Full details are here: http://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx
I am unclear where I am going to go but I know that events are already organised locally in places as far apart as Ponteland and Humshaugh.
Sunday, 24 August 2014
AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.
Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleet. I am pictured with puppy walker Vanessa and Ushka the puppy and Community Engagement Officer Sue Rowan and her guide dog, Layla.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Book now to avoid disappointment - I am going to try and go at some stage on the weekend of the 18-19th but diaries are always difficult, not least as the House is sitting.
Friday, 22 August 2014
Kindly the store offered me a charity bet. As a a former steeplechase jockey and tipster I would normally bet on horses but I am not a huge fan of the flat so I picked this Saturdays football game and backed:
- Newcastle to beat Aston Villa at odds of 7-4
- Newcastle to win 2-1 at odds of 10-1
2 good charity causes riding on this so no pressure lads! The game is at 12.45.
The preferred new site is now to co-locate with the Hexham Hospital. I am fully behind this idea for a number of reasons, not least that all 3 emergency services know it is my strong view that we should have co-location of emergency services wherever possible. As they all know I would go further with far greater co-responding and interconnection between differing services in responding to events, led by the relevant expert. This particularly applies in truly rural areas.
The Hexham Hospital site is not perfect - no site ever is - but it is a massive improvement on the present site, it comes at a genuinely reasonable cost given the alternatives, and provides Hexham with a 21st Century Fire Station. It also allows the Northumberland County Council to reassess and use the present Hexham site, and the alternative Golf Course site that has lain idle for many years. Given all that my provisional view is to back this move wholeheartedly, although I want to see the product of the consultation and see what comments are made.
The Consultation is ongoing until 5th September so I urge any locals supportive or opposed to get involved. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to Headquarters at West Hartford Business Park, Cramlington NE23 3JP
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
The key passage for me is this:
For more details on the debate and my speech click on the link above.
He is wrong on many issues and fortunately retiring at the next election. I think it is a very good thing that the commons is becoming more representative of the country, with many more female MPs at every election. I help lead Women to Win and have helped train such future Conservative stars as Nusrat Ghani, Lucy Frazer, Maria Caulfield and Vicky Atkins. All will be amazing MPs, and are presently excellent candidates in Wealden, Cambridgeshire, Lewes and Louth.
I could go on about certain MPs in all parties saying things they should not but this is not ageism. What annoys me about Austin is that we rarely see him in the commons chamber. There are some veterans who are there a lot - whether you agree or disagree with them Dennis Skinner, David Winnick, Richard Shepherd and sir Peter Tapsell all contribute a great deal. All are 70+.
So on this issue I am strongly against Austin and stand on the barricades with the female MPs who are rightly up in arms. Eventually the dinosaurs became extinct. I hope Austin's views will be extinct soon too.
If you have not visited it is a beautiful village - immaculately looked after. Full credit to all the locals who have put in so much effort.
The full list is here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/communities/pdf/bloom/Britain-in-Bloom-2014/finalists
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
There is no doubt that Darling won the first debate, and that Salmond seems ever more desperate. His argument on the pound is unravelling. If he wants independence then he can have it – provided the Scottish people agree. But with independence comes a different currency. It is that simple. Last week’s suggestion by the SNP that Scotland is more predisposed towards ‘social justice’ than other parts of Britain is frankly absurd, and embarrassing. I hope to continue our campaign to maintain the Union and that ultimately Scotland will say “No thanks”.
Monday, 18 August 2014
The key section of the debate is as follows:
- "On what basis would Scotland get to keep the pound? Would it be used informally, just as some Latin American countries, Greece and Montenegro use other currencies?
- Why should the Bank of England take notice of Scotland in setting monetary policy?
- Why should the Governor travel to Edinburgh and be interrogated by Scottish MPs in such an event?
- After independence, surely the Governor would owe his appointment entirely to a rest-of-UK appointment system?
- At that stage, would the First Minister come to London seeking an audience to negotiate?
- when one goes through Mark Carney’s speech and looks at the currency options, it would seem that the SNP proposes to keep the pound as part of a formal sterling currency union agreed with the rest of the UK. However, the SNP seems not to have contemplated the fact that that would involve giving up huge amounts, as Mark Carney made very clear, as well as requiring the agreement of all other parties. The SNP seeks independence but would require and accept greater control by a third party."
Many more details on the debate in parliament at the link above.
Friday, 15 August 2014
Referendum Day will be just 19 days away!
You do not have to be a big or small c Conservative to come. We welcome everyone, form all political parties and all persuasions. Several people have signed up who are definitely not Conservatives. But we are all committed to the Union and believe we are better together.
Spaces are limited so please book your place in advance before 24th August with Catherine MacLeod: CatherineTVP@gmail.com or 0750 0080 596
It will be fascinating and a lot of fun.
It is your country.
If you live in England you do not have a vote but you do have the opportunity to make a difference. Come with us and tell the many Scots we intend to talk to that they are better off saying "No Thanks" to Alex Salmond.
Come to Gods own County soon and see the wonder or our history and Roman finds: more details here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-28645612
Thursday, 14 August 2014
NECC Policy and Research Manager, Mark Stephenson, said: “Once again the North East has provided a record-breaking set of figures with more people in full time employment than ever before. A welcome addition to this is the decrease in the employment rate – one of the biggest two decreases in the UK – and an across-the-board decrease in unemployment."
“The improvement in the North East employment rate remains one of the more eye-catching statistics from across the UK and has been deemed “statistically significant” by the Office for National Statistics. The decrease in the claimant count figure is again welcome and continues a longer-term trend. This figure is now at its lowest since September 2008 before the financial crisis and the economic downturn."
“However, the North East still has the lowest overall employment rate as well as the highest unemployment rate in the UK which highlights the significant challenges that remain.”
- North East Employment now stands at 1,191,000 – a rise of 15,000 over the quarter and 64,000 over the year.
- · North East Unemployment is now 126,000 – a fall of 10,000 over the quarter, and 6,000 over the year.
We never cancel our campaign days, but if it’s too wet we may just head to the nearest pub!
Saturday August 16th:
ACTION DAY - Ponteland North - 11am
The Blackbird, North Road, Ponteland, Northumberland, NE20 9UH
Saturday August 23rd:
ACTION DAY - Humshaugh - 11am
Humshaugh House, Humshaugh, Hexham, NE46 4AT
Saturday September 20th:
ACTION DAY - Gosforth, Newcastle - 11am
The County, Gosforth High St, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear NE3 1HB
Saturday September 27th:
ACTION DAY - Riding Mill / Stocksfield - 11am
The Duke of Wellington, Main Road, Riding Mill NE44 6DQ
Saturday October 18th:
ACTION DAY - Prudhoe - 11am
The Dr Syntax, 1 West Road, Prudhoe, NE42 5JT
Saturday November 1st
ACTION DAY - Ponteland South - 11am
The Blackbird, North Road, Ponteland, Northumberland, NE20 9UH
Saturday December 13th:
ACTION DAY - Hexham West - 11am
Outside QEHS, Whetstone Bridge Rd, Hexham NE46 3JB
We are also out on other days so if you cannot make these days just get in contact and we will tell you the other days
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
There is a online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/prudhoewalledgarden
And you can email your thoughts on email@example.com
or visit the website www.prudhoewalledgarden.yolasite.com
or go on facebook “Prudhoe hospital has a future”
The Consultation Meetings are this week:
Thursday 14th August 2014
- 9.30am - 11.30am: St Mary Magdalene Church
- 3.30pm - 5.30pm: Prudhoe Library, Spetchells
Friday 15th August 2014
- 2.30pm – 4.30pm: Prudhoe Library, Spetchells
I am going to try and pop in Thursday morning but do go and lend your support. This is a great project for Prudhoe.
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
The teams - the Valley Vikings and Guys Gladiators - will be made up of local cricketers from Tynedale [including some very good players from the Tynedale team], and several locals from Allendale, Hexham, Humshaugh, people from Tynedale Hospice and supportive local businesses such as Dipsticks .... and some star players from the Hexham Courant. And me :)
The cricket will last 2-7pm. At the same time there will be activities for the youngsters, a football stand a beer and Pimms tent, and a BBQ from 4pm provided by local businesses Flat Cap Kitchen and the Northumberland Sausage Company.
There will also be music and a raffle - with prizes donated by Slaley Hall, Tim Healy, SCA Prudhoe and Brendan Healey to name but a few.
Please do come along and support the event - there really is something for everyone. £1 entry on the gate, youngsters under 12 go free. All proceeds to a local and hugely worthwhile cause, Tynedale Hospice. My thanks in advance to the sponsors and everyone who has given up their time for this cause - I am defintely going to be praying for a sunny day in church on sunday!
Monday, 11 August 2014
900 SCA Toilet Rolls is a large [+ very soft] prize for this Sunday's charity cricket day for Tynedale Hospice
SCA have donated to the Tynedale Hospice at Home Charity Cricket Day a pallet of toilet roll; this is, I am told, although I have not personally counted, around 900 rolls worth over £500.
This is quite some auction prize....a prize for the best caption / trailer for Sundays cricket match - about which more tomorrow.
Man of the match and the champagne moment will receive many things but I think both will definitely get a few rolls to sit down and celebrate with....so to speak
So this Friday I will be going to The Dyvels in Corbridge and taking part in a Dementia Friends Supported Walk to begin at 11am, for 1 hour.
Attendees include: Cllr Melvyn Stone, Corbridge Parish Council, who has been leading on the Corbridge project, Lorraine Oliver, North Country Leisure, Representatives from Barclays Bank, Cllr Jean Fearon,Amy Syron-Mallenby – Alzheimer’s Society, and Cllr Maurice Hodgson – Chair Corbridge Parish Council.
There will also be many members of the public and several dementia sufferers coming too. I am told the walks are very popular. The walk will be a gentle walk along the river bank, around the cricket ground, finishing back at the Dyvels.
Thereafter we are having a Dementia Friends session at The Dyvels for an hour or so
Melyvn will deliver the session, which aims to help people understand five key facts about dementia using a range of interactive activities and analogies. Melvyn will aim to keep the session quite short, which should allow time for questions and discussion. If you are interested, are a carer, or simply keen to help or understand better I urge you to come along.
Sunday, 10 August 2014
- planting in and around housing developments, enterprise and business parks
- mid hill forestry where the moorland meets the arable and low lying land or where land abuts forestry commission land
- possible new larger forests on sites to be identified and agreed by local councils and interested bodies.
No one is contemplating another Kielder Forest but a smaller forest on a scale of Slaley or Wark is not unrealistic or unattainable in my view. This may need a change in viewpoint by several people or public bodies and possible change in direction but that is what discussion and debate is about. The simple point is this - what are we prepared to do to ensure there is a forestry and timber business in the North well beyond 2030?
Fuller details here: http://www.confor.org.uk/NewsAndEvents/News.aspx?pid=23&id=2641
The event is also front page of todays Courant and reported at length in the Journal.
Saturday, 9 August 2014
East Anglian Air Ambulance is one of nineteen other charities that operate the thirty six air ambulances across the UK, providing advanced pre-hospital care to the most critically ill patients. On average seventy patients per day are treated by the thirty six aircraft.
I work hand in glove with Clive Dickin, the AAA National Director, who on hearing the good news said:
“We are delighted that East Anglian Air Ambulance and the East of England Ambulance Service have such support. The Duke of Cambridge made it clear earlier this year that he was considering this option as part of his public service duties. The announcement will, we hope, help to raise the profile of the work of all air ambulances in the country."
Friday, 8 August 2014
Guy Opperman MP
House of Commons
SW1A 0AA 6th August 2014
Dear Mr Opperman,
Congratulations in playing your part in our #YourGreatBritain competition and securing the North East a £1 million advertising campaign at Heathrow. Despite losing the lead with just 48 hours to go, thanks to your support, the North East pulled together and showed not only to us here at Heathrow, but to the entire nation, that it is a region built on pride.
Heathrow – the UK’s only hub airport - is one of the busiest airports in the world, with around 73 million passengers travelling through every year. We are delighted that with 7 daily flights from Heathrow to Newcastle, we are able to connect businesses in the North East to their global markets and give easy access for overseas tourists to enjoy the incredible landscape, history and culture that the North East has to offer.
With this competition, we wanted to show our commitment to delivering growth for the whole of the country. In March, Heathrow began a 12-month advertising partnership with VisitBritain where we gave £4 million of advertising space to inspire visitors to explore the UK. The first three months of the partnership promoted the previously flood hit areas of Devon, Cornwall, Llanddwyn Island (Wales Coast Path) and Glastonbury, to show they were back on track and open for business. The second round of adverts that went live in June were chosen to coincide with the Tour de France Grand Départ, illustrating Yorkshire’s celebrated countryside, as well as the region’s retail and architectural strengths.
For this third round of adverts, we let the public decide which region would feature. In a two week competition, the North East fought off the North West, Midlands and Northern Ireland to secure £1m worth of free advertising at Heathrow. The North East will now see four advertisements showing its breadth and beauty presented across digital screens in all terminals at Heathrow from the end of August until the end of November.
Thank you for your support, Heathrow is a national asset and, if we get approval for expansion, we will ensure that the whole of the UK feels the benefit, not just London and the South East. For more information, visit http://your.heathrow.com/britainsheathrow/
Yours sincerely, John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive
Fuller details here: http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/north-east-voters-win-region-7563741
For my part I cannot wait to go to Heathrow and see the Wall on display!!
Thursday, 7 August 2014
To use the football analogy - "He is a top striker and you need your best players on the pitch."
I have met Boris many times and he is a complex character - very bright, very experienced, a very successful two times Mayor with a proven track record. He also has a with a wicked sense of humour and a great speaking style. He is also a full time cyclist, a strong advocate of the living wage, and one of the best MPs I have ever seen at talking to anyone. He genuinely likes people, which is the most important asset inan MP. And he cares. He will be a big asset.
Also he is very good at explaining why it would be lunacy to make Ed Miliband Prime Minister and Ed Balls Chancellor. And that is the prospect this country faces in 2015.
Fuller details here:
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
I have long said that there is no doubt that when the cities of the North work together real change can happen. We have seen this with the LA7, the proposals of the Adonis Report, and now this report.
The report can be found here:
It is genuinely great news that the five cities in the north of England have come together with one aim, to improve their economic prosperity by working together. Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds have responded to a challenge set them by the Chancellor, and Sir David Higgins, the head of HS2, to begin competing more effectively with London.
There is no doubt that the Cities of northern England are powerful individually but better as one force.
This report and the progress made will ensure we are competitive and prosper in the global economy, and this investment in infrastructure will improve the links between all the major northern cities. The government have listened and built on the success of City Deals and devolved funding. The Local Authorities are now working together ever more closely and this can only be a good thing.
Among the many major successes proposed are a new rail line using faster trains between Newcastle and the Darlington area designed to save 10 minutes journey time, plus speeding up and making more reliable services to London from Newcastle on the East Coast mainline before HS2 is completed; this coupled to the measures to enhance and grow our regions roads and airport are good things.
The Journal report is here: http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/15bn-plan-revolutionise-transport-newcastle-7561727
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
On the economic, military, European, healthcare, banking and pensions issues I believe that the SNP are unable to prove to the Scottish people that they would be better off alone. More importantly I believe that the message is getting through to the Scots that we who are south of the border are genuine in our desire for them to stay. We are better together, and having beaten everyone from Napoleon to Hitler together, I want this wonderful United Kingdom to remain and thrive individually and collectively.
Do debates matter? Ask Texas governor Rick Perry, who was a much-fancied contender in the 2011 race for the Republican nomination before he bombed spectacularly on air in a live pre White HouseTV debate. He withdrew from the race shortly afterwards. Similarly in the first US presidential TV debate in 1960, Republican nominee Richard Nixon famously lost out on the presidency after many thought he appeared sweaty and shifty next to a polished and confident John F Kennedy.
At the last general election I remember very well the packed debates in Hexham abbey, which definitely made a difference to the many who were there. On any interpretation this is the biggest debate in Scottish history.
If anyone wants to come on our bus to help save the union on Saturday August 30 please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I shall be going north in the morning from Newcastle and Hexham and have privately rented a bus to take everyone, but obviously need to know numbers if at all possible. We shall be going to Jedburgh, Galashiels and across the Borders area persuading Scots who have a postal vote (which land on their doorstep around that day) that we are better together. If you want to come in your own car, and can carry others, then also please let me know. This is a cross party trip, so all are welcome - I have already campaigned with many liberals and labour politicians in Scotland, and in Westminster, on this issue. The state of our country is at stake.
Monday, 4 August 2014
I have never been to a more vivid or moving service. This was a seamless blend of theatre, church, military, interested parties, local community and supportive charities all coming together in a sacred place. Due praise must go to the organisers, particularly The Lord Lieutenants team, the many churchmen of differing faiths, and the rural Dean, Dagmar, who along with all the helpers at Hexham Abbey, made this event possible. Everyone I spoke to afterwards agreed that the use of the two outstanding actors to bring the tragic events to life was a resounding success.
The lessons to be learnt were many, not least that peace is precious and often very hard won. Security and freedoms can never be taken for granted. But the service did much to covey the full horror of what those who served endured for all of us. I believe very strongly that it is important that the children of our generation need to have an understanding of what went on 100 years ago; I am delighted that so many of our local schools have plans to take their schoolchildren to the battlefields and monuments so that they have a better understanding.
The events across Europe today to continue our awareness and commemoration and they are set out in more detail by the BBC below:
Sunday, 3 August 2014
The store is so much more than a charity shop - as it has a delightful cafe in the back with delicious cakes, scones and the like to turn the shop into a destination in its own right.
It was a good opportunity for me to spend time with the many volunteers and professional staff at Tynedale Hospice, and to raise a salute to Brian Massey MBE, who leads the organisation with unflagging enthusiasm and who was recently given his well deserved honour by the Queen. It was a great afternoon for all those who braved the thunderstorm. And the short speech by Colin put it very well - that Tynedale Hospice at Home are the ones who look after the ill and the elderly so well, and that they are the helpers there to cope with death and disaster. If you can support this wonderful charity please do so.
Coming soon on Sunday August 17 in Hexham from 2-7 is our own Charity Cricket Match raising money for Tynedale Hospice at Home (of which more to follow!)
Then on Tuesday October 14th Rob Caskie is returning to give his talk at the Queens Hall on Rorkes Drift. Anyone who heard him last year will know that he is the finest of all speakers and with a tale to tell that will stir the blood of any Briton. It is an event not to be missed.
Saturday, 2 August 2014
Friday, 1 August 2014
It is very important that we remember those who gave their lives and the changes the war brought upon us as a country. It is sobering to think that so many of our local men from 16 upwards went away to the war never to return. We are indeed very fortunate not to face such a conflict today, nothwithstanding all the problems that we see around us.
Thursday, 31 July 2014
Friday I have surgeries. On Sunday I am going to the Hexham Abbey for the Church Sevice to commemorate the First World War. If I miss you in Allendale itself on Saturday morning come along to the cricket pitch in the afternoon. I suspect I will be batting well down the order so I will have plenty of time to chat!
Please come along! All are welcome. This is a cross party campaign. I will let locals know a pick up point so please email me if you want to come, but the likelihood is that we will meet at the wentworth car park in Hexham at 9am on the Saturday 30th. This really matters.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Bizarrely it has been announced that Scottish TV will not show this debate in the rest of the UK. So the rest of us can not be involved or informed. This gets stranger by the minute.
Monday, 28 July 2014
Some of the cash will fund a direct link from Newcastle Station to the Stephenson Quarter regeneration site and refurbishment of Newcastle Central Metro Station. Durham City will also benefit from £6.3m towards the proposed Western Relief Road.
Leader of Newcastle Council, Coun Nick Forbes, who has responsibility for transport issues on the NELEP board, said: “North East councils have presented a compelling case to Government for greater transport investment which is reflected in today’s announcement. It underlines the benefits of working together in the interests of the wider region. This investment is an encouraging start towards our goal of improving our strategic transport network, and improving connectivity across our region.”
Bear in mind Nick is diehard Labour - looks like the government is doing something right.
Sunday, 27 July 2014
It is a sobering thought that we shall be reflecting on in various church services next weekend. For now -
The papers are looking back at life 100 years ago
Saturday, 26 July 2014
When you are a visitor or a patient in hospital, you are at your most distressed, emotional and concerned. The last thing people need in such times are the worry of how long they’ve got left on the parking meter.
For many years we have fought for free parking in the town of Hexham. This last year we have had success, and parking is free in Hexham now.
Yet the Hospital are continuing to charge for parking. I met with Health bosses and their answer was evasive; they promised to get back to me. They have not done so despite several prompts.
Around a quarter of hospitals in England do not charge for parking at all, and car parking fees have been abolished in Scotland and Wales. The reality is trhat local people are now parking in the town car parking spaces rather than using the hospital car park and paying. So the Trust is running a loss making service. The trust still refuse to change.
I beleive the best approach for the trust is to say that where parking is paid for in a town and free in a Hospital they have to guard against people abusing a situation to park free in Hexham by using the Hexham Hospital car park. Now bizarrely, Hexham Hospital is charging - and the rest of the town is free. This cannot continue.
There are a huge number of emotional and practical benefits that parking brings to patients. For many patients, driving is the only option. As Macmillan point out, “public transport and hospital transport are often neither adequate nor suitable for cancer patients”. Equally, patients who live in rural areas or have to come to hospital at unconventional hours barely have a choice. In the last National Patient Choice Survey, 46 per cent of patients rated car parking as one of the factors in choosing a hospitals.
Patients should have the peace of mind to be able to focus solely on getting the best care available.
Of all those whom our taxes go to help, none are more vulnerable or more guiltless than those whom the NHS serves. Hexham Hospital need to do the right thing - with free hospital parking helping those most in need; we ought to protect these most vulnerable and unfortunate, and provide a service that is equal and fair for all, and to make it as easy as possible for families to be together in their time of need. The Trust are good people but on the wrong side of our argument on this one.
Friday, 25 July 2014
The short points are these:
- where are we going to plant more forests?
- is it agreed that such a forest has to be of commercial use - ie containing timber that can used by businesses as in Kielder Forest?
- and to what extent does government need to subsidise this planting, or can the market provide?
- do any constituents object to more forestry?
For my part I would welcome further forests in Northumberland.
There is a Forestry Summit to be hel;d at Egger in Hexham, on August 4th, and I shall be there.
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
A school funding revolution is taking place in Northumberland as the fairer funding consultation will lead to an increase in April 2015 of up to 7.2%. That is also a revolution for our governors, who, under the previous Government, were often consulted but always ignored. Will the Minister take this forward and ensure that we have fairer funding for all?
David Laws (The Minister for Schools; Yeovil, Liberal Democrat)
As my hon. Friend ingenuously points out, the funding reforms we are making will certainly help governors and teachers in schools. As a result of his campaigning and that of many other hon. Members we are introducing the fairer funding system next year. When we consulted on this, Northumberland was initially going to benefit to the tune of £10.6 million. I can say that the final settlement is that Northumberland will receive £12 million more to ensure that it is funded fairly in the future.
Some are outraged on behalf of the Palestinians, and specifically the residents of Gaza, both for past injustices, blockades, and restrictions. But the recent escalation by Israel into Gaza they feel has made a terrible existence mores early for some and generally much, much worse.
Some are outraged on behalf of Israel, who have faced constant rocket attacks to the southern half of the country, with some rockets even hitting Tel Aviv. Some argue that Israel should defend itself against such constant bombardment.
Regular readers will know that for the last 6 years I have made a real effort to travel to the region once a year and get a better understanding. In that time I have visited Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and spent a specific length of time in Beirut and on the Turkish / Syria border trying to meet and talk with locals on the ground of all persuasions.
My 2011 trip to Beirut taught me a lot, and my 2012 trip to Israel allowed me to see the effects of the rocket attacks from Gaza on the smaller towns of Southern Israel, like Sderot. Sderot is known as the bomb shelter capital of Isreal as it is so close to the. Gaza border and the rockets. I have not been able to go to Gaza itself, for many reasons,but have spoken to many who have - both cross party MPs and experts on the situation on the ground. In truth, the House of Commons allows you to get experts and briefings that exceed almost all others. When time allows I do propose to go to Gaza, and the West Bank and see the situation for myself.
I spoke separately in the commons on Tuesday on the refugee situation in the Middle East - my
speech is available on they work for you or Hansard, but I remain committed to a durable ceasefire, diplomacy not conflict, a withdrawal by Israel, and a cessation of the Hamas rockets. Long term the only solution is a two state solution, as a basis for peace. Enforcing that peace on a long term basis will obviously be difficult, but it is a prize well worth seeking.
For an updated appraisal of the situation on the ground, by the BBC, who remain the most objective of reporting organisations, see below:
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
I am passionate about apprenticeships and vocational education. They are important to help our young people find the jobs they deserve and for improving the skills of our Nation’s workforce. As such, I like many other small businesses, employ an apprentice, Jade, who has been with us in our Hexham office since 2011 and is an important and valued member of our team.
In Hexham we have seen a huge rise in the numbers of apprenticeships which is great news for young people starting out in the working world and businesses alike. Specifically there has been a 62.8% rise in the number of apprenticeship starts in Hexham from 2009/10 to 2012/13 [the last full year for stats].
This is not a pattern exclusive to Hexham, however:
- throughout the North East this pattern of success is repeated with increases in apprenticeship starts ranging all the way up to 143.1%. Overall the North East is the country's second biggest percentage increase in apprenticeship starts; at the national level we have already delivered 1.8 million new apprenticeships since 2010.
The full chart is here:
Parliamentary Constituency and % increase on apprenticeship starts from 2009/10 (Labour) to 2012/13 (Last full year under Coalition)
Berwick upon Tweed 98.0
Bishop Auckland 143.1
Blyth Valley 107.6
City of Durham 120.0
Houghton and Sunderland South 63.4
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 90.6
Newcastle upon Tyne Central 80.8
Newcastle upon Tyne East 82.4
Newcastle upon Tyne North 67.7
North Durham 104.6
North Tyneside 83.1
North West Durham 121.0
South Shields 86.4
Stockton North 109.0
Stockton South 120.0
Sunderland Central 60.0
Washington and Sunderland West 71.6
I congratulate all who were involved in this increase and encourage those employers who have yet to hire one of our fabulous young people to do so. You won’t regret it!
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
The unit, which could operate in a similar way to the government's forced marriage unit, has been a key demand of campaigners against FGM. "These measures will ensure that we can maintain the momentum on stamping out these harmful practices," May said.
The home secretary said the government would also strengthen laws around FGM, and would hold parents responsible if their child was a victim of the practice. May also announced a consultation into making it mandatory for professionals to report FGM and said victims going through court cases would be given lifelong anonymity.
The background to the story is here:
Monday, 21 July 2014
The Prime Minister spoke to President Putin this weekend and made it clear that the shooting down of MH17 was totally unacceptable. The evidence suggested that pro-Russian separatists were responsible. If this is the case then we must be clear what it means: this is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them.
If President Vladimir Putin stops the support to the fighters in eastern Ukraine and allows the Ukrainian authorities to restore order, this crisis can be brought to an end. Of course there must be proper protections for Russian-speaking minorities and these issues can be addressed. But the overriding need is for Russia to cease its support for violent separatists.
Our priority is to get experts to the crash site so they can recover and repatriate the victims and collect any evidence necessary for the investigation. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action, where we try and find those who committed this crime and bring them to justice.