Thursday, 21 October 2021

I urge Lloyds to rethink closing their Ponteland branch

I am very disappointed and concerned by the announcement from Lloyds that they are closing their bank branch in Ponteland.

Lloyds have announced that they are closing a total of 48 bank branches nationally, including Ponteland, in the Hexham Constituency. This news follows a recent spate of bank branch closures in rural areas, where access to cash and banking facilities are vital for residents.

I urge Lloyds to urgently rethink their position. Access to cash and an in-person counter are vital services to residents who may not be able to access online banking services. The Ponteland branch serves many of the surrounding villages meaning it will hit another one of the rural communities in my constituency very hard.

Clearly, footfall in branches has reduced since the advent of the pandemic. However, in-person banking services continue to be vital – we must save this branch!

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Sir David Amess

The whole country has been shaken by the senseless death of my friend and colleague Sir David Amess.

David was such a kind friend, always supporting colleagues no matter what political side they were on. Tributes over the weekend showed the breadth of friendships David had in politics.

Neighbouring MPs of David's Essex constituency; Labour MP Wes Streeting and Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell gave a moving tribute in a joint interview to Sky News on Sunday showing that whilst we might campaign with different colour rosettes, as Jo Cox said so eloquently, 'We have far more in common than that which divides us.'

On Friday, when the awful news of David's death was announced, I was conducting constituency street surgeries in Allendale. Meeting with constituents face-to-face is a vital part of my role of representing the people of Tynedale and Ponteland as your Member of Parliament. Gordon Brown said the legacy of this tragic event can't be 'less democracy'- and he's right.

Questions of security for MPs have been raised and I think it’s right for these issues to be investigated. However, there are many other public servants in public facing roles that face similar risks. We must always do our best to protect our public servants and I was very impressed that almost immediately after the news broke that Northumbria Police were in touch to ensure my staff and I were safe and well.

David would’ve expected nothing less than democracy to prevail from this horrific incident. That’s why the job must go on. On Friday I knocked doors in Allendale, held surgeries and went to my local pub afterwards.

This Friday, I will still be hosting the annual Tynedale Jobs Fair at the Wentworth Centre in Hexham between 10am and 3pm. I would encourage as many as possible to attend – if you are out of work or looking for a change in career. There are over 70 local employers recruiting from a range of industries, including hospitality, retail, manufacturing and transport.

Dedicated members of my team alongside the brilliant team at Hexham Jobcentre Plus have worked extremely hard to put this event together. Confirmed attendees include Britishvolt, Nissan, Network Rail, Aldi and McDonalds. What’s more, for the first time ever, this year’s event will include a ‘Kickstart Zone’ for young people who are on Universal Credit, and a dedicated CV writing advice area.

Holding this sort of community event is exactly what my constituents expect – and I will continue to work hard for people across Tynedale and Ponteland despite the awful atrocity we saw on Friday.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Vote for Zola at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition!

If you see me out and about in the Hexham constituency, then there is a very good chance that I will be accompanied by my fox red Labrador Retriever, Zola.

Zola is my biggest supporter and regularly charms Secretaries of State, as well as always helping me prepare for select committee appearances. She is much-loved by MPs and staffers alike and the rural lanes of Northumberland would be difficult to canvas without her invaluable help.

Zola is taking part in this year's Westminster Dog of the Year, organised by Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club. On Thursday 28th September, Zola will be joining other MP's dogs of all shapes and sizes at Victoria Tower Gardens to compete for the title, and we need your support!

The 'paw-blic' vote element of the competition is decided by the public, and you can cast your vote for Zola here- 

Westminster Dog of the Year is not only a fun event to be involved in, but it also provides a great opportunity to highlight the importance of responsible dog ownership and the work that MPs are doing to improve dog welfare. This year's event is focusing on promoting responsible dog ownership, so that owners recognise their responsibility to ensure that their pet lives a healthy and happy life.