On Monday I was able to go to Albermarle Barracks and listen to the specific concerns of the troops and their families there. Our soldiers do so much for us and we need to make sure that the home life of the troops, and their families here in Northumberland, is as good as it is possible to be.
We discussed many things in a 2 hour meeting, ranging from housing, and drainage, to garden waste and roads / potholes on the Military Road [again I hear you say!] ... but if we could make 2 key improvements on the base it would be transport on and off the base and mobile phone reception in the blackspot that is Stamfordham / Harlow Hill.
Veronica Jones, the local councillor, came along with me. We met all the welfare team who are doing a great job, and who looked after us with coffee and delicious cake: Jo's delicious banana cake will live long in the memory!
I do not want to promise anything I cannot deliver but real progress has been made, and I am clear of the 2 biggest things. It is really important that mums, families and the troops themselves have an ability to get on and off the base; we are looking at transport arrangements on a number of levels from County Council vehicles and sponsored buses.
Secondly, having the capability to call your sweetheart, family, folks or friends by mobile phone would make a huge difference. The solutions are out there. Give us time and we will try and make things better.