Friday, 14 December 2018

It’s Christmas Jumper Day!

Today is Save the Children’s ‘Christmas Jumper Day’, and I was happy to be able to show my support for the event in Parliament earlier this week. Now in its seventh year, Christmas Jumper Day aims to raise money for the world’s most vulnerable children by asking you to donate £2 (£1 for school children) to wear your most festive jumper. Over 5 million people in the UK are expected to take part this year and Save the Children are hoping that this will be the biggest event yet. To find out more or to sign up visit - you will be making a huge difference to the most vulnerable children around the world, including children living in poverty here in the UK.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Unveiling my 2018 Christmas Card...

School children across the Hexham constituency answered my call to send me their most festive creations as part of my 2018 Christmas Card Competition, and I was delighted to welcome this year's winner, Ailsa Westgate from Wylam First School, to Westminster. Ailsa, her sister Elspeth and her dad Tom were able to see the magnificent Kielder Christmas tree and to look around Parliament. We were joined by the sponsors of the competition, Alan and Eileen Ferguson of Fergusons of Blyth.

Ailsa's card really did stand out, featuring the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in its design. The card will now be sent out to people including the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet. Thank you again to Fergusons for very kindly sponsoring the competition, and congratulations to Ailsa!

Monday, 10 December 2018

Double celebrations at Go North East

I would like to congratulate Go North East on being awarded silver in the Inclusive Tourism category at the North East England Tourism Awards. This is an incredibly well-deserved accolade, as Go North East works closely with organisations including the RNIB and the Alzheimer's Society to help vulnerable customers travel safely and comfortably, and they provide ongoing training to their drivers to ensure this happens. There was more cause for celebration however, as their Head of engineering, Colin Barnes, was awarded bronze in the Engineer of the Year category. Well done to everyone at Go North East!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

2018 Toy Appeal- still time to donate!

My job gives me the incredibly special opportunity to make a difference to people's lives, and last month I launched my annual Christmas Toy Appeal which aims to give local children a magical Christmas. I am so grateful to those who have donated toys so far, and I will be delivering these gifts to the Salvation Army next Friday so that they can distribute them to local children who would otherwise not receive any gifts these Christmas. There is still time to donate toys though- please deliver any toys, cuddly toys, colouring books and more to 1 Meal Market, Hexham, or call 01434 239 205, but new toys only please! You will be making a huge difference to children in our local area.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

My response to the rejection of the application to reintroduce Lynx to Kielder Forest

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has taken the decision to reject an application by the Lynx Trust to release Lynx to Kielder Forest. 

I am delighted with the news. (  During the consultation period I held discussions with the many local farmers and residents, as well as the National Farmers Union. I did not speak to any farmer in favour of the proposal. I also conducted multiple surveys with hundreds of local residents, with the overwhelming majority clearly opposed.

Lynx are four foot long, two foot high wild. Releasing them in our communities would have been completely inappropriate.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs visited Northumberland earlier this year, and I took him to the uplands and to meet with several local farmers and rural Northumberland residents. I am delighted he has taken this decision.  

The simple point is that the Lynx UK Trust did not make the case.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Meeting with the Northumbrian Water team in Kielder

I was delighted to recently meet with the team who run the Kielder Dam, as well as the Northumbrian Water management to find out more about what goes on, and how the Dam supports our local area. Kielder Reservoir holds 200 billion litres of water, making it the largest artificial reservoir in the UK!

I later sat down with their Young Peoples Network in the Boat Inn at Kielder Waterside to discuss local employment. There are a wide variety of opportunities on offer, whether as rangers, supporting local tourism or in many other parts of the business.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Greenhead's Festive Fair

December is here and the Christmas season is well and truly underway. Next Sunday (9th December) is the Greenhead Christmas Craft Fair and Farmers' Market, held in the Village Hall and at Greenhead Hotel. With both locally grown, homemade produce and a fantastic range of stalls with handcrafted, recycled crafts, it will be the perfect occasion to get your Christmas shopping done. You can find out more about the event below:

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Use them or lose them - supporting our local small businesses!

Today is Small Business Saturday. It's an opportunity to celebrate our fantastic small businesses across Tynedale and Ponteland. Over the last few weeks, I have been presenting awards to small businesses all over our local area that have been highly commended by their customers.

From Carriages Tea Room in Bellingham to Ridley's Fish and Game in Acomb, small businesses are the backbone of our local community. But if you don't use them, we'll lose them. 

The government are supporting small businesses to start and grow by: 
  • Cutting business rates for small retailers by a third for 90% of all shops, pubs and restaurants up to £8,000. 
  • Investing £675 million in a Future High Streets Fund and a new High Streets Taskforce to support councils to transform our high streets. 
  • Keeping 3 million small businesses out of VAT altogether.
  • Tackling delays in payments to small businesses to ensure they get paid on time.
  • Backing an additional 10,000 entrepreneurs through Start Up Loans to start their own business. 
Make sure you shop local and support our small businesses!

Democracy Day

Last week I visited four schools as part of Democracy Day. I was able to conduct a detailed question and answer sessions with pupils in Hexham Middle School, Bellingham First, and Bellingham Middle and to have a quick chat in West Woodburn First School.

My many thanks to the teachers who invited and hosted me, and to the fantastic questions and discussions of democracy that took place. Parliament Week and Democracy Day discussions are always a highlight in my annual calendar.

My favourite ‘left field’ question after all our discussions of the job, what Parliament is like, and why voting matters came from Connor in Bellingham. Do you agree with pineapple on a pizza? The answer is of course - No.

My thanks to Mr Freeman-Myers of Hexham Middle School and Mr Bewick of Bellingham First School for organising the events at their schools.