Monday, 18 March 2019

Heddon Aircraft Noise

A number of residents have contacted me over the last two years regarding the issue of aircraft noise over Heddon-on-the-Wall and Horsley, and I have had numerous conversations with Newcastle Airport management to try to resolve the problem. A public meeting has been arranged in Heddon-on-the-Wall to give residents the opportunity to raise their concerns and views ahead of the holiday season. The meeting will be held at the Knott Memorial Hall, Heddon, on Tuesday 19th March at 6.30pm, and I would encourage anyone with any concerns to attend the meeting to make their views known and to hear first hand from the airport what they are doing to try to alleviate the problem. Representatives from the airport team will be attending to listen to locals' views. I will be unable to attend due to commitments in Westminster, but if you have strong views about this issue please do go along and get your voice heard. 

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Shop local!

Our high streets have always been a cornerstone of society – a place to bring communities together, a place for local people to access vital services, and a place for businesses to thrive. But as more people head online, or to out-of-town retail parks for their shopping, it is becoming harder for small businesses on the high street to adjust. That’s why I was delighted to hear James Brokenshire announce at the Conservative Councillors’ Association that today, Saturday 16thMarch, is a national campaign day on high streets, celebrating the contribution high streets, and the businesses and people who work on them, make to our local communities. 

It is a priority of this Government to support high streets and local businesses, helping them to adapt and flourish for generations to come; under the Conservative Government councils receive support to spend on modernising high streets, with £675 million of funding to help modernise high streets and town centres. And from April, business rates for 90% of retailers will be cut by one third- saving local businesses up to £8000 a year.

I am passionate about protecting and preserving the high streets at the heart of our communities. My Small Business Awards, sponsored by Patricia J Arnold and Co, champion our local high street businesses, and as always I encourage you to shop local and support our high streets.








Friday, 15 March 2019

Funding success for our local communities

The National Lottery Community Fund provides funding to good causes to help improve our local communities for everyone. In the past three months, two local community projects have been awarded funding. Natural Ability will use their funding to purchase a pickup truck to enable people with learning disabilities to carry out basic DIY jobs, agricultural and horticultural work such as small fencing jobs, and track and drainage maintenance for farmers, land owners and people living in remote areas. The aim is to provide training, support and employment opportunities for participants in undertaking meaningful valued work, to develop their skills end enable them to reach their full potential. Meanwhile Otterburn First School will use their funding to install play equipment in the rural school grounds. This will help aid the development of younger children through active play, and provide new facilities and sessions for families to help reduce social isolation.

This funding really will make an incredible difference to local people, and I always encourage community groups and projects to apply for National Lottery Community funding.




Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Rolling out broadband in the Hexham constituency

I know that broadband is an incredibly important issue for many people in the Hexham constituency, and I recently met with Kim Mears, director of strategy at Openreach, to talk about the provision of broadband within our local communities. I particularly raised the issue of the long delayed community fibre partnerships which are now progressing. Despite recent successes with the provision of extra mobile coverage by EE, work to ensure that every household and business in the constituency has access to the best broadband goes on. I will continue to work towards getting better broadband and increased mobile coverage for all in our local areas.


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Why I'm backing the Brexit Deal


As MP’s, when we walk into the voting lobbies tonight, we face a clear and overriding choice. Do we, or do we not respect the result of the referendum? I will be voting for the deal, and I am certain it is the right thing to do.

In 2016, I helped lead the campaign to Remain across Northumberland, and across the North East. We were defeated. I am a democrat. The people have spoken. Delivering on the referendum result is the right thing to do and I do not support a second referendum.

I know that many have called this deal a compromise – and it is. But it is a compromise that takes back control of our borders, our money and our laws.  

Prime Minister Theresa May has won some important changes since the previous vote. This reduces the risk that the EU could deliberately keep us trapped in the backstop indefinitely, and works to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by 2020.

This deal delivers what we voted for: It takes back control of our laws, our borders, our money, and control of our trade policy. By backing this improved deal on offer today, we can move on to all the other issues we want to take action on, like continuing to improve our NHS and schools, reducing crime and protecting our environment.

I have addressed the issues that arise in respect of this vote in the 14 minute video interview with my good friend and neighbour Rory Stewart MP, on all aspects of the withdrawal agreement, a second referendum, the backstop and our future relationship with the EU here: guyopperman.co.uk/brexit

I do not believe it is the right thing to have a second referendum. Nor do I believe there is any majority in either the government party, or the Labour Party to vote for such an outcome. It would be fraught with difficulty, and would be denying the biggest vote in our country’s history. It would be an affront to democracy. No second referendum would be able to take place for at least 6 months, maybe over a year, with the potential for numerous options on the ballot paper. I do not support that approach, and nor do the majority of my fellow parliamentarians in the two main political parties. I accept it is a policy supported by the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Green Party. 

If we back the improved Brexit deal on offer, we will leave the European Union on March 29th – in just over two weeks - on agreed terms that gives us the best possible start in our new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.

UPDATE

The House of Commons debated the issue of a second referendum on Thursday March 14. The proposal for a Second Referendum was rejected by the House of Commons by 334 to 84. It was not supported by the government or the Labour Party.
It remains my view that a negotiated withdrawal agreement is the best way forward. I continue to work with MP colleagues across the House of Commons and, in particular, with MPs from the Conservative and Labour Party to agree a negotiated deal.



Monday, 11 March 2019

Keep supporting Fairtrade


Over the past two weeks, we've been celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight. This is an opportunity to support those who grow our food in some of the poorest countries around the world. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and local sustainability.

I was delighted to attend an event in the House of Commons a few weeks ago to find out how we can support Fairtrade, not just throughout Fairtrade Fortnight, but all year round.

WATCH MY VIDEO FROM THE FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT EVENT



Find out more about how you can support Fairtrade at fairtrade.org.uk.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Older carers events

If you are over 60 and help or look after a friend or family member with an illness, disability or addiction, then I would like to draw your attention to a series of events organised by Carers Northumberland that are taking place around Northumberland over the next few months. The older carers events will give you the opportunity to find out about carers' rights, as well as take part in the Great Carers Bake Off and try some spring crafts.

The events are taking place at- 

Otterburn Memorial Hall- Wednesday 24th April 2019
Haltwhistle Leisure Centre- Thursday 7th May 2019
Stocksfield Quaker Meeting House- Thursday 23rd May 2019

Please book by Monday 25th March by emailing info@carersnorthumberland.org.uk or calling 01670 320035



Friday, 8 March 2019

Highways England's traffic management plans for the A69 Bridge End Roundabout

Highways England’s late change to the traffic management plans for the A69 Bridge End Roundabout scheme has understandably caused real concern locally. 

Our Hexham and Corbridge councillors are right to be pushing for an immediate high-level meeting with Highways England to address the key points of consultation, access and safety. 

I have spoken with the Project Manager for the Bridge End roundabout scheme and local county councillors to suggest ways forward. I now hope that a solution can swiftly be agreed so that this important upgrade can go ahead safely, but with minimum disruption to local residents, businesses and visitors to Hexham.

This £30m investment in the A69 is part of a national fund designed to alleviate congestion pinch points - something we wall want to see Hexham benefit from. But it is also part of the bigger picture across the Tyne Valley as we continue to make the case for highways improvements further west.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Get involved with World Book Day!

Make sure you get involved and share a story for World Book Day. 
Today is World Book Day! Schools across the country are handing out more than 15 million World Book Day Tokens to children and young people. These can be exchanged for one of twelve brand new World Book Day books, or £1 off any full priced book that costs at least £2.99.

It was great to pop into Prudhoe Library earlier today to chat to staff, and see pupils from the Adderlane Academy so engaged with books and reading.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get your children interested in books. Make sure you make this week a week for reading, and strive to bring a new book into you and your families lives.

Watch my World Book Day 2019 Video

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Hexham workhouse development- exhibition today

HMC Group and builders McCarthy and Stone have revealed their plans to develop the former Hexham Workhouse, with the site being used for flats, houses and retirement living accommodation. A public exhibition of the plans for the site is taking place in Hexham later today (Wednesday 6th March) from 3pm-7pm at the Torch Centre, Hexham. The exhibition will give the local community the chance to find out more about the proposed development and to have any questions answered by members of the project team. I would encourage you to go along if you have any questions about the plans.


Monday, 4 March 2019

Supporting Open Doors both in Parliament and in Hexham

I recently attended the parliamentary reception to support Open Doors and listen to Jeremy Hunt speak strongly in support of Christians who are being persecuted around the world. In the last week I have also met with local church leaders in Prudhoe, and discussed their recent trip to support Christians in the Middle East. 

I welcome the actions of Jeremy Hunt who is making this a Foreign Office priority and am fully in support of Open Doors. More details on this are found here: 
https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/stories/uk-190115/

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Market day success

Last month Ponteland Memorial Hall held a brand new market for the very first time, and the market proved to be so popular that its founders, David and Kim Wilde, have decided to continue to hold the market every month. The market featured a range of stalls by local producers, artists, makers and entrepreneurs, with sellers selling locally-produced produce and goods.

The market will take place at Ponteland Memorial Hall on the first Sunday of every month from 12pm-2pm, so this Sunday (3rd March) sees the market's return, with more than 25 stalls in attendance. If you are interested in having a stall, email wildefarmponteland@gmail.com





Thursday, 28 February 2019

Gin tasting and fundraising

Last year I had the great pleasure of opening the Hexham offices of Lifespan, a North-East based charity which supports people who are suffering from serious, life-limiting illnesses and their friends and family. The charity offers a variety of care and support to patients free of charge. 

This Saturday (2nd March, 6pm) Lifespan is holding a gin tasting event at Haydon Bridge Community Centre. The event is being held to raise money for Lifespan to continue to do their incredible work. Tickets cost £15 each and include three different gins, a two course buffet and a performance by a live singer.

It sounds like it will be a fantastic evening, while raising money to support a wonderful local charity. If you would like to attend the event, tickets are available here:

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Attention new start-ups- an opportunity not to be missed!

I was pleased to meet Wenty and Vanessa Beaumont recently to hear all about their incredible competition giving a new start-up business the chance to win two years’ free office space. As well as office space worth £7000, the winning business will receive mentoring from accountants, lawyers, designers and marketing experts. 

To enter, email an outline of your business (600 words max.) and a CV of your founder/s to competition@allendale-estates.co.uk

The deadline for entries is 20th May 2019.


Saturday, 23 February 2019

Hexham Farmers' Market- today!

It's Market Day in Hexham, and local farmers and producers will be in the town's historic market place with an amazing range of locally produced goods for you to purchase. It's a great opportunity to meet and support our brilliant farmers, while trying out some of the best quality products around.

The market gets underway at 9am- what better way to start off the weekend?!

https://www.hexhamfarmersmarket.co.uk




Thursday, 21 February 2019

Protect yourself this winter- it's not too late!

We all want to avoid the flu this winter, so I would like to remind anyone who falls into one of the vulnerable groups to make sure you get your flu vaccination. I have the vaccination every year as I lost my spleen in a riding accident and so am immuno compromised, but if you are aged over 65, a pregnant woman or have an underlying health condition such as heart or respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, please do arrange with your GP surgery to get the flu jab sooner rather than later. It's not too late to get your vaccination!

You can find out more here- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Local business Egger is going from strength to strength

Egger is Tynedale and Ponteland's biggest private sector employer, with more than 700 people employed at the factory. It is brilliant to hear that the company is going from strength to strength, having reported an increase in turnover of 9% for the year to April 2018. Egger is one of Europe's most advanced wood-based panel production facilities, and I am a particular admirer of the company for its fantastic apprenticeship and employee training scheme- 10% of its workforce are currently or have been apprentices.

I am always delighted to hear of a local business achieving such success, especially when the business is such an important part of our local community and economy. Congratulations to everyone at Egger- keep up the good work!





Sunday, 17 February 2019

Funding opportunity that really could save a life

I would like to draw the attention of local community groups to an incredibly important scheme run by the North East Ambulance Service Charitable Fund. They are offering £500 in funding and support to community groups across the North East to fund new community defibrillators. Villages including Haydon Bridge, Mickley and Ovingham have already benefitted from the scheme and I would encourage other community groups to follow their lead and apply for funding by visiting the link below:

https://www.neas.nhs.uk/our-services/community-defibrillators/funding-opportunities.aspx

https://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/17433318.valentines-day-funding-boost-for-tynedale-communities/

Friday, 15 February 2019

A pledge to support those who serve

The Armed Forces Covenant is a voluntary pledge not to discriminate against a member of the Armed Forces, representing a promise by the nation that those who serve who have served are treated fairly. All 407 local authorities in mainland Great Britain have pledged to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant, and over 3000 organisations have signed, including businesses and charities.

If you or a family member are a member of the armed forces or a veteran, the Armed Forces Covenant offers a wide variety of support to ensure that you are being treated fairly. Meanwhile, if you are business or community organisation, you can find out how you can get involved and become a forces friendly employer by visiting here-

https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Northumberland Local Plan drop-in sessions

The Local Plan sets out strategic planning policies and planning principles for the whole county, the general scale and distribution of new development, and the detail of where new homes, workplaces and facilities will be located. The Publication Draft Local Plan provides the final opportunity to comment on the document before it is submitted for independent examination.

In February and March 2019 NCC will be hosting a number of drop-in sessions around Northumberland. The drop-in sessions will include a small exhibition and staff from the local plan team will be present to help answer questions and advise on how to provide comments. The dates, times and venues for these drop-in sessions are provided below:

Prudhoe- Saturday 16th February, 10am-3pm, Bowls Pavilion, Waterworld, Front Street
Haydon Bridge- Wednesday 20th February, 2pm-7pm, Community Centre, Ratcliffe Road
Bellingham- Wednesday 20th February, 2pm-7pm, Town Hall
Morpeth- Monday 25th February, 2pm-7pm, Town Hall
Ponteland- Tuesday 26th February, 2pm-7pm, Memorial Hall
Haltwhistle- Saturday 2nd March, 10am-3pm, Library, Westgate
Corbridge- Thursday 7th March, 2pm-7pm, Parish Hall, St Helen's Street

If you want to find out more information about the local plan, click here.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Get set for the Hexham Running Festival!

It might still be more than 150 days away, but now is the perfect time to start training for this year's Hexham Running Festival. The Festival this year includes various races- the Hexham Half Marathon, Hexham 10k and Hexham 3k children's run. It's not all about running though, as the Festival will also include live entertainment, a bar, a range of food services, sports massage, raffles and camping. The events take place on Sunday 14th July; to find out more visit here-

https://hexhamrunningfestival.com



Sunday, 10 February 2019

Leisure, tourism and employment- Kielder's got it all

Kielder is one of the most beautiful parts of the Hexham constituency, and I recently visited Kielder Reservoir to meet some of the young people who work there for Northumbrian Water, a company that has provided a welcome boost to employment in the Kielder area. As well as the Reservoir, Northumbrian Water also operates Landal Kielder Waterside, a tourist accommodation site at the heart of Kielder Water and Forest Park. 

The Park has an incredible variety of reasons to visit. As well as being able to get away from technology and out into the stunning surroundings, it′s the finest mountain biking destination in England, the country′s largest Dark Skies Park with all the wonders that this brings, it hosts a wide range of activities on Northern Europe′s largest man made lake, and so much more. All of this has also contributed to the area economically, not least in terms of jobs. It was fantastic to meet some of those who have found employment with Northumbrian Water, and to find out about what it has meant to their lives.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Produced in Northumberland- flying the flag for local producers

Northumberland County Council's 'Produced in Northumberland' is a scheme which aims to raise the profile of local Northumberland produce and businesses through a verification process to confirm that food and drink is produced in the county. Audits are carried out by Trading Standards and Environmental Health staff, with businesses signed up so far including Brocksbushes Farm Shop, the Artisan Bread Company and Kielder Organic Meats. The 'Produced in Northumberland' logo has become a recognisable brand, clearly identifying producers and businesses signed up to the scheme as high-quality and local. 

We all know about the incredible high quality of food and drink we produce in Northumberland- 'Produced in Northumberland' is a brilliant initiative which is raising the profile of our food and drink industry so that everyone else knows it too. If you are a local producer or business then I would certainly encourage you to find out more about the scheme by visiting here-



Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Success in my campaign for a new Middle and High School in Hexham!


Outside Hexham QEHS with then Schools Minister David Laws back in 2013

I am delighted with the announcement that a total of £37million will be invested in two new schools for Hexham! It means new school buildings for Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School. 

When I became our MP in 2010, I decided to campaign for new buildings and more money to be invested in our local schools. As a result, we have seen a full rebuild in Prudhoe and work on new buildings in Ponteland has begun. 

To improve funding, I launched the Fairer Funding Challenge and have secured increased funding for our schools as part of the Fairer Funding Formula. Schools in the Hexham Constituency are receiving an average funding increase of 3.3%, with some small rural schools benefitting by more than 10%. 

Outside Prudhoe Community High school with former Education Secretary Justine Greening in 2016. 


There is a drop in at Hexham QEHS tomorrow night (February 7th) between 6:30 and 8:30pm. I would urge local parents to attend 

The latest announcement means that every high school will have been completely redeveloped, or seen significant refurbishment since 2010. 

This is fantastic news and I can't wait to see the new schools when they are completed in the next few years.






Together for a better internet

Yesterday was Safer Internet Day and I know that schools all over the constituency worked with their pupils to discover how they can use the Internet and technology safely and responsibly. This year's theme was 'together for a better internet', and young people were encouraged to explore the idea of consent in an online context and how they ask, give and receive consent online. It is so important that young people are given the power to take control of their online activities so that they can use the internet as a useful and positive tool. 

The link below contains lots of useful resources for parents and carers, and I would encourage you to speak with your child about how they can stay safe online and use the Internet in a positive way-




Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Keep yourself healthy this winter

I would like to encourage anyone who falls into one of the vulnerable groups to make sure you get your flu vaccination. I have the vaccination every year as I lost my spleen in a riding accident and so am immuno compromised, but if you are aged over 65, a pregnant woman or have an underlying health condition such as heart or respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, please do arrange with your GP surgery to get the flu jab sooner rather than later.

You can find out more here- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/


Monday, 4 February 2019

Shop local!

I am passionate about supporting the small businesses that are at the centre of our local communities. For the past two years I have held my Small Business Awards to coincide with Small Business Saturday in December, with the aim of celebrating the best of Tynedale and Ponteland's small businesses. It is vital though that we support these local small businesses all year round, and I would encourage you to visit the link below to use the Small Business Finder tool to find a range of small businesses in your local area. Our communities really wouldn't be the same without them!

https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/small-business-finder




Saturday, 2 February 2019

Wylam's record breaker!

My congratulations to Claire Hughes from Wylam, who has set a new world record as part of a team of rowers, Tyne Team Innovation. The mixed fours team completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the world's toughest row involving 3000 miles across the Atlantic, in a record-beating time of 42 days, 10 hours and 26 minutes. I was lucky enough to meet some of the team and see their boat for myself a few months ago, and I am delighted to hear that their incredible efforts were such a success. Congratulations to all the team!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Let's all do the Daily Mile!


The Daily Mile is a brilliant global initiative which aims to get children to exercise for 15 minutes every day to improve their physical, social, emotional and mental health and well-being by getting children to run or jog for 15 minutes every day. I am so pleased to see that more and more local schools are signing up to the programme- there are now 14 schools in the Tyne Valley taking part in the Daily Mile. I really would encourage you to find out more about the Daily Mile and encourage your local school to take part by visiting here-

https://thedailymile.co.uk


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Rural affairs at the heart of Hexham event

Farming is a central part of life in the Hexham constituency, and next week a Farm Update North 2019 event will be taking place in Hexham. With speakers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, the Farming Advice Service, National Farmers Union, Forestry Commission, Natural England and Northumbrian Water, farmers, landowners and anyone interested in rural matters will be able to find out about the latest rural developments. As well as presentations, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from the organisations.

The event takes place on 5th February at Hexham Auction Mart from 10am-1pm (lunch is provided). You can book your place by calling 01748 90 7070 or emailing north@cla.org.uk

https://www.nwl.co.uk/media-centre/611_8106.aspx



Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Cheeseburn celebrates local talent

Cheeseburn has announced the finalists of the 2019 Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award. Ten local sculptors make up the list, with the winner announced later in the year. The work of all ten finalists will be on view from 18th-19th and 25th-27th May, a fantastic opportunity to see their incredible creations. It is wonderful to see so many young local talents celebrated- I don’t envy those who have to choose the overall winner!

My favourite pubs from across our local area!

Everyone in our local area knows how lucky we are to have such a great array of local pubs in our area. The Hexham Courant recently put out a call for suggestions for the best pub, so I wanted to set out some of my favourite from across Hexham. I have visited every one set out below and more!

Ales and Microbreweries

Firstly, micro-breweries. The last few years has seen an explosion in the popularity of micro-breweries, and two in Tynedale stand out. The Twice Brewed Inn – which has been here for generations as a pub and guest house – has just opened their own brewery! I visited  recently and had the opportunity to see Sycamore Gap – their pale ale – being made.

There’s also the Dipton Mill Inn in the Hexhamshire, which is undoubtedly one of the finest pubs in the whole of the County, but also produces their own beer.  

If you’re looking for proper real ale, there are so many to chooses from but I would strongly recommend:
-      The Black Bull in Matfen,
-       The Boathouse in Wylam,
-       The Heart in Hexham,
-       the Black Bull and the Comrades in Haltwhistle,
-       the Golden Lion in Allendale,
-       and, last but by no means least, The Angel at Corbridge.

Watch my video from the Twice Brewed Inn



Watch my video from the Dipton Mill Inn




Food

If you’re looking for food, we have some top gastropubs too. Last year, I welcomed Kevin MacLean of The Rat in Anick, just near Hexham to Westminster where – after a fierce battle with other pubs across the UK – he was crowned Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year. Their food is top notch, and if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you visit.

There’s plenty of other top food pubs too, but some of the standard bearers are undoubtedly the award winning Feathers Inn at Hedley on the Hill, The Barrasford Arms, The Manor House at Shotleyfield, and The Ship Inn in Wylam.

Family Friendly Pubs

Not every pub is suitable for children, but here are some that most definitely are. There’s the White Swan in Ovingham, which has a great atmosphere and serves top food, the Falcon in Prudhoe and the recently refurbished Beaumont in Hexham

We have so many other great pubs too!

If you’re looking for great banter and a quiz night, look no further than the Duke Of Wellington Inn in Newton. There are some top super rural pubs, which are great at a weekend, like the fantastic Pheasant Inn in Kielder, and the Redesdale Arms.

And if you want left field, go and see the supercars (and more) at the Crown in Humshaugh, and of course Battlesteads in Wark, which contains its very own Dark Sky Observatory.

One final point. I will definitely have missed some pubs off a stellar list in Tynedale but the decision is yours – are you going to back your local pub?

They are all amazing pubs, and I must confess to popping in occasionally myself! Make sure you use them, or we'll lose them.




Monday, 28 January 2019

The Allendale Museum of Classic Sci-Fi - hoping a common sense solution can be found

I have been contacted by many local residents asking me to help in relation to the Allendale Museum of Sci-Fi. The background is that the planners at the County Council have raised breaches of planning regulations. Clearly all planning is a local authority matter, so I can only flag up concerns raised with me, but I have spoken at length with the local County Councillor, Colin Horncastle, who met with the owner of the museum on Saturday. I am hopeful that a common sense solution can be found, by working with Colin Horncastle, the planning authority and the local community, so that they will be able to find a sensible way forward.

As a local MP I start from from the principle that any new attraction, which brings a positive economic impact to the area, whether in Allendale or elsewhere, should be both encouraged and supported. There is no doubt that this business is both busy, and bringing in many new visitors to the town. This is a good thing. I am, on the other hand, aware that that there are genuine planning problems with the present set up of the museum. But I have written to the planning department, asking them to try and find a compromise way forward. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, an important opportunity for us all to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it is becoming ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. The theme of this year's commemorations is 'Torn from Home' and thousands of commemorative events have been taking place across the country, arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Today is an especially significant day as 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

Earlier this week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust's Book of Commitment to pledge my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and to honour those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today. I would encourage you to find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day and the hugely important work done to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten by visiting here-

https://www.hmd.org.uk/what-is-holocaust-memorial-day/this-years-theme/




Friday, 25 January 2019

A memorable week ahead in Wylam

Wylam Winter Tales got underway yesterday, starting what promises to be a brilliant, jam-packed week of events. Between now and 1st February there is a huge range of events taking place around Wylam, including music, film, comedy, food and drink and much more. There really is something for everyone, so ahead of the weekend do have a look at the programme of events and see what stands out!

http://wylamwintertales.org.uk


Thursday, 24 January 2019

Wentworth Leisure Centre gets a new look

Northumberland County Council have announced plans to invest £700,000 on refurbishing the Wentworth Leisure Centre in Hexham. The refurbishment will include a new gym, upgraded changing areas and an improved reception area. The work should be completed by the summer and will be a fantastic facility for everyone to use and enjoy. It's great to see that NCC are investing in our local towns and communities- I can't wait to see the finished result!




Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Flood protection in Ponteland

I would like to draw the attention of all Ponteland residents to a drop-in event which is taking place tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd January) about potential flood protection measures. The event will be taking place at Ponteland Memorial Hall from 2.30pm-6.30pm, and residents are invited to attend to find out more about measures being considered by the Environment Agency to protect local properties from flooding. The Environment Agency currently maintains flood walls, embankments and pumping stations in Ponteland and is working to improve flood defences further. I know that flooding is a concern for many Ponteland residents and I would encourage you to go along to the event tomorrow to find out more.




Monday, 21 January 2019

Rural Oscars- our nominees

The Countryside Alliance Awards, known as 'The Rural Oscars', celebrate the best of our local businesses, and I am delighted that seven businesses from the Hexham constituency have been chosen from over 17,000 nominations as finalists for this year's awards.

The nominated businesses are:


  • The Bird in Bush, Elsdon- Pub category
  • Brocksbushes Farm, Corbridge- Rural Enterprise category
  • Home from Home Boarding Kennels and Cattery, Heddon-on-the-Wall- Rural Enterprise category
  • North Acomb Farm Shop, Bywell- Local Food/Drink category
  • Hadrian's Game Larder, Hexham- Local Food/Drink category
  • Slaley Community Village Shop- Village Shop/Post Office category
  • The Twice Brewed Inn, Hexham- Rural Enterprise category

Regional champions will be announced in May, and the North East winners will be invited to the House of Lords for the winners' reception in June. Congratulations to all our local nominees- I will be keeping my fingers crossed for more success in May!





Friday, 18 January 2019

Big Energy Saving Week

Next week is Big Energy Saving Week (21-27 January), an annual campaign run by Citizens Advice in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Citizens Advice Northumberland will be holding three  drop-in events in the Hexham constituency as part of the week, aiming to encourage local residents to find out more about how they can save money on their energy bills.

Hexham Library- Tuesday 22nd January, 10am-2.30pm
Haltwhistle Library- Thursday 24th January, 10am-2.30pm
Hexham JobCentre Plus- Thursday 31st January, from 1pm

Ahead of Big Energy Saving Week, I have launched my 2019 Energy Guide, which is full of information about how you can keep warm this winter whilst reducing your energy bills. It's packed full of changes you can make, from small things like installing energy efficient light bulbs or a boiler jacket, to bigger changes like cavity wall insulation.

You can read the full guide below:

 



Thursday, 17 January 2019

Best in Britain

I may be biased but I believe that Northumberland is home to the country's best pubs. I'm so pleased that one of them, The Rose and Crown in Slaley, has been named as one of the 50 best pubs in the country by The Guardian. Highlighted as one of the ten best community-run pubs in the UK, The Rose and Crown has been under community ownership since 2013. Situated in a fascinating historic building, it's a great place to go for local and rural food and drink, and I will definitely be paying another visit before too long!

http://www.roseandcrownslaley.co.uk



Tuesday, 15 January 2019

More success for The Sill

Since its opening in 2017, The Sill has become one of Northumberland's top tourist attractions, and I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the National Landscape Discovery Centre there on several occasions. I was therefore delighted to hear the news that The Sill has been named as one of four winners of the 2019 Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for universal design, in recognition of its accessible design that allows everyone to enjoy this wonderful facility. The award will be presented at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester in March. It is great to see The Sill recognised for being accessible for all and I hope that the fantastic building will continue to be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come!

https://www.thesill.org.uk



Monday, 14 January 2019

Cross-border cooperation

Working together is vital in an emergency. That's why I am delighted that Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service have signed an agreement with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that there will be cross-border assistance and aid in all types of emergency. Whether it is a water related incident, a road traffic collision or adverse weather conditions, it is brilliant to see our Fire and Rescue Services working together to deliver the best possible response in cases of emergency.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

A weekend at the market

A reminder that the first Hexham Farmers' Market of 2019 is taking place today. Held in the town's historic Market Place, there will be a fantastic range of locally produced products on sale, giving you the opportunity to buy some great quality products whilst supporting the local farmers and producers behind them. https://www.hexhamfarmersmarket.co.uk

If you can't make that then why not go along to the Greenhead Farmers' Market on Sunday? From 10am-2pm you can buy top quality local food and crafts at Greenhead Village Hall- it's definitely worth a visit!


Friday, 11 January 2019

Daft as a Brush

The Daft as a Brush Charity provides free transport to and from the Freeman and RVI Hospitals to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. The charity provides a vital service for many in the Hexham constituency, with transport often difficult to come by for those in the most remote parts of the area.

I was therefore really interested to read about the charity's founder, Brian Burnie, who is currently undertaking a 7000 mile challenge to raise awareness of the need for free transport for cancer patients, with the aim of encouraging the rest of the country to follow Daft as a Brush's lead. This is an incredibly challenging and admirable task and I wish Brian the best of luck as he continues his challenge. I would encourage you to find out more about Daft as a Brush and what you can do to help by visiting here- https://www.daftasabrush.org.uk

https://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/17348651.brian-burnie-reaches-milestone-in-charity-walk-around-british-isles/

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Love Parks

Last year Northumberland County Council was named as winners of Keep Britain Tidy's Love Parks initiative, and this year they are nominated once again thanks to their online campaign on the theme of 'It started in a park'. The campaign that ran during Love Parks Week features the Duchess of Northumberland, Carol Malia and many other local people as they share their personal memories and stories of Northumberland's parks. Love Parks aims to protect and celebrate our local parks, whilst encouraging local residents and visitors to make the most of their local green spaces. The winner will be announced in February- I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for NCC, as well as the Morpeth Litter Blitz group and Dai Richards who are nominated in the Litter Heroes category.




Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Wylam's warming up for the Winter Tales

It's one of the highlights of the year in Wylam- in just a few weeks time Wylam Winter Tales will be back with a packed programme of events to suit every interest and taste. From 24th January- 1st February, events including music, film, comedy, storytelling, food and drink and much more will be taking place around the village- please make sure to book your tickets in advance though.

It promises to be a week to remember in Wylam- there really is something for everyone. To find out more about what's on at Wylam Winter Tales and how you can get your tickets visit here- http://wylamwintertales.org.uk


Monday, 7 January 2019

Northumberland Community Bank- here to help

In November 2015 the Northumberland Community Bank was launched to provide low cost credit to those who need it the most, providing a better alternative to payday lenders like Wonga. The Bank held a showcase at Northumberland County Hall recently to demonstrate what it has to offer, and Northumberland employers are signing up to the payroll deduction scheme to benefit their employees. It is similar to other high street banks- it is fully accredited and you can apply for loans and manage your account online.

The Northumberland Community Bank is there to help everyone; to become a member or to find out more visit here: https://www.northumberlandcommunitybank.co.uk


Sunday, 6 January 2019

A true Community Champion

It was a pleasure to meet Denis Peel from Wylam to present him with a Community Champion Award. I started the awards, sponsored by Red Hot Property, in 2017 to celebrate the people who work tirelessly to make a difference to our local communities. Denis is a stalwart of Wylam- he picks up litter, is a trustee of the Wylam Institute and is always willing to help friends and neighbours in need. Denis was nominated by neighbours in the village who are grateful for all he does. My thanks also go to Denis- villages need people like him.




Saturday, 5 January 2019

Celebrating Village Halls Week

Village Halls Week is just around the corner, and our wonderful local Village Halls have some great events planned to celebrate. Village Halls Week was held for the first time last year, organised by ACRE and the ACRE Network to celebrate village halls and other community buildings at the heart of our rural communities. There are around 10,000 village halls across the country, run by volunteers, groups and organisations, and the week aims to celebrate them. You can find more information about two events taking place in Village Halls Week below, including a celebration of Northumberland's Village Halls taking place in Stannington. Village Halls are such an important part of our local communities- it would be great if you could go along to an event and show your support.



Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Looking ahead to 2019

I would like to wish you all a very happy new year. There is so much to look forward to in the Hexham constituency in 2019- here are just a few dates for your diary:

Sunday 26th May- Northumberland Day, https://northumberlandday.co.uk

Monday 27th May- Northumberland County Show, http://www.northcountyshow.co.uk  

Thursday 13th- Saturday 15th June- Tynedale Beer Festival, visit https://www.tynedalebeerfestival.org.uk to buy your tickets now

Thursday 11th- Sunday 14th July- Scoop Music Festival in Stocksfield, http://www.scoopmusicfestival.co.uk, buy your tickets here.

It looks set to be a great year!