Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Northumberland County Show is just around the corner!

There is now less than one week to go until the 2019 Northumberland County Show- Monday 27th May at Bywell Hall will see a jam-packed day of stands, events and exhibitors in what is always a brilliant day out for all the family. I always enjoy my visits to the County Show and have no doubt that this year's will be another great day- let's hope the weather doesn't disappoint!

Parking is free, but make sure to buy your tickets either on the day or online in advance to beat the queues. To buy your tickets or to find out more about the programme for this year's event visit here-

Monday, 20 May 2019

A Midsummer's Evening- 1 month to go

There is just one month to go until Corbridge's Midsummer's Evening. This is always one of the highlights of the year in the town- markets, street food, music, dance, late night shopping and a flower festival at the church combine to make it a great evening of shopping and entertainment. 

Parking is free at the Tynedale Rugby Club, with a shuttle bus from the rugby club and the station. A Midsummer's Evening takes place on Thursday 20th June from 4pm- let's hope the weather delivers for us!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Jump for Joy!

Enjoy an afternoon in St Oswin's Church Grounds, Wylam, raising money for the Wylam and District Churches Youth Project. With stalls, barbecue, afternoon tea and the famous teddy parachute jumps- it's going to be a great afternoon!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Countdown to Northumberland Day 2019

Northumberland Day 2019 is just around the corner (26th May) and events will be taking place all over the county to celebrate. Anyone can take part and hold an event- whether you are a business, school or member of the community you can get involved. Why not decorate your home in the red and yellow colours of Northumberland, hold a Northumberland-themed activity at your school or go along to one of the many events being held across Northumberland? 

The link below contains more information about Northumberland Day 2019 and the events going on near you. Make sure to have a look and find out how you can get involved!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

First open weekend of 2019 at Cheeseburn

This weekend sees the first of Cheeseburn Sculpture's open weekends in 2019. On Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May you are invited to visit Cheeseburn and have a first look at some of the brilliant installations that are set to be unveiled this weekend. These include Brigitte Jurack's 'Scavengers' and Clare Townley's 'Nostalgie de la boue: Plastic Friend'. Clare was last year's winner of the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year. There will also be a pop-up shop from Handmade Tyneside in attendance at the open weekend. Cheeseburn's installations are always of the highest standard- I encourage you to go along this weekend and see what 2019 has in store!

Monday, 13 May 2019

Great opportunity for local schools!

Local schools have the chance to win £20, 000 with Asda's Plastic Investigators Club poster competition. Primary schools are invited to design a poster that spreads awareness of plastic waste and what can be done to help solve it. The winning pupil's school will receive £20,000 and a £1000 Asda Gift Card for the winning pupil, while second place will receive £10,000 and the third placed school will win £5000. It's a great opportunity for schools and the competition tackles a very important subject- to find out more about how your school can take part visit here:

Saturday, 11 May 2019

A busy Saturday ahead in Hexham

Hexham is the place to be this morning, with plenty of events taking place around the town. From 9am-1pm Hexham Abbey are holding a Book Sale and a Plant Sale, with money raised going towards funding for the Abbey. Saturday is also Hexham Farmers' Market day, and producers will be coming from all over Northumberland to sell locally grown and produced products. This year the Hexham Farmers' Market is celebrating its 20th year and over the years it has become a much-loved event in the Hexham community. If you've never visited the Market before, then today is the perfect time to go along!

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Prudhoe Poppets

I stopped by to meet the Prudhoe Poppets team the other day to see the group's new collection of sensory toys purchased with funds received following a successful funding application. Prudhoe Poppets is a play and creative session held every Friday at the East Centre in Prudhoe from 10.30am-12.30pm. The session is run by local volunteers for the benefit of the local community, and has both indoor and outdoor spaces for children to play in. The session also welcomes children with additional needs and disabilities- it really is a brilliant facility for all!

More volunteers are always welcome, particularly to help out with putting out toys and serving drinks every Friday. To find out more about how you can get involved, visit here:

Monday, 6 May 2019

100 years of the Kielder Forestry Commission

Kielder is celebrating 100 years of the Forestry Commission at Kielder, and on Friday past and present staff and the local community are invited to a gathering at Kielder Castle to celebrate and share memories of forestry in Kielder and the people who have worked in the industry. There will be live music, a barbecue and a bar to enjoy- entry is free but there will be a charge for food and drinks.

The gathering takes place on Friday 10th May from 7pm-10pm at Kielder Castle. It's hard to imagine Kielder without the Forestry Commission- what a great way to celebrate its first 100 years!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Great Northumberland 2019- apply for funding now

Earlier this week the Northumberland Cultural Fund opened for applications for event organisers in the county to secure funding to deliver new events this summer. The fund aims to give organisers the support to develop their new events to create a busy summer in Northumberland. Small project and event organisers can bid for a share of the £100,000 fund. The Northumberland Cultural Fund was created following last year's Great Northumberland programme, and any events receiving funding will become part of Great Northumberland 2019.

The deadline for applications is Monday 13th May at 5pm. You can find application forms and more information about submissions here:

Friday, 3 May 2019

Tynedale Hospice at Home's award-winning filmmakers!

Congratulations to Tynedale Hospice at Home! The charity produced a film, 'Grief as a Teenager', alongside six young people who have all lost a parent, and the film was recently awarded bronze in the Long Form category at the Charity Film Awards ceremony in London. The film was created with the aim of bringing comfort to other young people who have been bereaved of a parent. It is now being used in one to one group support for young people experiencing bereavement.

This is a fantastic achievement by everyone involved in the project. Tynedale Hospice at Home does such brilliant work in our communities and provides a valuable service to those suffering from life limiting illnesses. It is great to see to see such a successful example of how film and art can be used to help those experiencing bereavement.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

It’s Election Day - please make sure you vote today!

The North of Tyne Mayoral election is today.  This Courant article explains what we are facing and I fully support Humshaugh resident and local businessman Charlie Hoult. Across Newcastle and North Tyneside we also have local election which really matter. 

Whatever your views make sure you vote!

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Great Northumberland- there’s so much going on!

There is never any shortage of fantastic events in and around Northumberland, and now there is a place where you can find out about everything that is going on in our local area. The Great Northumberland website was set up by Northumberland County Council last year, and now event organisers can promote their event for free on the website. All you have to do is visit the website below and fill out a form giving all the information about your event.

Whether you are promoting an event or just want to find out what is going on near you, the Great Northumberland website is a great place to go to keep up to date with local events. The calendar for the next month alone is full of events to suit all interests, so make sure to have a look so you don’t miss out!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

The Hexham Book Festival gets underway

The next chapter of the Hexham Book Festival got underway this weekend, but with more than a week still to go of literary events now is the perfect time to look at this year's programme to find the events for you! Writers including Michael Rosen, Kate Humble, Prue Leith and Benjamin Zephaniah are still to speak at events as part of the Festival, along with many, many more writers from a huge range of genres.

Tickets for the events can be booked from the Queen's Hall Box Office by calling 01434 652477 or online at is still time to book your tickets so make sure not to miss out!

Friday, 26 April 2019

Get your child vaccinated!

Yesterday I read the story of baby Alba, who was became seriously ill with measles last year just weeks before she was due to be vaccinated. The BBC report highlighted what the NHS has described as a ‘growing public health time bomb’- the increasing number of people who are rejecting vaccines. UNICEF says that more than half a million children in the UK missed out on the MMR vaccine between 2010 and 2017, and there has been a 300% increase on measles cases worldwide compared to last year. Thankfully Alba is now over the worst of her illlness, but these frightening statistics really do highlight the importance of getting your child vaccinated as soon as they are able to receive the MMR vaccine- babies usually receive their first dose around their first birthday and the second at three to four years old. Measles is an extremely infectious illness that can lead to serious health consequences, including lung and brain infections. The vaccine really is so important- please find out more about how you can protect your child below:

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Show your support for Northumberland Day

Northumberland Day celebrates the very best of our brilliant county, and the event’s organisers are asking for your support. This year’s Northumberland Day takes place on 26th May, and businesses have the opportunity to sponsor the day, which includes Langley Castle and Northumberland County Show as its sponsors. Meanwhile you can get involved and show your pride for Northumberland by flying the county flag and decorating your windows, homes and gardens with the red and yellow colours of Northumberland. 

Northumberland Day provides a wonderful boost to the economy and tourism in our local communities. If you or your business have plans to hold a Northumberland Day event, get in touch with the organisers and get your event details on the website, which can be visited here:

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The return of the Hexham Spring Festival

This weekend (Saturday 27th April, 9am-4.30pm) the 2019 Hexham Spring Festival is taking place in the Hexham Abbey Grounds. With market stalls selling food, arts, crafts and gifts, as well as live music from local choirs and bands at the Victorian bandstand, the Festival will be a wonderful day out for all the family. This year there will also be the chance to try out bushcraft skills, Go Karting or even an alpaca trek! The Festival is highlighting the campaign to 'Back British Farming' and there will be visiting farm animals and hands-on farming activities as well- a very important cause in our rural constituency.

The Hexham Spring Festival is always a fantastic event in the town- find out more here:

Sunday, 21 April 2019

An Easter weekend in the countryside

We have been incredibly lucky to have been able to enjoy such glorious weather over this Easter bank holiday weekend. Over the last two weeks Northumberland National Park Authority and National Parks UK have been marking Discover National Parks Fortnight, a celebration of our landscapes to encourage people to get outside. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which paved the way for the establishment of National Parks, and with the stunning Northumberland National Park right on our doorsteps, what better time to make the most of the beautiful weather and get outside in our wonderful countryside.

Spending time in the outdoors has so many beneficial effects to our health and wellbeing. As the summer months approach, why not consider making the most of the incredible National Park we have in the Hexham constituency and spend some time exploring our beautiful countryside- I promise you won't regret it!

Saturday, 20 April 2019

It's official- Allendale is one of the best places to live in the UK

It's official! Allendale has been named as one of the best places to live in the country by The Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide. The village was praised for its local clubs and festivals, pubs and beautiful countryside to be chosen as one of 101 locations across the UK to make up the list.

We all know that there aren't many better places to live than Northumberland, and it is fantastic to see one of our amazing local villages recognised on a national level.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Essity's outstanding apprentices

Essity's Prudhoe Mill is one of our largest local employers and has a brilliant apprenticeship scheme. It is great to hear that they will be doubling their apprentice intake to twenty, with ten young engineers being given permanent positions after achieving outstanding results in their final exams. I am a great admirer of Essity's work with apprentices and am delighted that the hard work of both the company and their apprentices is paying off. Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The countdown to the Northumberland County Show

It's that time of year again! The Northumberland County Show is just around the corner- Monday 27th May at Bywell Hall will see a jam-packed day of stands, events and exhibitors in what is always a fantastic celebration of Northumberland. This year's programme of events looks to be better than ever, with something to entertain everyone in the family. I always enjoy my visits to the County Show and have no doubt that this year's will be another great day.

Parking for the County Show is free, but do make sure to buy your tickets either on the day or online in advance to beat the queues. To buy your tickets or to find out more about the programme for this year's event visit here- 

Monday, 15 April 2019

My opposition to open cast coal mining at Dewley Hill

L-R: Jos Forester-Melville, Eileen Killen, and my constituent Helen Crowe at Dewley Hill 

I cannot support plans for a new open cast coal mine on our green belt land at Dewley Hill between Ponteland and Heddon. Details of my engagement with the local community and my letter to Newcastle City Council are set out below.

In the many years I have done this job as a candidate, and then as the MP, there have been 2 previous applications for local open cast mines in the Hexham Constituency. I was very involved in opposing both the application at Halton Lea Gate in the west, and Whitonstall more recently.

At Halton Lea Gate, myself and Councillor Ian Hutchinson have been working with the local community since 2008:
You can read my old blog post on this here and the article in relation to the second application in The Journal here

The open cast proposal at Whittonstall went to a public meeting at Snods Edge Village Hall before being rejected by the Northumberland County Council: You can read my blog post on this here and the subsequent article in The Journal here

For an overview of open cast mining locally, my wider views on this, and the need for companies to engage locally, and the planning process generally on open cast (find out more by clicking here). 

The Dewley Hill site really matters. It is on the greenbelt border between Newcastle and Northumberland. This is green belt that we have fought long and hard to protect over many years: whether that is the titanic struggle against Lugano at Birney Hill next to Dewley Hill, or at Clickenim Farm.

I recently met with members of the Defend Dewley Hill Action Group to discuss their planning, environmental and infrastructure concerns. They are rightly concerned that this is the wrong approach when we are doing so much as a country to tackle Climate Change. You can watch my video with local campaigner Helen Crowe below:

The site - adjacent to the B6323, and the A69 - and literally down the hill from the Birney Hill site, is currently green belt / green field land. The National Planning Policy Framework, the legislation which controls planning permits, says that only in very special circumstances can green belt be built on, or opencast coal extraction accepted.

If the opencast coal mine was to go ahead, it would be up to 67 meters deep, covering 50 hectares. It would lead to up to three years of coal mining, and see more than 100 lorries in and out of the site each day between 7am and 10pm to extract 800,000 tonnes of coal. Such an application has consequences on the local community.

The UK leads the world in tackling Climate Change, and the days of coal are numbered. Rather than new opencast mining of fossil fuels on the greenbelt, we need a cleaner, greener future increasingly powered by renewable energy.

It should also be noted that two previous planning applications at the site were rejected; one in 1994, and another in 1999.

I have written to Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, to voice my concerns and ask the Council to block this proposal. You can read a copy of my letter below:

As a country the UK has cut emissions by 40% since 1990, and we remain firmly on track to meet the target set by the Climate Change Act of 2008, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Ultimately, however, the goal remains net zero carbon emissions.

In the Spring Statement last month, the government announced a series of measures to help tackle Climate Change. Most notably, a plan to stop fossil-fuel heating systems such as gas boilers being built in new houses from 2025. This is part of plans to cut the use of fossil fuels, with plans for the UK's remaining coal fired power stations to be shut by 2025.

If you want to find out more on what the government is doing to combat and address climate change and how the UK is leading the way, and more details of my approach go here:

For my part, I do not want to see a new opencast mine casting a shadow on our local communities and taking away the green belt between urban Newcastle and the Northumberland border at Ponteland. This would be bad planning policy, bad for our local environment, and the wrong approach to Climate Change.

If you object, as I do, have your say by April 20th (That's this Friday!) by clicking here. 

I accept some constituents are in favour. If they are in favour and want to have their say, then they should also make their views known. Newcastle City Council will consider the application in due course.   

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Hexham Book Festival- get your tickets now!

The Hexham Book Festival is back for another year, and 2019 looks set to be the best yet. The Festival is taking place from 26th April-5th May, and with an incredibly impressive lineup including Luke Jennings, Prue Leith, Kate Humble and Benjamin Zephaniah, it promises to be a brilliant week for literary fans of all genres.

Tickets for the events can be booked from the Queen's Hall Box Office by calling 01434 652477 or online at I really would encourage you to look at the programme below and get your tickets for the events that interest you!

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Free school transport proving popular with local students

I am delighted to hear that nearly 900 students in Northumberland have been using the free post-16 transport since the start of the school year, following Northumberland County Council's decision to remove £600 a year charges introduced by the former Labour administration. This is a significant increase on those using school bus services provided by the county council in the last academic year. Under the policy Northumberland residents are provided with free transport to travel to a full-time course at their nearest provider.

It is absolutely right that local students should receive free transport and I am so pleased that Northumberland County Council's decision to scrap the charges has had such a positive effect.

Find out more about the free post-16 transport service here:

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Intergenerational success!

I wanted to share with you a wonderful story featured in this week's Hexham Courant. Year 4 children at the Sele First School in Hexham have been receiving training in dementia as part of the Intergenerational Project launched by the Chrysalis dementia support group in Hexham. The project is based on the idea that young children and older people can be beneficial to each other, and the pupils have been working together with local members of the project to carry out gardening at Hexham's Adapt Enterprise Hub, planting everything from flowers to herbs. The supplies were kindly provided by Tom Martin at Wylam Nurseries.

This sounds like a brilliant project and everyone involved seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Well done to everyone at the Sele and the Intergenerational Project- it is always great to hear about local people coming together to achieve such positive outcomes!

You can read more about the project here-

Monday, 8 April 2019

An Easter quest at Chester's Roman Fort

The Easter holidays are here, and Chester's Roman Fort has a special quest to keep you and your family busy! English Heritage is inviting visitors to search for dragon eggs at the historic Roman fort- there is a certificate, sticker and chocolate treat for successful adventurers! You can join in the quest until 28th April and can find out more here-

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Dementia Friendly Hexham

Last year saw the official launch of Dementia Friendly Hexham, which aims to help local businesses to better meet the needs of customers with dementia. The town is one of several across the Hexham constituency that is leading the way on ensuring that our local communities are accessible and inclusive for people living with dementia.

On Thursday 11th April a Dementia Friends information session is being held at Hexham Community Centre from 4pm-5pm. The session is free and provides information about key messages about dementia and what it is like to live with dementia.

To book a place email or visit

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Come and visit Northumberland!

We all know what an amazing place Northumberland is. Last year, our county was crowned the Best UK Holiday County/Destination of the Year at the British Travel Awards. And tourism is extremely important to our local economy too, contributing £665 million annually.

Earlier this week I met with Tourism Minister Michael Ellis as part of English Tourism Week alongside representatives of VisitEngland to hear about the fantastic benefits that tourism brings to our economy both locally and across the country.

Across Northumberland, there are so many amazing places to visit, from the world famous Hadrian's Wall, to our beautiful beaches like Bamburgh, and the stunning Northumberland National Park.  

I recently visited Vindolanda, one of Europe's most important Roman archaeological sites on Hadrian's Wall which features the remains of nine forts dating from the third century. Watch my video below to find out more:

Friday, 5 April 2019

The People's Projects- have your say!

95 inspiring community projects in 19 regions across the UK have been shortlisted to win a share of £3 million in National Lottery Funding as part of this year's The People's Projects- a partnership between the National Lottery Community Fund and ITV. The People's Projects aim to give the public a say in where National Lottery money should go in their local area. Voting is now open until 15th April and you can have your say by voting for projects in our local region by visiting here-

This is your unique chance to decide which local community projects will win a share of the funding!

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

A night to remember in Newbrough

Town Halls are at the centre of so many of our local communities, and next week Newbrough is holding an event with the aim of giving their Town Hall a much needed funding boost. On Friday 12th April (7pm) Newbrough Town Hall will be hosting musician Sam Shields and his band for an evening of live music and food. Tickets cost £5 and can be bought on the door or from Fourstones Garage. It would be great if you could go along and show your support!

For more information call 01434 647315 or email 

Monday, 1 April 2019

An income tax cut, fuel duty freeze, and an increase in the National Living Wage

Today, changes have come into force that will put more money in your pocket, help you keep more of the money you earn, and help our small businesses to grow. 

The National Living Wage - a policy I have championed for many years - has increased to £8.21 an hour. That's a 35% increase since 2010, and means that someone working full time will have seen their income increase by almost £3,000 since the Living Wage was introduced in 2016. 

Changes to the National Living Wage since 2010

The Personal Allowance - the amount of money you can earn before paying any tax - has been increased to £12,500. This means typical taxpayer will take home an additional £130 every year. 

Changes to the Personal Tax Allowance since 20101

Business rates for small retailers will be cut by one third, part of more than £13 billion of rates relief since 2016. This is in addition to the £675 million for local high streets to improve transport links, re-develop empty shops as homes and offices, and restore and re-use historic buildings.

Fuel duty will remain frozen for the ninth year running, saving the average driver £1,000 since 2010.

Rugby’s most prestigious trophies come to Hexham

It’s a big year for rugby in the North East, with the Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup finals both set to be held in Newcastle this year. And tomorrow, pupils at St Joseph’s Middle School and Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham are being given the chance to see the two trophies for themselves. The trophies will visit the two schools as part of a three-week tour organised by Go North East. What an exciting experience!

Saturday, 30 March 2019

English Tourism Week 2019

Saturday 30th March - Sunday 7th April is English Tourism Week 2019, and events are taking place across the country to raise awareness of the size, value and importance of tourism to our local, regional and national economies, as well as highlighting the contribution made by businesses from every part of England's tourism industry. This year's English Tourism Week is particularly special as the British Tourist Authority is celebrating 50 years- the Development of Tourism Act was passed in 1969.

Tourism is one of the UK's biggest drivers of economic growth and employment, and is one of our largest and most valuable industries. English tourism directly employs more than 2.6m people and generates over £106 billion a year for the British economy. Domestic tourism in England is also driving growth and supporting jobs- in the first 10 months of 2018 there were 40.6 million domestic holiday trips in England.

I may be biased but Northumberland is a particularly great place for tourism in our country, both for tourists and the fantastic businesses in our local area. For more information about English Tourism Week, visit

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Opening up Britain's most beautiful gardens

Spring is in the air, and with it comes the start of the season of the British Red Cross' Open Gardens. Some of the most beautiful gardens in Northumberland will be opening up to the public in aid of the Red Cross between March and October. Open Gardens are always a wonderful opportunity to see stunning gardens, some of which have never before been open to the public. I really would encourage you to keep an eye on the link below to find out about the Open gardens near you:

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Showcasing tourism in Northumberland

It was great to attend last week's Northumberland Tourism Fair at Hexham Mart. With more than 130 exhibitors attending, there was a real sense of optimism about tourism in Northumberland and lots of evidence that our tourism season is getting longer. The event was hosted by Northumberland-based social enterprise Local Living, with support from Northumberland County Council, and I really enjoyed being able to meet some of the people at the heart of Northumberland's tourism industry.

Find out more at

Monday, 25 March 2019

Raise a glass- the Ponteland Beer Festival is back!

The Ponteland Beer Festival is back for another year! Held from Friday 26th April-Sunday 28th April, the Festival will take place at Ponteland Leisure Centre Rugby Pitch. With over 150 beers, lagers and ciders, as well as a prosecco and wine bar, a soft drinks bar and a gin bar, and food from four suppliers, it is not to be missed. There will also be live music, and a children's funfair on Sunday to cap off what promises to be an unforgettable weekend.

I have heard great things about last year's Festival- if you would like to make sure you don't miss out this year then find out more information about how you can buy your ticket for the event by visiting here-

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Bringing life back to empty homes

Northumberland County Council are offering advice to help owners to bring their empty properties back into use. There are so many reasons why bringing an empty home back into use is a good idea, and you could benefit from financial assistance, including by being eligible for VAT discounts on renovation work.

If you would like assistance from Northumberland County Council to bring an empty property back into use, call 01670 622299 or email 

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Tyne Valley Film Festival

The Tyne Valley Film Festival got underway yesterday, beginning a week of classic films, films about our local area and much more. The programme includes a huge variety of films, from Rebecca and The Wizard of Oz to short films by Queen Elizabeth High School students- there is sure to be something for everyone. The films are being shown at a wide range of venues across the Tyne Valley, including Hexham Abbey, The Sill and Forum Books in Corbridge.

For more information about the programme of films and how you can get your tickets, visit here-

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Hexham's Men's Shed

It was great to visit Hexham's Men's Shed at the No. 28 Community House with local Councillor Cath Homer, where I was able to thank the Tynedale Lions for their support with this fantastic project which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of men living in the area. The Men's Shed is a community space for men to get together, reducing social isolation and promoting wellbeing and positive mental health. The Tynedale Lions have been the driving force behind the project, raising over £4000 in the last 18 months.

I am so impressed by the incredible work that has been done in setting up the Men's Shed in Hexham and I have no doubt that this will be a very important part of the Hexham community. I would encourage you to find out more about how you can get involved by visiting here-

Or email 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Work gets underway at Prudhoe Station

This weekend work begins to extend Platform 2 at Prudhoe Station as part of the Great North Rail Project. Network Rail and Northern are working together to carry out the improvements, which will mean that newer and longer trains are able to call at the station. The work is part of the Great North Rail Project which is delivering a multi-billion pound package of improvements for rail customers in the north of England.

I am delighted that Prudhoe Station is going to benefit from this new investment as part of the Great North Rail Project. I am committed to seeing continued improvements along the Tyne Valley line and this project is exactly what we need. It will give local residents, commuters and visitors the opportunity for more frequent trains and a better journey experience.

The Northumberland Tourism Fair comes to Hexham

Tomorrow (March 21st) the annual Northumberland Tourism Fair visits Hexham Mart! More than 130 exhibitors are set to attend, including the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership and the team from Kielder Water.

It's a fantastic opportunity to find out more about what's going on in Tynedale, and right across Northumberland. The event hosted by Local Living, a Northumberland-based social enterprise, with support from Active Northumberland.

Find out more at

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Hexham Hub- find out about plans for the town's future

This Saturday (23rd March) Hexham's residents have the chance to find out all about the future plans for the town at a Hexham Hub showcase event. The Hexham Hub is a partnership between Northumberland County Council, Hexham Town Council, Hexham Community Partnership, Advance Northumberland and other local stakeholders, which aims to oversee how Hexham develops in the coming years. Part of their aim is to allow local people the opportunities to be involved in the town's future, and Saturday's drop-in event at the Great Hall at Hexham Abbey from 10am-3pm is a great opportunity for local residents to come along and find out more about the Hub's plans for Hexham's future development.

The event takes place on Saturday 23rd March, 10am-3pm, Great Hall, Hexham Abbey.

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:

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.


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.


Find out more about how you can support Fairtrade at

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 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:

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

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: