Thursday, 26 February 2009

Food Labelling Campaign

FOOD LABELLING: this is a real scandal - research into everyday products on supermarket shelves has indentified Tesco chicken dinners “produced in the UK” actually use chicken from Thailand; similarly Marks and Spencer’s corned beef sandwiches emblazoned with the British Union Jack flag use meat from Brazil; and goods from the Birdseye “Great British Menu” range are made with imported meat.

This is patently misleading consumers who may want to buy British

It is also undermining British farmers
We are launching a campaign to stop this. The campaign has been backed by famous chefs, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Prue Leith and Anthony Worrall Thompson.

As quoted in the press Nick Herbert MP and I are campaigning to "introduce a new law to prevent unclear and misleading labelling so only meat from animals reared in Britain can carry a British label.

I went with the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Nick Herbert MP, and met William Dodd at his farm in Belsay to highlight the campaign and support local farmers.
I urge residents to join our campaign by going to

Monday, 16 February 2009

Humshaugh Action Day

A wonderful day spent entirely in Humshaugh knocking on doors, drinking a lot of coffee, meeting everyone from pensioners to farmers, and really getting to know the village and the people in it. We started with a get together attended by 40 odd; having been accused of overdressing in the past I turned up without a tie to be met by wall to wall ties from every man! Not enough time to chat to everyone but well worth it. The afternoon we made loads of house calls punctuated by lunch in the excellent river cafe. Everyone very keen to talk politics but more interested to know if I am a good bet in the point to point.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Hexham Auction Mart

A fascinating day at the Mart, where sheep and cattle were being sold; prices for the cattle were good. I have lots of experience of horse sales and this was suprisingly similar. I got better at identifying the breeds as the day wore on - but it was great to get the chance to see why some farmers prefer a Belgian Blue and others prefer a Limousin, and to see the prices they were reaching. The afternoon was a sheep sale. Again prices were not at all bad.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Hexham Supper Club

Tyne Green Golf Club saw a great evening with over 70 locals coming together for a meal. There was a great atmosphere with members and non members of the party mixing and braving the wintry elements outside. After dinner I gave a short speech and then answered questions for about 20 minutes. It was a credit to the evening's organiser, Paul Dixon, that it went so well.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Hexham Hospital

To the Hospital for a briefing and an opportunity to get a real understanding of the amazing work being done there. There are many changes in NHS provision in Northumberland, and Hexham is at the heart of those changes. The cancer treatment ward really impressed - this is local healthcare as it should be.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A Tour of Slaley and the Shire

A day battling the elements with the amazing Audrey Hutchinson in Slaley and the Shire. What she does not know about this area of the constituency is not worth knowing. We stopped and chatted to the former postmistress, who has only recently lost the Post Office. The short sightedness of the decision to take away the Post Offices from these villages is breathtaking.
They, and the shops around them, are the glue that holds these types of villages and the community together.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Business visits to key employers in Hexham

A day when the snow came down in huge clusters, but it gave me the chance to day to see what was happening at the two biggest private sector employers in the area - SCA in Prudhoe, and Egger in Hexham.
Between them they employ nearly 900 people in the area. Both are modern companies committed to their products and are a vital part of the community. The sense of enthusiasm for their products and their resolution to see this recession through was obvious. A fascinating day.
As the son of an engineer, I was very interested the mechanical engineering aspects of both sites and need to revisit [probably with my dad] to take it all in properly.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Newcastle V Sunderland - the big game

Off to the derby game at St James Park with Brooks Newmark [an ardent die hard NUFC fan] and Michelle Tempest, the Durham North West PPC. Great lunch in Chinatown was followed by the pilgrimage to the game with the rival fans well up for it. A derby is always an emotive occasion and this was no different - with lots of passion and commitment, but not enough skill. Sunderland sadly deserved the lead but we were saved by a penalty in the dying minutes. It looked dodgy as penalties go, but we did not care! The scene when we scored the equaliser was fantastic - everyone dancing around like madmen, shouting with emotion and joy. Then there was 10 minutes hanging on ... there is no doubt that watching NUFC is a stressful business! They will do well to stay up, I am afraid