Monday, 30 August 2010

On the beat...

This month I spent some time on the beat in Hexham with the neighbourhood policing team. It was really useful to talk about the work taking place and to discuss the issues that constituents have raised with me; many of which I'm pleased to report the local neighbourhood policing team are already focused on.

We also called into the Hexham East Sure Start Centre and it was good to see everyone working closely together. There are many different factors involved when it comes to effective policing but visible local neighbourhood policing teams are a vital part of reducing peoples fear of crime as well as reducing anti-social behaviour and boosting public confidence.

The local policing team are doing a great job and thier contact with the local community is very strong. I'll be keeping in regular contact so do let me know if there are problems you would like me to let them know about.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Prudhoe Community Allotment

All 66 photos from the Prudhoe Community Allotment Open Day uploaded to flickr so you can see this little oasis for yourselves... click here

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Getting Online...

During the election and since the access to broadband Internet has been a big part of my daily post. For most of us the Internet is a part of everyday life. Indeed there are 30 million of us who use the Internet everyday in the UK. More than half of all leisure travel is now booked online, 90% of all new jobs require basic Internet skills and seven million jobs were posted online last year. That is why I champion increasing access to broadband across rural Britain, in places such as my constituency of Hexham.

However the problem is a wider one. Even were access isn't the problem, there are still 10 million people in the UK who have never used the Internet, and are missing out on the benefits, opportunities and savings it can provide. What’s more, the problem is worst for those already at a disadvantage. The facts are if you’re older, disabled, or on a low income, its far more likely you will be off-line - and thats not fair.

I'm always keen to support anything that helps change this situation for the better and have already signed up to support Race Online 2012.

In October, will be running a joint campaign with Race Online 2012, the BBC, Post Office and mobile phone network Three to help people gain the skills and confidence they need to get started online.

People can also learn the basics without paying a penny by visiting

In the mean time I'll be keeping up my campaign to increase the availability of broadband Internet to my constituency.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

3rd Annual North Tyne Shield

A few Sundays back I had the honour of presenting Wark Captain Gary Scott with the third annual North Tyne Shield at Wark Sports Club after thier match against Bellingham.

On a sunny afternoon Wark walked away winners after a hard fought match in front of over 100 spectators. Special congratulations to Liam Anderson taking Man of the Match for Bellingham. Thanks also of course to the match sponsors; John Famelton – Inline Fitness & William Murray WVC Electrical Services.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Doing my bit.

One of the big themes of this government, and one I particularly support is the 'Big Soceity'. Everyone, where ever possible doing their bit to make our society stronger. It might be helping out at a youth football club, lending a hand at the village hall, or maybe even just checking on elderly neighbours.

During my time as an MP I have spoken to hundreds of volunteers and members of the public across the constituency about the extra work they do make their communities, and society as a whole, a better place.

I'm always impressed by their efforts and delighted to lend my support to their activities and often urge anyone who has any spare time and wants to make a difference to volunteer.

But as they say in Allendale - talk is cheap.

So recently I took myself down to my local Save the Children Charity Shop in Hexham, rolled up my sleeves and spent the Saturday afternoon working in the shop. I got the chance not only to talk to the volunteers about their experiences but also experience it for myself. I learned a lot and I'm going to try and make it a regular thing.

If your interested in getting involved in volunteering get in touch at and I'm sure I can help point you in the right direction.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

GUEST POST: Pete McManus, Office Volunteer

As a voluntary intern I had a few preconceptions about what awaited me in the constituency office. I am pleased to say, however, that this was not the case. Missing were the spin doctors, and non-existent were the great swaths of staff, public relations officers, and personal advisers. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. As a matter of fact, the running of Guy’s office is left to a dedicated team of two, not counting the current intake of voluntary helping hands.

It was, therefore, an added bonus when the preconceptions of being a volunteer intern were put to bed and we were given actual responsibility and management over a number of key tasks and events. Across the desk I share with my office manager, Jon, are facts and figures outlining the stark consequences of the proposed closing of Hexham’s magistrates, something Guy is fighting tooth and nail to prevent. The closing of the court will have a disastrous effect on the local judicial system as witnesses, families, and victims will have to travel to Newcastle to attend a sitting. This seems reasonable for a resident of Ponteland or Stannington, but imagine the extra cost, travel distance and inconvenience for a disabled person in Kielder, a pensioner in Hexham or a resident of Haltwhistle, where distance and travel time is more than doubled. Hexham is unique because of its geography, and sometimes exceptions need to be made because of unique circumstances because, as Guy put it so well, ‘an area well in excess of 1,150 square miles will have no magistrate’s court whatsoever’ (Journal, July 16th) and that is quite plainly wrong.

This is one of the reasons why Guy and his team are determined to fight to keep something that is not only vital for local justice, but a place that has been at the centre of Hexham’s history for hundreds of years. And it’s great to be part of that fight.

In this photo: Jack Gebhard, Sarah Byers, Pete McManus

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Humshaugh Village Shop

In my constituency there are hundreds of 'Big Society' ideas and projects. This month I attended the grand reopening of Humshaugh Village Shop. Humshaugh Village Shop isn't just any village shop. When it faced closure last year, the community took on the shop and it is now run by local volunteers, selling everything from the morning papers to fresh fruit and vegetables. Had it not been for local people deciding to go that little bit further, to go that extra mile for their community, the shop would have closed. Instead the shop continues to be at the heart of the local community and it is a great success.

There are many more projects like this one, and the Prudhoe Allotments project that as an MP I’ve been lucky enough to see for myself. To me they are what the 'Big Society' is all about. Making life that bit easier for the people who decide they are going to try and make a positive difference to their community.

Take a look at flickr to see all the photos from the opening of the Humshaugh Village Shop - a very special village shop...

Hopley Pharmacy

One of the visits I most enjoyed this August was to Hopley Pharmacy in Ponteland. Peter and his wife Pam and their team do a fantastic job of providing a real local service to the community in Ponteland. During the visit on August 5th I was able to meet with both customers and the dedicated staff as well as seeing how various services are provided first hand.

Hopley Pharmacy is great example of a great team working to really go that extra mile for their local customers.

The photo below is Jill Johnson (Technician), Diane Bassam (Dispenser), me and Peter Hopley.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Wark Bridge Saved!!!!!!!

Wonderful news - the bridge will be saved. I am so pleased for everyone involved - not least Edward Heslop, the local councillor. A good piece on this in the courant.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Marathon Constituency surgery day

Started this morning at 10 and finished at 7 in a never ending consituent surgery session. Saw everyone from Tyne Valley Trains to Health / Police groups against alcohol, along with lots of constituents. It was a great day. Spending tomorrow in Kielder

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Prudhoe allotments

A great day in Prudhoe - started with 2 surgery appointments, and then on to the Prudhoe allotments, in the heart of the town: this is a group of people who are enthusiastic, fun and brilliant gardeners - the atmosphere when you go there is just so good. I cannot praise them enough. The lynchpin is the effervescent Joan Russell.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Ponteland Rotary

A great day finished with a session at Ponteland Rotary. Gave a speech to a large group of Rotarians on non political items at the Golf Club for 45 minutes - a really nice group of individuals.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Lunch in Humshaugh, dinner in Bedlington

Had a fun lunch in Humshaugh. It was great to see the couple who canvassed for us in Slaggyford and Knarsdale at the lection. They had spent 9 hours doing the job. It was an epic journey down country roads and tracks but great fun
Then off en masse with Christine and the volunteer interns to Bedlington where we joined some of the Wansbeck and Morpeth Conservatives at a Quiz night for charity in a Methodist Church Hall. Gutted to come third when in with a shout of winning, but a good evening all round.

Christine, Me and Amy one of our young volunteers...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Durham and Morpeth

Durham Prison - right in the heart of Durham and visible easily from the cathedral
Spent the morning in Durham Prison where the governor Tim Allen showed me round. Raised the case of one constituent who is presently an inmate.

Then on to Morpeth for the scrutiny meeting of the courts by Councillor Glen Sanderson and his team - the team have done a lot of work to save Alnick and Tynedale courts

Monday, 2 August 2010

National Park Sunday

Spent the whole of Sunday morning with Tony Gates, and John Riddle, chair of the Northumberland National Park. We went to Steel Rigg, twice Brewed and Greenhead, meeting key individuals and players on the way
Went down to Featherstone and Lambley in the evening for a long walk, finishing with a pint in the Wallace Arms

Constituency meetings

Had a series of meeting in Haltwhistle, Hexham and then went to Newbrough to play cricket; bowled terribly but made 30 not out in the gloom