Wednesday, 29 September 2010

My favourite line in the Journal so far...

....Coun Heslop has worked tirelessly with the support of local MP Guy Opperman and others to secure the future of Wark Bridge, and with a smile he said: “Someone has suggested to me it should be renamed The Edward Heslop Memorial Bridge – but I told them I’m not dead yet.”

Read the full story with the great news about the progress on the bridge. The local community in and around Wark should be so proud of what they have achieved:

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Tough Questions from Building Industry

I had the good fortune to visit Dove Building Materials in my constituency last week, one of the biggest builders merchants in the North East. For much of the building industry, from contractors to those in supply chain, times have been tough as the recession hit particularly hard.

I know personally a few builders who went under last year and I hope putting the national finances back in order will help give people and business the confidence to start investing and building again.

What was really interesting about this visit was that Doves, despite being in one of the worst effected industries here in the North East has been able to survive, mainly due to strong and careful fiscal management - a lesson for us politicians if there ever was one.

But the building industry also has some tough questions. Many in the industry would like to see a large huge number of public sector contracts created to help boost business.

I can of course understand why but I honestly think it would be irresponsible for the government to try and create a false economy for any industry as in the end it inevitably becomes unsustainable in the long term.

However that's not to say Government should ever sit idly by. Far from it, we must be innovative and forward thinking in our approach. Which is why I was pleased to hear my Coalition friend and Government Minister Chris Huhne give more detail on our proposal for a 'Green Deal' this week - something already welcomed by the UK Building Council which they believe could lead to a 'refurbishment revolution in the UK'.

The Green Deal will help deliver around 250,000 jobs – in the private sector - by allowing companies to pay up front for eco-improvements to homes such as insulation and get paid back through fuel bills. It has also been extended to commercial premises and the policy is a clear example of where we can use the private sector to grow the economy and actually relieve some of the pressure created by the financial mess the country has ended up in.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Housing Crisis?

Most people know one of my biggest areas of interest is housing, in particular social and affordable housing.

Just 4,480 homes were build in the North East last year, around half of what was actually needed. Indeed last year a further 2000 people actually became homeless. If that doesn't add up to a housing crisis I don't know what does.

Affordable Housing is vitally important here in Northumberland & Tyne and Wear - especially as we try to grow our local economy. I'm determined to try and do my bit in tackling this crisis.

Keep an eye on the blog over the coming months...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Boost for A1 Campaign

Good news for the long running campaign to dual the A1 as the CBI has today highlighted the importance of transport links.

The dualing of the A1 would help us make sure its clear that Northumberland is open for business, and help avoid the diversion of investment to the South and even North West due to better transport links.

"Transport infrastructure, in particular, should be made a priority, the CBI says, because it offers high returns and will play a crucial role in boosting domestic and international trade."

Update: Blackett Court battle

Good news today as the Journal has today covered our fight to help residents in Blackett Court, Wylam...

Hexham MP in crunch meeting on Blackett Court closure

TWO MPs are joining forces in a bid to persuade a sheltered housing group not to shut down homes and displace elderly residents.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman has been fighting to keep Blackett Court in Wylam, open in spite of Anchor Housing Association’s plans to close it and rehouse five remaining residents.

Now he will be joined by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, who is waging a similar battle to save the homes of 54 elderly residents in a sheltered housing complex in the Staffordshire town.

The two Conservative MPs are to meet Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft at the House of Commons on October 12 in a joint attempt to persuade the housing group to make a last-minute U-turn on their closure plans.

Click here to read the full story

At Wylam, campaigners have fought a lengthy battle to stave off closure, with a 500-name village petition going to Anchor’s London HQ.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

BBC Radio 4: Sneak Peek

Take a look at a sneak peek of my BBC Radio 4 Interview for Beyond Westminster on the impact of blogging and the internet on politics, click here to watch on You Tube

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Constituency Video Diares (2)

Check out my second Constituency Video Diary, up on Hadrians Wall having a chat with Blue from Vetrans Aid International about the difference they are making... View on You Tube

Friday, 17 September 2010

The big 'Big Society Tour'

As most of you who read the blog will know I am passionate about the Big Society. For me it is one of the strongest planks of this governments agenda; outlining our commitment to supporting our local communities and developing a stronger society.

That's why over the next few weeks and months I'm undertaking my big Big Society tour to visit the places and projects where the big society is already taking shape and meet the people behind the ideas.

Keep an eye on the blog next week for my first stop on the Tour, the most amazing project in the heart of Allendale...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

BBC covers our fight...

The BBC have covered our fight to save Tynedale Magistrates Court, - first few seconds into the program:

Click here to watch on iplayer

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

westminster week

A packed week:
- Monday saw a meeting with the climate change secretary over Egger and the RHI
- Tuesday featured extensive constituency work, and time in the chamber
- Wednesday saw the PMQs [ Harriets last bow] and was followed up with the ID Cards debate and an interview with the BBC Look North team
Also met with the Chancellor as part of the preparation for the October budget cuts

Friday, 10 September 2010

Constituency Video Diares (1)

View on Youtube

Ponteland Market

Just a quick parish notice to let you know that the newly relocated Ponteland Market now takes place on a Friday rather than a Saturday.

The market is at the Merton Way Shopping Centre and the produce is superb. The next one is the 24th September, might see you there!

Get involved...

Conservative Future is designed for those of you under 30 (those were the days!) who have a keen interest in politics. It centres around bringing like-minded young people together through various social and campaigning activities. Not only is it a stepping stone for those interested in politics but an informal place where debate is encouraged.

Its' mission is to get young people involved in social activism, volunteering and local fundraising in a fun and informal setting. I'm pleased to say we have recently set up Hexham Conservative Future and you can find out more about getting involved locally at their blog here or by joining their facebook group here.

They've raised more than 250 quid for charity and are already planning thier next social event - not bad for a weeks work!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Robbs - The Futures Bright

Robbs is the lynch pin store in Hexham and recently things looked decidedly bleak when news broke that it was to close. However in a good sign for the local economy Robbs was taken over and its new parent company has invested £2million in bringing the store up to scratch.

I joined Hexham’s Mayor Coun. Terry Robson for the ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday and the staff are determined to make the revamped store a success.

The new investment will hopefully spill beyond Robbs and provide a further boost to tourism and local traders in the town.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

RIP Cllr Mel Armstrong

I just wanted to say a few words on the recent and sudden death of respected local councillor Mel Armstrong.

Mel had served on the former Castle Morpeth Council and was a member of both Northumberland County Council and Ponteland Town Council.

Mel cared a great deal about his patch and so often went above and beyond for everyone, including me. He was a great support to me as a newbie MP, and a great friend.

He will be missed by everyone.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

MP's Charity Quiz Night

I spent last night in the village of Stamfordham at the Bay Horse - where my brilliant young team of volunteers, Sarah, Pete, Amy and Charlie had organised the first of our MP's Charity Quiz Nights.

The idea is to make me more accessible as their MP, whilst also having a bit of fun and hopefully raising some money for Charity in the process.

I'm pleased to report last night was a great success and we raised an incredible £250 for Help the Heroes and TASC. The guys did amazing and a big thank you to everyone who came and made it such a great success!

Top 30

Yesterday Total Politics announced the top 30 MP blogs - and this is one of them! The list is the result of more than 2,200 people who voted in the Total Politics Annual Blog Poll. Very proud!