Tuesday, 30 November 2010

No Spin Zone.

The Independent Office for Budget Responsibility published it's fiscal outlook update yesterday. Click here to read the data or here to download the full report as a pdf.

So here is the their summary. No spin.

"The UK economy has recovered more strongly since the spring than the interim OBR expected at the time of the June Budget. GDP growth was greater than expected in both the second and third quarters, while employment has risen (and unemployment has fallen) to levels that the June forecast did not expect until the middle of 2012.

The world economy has also grown more strongly than expected. CPI inflation has remained slightly higher than expected in June, while the public finances have performed broadly as anticipated. Interest rates on UK government debt are lower than in June, but have risen since August."

Monday, 29 November 2010

School Closures Update 2:

(Roads Update: Western area crews will be operating overnight on the A69, A68 and A696,please keep aware of conditions and drive accordingly. At present major roads are passable with extreme care. Illuminated warning signage “Slow down Skid Risk” have been placed on the A69)

Northumberland School Closures:

School Closure : *OPEN* Tweedmouth Community Middle School - open on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School Open as Normal on Tuesday 30th November

School Closure : Acklington C of E Controlled First School - open only from 8:55am until 12 Noon on Tue 30 Nov
29 Nov 2010
Due to Heating Problems

School Closure : Cleaswell Hill School - closed Tue 30 Nov
29 Nov 2010
school closed due to severe weather

School Closure : Corbridge Middle School - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Cornhill First School - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Ellingham C of E Aided First School - closed Tue 30 Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed on Monday and Tuesday due to severe weather conditions and lack of heating

School Closure : Grove Special School - closed until further notice
29 Nov 2010
closed due to severe weather

School Closure : Harbottle C of E Voluntary Aided First School - closed from 12 Noon on Tue 30 Nov
29 Nov 2010
School Will Close At Noon On Tuesday 3oth November Due To Weather Conditions
There Will Also Be No School Transport Available

School Closure : Hexham Priory School - closed on Tue 30 Nov - School closed to PUPILS
29 Nov 2010
Closed due to severe weather

School Closure : Hipsburn First School - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Malvin's Close Primary School - closed until Thur 2 Dec
29 Nov 2010
Extended closure until Thursday December 2nd due to broken canopies blocking pupil entrance doors, caused by heavy snow fall.

School Closure : Morpeth Chantry Middle School - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Morpeth Newminster Middle School - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Newsham Primary School - closed until Thur 2 Dec
29 Nov 2010
Extended closure until Thursday 2nd December due to broken canopies blocking pupil entrance doors, caused by heavy snowfall.

School Closure : Norham St Ceolwulfs C of E Cont. First School - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Northumberland Church of England Academy - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
School closed due to severe weather conditions.

School Closure : Prudhoe Castle First School - closed on Tue 30 Nov
29 Nov 2010
School is closed on Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 November 2010 due to the severe weather and staff shortages.

School Closure : Tyne Met College Special Needs Unit - closed on Tue 30th Nov
29 Nov 2010
While Tyne Met College will be open as normal on Tuesday 30 November, the special needs unit will be closed.

Gove is right on Education

Everyone has an opinion on Education. Are we dumbing down? Is there too much focus on Exams? Are we forgetting the basics? Well last week the Coalition published the Schools White Paper setting out were the Government stands.

The White Paper sets out some serious education reforms for the long-term, and crucially is evidence based on looking specifically at what works in the best performing education systems around the globe in which we now all compete.

The paper marks a decisive shift towards those Conservative values of trusting teachers and ensuring better discipline.

If there is one statistic which sticks out at me - which serves as a reminder why we must drive forward these education reforms it is this: Just 40 pupils out of 83,000 children eligible for Free School Meals made it to Oxford or Cambridge. 40 out of 83,000.

I recently raised in the House the competitive education system in which our children are in. "Is it not accepted that in science, for instance, the UK has gone from fourth to 14th position? In literacy we have gone from seventh to 17th, and in mathematics from eighth to 24th." Reform is always difficult but surely we can all agree we must act to reverse our slide in the global education league.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

List of those Northumberland Schools closed

Northumberland Schools Closed on Monday, 29th Nov:
Updated at 9:25pm on Sun 28 Nov

- Abbeyfields First School (Special Group only)

- Amble Middle School

- Berwick Middle School

- Berwick Upon Tweed Community High School

- Coquet High School

- Cornhill First School

- Dr Thomlinson C of E Middle School

- Druridge Bay Community Middle School

- Duchess's Community High School

- Grange View C of E Vol Controlled First School

- King Edward VI School- Morpeth Collingwood School

- Norham St Ceolwulfs C of E Cont. First School

- Spittal Community First School

- St Cuthbert's RC Vol Aided First School, Amble

- St Michael's C of E First School

UK Manufacturing

Many will remember that not long ago Jaguar was the sick man of the top end car market. Struggling to compete with its German rivals and accused of being old and tired things looked bleak and another another sad story for British manufacturing looked likely.

However now the car maker's sales are booming. Revenues up 43% in the last quarter, plans to close one of its UK plants scrapped, and, healthy looking profits for this financial year.

Amazingly Jaguar Land Rover is now also responsible for 14% of all UK exports to China. Recently executives from the company joined representatives from the UK Government on their trade mission to China. Jaguar Chief Executive Carl-Peter Forster recently said the UK's attitude towards manufacturing has 'changed markedly' - I certainly hope so. Developing a strong high tech manufacturing base is vital if we are create a more stable UK economy in the long term.

The Chief Exec went on: 'Education and advancing knowledge about the sector starts with the recognition that it is an important part of society. Ten years ago the UK thought it could do without it.'

Its a sentiment I couldn't agree with more and I will be pressing the Government to continue its positive steps in the right direction on UK manufacturing.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Winter Info:

With another fall of snow last night here is some useful winter info:

Click here to use the County Councils interactive map to see which roads are part of the Precautionary Gritting Routes.

To request a refill or misuse of a grit bin call 0845 600 6400 or click here to do it all online.

Remember despite the winter scare stories there's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. If in doubt click here to read the Government advice and guidelines.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The snow hits

Snow and ice have kicked in early this year. I've had a few reports in on some areas already becoming difficult. Some real difficulties at times in Prudhoe and the ice on the roads in Castlefields made it onto BBC Look North with a bus stuck there for a couple of hours.

Do keep me informed of any problems in your area.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

THIS WEEK on the web

1. Katharine Birbalsingh welcomes the Education White Paper
2. Johnathan Isaby reports North East MEP Martin Callanan has been elected to lead the Conservative MEPs
3. The Sun reports that Alan Johnson disagrees with Ed Miliband over 50p tax
4. Richard Moss explains why William Armstrong still has a place in North East politics 200 years on
5. The Hexham Courant has the photos from Hexham's Remembrance Sunday

and on BBC1's This Week tonight Charles Clarke will be sitting in Diane Abbot's old seat alongside Michael Portillo, with guests P.J. O'Rourke, Stephen K Amos and Kat Von D, and the political round-up from Jane Moore.

Update: Christmas Social Action Project

Quick update on our 2010 Christmas Social Action Project. We've teamed up with SOS to provide some special Christmas gifts and treats for our brave troops. Its our way of showing our support to those away on the front line this Christmas.

We have been overwhelmed by the response from Greenhaugh to Belsay. Peter, Dan and Daniel busy packing up some more boxes this afternoon:

Railway Investment

I'm pleased to see the Coalition putting forward its plans to invest in more than 2,100 new rail carriages for our railways by 2019. I know how important the railways are, especially the East Coast Mainline is to us here in the North East, to communters like myself and importantly business.

The Government will now be entering commercial negotiations with franchised operators about the allocation of new carriages and those freed up from Crossrail. Subject to those negotiations, we can hope to see improved carriages running to Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and most importantly Newcastle!

In addition to the 2,100 new carriages, Britain is also to get a new fleet of intercity trains, replacing the ageing 30 year old 'Intercity 125s'. A big bonus which will help matters on the East Coast main line.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

People’s Millions

I'm pleased to say Ponteland Community Partnership's Pont Skate Park project has been shortlisted to go forward to the public vote on ITV regional news as part of the People’s Millions funding programme and voting opens this week.

The project will be featured in a short film on Thursday night’s ITV regional news (25th November) at 6pm. Voting takes place between 9am and midnight with the winner announced on the ITV regional news in the following night’s programme.

Click here to see the project’s page on the People’s Millions website where you can find the voting telephone number (which will be available from 9am on the day of voting) and more infoon the project.

Well done Ponteland!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Prudhoe Innovation

I was in Prudhoe again last week catching up with the Partnership and members of the community who are really pushing the town forward. I am constantly surprised by the innovation on show and this meeting was no exception.

They have plans to use eBay to develop a community shop, preparations for their Christmas fayre are well underway, they have exciting plans to launch a new Community magazine - with a circulation of more than 25,000, and if that weren't enough they are also running a pilot pay by the hour community car, available to local residents 24/7.

The new Nissan Note car is located just off Prudhoe Front Street and available for residents to book by the hour, day, or as long as members need as an alternative to expensive car ownership.

As ever some really exciting stuff. You can find out more about the car share scheme at www.commonwheels.org.uk

Good news on jobs

Some really good news on jobs at the moment with the number of people having to claim out of work benefits going down.

The claimant numbers are important because they are bang up to date. I'm pleased to say here in Hexham we have seen a 12.8% fall in the year down to 2%, half the 4.7% average for the North East.

There are still difficult times ahead and the numbers will fluctuate but we do have a very good network of people and organisations trying to tackle unemployment locally from the fantastic team at our local job centre who I know very well to various community groups providing advice and support.

Monday, 15 November 2010

"Shop Local This Christmas"

I'm urging all our local residents to "Shop local this Christmas"

Thats the name of our special Christmas campaign I launched on Saturday whilst putting in a shift on Hexham Market's fruit and veg stall alongside local traders.

It was great be able to see things from the other side of the market stall and see the challenges facing our local traders. I would urge everyone to think twice about heading over to the Metro Centre in the run up to Christmas and instead to shop local and support our local shops and market traders.

It is hard to beat the quality of local meat, cheese, vegetables and even cakes available, all of which are definitely worth the calories this Christmas!

I would urge everyone to support local producers, traders and retailers this Christmas.

Speaking at the launch Michael Nicholson of the National Market Traders Federation said “With the economic situation as it is now is the perfect time to encourage as many people as possible to support their local markets.”

We will be running the 'Shop Local this Christmas' campaign in the run up the Christmas with stalls in Hexham and Prudhoe encouraging local people to sign up to back the campaign.

Keep an eye out on the blog for updates...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A packed weekend

A packed weekend started in Bywell Thursday night and followed up with the mega surgery day all day Friday; then off to a planning committee meeting in Tarset and up to Kielder for an amazing evening at the Pheasant; had to give a speech and home by 11.45
Then up and at them today - helped out in the market, then had an imnterview in the office and then went for a surgery and an afternoon with the Green Ovingham group.
Finished very tired but on good form

Aung San Suu Kyi released

amazing news

Friday, 12 November 2010

Halton Lea Gate Meeting on Tuesday

A return of the open cast mine debate that we have been fighting for years.
I cannot be there on Tuesday but will send along Jon from the office to help
Please go there to the village hall to show your support

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Christmas Social Action Project

Click here to watch the sneak peak of our 2010 Christmas Social Action Project which some of you may have read about in the Courant last week...

Egger visit

A good day at Egger - with coverage of the visit set out detail

Monday, 8 November 2010

Interested in Allendale?

You may remember a few months ago we highlighted the great community led work going on in Allendale with the creation of nine fantastic work spaces at Allendale Forge Studios. If you interested click here to out more

Friday, 5 November 2010

By Election triumph in Ponteland

A memorable day ended at 11pm last night when Eileen Armstrong triumphed in the County Council by election.
Results were:
843 Conservative
401 Liberal
100 Labour

A triumph of fair play and proper politics.

Thank you to all the dozens of people who helped

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Morrisons steps up.

Continuing our Supermarket theme of posts, this time with a big society slant. There was some really good news from Morrisons this week, that they plan to create 1,000 jobs for homeless and vulnerable people.

They are running the scheme in partnership with the Salvation Army and a social enterprise called Create.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Conservative party chairman has welcomed the move saying "This is a great example of businesses working with the community to create jobs and drive growth at a time of economic uncertainty.

"Initiatives like this will make a real difference to people's lives, providing them and the country with the skills they need to promote growth."

I couldn't agree more and I'd like to see more of this kind of thing, be it through training, internships, volunteer opportunities or apprenticeships.

I run an internship in my constituency office to help local young people build up their skills before work or uni. If you'd like to find out more drop us an email hexham@tory.org

Good News on Green Deal

Marks & Spencer are in talks with the Government to take part in the Green Deal policy.

The policy is one I've championed a fair bit - essentially businesses will be encouraged to install energy efficient measures like loft insulation, double glazing, cavity wall insulation and solar panels. Householders will pay back the cost over 20 years making such changes much more affordable for your average home owner... and bringing Co2 savings, jobs and eventually lower bills with it.

Its hoped the scheme will create up to 100,000 jobs which is good news with Tesco, B&Q and British Gas also interested in getting involved. Hopefully it will be up and running by autumn 2012.

Weekend update

A packed weekend featuring an evening do in Darlington and a really big day in the constituency, with a meeting in Egger, and a campaign stop in Ponteland.
Back in westminster a busy day ended with the former Prime Minister GB coming to westminster for only the third time since the election