Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Charity Walk Ends

Made it to Carlisle late yesterday!

An epic walk - which raised thousands of pounds for charity and allowed me to meet so many people en route. Feel very well after the journey and my thanks to all who joined in, and all those who put me up on the way. Not too late to send in money or go to the Just Giving site on behalf of
the Tynedale Hospice at Home or
The National Brain Appeal on behalf of the National Neurological Hospital

The Cheese Scone award goes to the Old Church in Chollerton, closely followed by Tea and Tipple in Corbridge - both are very good for baking!
Best surgery - with the police, in the pouring rain
Best pub - a tough call but the Greenhead Hotel and Errington Arms were good, although by common agreement the best pint was in the Crown at Humshaugh

Many thanks to the 3 village halls in Ponteland, Corbridge and Humshaugh who let me rent the halls for our ASK GUY events, and to all those who came and asked so many questions.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Day 5 report

A good day and a very long walk. The wind was at about 40-50 mph in our faces and it was head down and lots of hard yards. Assorted friends, waifs and strays came and joined us on the wall walk that took in the highlights of Housesteads, Walltown and Steel Rigg; all joined in at different points along the way - we had in excess of 14 [plus a dog] at various times today; but only 6 hardy souls made it to the Greenhead Hotel, where we were very well treated in a great pub - the rest were diverted by the Twice Brewed Pub or other spots on the way. I missed one meeting [apologies] in a mix up but managed to speak to lots of others on the way or at the end.
My thanks to all those who gave up their morning, afternoon or whole day to come along - it is a great cause and much appreciated.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Day 5 - Hadrians Wall Charity Walk

It is important not to forget why we are walking the wall. We are doing it to raise money for great charities, to support our tourist industry and let everyone see how amazing the Wall truly is.
It is far cry from our Newcastle startpoint when we temporarily took over the Millenium Bridge to advertise the Tynedale Hospice, with the Sage in the background. However, today we will be walking from Humshaugh to Gilsland via the famous Sycamore Gap and its iconic tree.
I have a surgery in a fort along the way, and rumours that we might stop at the legendary Twice Brewed Inn for a pint are grossly exaggerated. Leaving Humshaugh from the village shop at around 9.45 - 10.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Fundraising Update

Fundraising is going well for the walk so I thought I give you a quick update.

We have received some big donations from very generous local companies this week:

£500 from SCA in Prudhoe
£500 from Kilfrost in Haltwhistle
£500 from Egger in Hexham
£200 from John Gould, of Agma, in Haltwhistle

We have also received hundreds of pounds in smaller donations from local residents through the office and from Just Giving.

Than you everyone who has been able to support the walk so far, it is really appreciated.

Day 4 - Hadrians Wall Charity Walk

Off to the Bellingham Show today!
It is one of the largest and oldest shows in the region. It has its roots as a traditional agricultural show and enjoys huge popular support today. There is literally something for everyone as befits a traditional Country Fair, including Horse and Pony Classes, Baking and Craft Exhibits, Fell Race, Vintage Vehicle Parade, Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling and the oldest Northumbrian Piping competition in the world. Also a good chance to meet several people in an unofficial surgery and get some feedback on how things are in the Upper North Tyne - I will ceertainly be chatting to the local vicar, who is famous for riding round her parish.
Just a short walk today from Stagshaw Bank to Humshaugh, via Chollerford, where I am having a tourism and broadband meeting at a B+ B. Then by car to the Bellingham Show, before coming back to Humshaugh for our last Village Hall event this evening

Friday, 26 August 2011

Day 3 - Hadrians Wall Charity Walk

It rained in torrents today! Northumberland is wonderful, and I will adore it forever, but on any interpration ... the rain lashed down!! 7 hardy souls left Heddon on the Wall at 11 and reached the Errington Arms some 10 + miles later shortly after 2.30 - very wet but all on good from. We all devoured huge home made sandwiches and slowly dried out.
A huge thank you to all who came along but particularly to the 2 police officers who attended: they were given the option of a meeting in a dry office with everyone wearing suits or a challenging hike for charity, where they could lobby the MP for as long as they liked. To their credit they opted to come along today. They got to raise their legitimate and well argued concerns and I got a chance to discuss all aspects of local policing from Farm Vehicles getting stolen to speeding bikers on the Military Road causing accidents and problems. It was the best surgery I have ever done.

Later in the day after a long bath we had the second Village Hall event when we took over the Parish Hall in Corbridge. A good night with key questions on Housing, Planning reform, European Directives, The Councils approach, public sector rationalisations, NHS waiting times and much more.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Day 2 - Hadrians Wall Charity Walk

The BBC joined us today -watch it on iPlayer [I am around 13 minutes in] here long day from the Quayside in Newcastle up the Tyne to Heddon on the Wall, then on to Wylam and Prudhoe for surgeries and meeting my friends at SCA, who so generously donated £500 - £250 to Tynedale Hospice and £250 to the National Brain Appeal.
The team of 7 of us were in good spirits throughout - dodging the rain and relying on Robert's limitless knowledge of local history to sustain us through the hard yards.
Lunch in the lovely Swan at Heddon on the wall was my one meal of the day as we skipped supper to do the first ASK GUY event in Ponteland Memorial Hall. Really pleased we did it as loads on questions on everything from the Euro to Localism to Housing. We are trying to do everything a little different and today saw the first ever showing of the video created by the team: it may not be Spielberg but everyone agreed it is a great way of showing the work we are trying to do on behalf of the local people.Home at 10. Will sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Hadrians Wall Charity Walk - Day One

A beautiful day to walk up the Tyne started with a foggy morning in Wallsend, but we knocked off the morning walk with ease. I was joined by Jack, James and Katie and we strode past the Segedunum Roman Fort and up through Walker and St Peters, with a passing nod to the famous Byker Wall. Then as the Quayside in Newcastle appeared in the distance we passed the Spillers and Baltic Flour Mills and surveyed the many bridges of the Tyne before us. Bacon and sausage butties all round followed a quick change before trips to the Freeman Hospital, the amazing Scottswood Community Garden and another Equal Pay Meeting in a cafe in Earl Street.
A good day but .... the weather forecast is for rain tomorrow, but a lovely weekend

The best news was that my friends at SCA, the local paper manufacturer in Prudhoe, have agreed to donate £500 to the Tynedale Hospice - one of the 2 charities I am supporting. The money is flooding in, on and offline, but all help is needed - these are two great causes.

Tomorrow we walk to Heddon on the Wall, passing the site of the famous Armstrong Works, where in the 1860s 20,000 men worked to create hydraulics, guns and warships; then on to Heddon and past the cottage where George Stephenson, the famous railway engineer, was born in a cottage next to the Wylam Waggonway.

The Hospital Tour - visits to Hexham Hospital and the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle

Last night I was asked to speak at the Cancer Support Group meeting at Hexham Hospital. It was a privilege to be asked and to be in the company of such a brave bunch of men and women, who each had extraordinary tales of their battles with cancer. We spoke at length and then discussed local and regional Health Policy. Line of the night was one lady who described her ongoing treatment with great fortitude before finishing by saying " At least I am still looking down at the daisies not up".

Then on to the Freeman Hospital today: they had great news with the recent survey as reported in the Journal: http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2011/08/24/north-east-children-s-heart-unit-receives-strong-support-61634-29292801/

I had a good meeting with the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Foundation Trust and then was lucky enough to go round the Childrens Heart Unit, meeting the doctors and their teams, who do such an amazing job there. Bumped into Graham Wylie, who has personal experience of the Unit, through his daughter - he has done a great deal to support and promote the Unit. It was a very moving 24 hours.

Hadrians Wall Charity Walk starts today!

Wallsend. 8.30am. Its going to be a bit wet but we will be off!
Greatly looking forward to hiking for the next 6 days. Am being accompanied by everyone from some of the local Police, to Ramblers, to racehorse trainers. Later today I am off to the Freeman Hospital to meet with staff and the chief exec there and raise a number of constituents cases.
You can still donate to one of the two fantastic charities I am supporting - the Tynedale Hospice, which helps local people all over Hexham, or the National Hospital for Neurosurgery in Queens Square, London, which saved my life in May.
Thanks, Guy

Tynedale Hospice at http://www.justgiving.com/guy-opperman-mp/

National Hospital for Neurosurgery at https://www.justgiving.com/Guy-Opperman-Mp0
A full report of the amazing evening I sent last night with the Cancer Support Group at Hexham Hospital will follow shortly

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Libya, and Equal Pay

Amazing scenes from Libya. Great credit to those who saved Benghazi from wholesale slaughter, and all our brave troops for their role in enforcing the UN Agreement.
Full credit to David Cameron as this was a tough call. But biggest credit goes to the Libyan people. The power of one is proved again.

My day is a little less dramatic but I have high hopes:
Off to County Hall to meet Council representatives concerning our Equal Pay campaign. Then meeting local councillors, dropping in at the Morpeth Herald and finishing up in Hexham Hospital tonight: not as a patient I add! I am giving a speech to the Cancer Support Group; much looking forward to it.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

South Tynedale Tour, Allendale Show and the Allen Valley Angling and Conservation Project

The Allen Valley Angling and Conservation Team

A wonderful day in South Tynedale, full of big clear skies, sunshine and lots of great people. Started off bright and early in Catton and then went to Allendale. Did a tour of all the shops and delivered my Annual Report all over town before having a cup of coffee in the amazing arts centre, The Forge, which Amanda and her team have set up up as a community interest company.
Then went on to the show which was great: full of local people coming together and working hard, both to put on the show itself and also trying to win prizes. I had good chats with the Lions Club, the Army, several of the energy companies who had trade stands, several of the Arts stands and generally caught up with many locals. As usual the dancing sheep were a big draw, whilst on the negative side one poor lad broke his ankle in the wrestling.
I was lucky enough to meet the prizewinners as the shows organisers asked me to hand out the trophies.
One final plug: the big prize for enterprise and Big Society must go to the lads at Allen Valley Angling and Conservation - check out their amazing web site on
Paul Frear and his team are doing a great job in revitalising the Allen River between Allendale and Allenheads. Not only are they doing a great job of conservation and environemental protection but they are also giving young [under 12s fish for free] and old the chance to fish for sea trout and salmon. I will definitely be there next season - a day pass costs only £14 - and thats a bargain to have a chance to catch a salmon.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Hiking and Halls Tour

I am hiking Hadrians Wall from Wallsend in Newcastle, then up the Tyne and all across the constituency in Northumberland into Cumbria.
I am doing this to promote our tourist strengths, to raise money for 2 great charities, to prove my fitness, and stopping off along the way to hold a series of Village Hall "ASK GUY" events with the local councillors. I have rented some village halls where anyone can come and quiz myself and our councillors as to what we are doing on their behalf, what concerns them, and generally ask us questions.
The schedule is as follows:
Sat 20 Aug
Allendale surgery and Allendale Show

Sun 21 Aug
Bellingham BBQ Lunch

Mon 22 Aug
Hexham day and
Meeting the team at the Hexham Courant

Tue 23 Aug
Meeting at County Hall RE: Equal Pay Campaign
Constituents surgery in Hexham
Speaking to Cancer Support Group, 7.30pm, Ward 1, Hexham Hospital

Wed 24 Aug
Start of walk - Wallsend to Newcastle
Interview with Paul Tully, of the Journal
Freeman Hospital visit
Visit to Scotswood Garden

Thu 25 Aug
Walk Newcastle to Heddon on the wall, then by car to Prudhoe
Then a Wylam walkabout visiting all the shops
ASK GUY Ponteland event 7.30 @ Ponteland Memorial Hall + local councillors

Fri 26 Aug
Tynedale Business Forum 7.15am Hexham
Walk Heddon on the Wall to Corbridge
Corbridge shops walkabout
ASK GUY Event 7.30 at Corbridge Village Hall

Sat 27 Aug
Walk Corbridge to Humshaugh
Drop in to Old Church B+ B at Chollerton for a much needed cup of tea
Bellingham Show 2-5pm
ASK GUY Humshaugh event 7.30 @ Humshaugh Village Hall

Sun 28 Aug
Walk Humshaugh to Gilsland
Meeting various constituents on or next to Hadrians Wall
Going to Haydon Bridge

Mon 29 Aug
Walking Gilsland - Carlisle. End of the Walk

Tuesday Aug 30
Hexham based Surgery day
Parliament returns Monday September 5th

Please feel free to join me on the walk - simply call 01434 603 777 / or email hexham@tory.org
Come along to one of the events - simply turn up. They are free.
Or donate to one of the two fantastic chairities I am supporting - the Tynedale Hospice, which helps local people all over Hexham, whilst the National Hospital for Neurosurgery in Queens Square, London, saved my life in May.
Thanks, Guy

Tynedale Hospice at http://www.justgiving.com/guy-opperman-mp/

National Hospital for Neurosurgery at https://www.justgiving.com/Guy-Opperman-Mp0
A really nice article by Robert Weatherall in the Journal on our plans

Parliament recalled

I have just heard that parliament is to be recalled on Thursday. After the last couple of nights of mayhem in London I can understand why. We must get behind our brave policemen, who are doing a great job. As to the mindless mobs who attacked firemen and ambulance drivers [not the first time I have heard this happening] words fail me.

Last week I came back to work in Westminster. It is great to be getting back to work on behalf of the people who sent me here. Last week the House was quiet - it will not be this week. I did a full week in westminster last week and am working most of it this week. My plan is to head home to Hexham this weekend, where I am working the rest of August.
We have exciting plans for the coming weeks which I will post in the next few days but right now my thoughts are with all those affected by the nights of violence and looting.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The slow death of the Euro

"The euro will bring jobs, investment and budgetary discipline". So, my fellow Europeans, do we now agree it is not working?
Sadly the Euro is unravelling and the Euro Zone still refuse to discuss whether it would be better to drop some members out now whilst they still can.
This blog has long argued that Greece is no longer able to stay part of the Euro and is the root problem.
See: http://guyopperman.blogspot.com/search/label/Greek%20debts%20and%20difficulties

I see little way the Euro can survive in its present form. If it is not changed now it will drag the rest of the Euro zone economy down. But do not take my word for it on one country alone - read the words of these three top French economists:
Writing in Le Figaro, Gerard Lafay, Jacques Sapir and Philippe Villin called for all nations to abandon the euro itself “to save the Europeans”.

Far from promoting the hoped-for convergence, the construction of the euro has, in fact, accentuated the differences between nations. It is time for European politicians to face up to reality: the euro is dying, and it must be finished off quickly to save the Europeans.”

It is worth remembering some of the words of wisdom on the Euro when the rest of us were fighting tooth and nail not to join it [thankfully for us we won that argument]:

"If we stay out, the price we will pay in lost investment and jobs would be incalculable."
(Peter Mandelson, 2002)

"If we get rid of sterling and adopt the euro, we will also get rid of sterling crises and sterling overvaluations. This will give us a real control over our economic environment." (Chris Huhne, 2004)

This blog has long maintained that the Euro should be split - with countries that have no hope of staying in being jettisoned. A surgical amputation is always better than the gangrene that kills the body.
It clearly does not help our economy that so many of our trading partners are struggling, nor our banks who have some exposure, but suddenly sterling looks a very good currency...

Friday, 5 August 2011

At last - Labour begin to admit that they caused this economic mess

Today it will be 15 months since Labour lost the May 5th 2010 General Election. Ever since they have denied that the economic mess we are now in was their fault. Finally they are now starting to admit their blame, which is a start.
Labour List is a major Labour Party blog. Today it writes:

"Labour says the reason it created this fiscal mess was to save the country from a collapse of the banking system. But let's get real – the reason there's a deficit is because tax income didn't cover the high public spending before the credit crunch/banking crash. Had the Labour government had a spending review mid 2000s, and reduced public spending, the deficit today would have been smaller. We must begin to admit that we were fiscally irresponsible for years, in order to gain the trust of the public again, at least on the economy.

Not only is it important in order to win elections - fiscal responsibility is the right thing to do. I know some people hate the analogy between a household budget and the national finances, but there is a relevant comparison. As with a company. If you laden yourself with too much debt, you end up spending the money you do earn on interest payments over a long period of time, and you end up in a vicious cycle which goes on and on, thus reducing your real economic power. If we are serious about building a prosperous Britain of the future, we need to realise as a party that economic responsibility is vital to that prosperous future."
It adds further that -
" We should be thinking about how we can go from a deficit of 10.2% of GDP in 2010 to a budget surplus in 2020. It's a shame Ed didn't include a single book on boosting growth or economic responsibility in his summer holiday reading list.

It's clear we can't leave this job to the shadow chancellor – he's made hardly any effort (nor has Ed Miliband for that matter) to take responsibility for the economic mess we're in, or to develop the policies required to re-gain fiscal credibility. We need a more vocal group of 'fiscal realists' within the Labour Party"the full article is on this link

My only comment is that I will wait with baited breath for any Labour MP in the House of Commons to admit what their own supporters are saying - as thus far in the Commons it has been a deafening silence: to the present Labour MPs Gordon Brown was never wrong.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Good News from Haltwhistle

A great little piece of news from Haltwhistle. The 150-year-old water tower at Haltwhistle Station in Northumberland has now been officially opened as a base for local young people.

The project has been led by Ayesha Banks, who along with help from the Haltwhistle Partnership and West Northumberland Youth Service, has raised £24,000 in funding to make this great community asset a reality.

The Water Tower is going to be a great place for Haltwhislte's young people - it has computers, TVs and even a kitchen. There is no doubt that it is the kind of place teenagers are going to use which is key. It just shows what strong willed individuals and tight knit communities can achieve, even now in the toughest of times.

What is also really clever is the way that Ayesha and her team mixed funding from public sources such as the Big Lottery Fund, along with a substantial private donation from Kilfrost, the de-icer manufacturers in Haltwhistle. Gary Lydiate of Kilfrost was there to open it on the day alongside local Councillor Ian Hutchinson, Julie from the Youth Service and representatives from the Town Council and Community Partnership.

Congratulations to all involved.