I have not been able to blog much these last few days becasue I have been charging around Northumberland doing 16 hour days. In that time I have had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the
- Tynedale Business Network [they meet at 7.30 for bacon butties in the wonderful Mrs Miggins cafe in Hexham] where we talked through the budget from a business point of view. These men and women are the backbone of local small businesses and it was a very good discussion. I wish we could do more to cut their taxes, and cut the price of fuel, but there are good incentives for small businesses and excellent news on apprentices and skills. A really good discussion of the budget and what we are doing for locals in the North East.
Also had lunches / spoke at
-The Northern Counties Club, in Hood Street, Newcastle and with the Berwick Upon Tweed Conservatives at the Marshall Meadows Hotel just 1 mile shy of the Scottish border where I was the speaker at their respective lunches to over 150 people.
My thanks to all the staff - the food was excellent all round.
Took questions on over 15 topics ranging from the budget, labour opportunism, fuel prices and the folly of Scottish Independence and greatly enjoyed meeting everyone.
We also fitted in some exercise [thank god] - helping out in the local election campaign in North Tyneside. Last night I had a 3 hour surgery in Merton Hall, Ponteland. As we ended the Bridge Club were meeting in the next door room. Had a lovely chat with everyone there, who were warming up for the bridge with fish and chips - my diet not going well: ended up being given too many chips by the Bridge Club Members.
As I was leaving last night at 7 I heard the awful news that Viscount Ridley had passed away - he was a wonderful man who did so much for Northumberland - as Leader of the County Council, Lord Lieutenant and head of Northen Rock. I had seen him barely a month ago, and he was on sparkling form, although struggling with his health. I will write more of him shortly.
He will be much missed and my thoughts go out to his family.