Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

New Year is a time for looking back on the year that has just gone, and at what we have been able to achieve together.

2014 has been a good year for our part of Northumberland . Last year, 690 local young people started an apprenticeship, up by more than 200 since the last General Election, so now even more young people are getting a good start in life.  I am also pleased to say unemployment has fallen dramatically - down by 51% in our area since it’s peak in 2010.

My long running campaign for a fairer funding deal for our schools will also start to bear fruit this year. The new agreement secured from the Government mean next year alone Haydon Bridge High School will see its funding increase by £170,000, Prudhoe High School will receive an extra £205,000, QEHS and extra £256,000 and Ponteland High School £252,000.

Last year I was also able to help secure an extra £5.6m roads funding for Northumberland -  more than for any other Council in the North East. Our campaign to improve safety on the A69 also took a big leap
forward as the Chancellor granted us a Feasibility Study on the possibility of dualling the road west of Hexham.

Our local NHS remains in good health with £4.6million invested in the brand new Haltwhistle Hospital which opened this year. We also had success in our campaign to cut hospital parking charges, with the
daily rate at Hexham Hospital now half what it was.  Perhaps my proudest moment was the success we had in convincing the Chancellor to scrap VAT on Air Ambulance fuel, which will now save the Great North
Air Ambulance £24,000 every single year. That is the cost of 10 life saving missions.

There is still much more work to be done this year to secure Northumberland’s future, but in the mean time I wish you all a very Happy New Year.