Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Rural affairs at the heart of Hexham event

Farming is a central part of life in the Hexham constituency, and next week a Farm Update North 2019 event will be taking place in Hexham. With speakers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, the Farming Advice Service, National Farmers Union, Forestry Commission, Natural England and Northumbrian Water, farmers, landowners and anyone interested in rural matters will be able to find out about the latest rural developments. As well as presentations, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from the organisations.

The event takes place on 5th February at Hexham Auction Mart from 10am-1pm (lunch is provided). You can book your place by calling 01748 90 7070 or emailing

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Cheeseburn celebrates local talent

Cheeseburn has announced the finalists of the 2019 Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award. Ten local sculptors make up the list, with the winner announced later in the year. The work of all ten finalists will be on view from 18th-19th and 25th-27th May, a fantastic opportunity to see their incredible creations. It is wonderful to see so many young local talents celebrated- I don’t envy those who have to choose the overall winner!

My favourite pubs from across our local area!

Everyone in our local area knows how lucky we are to have such a great array of local pubs in our area. The Hexham Courant recently put out a call for suggestions for the best pub, so I wanted to set out some of my favourite from across Hexham. I have visited every one set out below and more!

Ales and Microbreweries

Firstly, micro-breweries. The last few years has seen an explosion in the popularity of micro-breweries, and two in Tynedale stand out. The Twice Brewed Inn – which has been here for generations as a pub and guest house – has just opened their own brewery! I visited  recently and had the opportunity to see Sycamore Gap – their pale ale – being made.

There’s also the Dipton Mill Inn in the Hexhamshire, which is undoubtedly one of the finest pubs in the whole of the County, but also produces their own beer.  

If you’re looking for proper real ale, there are so many to chooses from but I would strongly recommend:
-      The Black Bull in Matfen,
-       The Boathouse in Wylam,
-       The Heart in Hexham,
-       the Black Bull and the Comrades in Haltwhistle,
-       the Golden Lion in Allendale,
-       and, last but by no means least, The Angel at Corbridge.

Watch my video from the Twice Brewed Inn

Watch my video from the Dipton Mill Inn


If you’re looking for food, we have some top gastropubs too. Last year, I welcomed Kevin MacLean of The Rat in Anick, just near Hexham to Westminster where – after a fierce battle with other pubs across the UK – he was crowned Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year. Their food is top notch, and if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you visit.

There’s plenty of other top food pubs too, but some of the standard bearers are undoubtedly the award winning Feathers Inn at Hedley on the Hill, The Barrasford Arms, The Manor House at Shotleyfield, and The Ship Inn in Wylam.

Family Friendly Pubs

Not every pub is suitable for children, but here are some that most definitely are. There’s the White Swan in Ovingham, which has a great atmosphere and serves top food, the Falcon in Prudhoe and the recently refurbished Beaumont in Hexham

We have so many other great pubs too!

If you’re looking for great banter and a quiz night, look no further than the Duke Of Wellington Inn in Newton. There are some top super rural pubs, which are great at a weekend, like the fantastic Pheasant Inn in Kielder, and the Redesdale Arms.

And if you want left field, go and see the supercars (and more) at the Crown in Humshaugh, and of course Battlesteads in Wark, which contains its very own Dark Sky Observatory.

One final point. I will definitely have missed some pubs off a stellar list in Tynedale but the decision is yours – are you going to back your local pub?

They are all amazing pubs, and I must confess to popping in occasionally myself! Make sure you use them, or we'll lose them.

Monday, 28 January 2019

The Allendale Museum of Classic Sci-Fi - hoping a common sense solution can be found

I have been contacted by many local residents asking me to help in relation to the Allendale Museum of Sci-Fi. The background is that the planners at the County Council have raised breaches of planning regulations. Clearly all planning is a local authority matter, so I can only flag up concerns raised with me, but I have spoken at length with the local County Councillor, Colin Horncastle, who met with the owner of the museum on Saturday. I am hopeful that a common sense solution can be found, by working with Colin Horncastle, the planning authority and the local community, so that they will be able to find a sensible way forward.

As a local MP I start from from the principle that any new attraction, which brings a positive economic impact to the area, whether in Allendale or elsewhere, should be both encouraged and supported. There is no doubt that this business is both busy, and bringing in many new visitors to the town. This is a good thing. I am, on the other hand, aware that that there are genuine planning problems with the present set up of the museum. But I have written to the planning department, asking them to try and find a compromise way forward. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, an important opportunity for us all to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it is becoming ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. The theme of this year's commemorations is 'Torn from Home' and thousands of commemorative events have been taking place across the country, arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Today is an especially significant day as 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

Earlier this week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust's Book of Commitment to pledge my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and to honour those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today. I would encourage you to find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day and the hugely important work done to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten by visiting here-

Friday, 25 January 2019

A memorable week ahead in Wylam

Wylam Winter Tales got underway yesterday, starting what promises to be a brilliant, jam-packed week of events. Between now and 1st February there is a huge range of events taking place around Wylam, including music, film, comedy, food and drink and much more. There really is something for everyone, so ahead of the weekend do have a look at the programme of events and see what stands out!

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Wentworth Leisure Centre gets a new look

Northumberland County Council have announced plans to invest £700,000 on refurbishing the Wentworth Leisure Centre in Hexham. The refurbishment will include a new gym, upgraded changing areas and an improved reception area. The work should be completed by the summer and will be a fantastic facility for everyone to use and enjoy. It's great to see that NCC are investing in our local towns and communities- I can't wait to see the finished result!

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Flood protection in Ponteland

I would like to draw the attention of all Ponteland residents to a drop-in event which is taking place tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd January) about potential flood protection measures. The event will be taking place at Ponteland Memorial Hall from 2.30pm-6.30pm, and residents are invited to attend to find out more about measures being considered by the Environment Agency to protect local properties from flooding. The Environment Agency currently maintains flood walls, embankments and pumping stations in Ponteland and is working to improve flood defences further. I know that flooding is a concern for many Ponteland residents and I would encourage you to go along to the event tomorrow to find out more.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Rural Oscars- our nominees

The Countryside Alliance Awards, known as 'The Rural Oscars', celebrate the best of our local businesses, and I am delighted that seven businesses from the Hexham constituency have been chosen from over 17,000 nominations as finalists for this year's awards.

The nominated businesses are:

  • The Bird in Bush, Elsdon- Pub category
  • Brocksbushes Farm, Corbridge- Rural Enterprise category
  • Home from Home Boarding Kennels and Cattery, Heddon-on-the-Wall- Rural Enterprise category
  • North Acomb Farm Shop, Bywell- Local Food/Drink category
  • Hadrian's Game Larder, Hexham- Local Food/Drink category
  • Slaley Community Village Shop- Village Shop/Post Office category
  • The Twice Brewed Inn, Hexham- Rural Enterprise category

Regional champions will be announced in May, and the North East winners will be invited to the House of Lords for the winners' reception in June. Congratulations to all our local nominees- I will be keeping my fingers crossed for more success in May!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Big Energy Saving Week

Next week is Big Energy Saving Week (21-27 January), an annual campaign run by Citizens Advice in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Citizens Advice Northumberland will be holding three  drop-in events in the Hexham constituency as part of the week, aiming to encourage local residents to find out more about how they can save money on their energy bills.

Hexham Library- Tuesday 22nd January, 10am-2.30pm
Haltwhistle Library- Thursday 24th January, 10am-2.30pm
Hexham JobCentre Plus- Thursday 31st January, from 1pm

Ahead of Big Energy Saving Week, I have launched my 2019 Energy Guide, which is full of information about how you can keep warm this winter whilst reducing your energy bills. It's packed full of changes you can make, from small things like installing energy efficient light bulbs or a boiler jacket, to bigger changes like cavity wall insulation.

You can read the full guide below:


Thursday, 17 January 2019

Best in Britain

I may be biased but I believe that Northumberland is home to the country's best pubs. I'm so pleased that one of them, The Rose and Crown in Slaley, has been named as one of the 50 best pubs in the country by The Guardian. Highlighted as one of the ten best community-run pubs in the UK, The Rose and Crown has been under community ownership since 2013. Situated in a fascinating historic building, it's a great place to go for local and rural food and drink, and I will definitely be paying another visit before too long!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

More success for The Sill

Since its opening in 2017, The Sill has become one of Northumberland's top tourist attractions, and I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the National Landscape Discovery Centre there on several occasions. I was therefore delighted to hear the news that The Sill has been named as one of four winners of the 2019 Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for universal design, in recognition of its accessible design that allows everyone to enjoy this wonderful facility. The award will be presented at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester in March. It is great to see The Sill recognised for being accessible for all and I hope that the fantastic building will continue to be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come!

Monday, 14 January 2019

Cross-border cooperation

Working together is vital in an emergency. That's why I am delighted that Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service have signed an agreement with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that there will be cross-border assistance and aid in all types of emergency. Whether it is a water related incident, a road traffic collision or adverse weather conditions, it is brilliant to see our Fire and Rescue Services working together to deliver the best possible response in cases of emergency.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

A weekend at the market

A reminder that the first Hexham Farmers' Market of 2019 is taking place today. Held in the town's historic Market Place, there will be a fantastic range of locally produced products on sale, giving you the opportunity to buy some great quality products whilst supporting the local farmers and producers behind them.

If you can't make that then why not go along to the Greenhead Farmers' Market on Sunday? From 10am-2pm you can buy top quality local food and crafts at Greenhead Village Hall- it's definitely worth a visit!

Friday, 11 January 2019

Daft as a Brush

The Daft as a Brush Charity provides free transport to and from the Freeman and RVI Hospitals to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. The charity provides a vital service for many in the Hexham constituency, with transport often difficult to come by for those in the most remote parts of the area.

I was therefore really interested to read about the charity's founder, Brian Burnie, who is currently undertaking a 7000 mile challenge to raise awareness of the need for free transport for cancer patients, with the aim of encouraging the rest of the country to follow Daft as a Brush's lead. This is an incredibly challenging and admirable task and I wish Brian the best of luck as he continues his challenge. I would encourage you to find out more about Daft as a Brush and what you can do to help by visiting here-

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Love Parks

Last year Northumberland County Council was named as winners of Keep Britain Tidy's Love Parks initiative, and this year they are nominated once again thanks to their online campaign on the theme of 'It started in a park'. The campaign that ran during Love Parks Week features the Duchess of Northumberland, Carol Malia and many other local people as they share their personal memories and stories of Northumberland's parks. Love Parks aims to protect and celebrate our local parks, whilst encouraging local residents and visitors to make the most of their local green spaces. The winner will be announced in February- I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for NCC, as well as the Morpeth Litter Blitz group and Dai Richards who are nominated in the Litter Heroes category.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Wylam's warming up for the Winter Tales

It's one of the highlights of the year in Wylam- in just a few weeks time Wylam Winter Tales will be back with a packed programme of events to suit every interest and taste. From 24th January- 1st February, events including music, film, comedy, storytelling, food and drink and much more will be taking place around the village- please make sure to book your tickets in advance though.

It promises to be a week to remember in Wylam- there really is something for everyone. To find out more about what's on at Wylam Winter Tales and how you can get your tickets visit here-

Monday, 7 January 2019

Northumberland Community Bank- here to help

In November 2015 the Northumberland Community Bank was launched to provide low cost credit to those who need it the most, providing a better alternative to payday lenders like Wonga. The Bank held a showcase at Northumberland County Hall recently to demonstrate what it has to offer, and Northumberland employers are signing up to the payroll deduction scheme to benefit their employees. It is similar to other high street banks- it is fully accredited and you can apply for loans and manage your account online.

The Northumberland Community Bank is there to help everyone; to become a member or to find out more visit here:

Sunday, 6 January 2019

A true Community Champion

It was a pleasure to meet Denis Peel from Wylam to present him with a Community Champion Award. I started the awards, sponsored by Red Hot Property, in 2017 to celebrate the people who work tirelessly to make a difference to our local communities. Denis is a stalwart of Wylam- he picks up litter, is a trustee of the Wylam Institute and is always willing to help friends and neighbours in need. Denis was nominated by neighbours in the village who are grateful for all he does. My thanks also go to Denis- villages need people like him.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Celebrating Village Halls Week

Village Halls Week is just around the corner, and our wonderful local Village Halls have some great events planned to celebrate. Village Halls Week was held for the first time last year, organised by ACRE and the ACRE Network to celebrate village halls and other community buildings at the heart of our rural communities. There are around 10,000 village halls across the country, run by volunteers, groups and organisations, and the week aims to celebrate them. You can find more information about two events taking place in Village Halls Week below, including a celebration of Northumberland's Village Halls taking place in Stannington. Village Halls are such an important part of our local communities- it would be great if you could go along to an event and show your support.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Looking ahead to 2019

I would like to wish you all a very happy new year. There is so much to look forward to in the Hexham constituency in 2019- here are just a few dates for your diary:

Sunday 26th May- Northumberland Day,

Monday 27th May- Northumberland County Show,  

Thursday 13th- Saturday 15th June- Tynedale Beer Festival, visit to buy your tickets now

Thursday 11th- Sunday 14th July- Scoop Music Festival in Stocksfield,, buy your tickets here.

It looks set to be a great year!