Saturday, 30 March 2019

English Tourism Week 2019

Saturday 30th March - Sunday 7th April is English Tourism Week 2019, and events are taking place across the country to raise awareness of the size, value and importance of tourism to our local, regional and national economies, as well as highlighting the contribution made by businesses from every part of England's tourism industry. This year's English Tourism Week is particularly special as the British Tourist Authority is celebrating 50 years- the Development of Tourism Act was passed in 1969.

Tourism is one of the UK's biggest drivers of economic growth and employment, and is one of our largest and most valuable industries. English tourism directly employs more than 2.6m people and generates over £106 billion a year for the British economy. Domestic tourism in England is also driving growth and supporting jobs- in the first 10 months of 2018 there were 40.6 million domestic holiday trips in England.

I may be biased but Northumberland is a particularly great place for tourism in our country, both for tourists and the fantastic businesses in our local area. For more information about English Tourism Week, visit

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Opening up Britain's most beautiful gardens

Spring is in the air, and with it comes the start of the season of the British Red Cross' Open Gardens. Some of the most beautiful gardens in Northumberland will be opening up to the public in aid of the Red Cross between March and October. Open Gardens are always a wonderful opportunity to see stunning gardens, some of which have never before been open to the public. I really would encourage you to keep an eye on the link below to find out about the Open gardens near you:

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Showcasing tourism in Northumberland

It was great to attend last week's Northumberland Tourism Fair at Hexham Mart. With more than 130 exhibitors attending, there was a real sense of optimism about tourism in Northumberland and lots of evidence that our tourism season is getting longer. The event was hosted by Northumberland-based social enterprise Local Living, with support from Northumberland County Council, and I really enjoyed being able to meet some of the people at the heart of Northumberland's tourism industry.

Find out more at

Monday, 25 March 2019

Raise a glass- the Ponteland Beer Festival is back!

The Ponteland Beer Festival is back for another year! Held from Friday 26th April-Sunday 28th April, the Festival will take place at Ponteland Leisure Centre Rugby Pitch. With over 150 beers, lagers and ciders, as well as a prosecco and wine bar, a soft drinks bar and a gin bar, and food from four suppliers, it is not to be missed. There will also be live music, and a children's funfair on Sunday to cap off what promises to be an unforgettable weekend.

I have heard great things about last year's Festival- if you would like to make sure you don't miss out this year then find out more information about how you can buy your ticket for the event by visiting here-

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Bringing life back to empty homes

Northumberland County Council are offering advice to help owners to bring their empty properties back into use. There are so many reasons why bringing an empty home back into use is a good idea, and you could benefit from financial assistance, including by being eligible for VAT discounts on renovation work.

If you would like assistance from Northumberland County Council to bring an empty property back into use, call 01670 622299 or email 

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Tyne Valley Film Festival

The Tyne Valley Film Festival got underway yesterday, beginning a week of classic films, films about our local area and much more. The programme includes a huge variety of films, from Rebecca and The Wizard of Oz to short films by Queen Elizabeth High School students- there is sure to be something for everyone. The films are being shown at a wide range of venues across the Tyne Valley, including Hexham Abbey, The Sill and Forum Books in Corbridge.

For more information about the programme of films and how you can get your tickets, visit here-

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Hexham's Men's Shed

It was great to visit Hexham's Men's Shed at the No. 28 Community House with local Councillor Cath Homer, where I was able to thank the Tynedale Lions for their support with this fantastic project which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of men living in the area. The Men's Shed is a community space for men to get together, reducing social isolation and promoting wellbeing and positive mental health. The Tynedale Lions have been the driving force behind the project, raising over £4000 in the last 18 months.

I am so impressed by the incredible work that has been done in setting up the Men's Shed in Hexham and I have no doubt that this will be a very important part of the Hexham community. I would encourage you to find out more about how you can get involved by visiting here-

Or email 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Work gets underway at Prudhoe Station

This weekend work begins to extend Platform 2 at Prudhoe Station as part of the Great North Rail Project. Network Rail and Northern are working together to carry out the improvements, which will mean that newer and longer trains are able to call at the station. The work is part of the Great North Rail Project which is delivering a multi-billion pound package of improvements for rail customers in the north of England.

I am delighted that Prudhoe Station is going to benefit from this new investment as part of the Great North Rail Project. I am committed to seeing continued improvements along the Tyne Valley line and this project is exactly what we need. It will give local residents, commuters and visitors the opportunity for more frequent trains and a better journey experience.

The Northumberland Tourism Fair comes to Hexham

Tomorrow (March 21st) the annual Northumberland Tourism Fair visits Hexham Mart! More than 130 exhibitors are set to attend, including the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership and the team from Kielder Water.

It's a fantastic opportunity to find out more about what's going on in Tynedale, and right across Northumberland. The event hosted by Local Living, a Northumberland-based social enterprise, with support from Active Northumberland.

Find out more at

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Hexham Hub- find out about plans for the town's future

This Saturday (23rd March) Hexham's residents have the chance to find out all about the future plans for the town at a Hexham Hub showcase event. The Hexham Hub is a partnership between Northumberland County Council, Hexham Town Council, Hexham Community Partnership, Advance Northumberland and other local stakeholders, which aims to oversee how Hexham develops in the coming years. Part of their aim is to allow local people the opportunities to be involved in the town's future, and Saturday's drop-in event at the Great Hall at Hexham Abbey from 10am-3pm is a great opportunity for local residents to come along and find out more about the Hub's plans for Hexham's future development.

The event takes place on Saturday 23rd March, 10am-3pm, Great Hall, Hexham Abbey.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Heddon Aircraft Noise

A number of residents have contacted me over the last two years regarding the issue of aircraft noise over Heddon-on-the-Wall and Horsley, and I have had numerous conversations with Newcastle Airport management to try to resolve the problem. A public meeting has been arranged in Heddon-on-the-Wall to give residents the opportunity to raise their concerns and views ahead of the holiday season. The meeting will be held at the Knott Memorial Hall, Heddon, on Tuesday 19th March at 6.30pm, and I would encourage anyone with any concerns to attend the meeting to make their views known and to hear first hand from the airport what they are doing to try to alleviate the problem. Representatives from the airport team will be attending to listen to locals' views. I will be unable to attend due to commitments in Westminster, but if you have strong views about this issue please do go along and get your voice heard. 

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Shop local!

Our high streets have always been a cornerstone of society – a place to bring communities together, a place for local people to access vital services, and a place for businesses to thrive. But as more people head online, or to out-of-town retail parks for their shopping, it is becoming harder for small businesses on the high street to adjust. That’s why I was delighted to hear James Brokenshire announce at the Conservative Councillors’ Association that today, Saturday 16thMarch, is a national campaign day on high streets, celebrating the contribution high streets, and the businesses and people who work on them, make to our local communities. 

It is a priority of this Government to support high streets and local businesses, helping them to adapt and flourish for generations to come; under the Conservative Government councils receive support to spend on modernising high streets, with £675 million of funding to help modernise high streets and town centres. And from April, business rates for 90% of retailers will be cut by one third- saving local businesses up to £8000 a year.

I am passionate about protecting and preserving the high streets at the heart of our communities. My Small Business Awards, sponsored by Patricia J Arnold and Co, champion our local high street businesses, and as always I encourage you to shop local and support our high streets.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Funding success for our local communities

The National Lottery Community Fund provides funding to good causes to help improve our local communities for everyone. In the past three months, two local community projects have been awarded funding. Natural Ability will use their funding to purchase a pickup truck to enable people with learning disabilities to carry out basic DIY jobs, agricultural and horticultural work such as small fencing jobs, and track and drainage maintenance for farmers, land owners and people living in remote areas. The aim is to provide training, support and employment opportunities for participants in undertaking meaningful valued work, to develop their skills end enable them to reach their full potential. Meanwhile Otterburn First School will use their funding to install play equipment in the rural school grounds. This will help aid the development of younger children through active play, and provide new facilities and sessions for families to help reduce social isolation.

This funding really will make an incredible difference to local people, and I always encourage community groups and projects to apply for National Lottery Community funding.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Rolling out broadband in the Hexham constituency

I know that broadband is an incredibly important issue for many people in the Hexham constituency, and I recently met with Kim Mears, director of strategy at Openreach, to talk about the provision of broadband within our local communities. I particularly raised the issue of the long delayed community fibre partnerships which are now progressing. Despite recent successes with the provision of extra mobile coverage by EE, work to ensure that every household and business in the constituency has access to the best broadband goes on. I will continue to work towards getting better broadband and increased mobile coverage for all in our local areas.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Why I'm backing the Brexit Deal

As MP’s, when we walk into the voting lobbies tonight, we face a clear and overriding choice. Do we, or do we not respect the result of the referendum? I will be voting for the deal, and I am certain it is the right thing to do.

In 2016, I helped lead the campaign to Remain across Northumberland, and across the North East. We were defeated. I am a democrat. The people have spoken. Delivering on the referendum result is the right thing to do and I do not support a second referendum.

I know that many have called this deal a compromise – and it is. But it is a compromise that takes back control of our borders, our money and our laws.  

Prime Minister Theresa May has won some important changes since the previous vote. This reduces the risk that the EU could deliberately keep us trapped in the backstop indefinitely, and works to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by 2020.

This deal delivers what we voted for: It takes back control of our laws, our borders, our money, and control of our trade policy. By backing this improved deal on offer today, we can move on to all the other issues we want to take action on, like continuing to improve our NHS and schools, reducing crime and protecting our environment.

I have addressed the issues that arise in respect of this vote in the 14 minute video interview with my good friend and neighbour Rory Stewart MP, on all aspects of the withdrawal agreement, a second referendum, the backstop and our future relationship with the EU here:

I do not believe it is the right thing to have a second referendum. Nor do I believe there is any majority in either the government party, or the Labour Party to vote for such an outcome. It would be fraught with difficulty, and would be denying the biggest vote in our country’s history. It would be an affront to democracy. No second referendum would be able to take place for at least 6 months, maybe over a year, with the potential for numerous options on the ballot paper. I do not support that approach, and nor do the majority of my fellow parliamentarians in the two main political parties. I accept it is a policy supported by the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Green Party. 

If we back the improved Brexit deal on offer, we will leave the European Union on March 29th – in just over two weeks - on agreed terms that gives us the best possible start in our new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.


The House of Commons debated the issue of a second referendum on Thursday March 14. The proposal for a Second Referendum was rejected by the House of Commons by 334 to 84. It was not supported by the government or the Labour Party.
It remains my view that a negotiated withdrawal agreement is the best way forward. I continue to work with MP colleagues across the House of Commons and, in particular, with MPs from the Conservative and Labour Party to agree a negotiated deal.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Keep supporting Fairtrade

Over the past two weeks, we've been celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight. This is an opportunity to support those who grow our food in some of the poorest countries around the world. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and local sustainability.

I was delighted to attend an event in the House of Commons a few weeks ago to find out how we can support Fairtrade, not just throughout Fairtrade Fortnight, but all year round.


Find out more about how you can support Fairtrade at

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Older carers events

If you are over 60 and help or look after a friend or family member with an illness, disability or addiction, then I would like to draw your attention to a series of events organised by Carers Northumberland that are taking place around Northumberland over the next few months. The older carers events will give you the opportunity to find out about carers' rights, as well as take part in the Great Carers Bake Off and try some spring crafts.

The events are taking place at- 

Otterburn Memorial Hall- Wednesday 24th April 2019
Haltwhistle Leisure Centre- Thursday 7th May 2019
Stocksfield Quaker Meeting House- Thursday 23rd May 2019

Please book by Monday 25th March by emailing or calling 01670 320035

Friday, 8 March 2019

Highways England's traffic management plans for the A69 Bridge End Roundabout

Highways England’s late change to the traffic management plans for the A69 Bridge End Roundabout scheme has understandably caused real concern locally. 

Our Hexham and Corbridge councillors are right to be pushing for an immediate high-level meeting with Highways England to address the key points of consultation, access and safety. 

I have spoken with the Project Manager for the Bridge End roundabout scheme and local county councillors to suggest ways forward. I now hope that a solution can swiftly be agreed so that this important upgrade can go ahead safely, but with minimum disruption to local residents, businesses and visitors to Hexham.

This £30m investment in the A69 is part of a national fund designed to alleviate congestion pinch points - something we wall want to see Hexham benefit from. But it is also part of the bigger picture across the Tyne Valley as we continue to make the case for highways improvements further west.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Get involved with World Book Day!

Make sure you get involved and share a story for World Book Day. 
Today is World Book Day! Schools across the country are handing out more than 15 million World Book Day Tokens to children and young people. These can be exchanged for one of twelve brand new World Book Day books, or £1 off any full priced book that costs at least £2.99.

It was great to pop into Prudhoe Library earlier today to chat to staff, and see pupils from the Adderlane Academy so engaged with books and reading.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get your children interested in books. Make sure you make this week a week for reading, and strive to bring a new book into you and your families lives.

Watch my World Book Day 2019 Video

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Hexham workhouse development- exhibition today

HMC Group and builders McCarthy and Stone have revealed their plans to develop the former Hexham Workhouse, with the site being used for flats, houses and retirement living accommodation. A public exhibition of the plans for the site is taking place in Hexham later today (Wednesday 6th March) from 3pm-7pm at the Torch Centre, Hexham. The exhibition will give the local community the chance to find out more about the proposed development and to have any questions answered by members of the project team. I would encourage you to go along if you have any questions about the plans.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Supporting Open Doors both in Parliament and in Hexham

I recently attended the parliamentary reception to support Open Doors and listen to Jeremy Hunt speak strongly in support of Christians who are being persecuted around the world. In the last week I have also met with local church leaders in Prudhoe, and discussed their recent trip to support Christians in the Middle East. 

I welcome the actions of Jeremy Hunt who is making this a Foreign Office priority and am fully in support of Open Doors. More details on this are found here:

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Market day success

Last month Ponteland Memorial Hall held a brand new market for the very first time, and the market proved to be so popular that its founders, David and Kim Wilde, have decided to continue to hold the market every month. The market featured a range of stalls by local producers, artists, makers and entrepreneurs, with sellers selling locally-produced produce and goods.

The market will take place at Ponteland Memorial Hall on the first Sunday of every month from 12pm-2pm, so this Sunday (3rd March) sees the market's return, with more than 25 stalls in attendance. If you are interested in having a stall, email