Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Well done Essity - recognised for outstanding training and skills development!

I was delighted to welcome the team from Essity Mill in Prudhoe to Parliament recently to celebrate their success in being recognised in the Princess Royal Training Awards.

The team from the Mill, including Essity's site manager and UK manufacturing director Tony Richards, apprentice leader Ian Callender and Luke Atkinson, one of the top apprentices, were in London to receive their award from Princess Anne at St James' Palace. Later in the day they visited Parliament to meet with me, celebrate their success, and discuss how they can continue to make a real difference in Prudhoe.

Essity Mill is Prudhoe's largest employer and the second biggest manufacturer in all of Northumberland. The firm supports dozens of local charities and schools through donations, and is a great supporter of grassroots sports. Essity also stepped in to save the public toilets in Prudhoe Town Centre from closure with a generous donation for refurbishment, and provide free toilet roll on an ongoing basis!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Looking forward to the 2019 General Election!

As your local Member of Parliament, I have worked hard to deliver improvements to our local area. From fighting to rebuild our local schools, to leading the campaign to protect our greenbelt.

Make no mistake, this coming election will be close. I know that at election time politicians are meant to make endless promises and pledges. However, I will make just one to you. That's the same promise I have made every time you have elected me as your MP. I will do everything I can to work hard on the issues you have told me matter the most:

My local plan for Tynedale and Ponteland

  1. Our Jobs
  2. Our Schools
  3. Our NHS
  4. Our Greenbelt
  5. Our Environment
  6. Our Police
Meeting with Egger, Tynedale's largest local employer.

I know that I won't win every battle. But, as our local record shows, when we stick together, we can change our area for the better.

Every year, I host my annual Tynedale Jobs Fair to help get local people into jobs and training. This year’s event – held just over two weeks ago – was bigger and better than ever before. More than 70 employers attended, including top local employers like Egger, Essity and Marks and Spencer.

Unemployment has fallen by almost 50% since Labour were last in power. But there is always more to do, and that’s why I’ll continue to host my Jobs Fair annually if I am re-elected on December 12th.

Next year, Queen Elizabeth High School will
receive at least £5,000 per pupil.
Our campaign to improve our local schools has been a success. I led the campaign locally and in Westminster to deliver a new national funding formula for our schools.

Next year, the average school in Tynedale and Ponteland will see their funding rise by more 10%, with many small rural schools benefiting from a more than 25% increase in funding.

Schools will receive a minimum of £4,000 for every primary school aged pupil, and £5,000 for every secondary school aged pupil.

Prudhoe Community High School was completely
rebuilt, and is now officially a good school.

Our local schools are also undergoing significant refurbishment and improvement. Work is already well underway on the £45m new Ponteland School and Leisure Complex, which will open next year. Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School are being completely rebuilt, Haydon Bridge High School is undergoing a £4.5m refurbishment, and more than £2m is being spent on education in Haltwhistle. After a long campaign, Prudhoe Community High School was completely rebuilt and re-opened in 2016.
It is now officially a good school, with outstanding teachers and great pupils.

Watch my video from my recent visit to the site of the new Ponteland Schools Complex

I led the campaign in Ponteland over many years against Labour's plans to destroy our precious greenbelt with thousands of new houses. As a community, we have always said that we are not against house building, but it must be sustainable and organic growth in our communities, not simply huge housing developments lumped alongside existing communities. 

Campaigning with local residents against 
Labour's plans to destroy our greenbelt

Thankfully, these plans were scrapped by the new Conservative-run County Council following elections in 2017. However, the fight to protect our green open spaces is not yet over. Labour-run Newcastle City Council want to build thousands of new houses on the green lungs that divide Newcastle and Ponteland. In fact, just recently, plans were approved for 1,200 new homes in the north of Newcastle. As these new houses get closer and closer to Ponteland, I am particularly concerned about how this will encroach on our greenbelt, destroy our precious wildlife, and increase pressure on our roads, schools and local NHS services. 

Find out why protecting our precious green lung is so important to me

Protecting our environment is very important to me. That's why I have been campaigning against plans for a new opencast coal mine at Dewley Hill. Over 250 acres of green open space could be lost to the new coal mine, at a time when Britain is rightly headed towards a coal-free economy to tackle climate change. 

Thankfully, these plans have been put on the back-burner unless Banks Group are able to prove their environmental credentials and explain how they will prevent noise nuisance, the loss of animal habitats, harm to the green spaces and increased pollution, but I will continue to make the case for a cleaner, greener energy future. You can read more about our campaign by clicking here.  We have made great progress in tackling Climate Change since 2010, and the UK has cut net emissions by 25% over the past nine years. Click here to find out more.

I won't be making attacks on my Labour opponent. This election is about the issues that matter to all of us. I know that many residents are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour, particularly in our rural communities. That's why I am campaigning to make sure we get our fair share of new police officers in Northumberland to keep our streets save. 

I will continue to fight for greater funding for our local NHS. The NHS is now better funded than it has ever been thanks to an extra £20bn boost.

My first political experience was fighting to save the hospital that saved my mother's life from cancer. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011, it was only thanks to the incredible care I received from our NHS doctors and nurses that I am here today. The debt I owe our NHS will remain with me forever. 

I will always fight to ensure as many NHS services as possible are delivered locally at our fantastic local hospitals. Our hospitals now offer more than 40 different services to local residents, and last year, the hospital treated more than 80,000 patients, including more than 2,000 cancer patients and almost 14,000 people in urgent care. 

Recently, I have been fighting to ensure Northumberland County Council has the money it needs to fix our roads and potholes. Last year, our Council filled more potholes than anywhere else in the country - but there is always more to do. When Barclays threatened to remove access to cash from our Post Offices, I met with Barclays and persuaded them to change their mind and support our local Post Offices, which are so vital to local residents. You can see coverage in the Hexham Courant of our successful Barclays campaign by clicking here. 

I love elections, and I am looking forward to chatting to residents across Northumberland about their priorities for the future. 

At this difficult time for our country, I believe it is more important than ever that we stick together locally. It will be my name on the ballot paper at this election. If you think I have done a good job as your local MP, I hope I can count on your support.