Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Tier 4- what does it mean for Northumberland?

Following the Secretary of State for Health’s announcement earlier today, it has now been confirmed that Northumberland will enter Tier 4 restrictions from midnight tonight. Due to the rapidly rising infection rates in the west of the county, additional restrictions will now apply to residents and businesses in Northumberland in order to reduce physical contact and slow down the spread of the coronavirus.


The following restrictions now apply in Northumberland:


Meeting friends and family- You cannot mix with other households, unless you are part of a support bubble. Two people from separate households can meet outdoors in a public space.


Retail- Essential shops can remain open, however non-essential retail must close, except for click-and-collect and delivery services.


Bars, pubs and restaurants- Hospitality will remain closed, although takeaway and delivery sales are permitted.


Work and business- If you can work from home, you must do so.


Education- Early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will remain open. Registered childcare, supervised activities for childcare purposes and childcare bubbles are permitted.


Indoor leisure- closed.

Personal care- closed.

Accommodation- closed (with limited exceptions).


Overnight stays- You must not stay overnight away from home (limited exceptions apply).


Weddings and funerals- Weddings of up to 6 people can take place in exceptional circumstances. Funerals of up to 30 people are permitted, and wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in groups of up to 6.


Entertainment- Indoor entertainment must close, but some outdoor attractions may remain open.


Places of worship- Places of worship remain open for private prayer and communal worship, but you cannot interact with anyone outside your household or support bubble.


Exercise- You can leave your home to exercise by yourself, with your household or support bubble, or with one person from another household. Outdoor sport is allowed but gathering limits apply except for youth and disabled sport.


Travelling- You must only travel for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If you must travel, you should stay local and reduce the number of journeys you make. You must not leave a Tier 4 area or stay overnight away from home. Residents in Tiers 1-3 should not enter Tier 4 areas. Do not travel abroad unless an exemption applies.


Residential care- You can visit relatives in care homes with COVID-secure arrangements.


Clinically Extremely Vulnerable- If you are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, you are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend health appointments.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Hexham Old Gaol awarded Art Fund grant

The Hexham Old Gaol is one of Hexham’s most impressive and historic landmarks. and the museum has always been popular with visitors both locally and from further afield. 

I am therefore delighted by the news that the Hexham Old Gaol has been awarded a Respond and Reimagine grant from Art Fund, the national charity for art.

The Respond and Reimagine grant is part of Art Fund’s dedicated Covid-19 support fund for museums and galleries and is designed to help some of the country’s best and most imaginative museums and galleries to adapt to the challenges of Covid-19. Art Fund has made over £3 million of funding available to help museums reimagine future ways of working.


Museums and galleries are such important aspects of our communities and economies, and I know how challenging this year has been for our local museums. Congratulations to Hexham Old Gaol on being awarded this funding- it is fantastic news for one of Hexham’s best-loved museums. 

Thursday, 24 December 2020

🇬🇧 Trade deal secured with the EU!

Very good news this evening as the Prime Minister announced we have secured a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union after months of tough negotiations. 

Huge credit should go to the PM, Michael Gove and the UK's Chief Negotiator, David Frost for securing a deal in record time. 

This is the biggest bilateral trade deal ever signed, worth over £600bn. It means a new relationship with our friends and allies in the European Union. 

It means:
  • No role for the European Court of Justice and no requirement to follow EU law
  • A zero tariff and zero quota arrangement
  • Recognition of the UK’s sovereignty over our fishing waters
  • Britain outside the Single Market and Customs Union
  • Co-operation on law enforcement and emerging security challenges
  • Protections for the UK’s internal market and Northern Ireland's place within it
Now it is time for us all to move forward. Together. You can read the PM's full statement here.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Introducing my 2020 Christmas Card!

This Christmas, I asked Year 3 pupils across the Hexham constituency to wow me with their creative designs to feature on the front of my 2020 Christmas card. I was delighted to receive more than 100 entries and was so impressed with their incredible efforts!

Choosing a winner was extremely difficult, but I am pleased to announce that Sofia Robson, a Year 3 pupil at Heddon-on-the-Wall St Andrew's Primary School, is the winner of my 2020 Christmas Card competition. Sofia's fantastic snowman design really stood out for its colourful, festive design! Well done Sofia!

The winning design will be featured on the front of my Christmas card which will be sent all around the constituency, as well as to the Prime Minister.

There were so many great designs though, so I couldn't help but pick three runners-up as well! Congratulations to:

  • Daniel Steel, Adderlane Academy
  • Oliver Cape, Richard Coates C of E Primary School
  • Charles Amey, Whittonstall First School
A big thank you to all of the Hexham constituency's Year 3 pupils for their brilliant entries- I really enjoyed looking through your designs!

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

North East announced as the site of £2.6 billion gigaplant

The announcement that Britishvolt has chosen Blyth as the site of the UK's first ever battery gigaplant is incredibly positive news for our local area. The gigaplant will produce lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles and is expected to start manufacturing in 2023.

This investment is not only the largest in the North East since Nissan in 1984, but is actually one of the largest ever investments in the region. The project is expected to create 3000 local jobs, with up to 5000 more in the supply chain. 

By 2027, the plant is expected to produce 300,000 batteries a year as part of the UK's plans to move away from diesel and petrol cars in favour of electric vehicles.

I am delighted that Britishvolt has chosen the North East as the site for such an exciting project. This is a fantastic opportunity for our region and I have no doubt that this investment and the jobs it will create will be hugely positive for the Hexham constituency.

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Small Business Saturday- celebrating our local small businesses

Today is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to celebrating the brilliant small businesses in our local communities. And after what has been a challenging year for local businesses, this year's Small Business Saturday is especially significant.

This year, I have been running my Small Business Awards, and asked local residents across Tynedale and Ponteland to nominate local independent businesses that they felt deserve recognition for their hard-work, going above and beyond to serve their communities.

We received hundreds of nominations from across Tynedale and Ponteland, proving how valued and essential small businesses are to local residents. I am delighted to present those businesses with the most nominations with 'Highly Commended' certificates. These include:

  • Humble and Clark Legal
  • Balls Fish and Chips, Prudhoe
  • JA Stobo & Son, Wylam
  • North Acomb Farm Shop
  • Richard Skeet, Haltwhistle
  • Patricia J Arnold Chartered Accountants
In addition to the dozens of 'Highly Commended' businesses, we also have an overall winner. This year my Small Business Award winner is Billy Bell in Haltwhistle. Billy Bell is a hugely popular local business, and one of the oldest family-run businesses in Haltwhistle- a very worthy winner!

This has been a really tough year for our local businesses. The Coronavirus pandemic has hit them hard and they have had to work incredibly hard to adapt to new challenges, whilst also going the extra mile to support the most vulnerable in their communities. That's why it is more important than ever that we do our bit and shop local, because if we don't use our local businesses, we will lose them. 

The government has provided unprecedented financial support to help businesses through this tough time. Across Tynedale and Ponteland, this means:

  • 9,800 jobs furloughed throughout 2020, helping to protect people's jobs and incomes during this difficult time. 
  • More than £7 million in support for the self-employed
  • More than £14 million in discounted loans for local businesses.
  • Over £50 million in Bounce Back Loans
  • VAT cuts and business rates holidays for many small businesses, including those in the hospitality and retail sectors.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Vaccines – why you should take one

Yesterday’s news that the PfizerBiontech vaccine has been authorised by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is extremely welcome and gives us serious hope of the return to normality. 

An estimated 800,000 doses are due to be delivered into the UK next week with first inoculations on Tuesday 8th December. The UK has ordered 40 million of this particular vaccine – enough to vaccinate 20 million people. Each patient requires two doses, 21 days apart.

Vaccines save lives. According to the World Health Organisation Immunisation currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from polio, mumps, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, measles and now Covid. Please take the vaccine and don’t listen to anti – vaxxers.

Pfizer and Biontech have concluded all three stages of their clinical trials and have been providing their safety data to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency throughout.

This is why the regulator has been able to work at breakneck speed. The safety of patients has not been compromised by speed. The MHRA started their preparation to approve the vaccines in June and has been examining the data tirelessly.

The MHRA is a trusted regulator. They played a huge part in authorising the use of dexamethasone to treat Covid patients in hospital, which has led to an improving survival rate of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19. 

Vaccine hesitancy is a real issue. But it is important we address people’s reasonable and key questions to persuade them to take the vaccine. I would urge everyone to watch Iain Dale's show on vaccines. It is informative and answers many of the legitimate concerns people may have. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have set out a plan to deploy the vaccine. The Government will prioritise vaccines to those who are most vulnerable first:

The UK has invested millions into research and development and has secured 357 million vaccine doses, which is amongst the highest per capita in the world.

A huge thanks to the Vaccine Taskforce, Matt Hancock and all at the Department for Health and Social Care for their tireless work to get us to this stage.

We can now see light at the end of the tunnel. We can all play our part by following the basics of hands, face and space. Have the jab. Save your life. Save other people’s lives.