Sunday, 30 May 2021

Happy Northumberland Day

Today is Northumberland Day.

First held in 2017, this year's Northumberland Day will no doubt be a little different, with many events to celebrate taking place online. However, with celebrations being held into June from Hexham to Holy Island, there are so many great ways to get involved and celebrate our beautiful part of the world.

Northumberland is the most northern county in England and has a truly unique history. Because of its position between England and Scotland, historically Northumberland has been the site of many battles, as evidenced by the large number of castles in the county- more than any other in England! And, of course, for hundreds of years the Romans controlled Northumberland, constructing Hadrian's Wall and many of the fascinating sites we can still visit today, such as Housesteads and Vindolanda. 

Northumberland is home to the stunning Northumberland National Park, which covers more than 400 square miles of nature, hills and walking routes. It's also the perfect place to enjoy Northumberland's Gold Tier status dark skies at night in the winter. We also have England's largest forest here in Northumberland, Kielder Forest, which is also famous for providing the magnificent Christmas tree in Westminster every year. 

Today Northumberland is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country, and it's not difficult to see why. With its historical sites, museums, stunning nature and landscapes, proximity to the coast and an outstanding range of small businesses offering shopping, food, activities and accommodation, there is no doubt that there is nowhere else like Northumberland.

Happy Northumberland Day to everyone who lives in, works in or loves our wonderful county.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Celebrating the reopening of retail with Prudhoe business owners

Last week, as part of Step 3 of the roadmap for easing restrictions, shops and indoor hospitality businesses were able to reopen.

Local businesses have endured an extremely difficult year, whilst going above and beyond to support their communities. I spent time last week visiting businesses across the Hexham constituency in a reopening tour to find out how they are finding being open again.

One of the stops on my tour was Prudhoe, where, along with County Councillor for Prudhoe South Gordon Stewart, I stopped by businesses on Front Street to chat with business owners about what the relaxation of restrictions has meant for their business. It was great to speak with business owners, including at the Tyne Valley Appliance Centre and Prudhoe Vapes, who have worked so hard to keep their businesses going throughout the pandemic, and I was so pleased to hear that their first week of being open again has been such a success.

Local businesses are the backbone of our communities, and being able to visit these businesses in person again is so welcome. Please do remember to support our brilliant small businesses and shop local.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Activities and support for those affected by dementia in West Northumberland

Last week was Dementia Action Week, an event which encourages us all to come together to take action to improve the lives of those affected by dementia. 

As part of the event, organisations across West Northumberland have come together to create this year's information booklet of activities and support available to older people affected by dementia in the area. From telephone friendship lines and community cafes to singing and chess clubs, the booklet list a huge variety of activities focusing on both physical and mental wellbeing.

Although some of the groups listed in the booklet are not yet able to meet face-to-face due to the pandemic, many are still continuing to provide support through other means, be that online or over the phone.

Cllr Veronica Jones, Cabinet Member for Adult Wellbeing, welcomed the booklet, saying "After a really difficult year, the physical and mental health of older people affected by dementia is more important than ever."

This is an incredibly detailed booklet, which showcases just how many brilliant organisations and groups are working hard to support those affected by dementia in West Northumberland. Please do share this booklet with anyone who might find it useful. 

Sunday, 23 May 2021

The White Swan- Coronavirus Community Champions!

In a year that has challenged us all in countless ways, it is brilliant to see that so many people in our local communities have stepped up and gone the extra mile to help others through this difficult time.

One example of a business that has gone above and beyond for its local community is The White Swan in Ovingham, and this week I was delighted to present owners John and Lyndsey Sharkey and their team of staff with a Coronavirus Community Champion Award.

Throughout the pandemic restrictions, John, Lyndsey and their team have carried on and have earned the gratitude of their local community, delivering hot and delicious meals every week to those who are shielding or vulnerable. Various local residents contacted me to nominate The White Swan for this award and to tell me about the amazing work The White Swan has been doing.  

The good news is that The White Swan is now back open to all, with seating both inside and outside- and an impressive tipi as well! I definitely recommend a visit to support this fantastic local business.

Congratulations to everyone at The White Swan- they truly are Community Champions. 

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Leading the way on animal welfare

The Government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare was launched last week, with the aim of strengthening animal welfare standards in this country and reinforcing the UK as a global champion of animal rights.

Meanwhile, the Animal Sentience Bill, which was introduced to Parliament last week, will formally recognise animals as sentient beings.

The Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out how the government will protect and improve welfare for all animals, including-

Pets- by tackling puppy smuggling, cracking down on pet theft, banning remote controlled training e-collars and introducing compulsory microchipping for cats.

Wild animals- by funding wildlife conservation projects at home and abroad, cracking down on illegal hare coursing, making it illegal to keep primates as pets and restricting the use of glue traps.

Farmed animals- by ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, introducing measures to improve welfare during transport, improving animal welfare at slaughter, examining the use of cages for poultry and farrowing crates for pigs and giving the police more powers to protect farm animals from dangerous or out of control dogs.

Animals abroad- by banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals and the sale of ivory, exploring a ban on the sale of foie gras, banning the advertisement of low-welfare animal practices abroad, such as elephant rides, and prohibiting the import and export of detached shark fins.

This Action Plan will ensure that the UK is leading the way on animal welfare, by introducing world-leading standards and measures to protect pets, livestock and wild animals. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

International Nurses Day

Today is International Nurses Day, and after the events of the past year, this year's event means more than ever.

I am incredibly thankful for all of the nurses and healthcare workers who have worked so tirelessly in our NHS throughout the pandemic. Their selfless dedication and commitment to caring for others is extraordinary, and I am very grateful for all they do.

It is brilliant news that their work has inspired others to take up the profession, with 11,000 more nurses, midwives and health visitors now working in the NHS.

Thank you to each and every one of our incredible nurses.

Step 3 of the roadmap- what's changing on Monday 17th May?

The Prime Minister has announced that, on Monday (17th May), the next stage of restrictions will be eased. 

The collective efforts of people across the country and the incredible success of the vaccination programme, through which more than two thirds of adults across the UK have now received a vaccination, mean that the four tests for easing restrictions have all been met. Deaths and hospitalisations are at their lowest level since July and the alert level has been lowered from 4 to 3.

As part of Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown restrictions, from Monday the lockdown rules are changing:

  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outside
  • Six people or two households can meet can meet indoors, and overnight stays are allowed
  • Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions and other life events
  • The number of people who can attend a funeral will no longer be capped
  • Care home residents will be allowed up to five named visitors
  • Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants can serve customers indoors
  • Indoor entertainment, eg. museums, theatres and cinemas, can open
  • Sports stadiums can reopen
  • Indoor organised sports and exercise classes can take place 
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
Please remember to keep getting tested regularly and continue to follow social distancing when not with family and friends. We must remain vigilant and protect all of our hard work by exercising caution and common sense.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Vote Stephen Westgarth on Thursday 6th May

On Thursday 6th May, we will all have the chance to vote for the County Councillors who will represent our local towns and villages here in Northumberland.

I have been asking local Conservative candidates across the constituency to set out why they are standing to be County Councillor.

Stephen Westgarth is standing for County Councillor for Bywell.

Northumberland is a beautiful county. Wild woods and moors, beautiful beaches, vibrant city life, and historical villages. There is much to be thankful for, but it's far from a perfect world and life could be better. 

I'm standing for election as Conservative councillor in East Tynedale (Bywell Ward) because I want to make a difference. 

I came to Newcastle University in 1988 to study medicine, and stayed because I love it here. I live in Wylam, where with my wife, weve raised two boys through local schools. I love fishing the Tyne for salmon, and our spending time on our allotment. 


My plan for East Tynedale-

1. Coronavirus has hit our community hard, but the vaccine rollout means the end is in sight. I will work with the County Council to support our local businesses so they can bounce back from the pandemic.

2. Roads across Northumberland have seen real improvements over the last four years, but there is always more to do. I will make sure East Tynedale gets its fair share of the £120m road and footpath repair fund.

3. Many residents are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour locally. I will work with the police and community groups to deliver proper enforcement and on the spot fines with public space protection orders.

4. Friends of the Earth has rated Northumberland as one of the cleanest, greenest councils in

the country. I will work to clean up the Tyne for wildlife, swimmers and fishers, and to make Tynedale a ‘net-zero’ district by 2030.

5. I will work with the police to tackle speeding and pavement parking in our villages and will fight to make sure we get our fair share of the 219 new police officers recruited to the Northumbria Force by the government.

It would be a privilege to represent East Tynedale.  There is no question that it is a challenge but Im committed to working hard for my community to bring about the changes we all want to see.

Vote Conservative on 6th May

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Vote Lyle Darwin on Thursday 6th May

 On Thursday 6th May, we will all have the chance to vote for the County Councillors who will represent our local towns and villages here in Northumberland.

I have been asking local Conservative candidates across the constituency to set out why they are standing to be County Councillor. 

Lyle Darwin is standing for County Councillor for Ponteland East and Stannington.

I’m putting myself forward as the candidate to become the next Conservative County Councillor for Ponteland East and Stannington at the upcoming elections on May 6th, and I want to share with you why I’m standing as a candidate. I have been a Town Councillor in Ponteland for 4 years and I’ve enjoyed my time working with local residents, fellow Town and County councillors and local business owners to make and maintain the great area in which I’m fortunate to live and call home. I believe we, the local residents of Ponteland East and Stannington have a great community which has been able to thrive due to Conservative policies, including that of protecting the greenbelt, supporting local businesses and creating jobs and opportunities for all. I, like many others feel a responsibility to maintain our local area, improve where we can and ensure we pass on our vital greenbelt the next generation for them to enjoy and be able to grow surrounded by greenery and not concrete. We have an obligation as a council to protect and preserve places of outstanding natural beauty and the conservation areas in our local towns. 

My role as an engineer involves reviewing government legislation, deducing the relevant information which can be passed onto the design team and Architect to enable a safe, habitable and functional building fit for purpose by the end users. These skills are transferrable into my role as a councillor, whereby local residents want what is best for our area and we must aim to provide what we can as a party nationally and locally as Northumberland County Council. I will put the needs and concerns of residents first, actively engaging with residents to promote and establish a great community which we are all proud of, irrespective of party politics. We need a County that promotes infrastructure and local jobs, but not the cost of diminishing communities or ruining greenbelt. 

My time as a Town Councillor has allowed me the necessary insight into what being a councillor entails. Taking this to the next level as a County Councillor will allow me to work harder and fight stronger for the policies, ambitions and objectives I would like to deliver. Some of these objectives are already waiting to be resolved, such as the reduction in speeding on station road, Stannington or improving the school drop offs at the new primary school in Ponteland to reduce the issues of parking for local residents who live opposite at Dunsgreen. I have items I’m eager and awaiting to resolve and I look forward to new challenges as they arise which I can work with local councillors in their respective wards to reach an end goal that is best for us all.   

If you would like to contact me about council related matters in Ponteland East and Stannington, please send me an email at I look forward to being able to meet with residents when safe to do so.  

Thank you very much in advance and I hope you’re able to vote Conservative on May 6th.  

Stay safe, we should all be able to return to better times soon.

Vote Conservative on 6th May.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Vote Jan Harding on Thursday 6th May

On Thursday 6th May, we will all have the chance to vote for the County Councillors who will represent our local towns and villages here in Northumberland.

I have been asking local Conservative candidates across the constituency to set out why they are standing to be County Councillor. 

Dr Jan Harding is standing for County Councillor for Haydon and Hadrian.

My name is Jan Harding, and I am the Conservative Party County Council candidate for the wonderful area of Haydon and Hadrian in the forthcoming local elections. I have lived in Allendale for 25 years with my wife and two sons. I consider myself lucky to call Northumberland home. It is a fabulous place to live- and a county whose best years are yet to come.

My professional background is in academia, studying archaeology at the universities of Sheffield and Reading. I became a lecturer in archaeology at Newcastle University back in 1996, undertaking large-scale fieldwork in northern England and publishing six books and over 40 academic papers. I am now retired from the university, but still involved in research and writing.

The people of Haydon and Hadrian deserve the absolute best. First-rate schools, affordable housing, a green and pleasant environment, good roads, decent public transport, and employment opportunities are all essential to life here. Understanding its needs and challenges is vital, and if elected, I intend to hit the ground running. I believe I can make an immediate difference with litter and dog fouling, and will be drawing-up an action-plan for helping deal with these problems. I intend to be equally proactive in addressing other issues, and during the first months will consult widely to identify key priorities. Educational opportunity is essential, and I am personally committed to building on the turn-around of local schools seen since the Conservatives started running the council in 2017. We need to improve our public transport too, with better bus services and to finally get trains stopping at Gilsland again. I was delighted to bring the Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to Gilsland recently so he can see the potential our project has for himself.

The £4.5 million invested in refurbishing Haydon Bridge High School represents real progress. I will also explore how road safety can be improved, including for cyclists, and warmly welcome the £120 million the county council will spend improving roads and fixing potholes. Finally, it is crucial to ask what more can be done to help local farming and business, and how communities can be better involved in delivering their housing needs. And, of course, I will take a very keen interest in the area's incredible heritage and its vital role in recreation and tourism.

A vote for me on 6th May is a vote for a new, positive, community-driven approach to Haydon and Hadrian. Together we will make it an even better place to live.

Thank you.

Vote Conservative on 6th May.