Thursday, 30 September 2021

Ponteland Flood Alleviation Scheme

I am delighted that work on the Ponteland Flood Alleviation Scheme is now complete, meaning that more than 250 homes and businesses in Ponteland are now better protected from the devastating effects of flooding.

Work on the £2.7 million flood scheme began in August 2020. The existing flood defence on the south bank of the River Pont has been replaced with one continuous sheet piled flood wall, which uses a stone effect and complementary colouring to fit in with the existing local environment. Furthermore, over 250 trees have been planted to replace those lost during construction, including by the river and in a meadow at Ponteland Community Primary School.

This additional investment from the Government for flood protection in Ponteland is hugely welcome news for the many residents and businesses who have been affected by the devastating consequences of flooding in the past.

The Government announced a funding boost for flood defence projects back in July 2020, and the Ponteland scheme was one of 22 projects chosen to benefit from the fund. 

I have been able to see first-hand the vital work that has gone into protecting our communities in Ponteland and it is brilliant that the work has now been completed. I hope that this Flood Alleviation Scheme, which has seen extra investment quickly turned into action, will give confidence and reassurance to local people who are concerned about flooding in the area.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Booster vaccines- what you need to know

As winter approaches, the NHS is expected to come under more pressure than usual, with COVID-19 circulating alongside other viruses and the seasonal flu.

That is why it is so important that you take up the offer of a third or booster jab if you are invited to do so. A booster jab will help improve the protection you have from your first two doses and will give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are now being given to those who were vaccinated in the first phase of the rollout earlier this year. Booster vaccines will be given at least six months after your second dose.

Those people most at risk from COVID-19 are eligible for a booster vaccine, including:

  • People aged 50 and over
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • People who live and work in care homes
  • People aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • Carers aged 16 and over
  • People aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections 
The NHS will contact you when it is your turn to have a booster vaccine. However, frontline health and social care workers can book their vaccines online and do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS.

I am immune compromised and so recently had my third vaccine dose- if you are invited, I highly recommend that you do the same!

Please book to get your booster jab as soon as you are invited. It is by getting vaccinated that we will be able to protect our health, economy and freedoms and get back to a sense of normality.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Decade long campaign pays off for Hexham's schools

After a ten-year campaign, I am delighted that Queen Elizabeth High and Hexham Middle schools' brand new school buildings are finally complete. 

The new buildings are part of a £36 million investment in Hexham's schools, with state of the art new buildings and facilities, and sports and leisure facilities for community use.

Since I was elected in 2010, I have made it a priority to secure more money and better buildings for our local schools. Back in 2013, I launched the 'Invest in QEHS' campaign with Hexham Councillors Trevor Cessford and Cath Homer and brought the then Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws to Hexham to lobby for a rebuild. 

The completion of the Hexham schools rebuild means that every high school across Tynedale and Ponteland has now been rebuilt or refurbished in the last decade, marking a significant moment in my campaign for better school buildings.

These state of the art new facilities will ensure that pupils get the very best education locally. My thanks to the government, Northumberland County Council and Councillors Cath Homer and Trevor Cessford for all their hard work. 

The new school buildings coincide with a funding boost for schools across Northumberland, with secondary schools across Tynedale and Ponteland now attracting an average of £6150 per pupil- an average increase of £160 this year. Meanwhile, primary schools will see an average of £4800 per pupil, meaning an average increase of £120.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Back British Farming Day 2021

I am proud to represent one of the most rural constituencies in the country, and so it was great to be able to support Tynedale and Ponteland's famers and growers on Back British Farming Day last week.

The National Farmers' Union provided me with the Back British Farming emblem- a wool and wheatsheaf pin badge- to wear with pride and convey my thanks to the farmers who feed us and take care of our countryside.

The food and farming sector is worth more than £120 billion to our national economy and provides jobs for nearly four million people. 

The NFU launched a new report on Back British Farming Day, asking the Government to complete a comprehensive report on UK food security later this year, covering the country's production of key foods and its contribution to global food security. This would be the first meaningful assessment of UK food security in over a decade and the first under the requirements of the Agriculture Act that mandate reporting every three years.

I fully support the Back British Farming campaign. Farmers in Tynedale and Ponteland play an undoubtedly crucial role in producing food both for our local area and the nation, so I was delighted to be able to thank them for their vital work.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Our autumn and winter Covid plan

This week the Prime Minister set out his Covid winter plan to protect the gains from the historic vaccination programme which has allowed us to return to a sense of normality.

Data shows that, thanks to the vaccine rollout, the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths has weakened, while the number of hospital admissions in England has remained relatively stable. However, the winter months ahead will undoubtedly bring renewed challenges, and so the Prime Minister has announced the autumn and winter plan to manage Covid.

Measures announced in the winter plan to manage Covid levels and protect the NHS include:

  • Booster jabs to priority groups 1-9 to boost immunity among the most vulnerable groups
  • Continuing to make use of the Test, Trace and Isolate programme 
  • Symptomatic PCR testing throughout autumn and winter to identify and isolate positive cases and limit transmission
  • Lateral flow tests will remain free of charge this winter
  • Continued legal obligation to self-isolate for those who test positive and their unvaccinated contacts
  • An extra £5.4 billion of extra funding for the next six months to support the NHS this winter
  • Continued guidance offered to the public on how to protect themselves and others, including ensuring ventilation, wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed places, getting tested and self-isolating if required
A range of 'Plan B' measures will also be kept under review to help control transmission of the virus. This would include:
  • Mandatory vaccine status certification in certain settings
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings, eg. public transport and shops
  • Asking people to work from home
These measures will only be implemented if necessary, such as if the NHS is at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Covid is still out there and remains a risk to us all. However, together we can take actions to protect ourselves, each other and the NHS, and avoid plan B to protect our freedoms in the winter months. 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Celebrating a Prudhoe Community Champion

I launched my Coronavirus Community Champion Awards earlier this year to recognise and celebrate the amazing people who have gone the extra mile to support their local community throughout the pandemic.

The Awards are nominated by local residents, and one such nomination went to Prudhoe's Kiran Bell. Kiran was nominated for her work supporting the local community in Boots, with her hard work to make sure that vulnerable community members were able to continue receiving their medication and essential supplies highlighted by grateful residents in Prudhoe.

I was delighted to be able to meet Kiran recently and present her with her well-deserved award along with Prudhoe County Councillor Gordon Stewart. Congratulations to Kiran and all the team at Boots who have worked tremendously hard throughout the pandemic to support the Prudhoe community. 

If you would like to nominate a local person or business for a Coronavirus Community Champion Award, please send your nomination here- 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Northumberland prepares for the return of the Tour of Britain

This Friday, Northumberland residents will be able to see some of the world’s best cyclists pass through their towns and villages, as Stage 6 of the Tour of Britain comes to Northumberland. 

Stage 6 of the Tour takes place on Friday 10th September in Carlisle and Gateshead, with the 198km route passing through towns including Hexham, Stocksfield, Riding Mill and Prudhoe. The stage will finish up outside the iconic Angel of the North. 


Local residents should be aware that there will be road closures on Friday due to the race. Junction 66 of the A1 (Gateshead South) will be closed to all traffic, so vehicles should use Junction 67 to access the finish.


It is fantastic that Northumberland is once again included in the Tour of Britain route. The Tour brings with it great opportunities for local shops and businesses as we welcome visitors to the region for the event.  I have no doubt that it will be a great day- good luck to all cyclists taking part.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

The Tynedale Jobs Fair is back!

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the Tynedale Jobs Fair is back next month.

The 2021 Tynedale Jobs Fair will take place on Friday 22nd October from 10am-3pm at the Wentworth Centre, Hexham. Organised in collaboration with the Hexham Jobcentre and kindly sponsored by Essity, employers and businesses from a wide range of sectors will be attending, from hospitality and retail to manufacturing and transport.

Confirmed attendees include Northern Rail, Aldi, Barclays Bank and Northumbria Police. For the first time ever, the 2021 Jobs Fair will also feature a Kickstart area, promoting the Government's Kickstart Scheme which helps to create jobs for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit.

Also new to this year's Jobs Fair is an area dedicated to CV writing, run by recruitment company Reed in Partnership, to give job-seekers advice on how to put together the perfect CV.

This year's Jobs Fair is more important than ever, as businesses continue to reopen and we look to get the region's economy back up and running. If you are looking for work or for a change in career then please do come along on 22nd October.

Employers who are interested in attending the 2021 Tynedale Jobs Fair can sign up here-

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Love Lamb Week 2021

Love Lamb Week kicked off yesterday, running from 1st-7th September. The week, which was first held in 2015, aims to highlight Britain's lamb farmers and the work they do year round to support sustainable production on their farms.

Love Lamb Week is supported by AHDB, the National Sheep Association and the NFU, and is this year focusing on the sustainability of sheep production. The NFU have reported that the UK produces some of the finest quality lamb in the world, as well as having some of the most sustainable systems using natural resources and landscapes. English sheep farming helps provide 19,000 hectares of wildflowers to aid the recovery of our bee population, while the UK's weather and landscape make it one of the most suitable places to produce lamb. 

This year, the Love Lamb Week website has also produced some delicious lamb recipes that you can download and enjoy-

It's fantastic to hear about all the benefits of lamb production for our landscapes and I am really pleased that Love Lamb Week is highlighting this brilliant work. To find out how you can support Love Lamb Week visit here-

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

The Tynedale Beer Festival returns this weekend

Just one of the many events that had to be cancelled last year due to the pandemic is back this week. After a year's break, the annual Tynedale Beer Festival returns on Friday, with the chance to enjoy beer, cider, wine, food and music from across the region.

The Festival is one of the North East's biggest beer and cider festivals, taking place at Tynedale Park in Corbridge. This year's event runs from Friday 3rd- Sunday 5th September, and will this year thank our brilliant NHS by inviting 500 NHS staff to come along for free on the final day of the festival. Also new at this year's festival are new street food stalls, bands and extended opening hours, so that the event will now begin at 1pm on Friday.

It is fantastic news that the festival is able to return this weekend- cheers to a great event!

For more information about the Tynedale Beer Festival, and for information on how you can book your tickets, visit here-