Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Plans for Hexham Town Centre

I have visited the display of the plans for Hexham town centre in the Queen's Hall.

Local people have been giving their views towards the new plans for the Hexham High Street Heritage Action Zone Scheme, which is part of £95 million to secure long lasting developments and help breathe new life into highstreets for the communities and businesses that use them. 

The streetscape scheme focuses on improvements to the visual appearance of the streets and pavements, and to pedestrian and road safety in the areas of Priestpopple, Cattle Market and Battle Hill. 

The proposals have been developed by landscape architects Southern Green, who has worked alongside Northumberland County Council officers to review the existing high street.  

This investment is extremely welcome in Hexham and I look forward to seeing the results of the consultation.


In the UK, there are 800,000 people with dementia and an estimated 400,000 people who have dementia but do not know it.

This Dementia Action Week, from 16 to 22 May, the Alzheimer’s Society, has set the theme for 2022 as ‘diagnosis’. By raising awareness about this condition, it is hoped that more people will be diagnosed earlier, giving more time for them to come to terms with future symptoms.

Diagnosis rates for dementia have fallen to an all-time low and the Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging those experiencing common dementia symptoms to seek guidance.

Symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Personality changes
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Communication challenges

Research by the Society indicates that the biggest barrier to those seeking a diagnosis is the misconception that memory loss is a normal sign of ageing. Instead, it is a disease of the brain which can also affect younger people. In the UK, over 17,000 people under the age of 65 have this condition. It is not uncommon for people in their 50’s to have dementia.

This year’s Dementia Action Week aims to help those who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to understand potential symptoms, to come forward for guidance and support, and to feel empowered to take the next steps towards diagnosis, helping to improve the diagnostic process in the future.

Thursday, 5 May 2022


This multi-million pound investment in Hexham is just what we need to help bring in visitors to the town.

I have looked around the hotel with local Cllr Trevor Cessford and the building team. It’s going to be great.

The hundreds of free parking places will also make a massive difference.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Give blood!

Give blood!

Blood stocks are low at the moment, and so it is more important than ever that people come forward to donate blood and save lives. 

Donors of all ages and backgrounds are needed to make sure that the right blood is available to the patients that need it. This means that nearly 400 new donors are needed each day to meet demand, with around 135,000 new donors needed each year to replace those who can no longer donate. It is especially important that more young people come forward to donate blood so that there are enough blood donors in the future.

Giving blood takes no time at all and in doing so you could save lives. Please do look into whether you can donate blood and find your nearest centre here- 

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Nominate your community champion today!

Every month, a member of our community gets awarded a community champions award for going above and beyond for their local community. 

Community champions are nominated by members of the community. So, if you know an individual, business or community group who are making a real difference, please follow the link below to nominate them for the award. 

Monday, 11 April 2022

World Parkinson's Awareness Day

World Parkinson's Awareness Day takes place on 11th April every year to raise awareness of Parkinson's and its effects on people's lives. 

Not enough people understand what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s. They don’t know it’s a serious condition. They don’t realise that treatments are limited and that there is no cure.

But if more people understand Parkinson’s, the more people can fundraise, can fight for fair benefits, can support their local communities, and, ultimately, can get us closer to that cure.

It’s time to start the conversation. It’s time to talk about Parkinson’s.

Some facts:

  • Parkinson's is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.
  • There are over 40 symptoms. From pain and stiffness, to problems with sleep and mental health. 
  • 1 in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's in their lifetime.
  • Every hour, 2 more people are diagnosed. That's the same as 18,000 people every year. 
  • Around 145,000 people in the UK are currently diagnosed with Parkinson's

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Spring Statement

The Chancellor has delivered his Spring Statement. Through the cut in Fuel Duty and the biggest net cut to personal taxes in over a quarter of a century, the Chancellor has announced a strong plan to ease the cost of living. 

The measures mean people across Tynedale and Ponteland have immediate help with the rising cost of living, businesses have better conditions to invest and grow, and people keep more of what they earn for years to come.

Please see the headline announcements made during the statement: 

Fuel duty cut by 5p per litre  
  • from 6pm this evening lasting for a year 
  • Motoring group, the RAC, says cutting fuel duty by 5p will take £3.30 off the cost of filling a typical 55-litre family car. 
National Insurance threshold increased by £3,000 
  • bringing it up to £12,570 to equalize with the income tax personal allowance (People with Income around £35k next year will be better off under this change) 
  • resisted calls to scrap the 12.5pc rise entirely to fund the Health and Social Care Levy (HSCL)  
Basic rate income tax to be cut by 1p in 2024  
  • first cut to the basic rate of income tax in 16 years - from 20% to 19% - by the end of Parliament in 2024.
VAT abolished on insulating homes 
  • this policy will be widened to apply to homeowners having materials like solar panels, heat pumps or insulation installed. 
The Household Support Fund for local councils  
  • to help the most vulnerable will be doubled to £1bn from April 
Retail hospitality and leisure sectors will have a 50% discount in business rates up to £110,000 

Raising the employment allowance to £5,000 
  • delivering a £1,000 tax cut for half a million small businesses

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Supporting Ukrainians coming to the UK

My team and I are currently supporting several residents across Tynedale and Ponteland to assist their family and friends from Ukraine coming to the UK. 

The government has announced measures to support Ukrainians coming to the UK. I thought it would be useful to set these out. As ever, if you have any questions or require support, please contact my office my emailing: 

Ukraine Family Scheme visa (from


To apply to the Ukraine Family Scheme you must:

  • be applying to join or accompany your UK-based family member; and
  • be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme; and
  • have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine)
  • You can apply if you’ve already arrived in the UK and meet the requirements above.
Ukrainians with passports do not have to travel to a visa application centre to give their biometrics before they can come to the UK. 

More information on the Ukraine Family Scheme visa can be found HERE

Homes For Ukraine (Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme)

Phase One of the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme opened on Friday 18 March for visa applications from those who wish to travel to the UK and who have named people in the UK willing to sponsor them.

For the users, this is designed to be a digital process (an additional step applies if an applicant from Ukraine does not have a passport).

The government are asking sponsors to offer accommodation for at least 6 months.

What do I need to do as a sponsor?

Individual sponsors in the UK can be of any nationality, with any immigration status, providing they have at least 6 months’ leave to remain in the UK, so that they can provide at least six months’ accommodation. They can live in any part of the UK.

To ensure a safe and suitable environment for people arriving from Ukraine the government will be going to be carrying out checks (background and in-person) on you as a sponsor, your family and the accommodation that you will provide.

For example, the accommodation should be safe and free from health hazards, be heated and give your guests adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities. 

For further information, and to register your interest in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, please click HERE.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Stannington First School going from strength to strength

On Friday, I visited Stannington First School. 

The school has undergone major transformative change since I last visited many years ago. 

It was great to meet with the Headteacher Mrs. Palmer, Cllr Guy Renner - Thompson responsible for schools in Northumberland and Cllr Lyle Darwin. 

I also has the privilege of presenting the Artmark Award to the school. Pupils and staff at the school received the prestigious Artsmark Award, which celebrates arts, culture and creativity in schools.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Supporting the campaign to remove Heddon fence

Over the weekend, I spoke with residents in Heddon-on-the-Wall on Centurion Way.

There is a pending planning application for 4 houses, but the developers have unilaterally put in a boundary fence which is:

clearly on council land

is too high

without permission 

encroaches on Karbon Homes land and possible prescriptive rights 

and against basic good manners to the residents who are rightly upset

I have urged Northumberland County Council to take urgent action on this. It is irrelevant to the planning application.

I have spent time on Sunday speaking to very upset residents. I share their upset.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Support for Ukraine

I am working closely with Northumberland County Council to support people in Ukraine. I know that people across the county are keen to help where they are able to.

Aid providers are kindly asking for the below items. I will follow this post up with another when official drop-off points are announced.

Thank you for your support.

Personal hygiene products

- soaps, shower gels, shampoos and hair conditioners, hairbrushes

- toothbrushes and toothpaste, for children and adults

- antiperspirants and deodorants (mainly for women but also for men)

- face creams and tonics, hand creams for women.

- sanitary towels, tampons, panty liners

- larger sanitary pads for women in puerperium and nursing pads (breastfeeding pads)

- wet wipes, nappies of various sizes, tissues, cotton pads

Medical supplies

- first aid kits

- bandages, gauze and swabs, tourniquets, plasters, disposable gloves

- anti-pain, anti-fever and anti-inflammatory drugs for children and adults

- vitamins for children

- something for the cough, sore throat, stomach problems, nasal drops.

For children, to keep them occupied and distracted, to make them smile:

- colouring books and crayons/markers

- small puzzles

- small soft toys/ cuddly toys

- sweets: chocolates, bars, snacks, etc.

And also:

- baby porridge, baby rice, fruit/vegetable snacks in tubes (not jars),

-instant foods such as soups, etc.,

-long-term foods such as canned food, etc.,

-paper towels, cutlery and disposable plates

- sleeping bags, mats, blankets

- power banks, batteries, flashlights

Clothing in different sizes (please bring NEW items):

- women's and children's underwear

- cotton T-shirts, sweatshirts and tracksuits,

- thermoactive clothing

- cotton leggings for women

- women's slippers, children's and women's pyjamas

- bath towels

British Red Cross are taking financial donations

Thursday, 3 March 2022

World Book Day (3rd March)

Today is World Book Day. It recognises how books change lives.

The mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own. 

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. 

Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

I would encourage you to visit the amazing independent book shops across Tynedale. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine

Yesterday, in the House of Commons, I had the honour of expressing my solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

We must not let the acts of a dictator triumph over democracy. The entire country is united in support for you.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Putin's invasion is a clear violation of international law, and it is only right that the UK stands with Ukraine, and our allies, in solidarity against this brutal dictator.

The Government’s package of sanctions, will inflict economic pain on Putin. The sanctions have hit more than 100 Russian companies and oligarchs at the heart of Putin’s regime have been hit with sanctions worth 100s of billions of pounds, as well as asset freezes and travel bans. 

The Government has worked closely with the US and the EU to ensure that key Russian banks are cut off from the main international payment system, SWIFT, and the Chancellor has acted decisively to ban British citizens and businesses from making transactions with the Russian central bank. 

Ministers are working around the clock with their international counterparts to further strengthen sanctions and the UK Government has been clear that nothing is off the table when it comes to punishing Putin for his actions. 

I want to pay tribute to the brave Ukrainians who, right now, are fighting not only for their lives, but for the very freedom of their country. I am incredibly proud of the British effort to support them in this struggle. The UK armed forces have directly trained 22,000 Ukrainian Troops through Operation Orbital and have sent defensive military aid directly to Ukraine, and troops from Albermarle Barracks in Northumberland are currently supporting NATO on the Estonian border with Russia.  

There can be no doubt of our resolve to do everything we can to thwart Putin’s aggression. Diplomatically, economically, and militarily, he must suffer for his actions, so that freedom and democracy prevails over tyranny. 

Last week, I appeared on ITV Around the House, where I spoke about how troops from Albemarle Barracks in Northumberland are supporting NATO forces in Estonia. The episode can be viewed by clicking HERE.

If you are a constituent, and you need support, please contact my office. Email on: 


Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Living with COVID-19

The Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons that from 24th February the Government will remove the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. He also announced that the Government will no longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts of a positive Covid-19 case to test daily and that it will revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations which are currently in law.

In its plan, the Government state that although free testing will end for most people, testing will be available for at-risk groups. The government will focus on the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable with vaccines, at-home PCR testing and antivirals and therapeutics to ensure they are protected from the virus. 

As it sets out in its plan document, people will still be encouraged to adopt safer behaviours to reduce the risk of infection, including getting vaccinated, making the most of fresh, staying at home if they are unwell and wearing a face covering in crowded areas.

Latest Government data shows that as a result of wide-ranging immunity, as well as new treatments such as antivirals, the link between Covid-19 infections and severe disease has been wakened with less than 1 in 100 cases requiring hospital treatment compared to 4 in 100 at the start of the pandemic.

The Government will continue to monitor Covid-19 by using the ONS Surveillance Study to look at transmission and to detect any new variants of the virus. 

The full 'Living with Covid-19' document can be viewed HERE.

Haltwhistle Academy going from strength to strength

I recently had the opportunity to visit Haltwhistle Academy Primary School with Cllr Ian Hutchinson to meet with Headteacher, Susie Drake.

The £2.65m Tynedale school officially opened its doors in October 2021. The project on Park Avenue has seen the former middle school undergo a major refurbishment to create a new academy, space for community activities and the children’s centre. 

The rebuilding of this school comes after my longstanding campaign to ensure investment in schools reaches the most rural communities.

The project received funding from Northumberland County Council and WISE Academies - the trust that oversees the running of the school.

The school has been transformed by the multi-million pound investment and the rebuild. What a change!

From left to right: Guy Opperman MP, Susie Drake and Cllr Ian Hutchinson  

Wednesday, 16 February 2022


Northumberland is experiencing strong winds once again with Storms Dudley and Eunice. 

If you experience a power cut, please ring the National helpline on 105. 

As with StormArwen, my office stands ready to help. Please contact me at

Some useful information below

Friday, 11 February 2022

Relaxation of travel restrictions today

From today, eligible fully vaccinated arrivals no longer need to test when arriving into the UK, and just need to fill out a simplified Passenger Locator Form.

As we become one of the most open countries in the world, arrivals who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after they arrive in the UK. 

After nearly two years of necessary but complex travel arrangements, these changes will make it cheaper & easier for families to travel, taking advantage of the UK's high levels of vaccination, and keeping us all safe. 

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Children's Mental Health Week

Children's Mental Health Week takes place 7-13 February 2022. 

The theme of Growing Together encourages children (and adults) to consider how they have grown, and how they can help others to grow.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Year 8 from St Joseph's in Hexham to talk about why mental health is so important for young people.  

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

My tribute to Jack Dromey MP

Last week, I had the honour of speaking in memory of my colleague, and friend, Jack Dromey MP. 

A great Union and Labour campaigner, but also the best example of cross-party working I have ever known. Rest in peace, Jack.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Safer Internet Day - 8 February

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, and to inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively.

Today, the government announced that the Online Safety Bill will be significantly strengthened with a new legal duty requiring all sites that publish pornography to put robust checks in place to ensure their users are 18 years old or over.

This could include adults using secure age verification technology to verify that they possess a credit card and are over 18 or having a third-party service confirm their age against government data.

If sites fail to act, the independent regulator Ofcom will be able fine them up to 10 per cent of their annual worldwide turnover or can block them from being accessible in the UK. Bosses of these websites could also be held criminally liable if they fail to cooperate with Ofcom.

A large amount of pornography is available online with little or no protections to ensure that those accessing it are old enough to do so. There are widespread concerns this is impacting the way young people understand healthy relationships, sex and consent. Half of parents worry that online pornography is giving their kids an unrealistic view of sex and more than half of mums fear it gives their kids a poor portrayal of women.

Monday, 7 February 2022

National Apprenticeship Week

This week from February 7 - 11 February we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

Apprenticeships are a crucial way to address skills shortages, invest in future talent, and help more people in Tynedale and Ponteland access high skilled, high wage jobs.

Apprenticeships are all about partnerships. They involve employers, training providers, individuals, end point assessment organisations, parents, ambassadors and many more stakeholders working together.

Since 2015, 3,200 people across Tynedale and Ponteland have started apprenticeships. 

The 15th National Apprenticeship Week (February 7-13) is designed to showcase the positive impact that apprenticeships make on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

I recently went to Essity's Prudhoe Mill Site to meet with some of the apprentices. Global companies with sites in the region, like Essity, can offer fantastic careers to talented young people choosing not to go to university, instead opting to earn while they learn.

At Prudhoe Mill, male and female school leavers are paid well above the minimum apprentice starting salary. I would encourage young people across Tynedale and Ponteland to consider applying for these opportunities.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Backing the British Sign Language Bill through Parliament

I am backing a vital Bill through Parliament which will see British Sign Language become a recognised language.

The British Sign Language Bill is Private Member’s Bill introduced by Labour MP, Rosie Cooper.

The Bill signals promotion and facilitation of BSL when making public service announcements, encouraging other service providers to do the same.

BSL offers a lifeline to 250,000 Brits who communicate through the visual medium, which consists of a combination of hand gestures, facial expressions and body language.

If passed, it would also see the launch of an advisory board of BSL users to:

offer guidance to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on how and when to use it

examine how the DWP goes about increasing the number of BSL interpreters

make sure the Access to Work scheme better meets the needs of BSL users to support them in employment

Effective communication is vital to creating a more inclusive and accessible society across Tynedale and Ponteland and in the UK.

Legally recognising British Sign Language in Great Britain is a significant step towards ensuring that deaf people are not excluded from reaching their potential.

Storm Arwen Public Meetings - Hexham and Allendale

Last week, I held the final two meetings on the response to Storm Arwen. 

As we have seen over the weekend with Storms Malik and Corrie, we need to be match fit for a future storm. 

Both the meetings were very productive, giving my constituents the opportunity to have their voices heard by Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council. 

As you may be aware, I am writing a report on the response to Storm Arwen, taking account of points raised during the public meetings. 

If you have any recommendations or suggestions of how we can better deal with future storm events, please visit: Storm Arwen | Guy Opperman and use the form. 

The report will be sent to the Department for Business and Ofgem to be considered for their Reviews into the response to Storm Arwen. 

Monday, 31 January 2022


I have been given the following update from Northern Powergrid:

- 1800 are still without power in the North East 

- Half of homes still without power this morning have since had their power restored 

- While most of these homes are expected to be restored tonight, a minority will be without power going into Tuesday.


I am in regular contact with Northern Powergrid, and others, and we are working together to deliver targeted welfare support to those most in need. 

I am urging the most vulnerable to contact my office at: 

For those customers still off supply at 8am on Sunday 30 January, welfare payments will be paid for: 

- Reasonable costs for food of up to £15 per person per meal.

- Reasonable costs for alternative accommodation for anyone not reconnected by 2pm.

Northern Powergrid are asking customers to retain receipts and email all claims to:


Additionally, customers will get £70 if the power was off for 48 hours.

And then they’ll receive £70 for each extra 12 hours where they haven’t had electricity.


As you may be aware, I am writing a report following the meetings I have been holding on the response to Storm Arwen. 

I will be sending the report to Ofgem and the Department for Business, to be considered for their Reviews. 

If you have suggestions or recommendations on how we can improve our response to storm events, please email these to me:

Storm Malik and Corrie update

Although progress has been made reconnecting homes since Storm Malik hit on Saturday morning, I have been informed that 4,000 people are still without power. Of these affected customers, I am urging the most vulnerable to contact my office at: 

I am in regular contact with Northern Powergrid, and others, and we are working together to deliver targeted welfare support to those most in need. 

I have been advised that the majority of homes will be reconnected today, with only a small proportion having to wait until tomorrow. 

For those customers still off supply at 8am on Sunday 30 January, welfare payments will be paid for: 

- Reasonable costs for food of up to £15 per person per meal.

- Reasonable costs for alternative accommodation for anyone not reconnected by 2pm.

Northern Powergrid are asking customers to retain receipts and email all claims to:


Additionally, customers will get £70 if the power was off for 48 hours.

And then they’ll receive £70 for each extra 12 hours where they haven’t had electricity.


As you may be aware, I am writing a report following the meetings I have been holding on the response to Storm Arwen. 

I will be sending the report to Ofgem and the Department for Business, to be considered for their Reviews. 

If you have suggestions or recommendations on how we can improve our response to storm events, please email these to me:

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Raising concerns with Openreach over Storm Arwen response

Yesterday, I met with Openreach to raise my concerns over their response to Storm Arwen. 

Some of my constituents were without broadband connection for over two months. We all understand the extent of the storm's damage, and the difficulties involved for the engineers on the ground. They did a brilliant job under the circumstances. 

However, like other key stakeholders in response to the storm, Openreach's communications with local people across Tynedale and Ponteland has been poor. 

I also raised the issue of the switch from copper telephone lines to digital phone lines. During Storm Arwen, some people in Northumberland didn't have power for eleven days, but they also had no means of communication because the battery backup for their digital phone line only lasted for 24 hours. 

I have written to the Digital Minister and Openreach's CEO to continue raising my concerns over the impact the switch away from copper phone lines could have for the critical communications infrastructure in rural areas across Tynedale. 

The last two public meetings on the response to Storm Arwen are taking place in the Hexham Mart at 6pm tonight (27th January) and Allendale Village Hall tomorrow evening at 7pm (28th January). 

If you are unable to attend either meeting in person, the meetings will both be livestreamed on my YouTube channel.

Holocaust Memorial Day

On Monday of this week, I was able to meet with the Holocaust Education Trust and sign the book of condolence that remembers Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day is Thursday January 27th. It marks 77 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

We remember the atrocities, and reaffirm our commitment to ensure it never, ever happens again.

The passage of 77 years since the liberation of Auschwitz – Birkenau has rendered those events no less unthinkable.

My trip to Jerusalem a few years ago moved me tremendously, most particularly the visit to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre. The Centre is dedicated to preserving the memory of Jews who were murdered, honouring Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors and researching the Holocaust, so that no genocide every happens again.

Many have uttered the words ‘never again’ - but recent events across the world have demonstrated that anti- Jewish racism, anti- Semitism, is still a serious problem in societies across the world.

We were reminded only too recently that anti-Semitism is still prevalent in our society, when a man took hostages at a synagogue in Dallas, Texas. This was an act of anti- Semitism and terrorism, and I stand with Jewish people across the world in defending the rights of citizens against those who spread hate.

I watched the rabbi of the synagogue, Charlie Cytron – Walker, giving his moving account of the attacker entering the synagogue and taking his congregation as hostages. My thoughts are with the Jewish community, at such a salient time of year, when we remember the atrocious events of what happened 77 years ago.

This awful event wasn’t a one off. The toxic ideology of anti – Semitism has seen Jews across the world murdered simply because of who they were. In France, we see Jewish schools guarded by armed police.

Our best defence against this poisonous ideology is education. I support the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust; the Trust’s mission is to educate young people in Britain from every background about the Holocaust and its meaning for us today. I know they are working with several Tynedale schools very successfully. 

Spend a few minutes today reflecting on what happened 77 years ago. Talking and remembering are the best way to fight anti – Semitism going forward.

Monday, 24 January 2022

BBC Politics North

I recently appeared on BBC Politics North. 

You can watch the programme, where I discuss the PM, Storm Arwen, bank closures and pet theft on iPlayer by clicking HERE.

Further easing of travel restrictions

Today, as I mentioned on my previous blog, the government has announced a further relaxation for fully vaccinated passengers returning to the UK. 

The government are removing ALL testing measures for eligible fully vaccinated arrivals to England from 4am on 11 February.
These changes have been made possible by the success of our vaccine and booster rollout.

Arrivals in England who aren't fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after arriving in England.
All passengers will still need to complete a Passenger Locator Form. 

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Easing of Plan B restrictions

England's Plan B measures are to end from next Thursday, with mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports both dropped, the government has announced.

The government will also immediately be dropping its advice for people to work from home.

The news announcement comes as scientists believe the Omicron wave has peaked nationally.

This is not the finish line as the virus and future variants cannot be eradicated - instead we need to learn to live with the virus.

Ventilation of enclosed spaces, washing hands and self-isolating if positive are all things we can do to reduce the risk. If you haven't been vaccinated, please do so, and get your booster if you have already had your first two jabs. 

In summary, the following changes to restrictions will be made:

  • Mandatory Covid passports for entering nightclubs and large events will end, though organisations can choose to use the NHS Covid pass if they wish
  • People will no longer be advised to work from home and should discuss their return to offices with employers
  • Face masks will no longer be mandated, though people are still advised to wear coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces and when meeting strangers. 
  • From today, secondary school pupils will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms and government guidance on their use in communal areas will be removed next Thursday (27th January).

Further announcements on the easing of travel rules and restrictions on care home visits in England are expected in the coming days. 

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Northumberland one of the most exciting places in the world!

Northumberland has been named by the New York Times as one of the most exciting places to visit in the world!

The New York Times produces an annual list of the most exiting places to visit in the world and Northumberland came fifth. 

2022 will be a very exciting year for tourism in Northumberland with the Hadrian's Wall 1900 Festival. The New York Times also mentioned the North East stretch of England's 2,800 mile coastal path, Northumberland's wild beaches and the International Dark Sky Park in their article.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Storm Arwen Public Meetings in Ponteland and Bellingham

I want to thank everyone for coming to the Storm Arwen Public Meetings in Ponteland and Bellingham. 

The meetings were attended by Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water, Northumberland County Council, Forestry England (Bellingham) and the NFU (Bellingham).

Both meetings were well attended by local residents, which ensured that plenty of questions were asked of all the stakeholders. 

I will be writing a report based on the information gathered from these meetings and correspondence received from constituents during the crisis that followed Storm Arwen in late November. This will be sent to Ofgem for their consideration as part of their Review which reports in the Spring.

I am aware there were technical problems with the Ponteland live stream. If you weren't able to watch either meeting,  you can watch them now on my YouTube channel in your own time by clicking HERE.

I am holding two further meetings: 

27th January 18:00 – 20:00, Hexham Mart

28th January 19:00 – 21:00, Allendale Town Hall

If you would like to attend either of these meetings, please sign up by clicking HERE

Hexham Mart Farming Surgery with the NFU

On Friday, I held a Farming Surgery at Hexham Mart with the NFU to hear the views of farmers on payment schemes, Environmental Land Management Schemes and various other issues. 

It was good to have a catch up with the NFU, visit the Mart, and listen to farmers and the team at the Mart on a whole host of issues. 

Credit: Robert Smith

Booster Jabs for 16 and 17 year olds

From today, (Monday) 16 and 17-year-olds will start receiving invitations to come forward for their booster jabs if they received their second jab more than three months ago. 

Please come forward to get vaccinated if you are eligible. It is not too late to come forward for your first jab too.

Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves, our family and friends. 

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Self-isolation for COVID-19 cases reduced from 10 to 7 days following negative LFD tests

People who receive negative Lateral Flow Test results on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period – with tests taken 24 hours apart – will no longer have to self-isolate for the full 10 days. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period.

Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 7 are strongly advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID- 19.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Visit to Kielder Forest following Storm Arwen damage

I recently met the team repairing the huge damage caused to Kielder Forest by Storm Arwen. 

The team from Forestry England are doing amazing work replanting and opening the forest safely.

It was great to learn about their plans to replant and open the bike and horse trails safely. 

Storm Arwen meeting at Darras Hall Primary School - Thursday 13th January 2022

It's not too late to sign up for the public meeting that I'm holding on to the response to Storm Arwen. 

Representatives from Northern PowerGrid, Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council will be there to explain their role in the response to Storm Arwen and answer any questions. 

You can sign up for the meeting at Storm Arwen Public Meetings | Guy Opperman

Your safety is paramount and while the spread of COVID-19 remains a threat, we are taking a number of necessary precautions.

I would remind all attendees that the wearing of a face mask will be compulsory at all times inside the venue unless you are exempt.

In addition to this, social distancing will be encouraged and observed, where possible.

Masks, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes will be readily available at the venue.

To ensure we all play our part in the fight against the virus, I would be grateful if all attendees took a Lateral Flow Test at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Get your booster jab!

Today, I received my fourth COVID jab. 

I am immunocompromised because of a horse riding accident many years ago where I lost my spleen.

If you are asked to come forward, please get the jab. There are appointments aplenty for boosting and first timers.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information - NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Welcome changes to travel testing rules

I really welcome the decision taken by the government to relax many restrictions on testing when travellers return from abroad. It will reduce the burden of travel costs to families and businesses. 

The new rules are as follows: 

People who aren't fully vaccinated must currently take PCR tests on both day two and day eight after arriving, and self-isolate for 10 days.

But under the new rules:

  • From 04:00 GMT on Friday (07/01/2022): people who are fully vaccinated and those aged under-18 will no longer need to take a test two days before travelling to England from countries outside the UK and the Common Travel Area. On arrival, they will have to take a PCR test but they will no longer have to self-isolate while awaiting the result
  • From 04:00 GMT on Sunday (10/01/2022): they will only have to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test on day two. But this test must be bought from a private test provider - free NHS tests are not allowed
  • Unvaccinated passengers will need to continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on day two and day eight, and self-isolate for 10 days


Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Storm Arwen public meetings

I hope you have had a merry Christmas and wishing you a happy New Year.

It has been a difficult time for our local communities, with long power outages caused by huge damage to electricity lines and water supplies in the aftermath of Storm Arwen last year.

I want to say a big thank you to so many: the engineers reconnecting power in very tough weather, local businesses, generator providers, and also the local community who have helped out their neighbours.

Clearly, lots of lessons need to be learnt from this crisis. I welcome the launch of Ofgem’s investigation into what went wrong. Communications and managing expectations from Northern Powergrid were appalling throughout the power outages and I will continue to push for significant improvements to be made.

As you may be aware, I will be holding a series of public meetings on the response to Storm Arwen across the constituency in village halls in January. The meetings will ensure local people have their voices heard by representatives of the companies in question and that there are proper community representations in the Ofgem investigation.

The public meetings will be held at the following locations:

  • 13th January 18:00 – 20:00, Darras Hall Primary School
  • 14th January 18:00 – 20:00, Bellingham Village Hall
  • 27th January 18:00 – 20:00, Hexham Mart
  • 28th January 19:00 – 21:00, Allendale Village Hall

If you would like to attend one of these meetings, please do signup by visiting:, calling 01434 239 205 or email:

Again, I am very proud of how our community has rallied through this very difficult time. Please do contact my office if there’s anything I can help with.  

Saturday, 1 January 2022

New Year message

It has been a difficult year for communities across Northumberland, from the ongoing pandemic to the devastating effects of Storm Arwen. Huge thanks go to all the amazing emergency services and our brilliant local NHS, who have continued to serve people in Northumberland with the utmost professionalism and service.

The COVID vaccination rollout earlier in the year, and the recent booster rollout has been hugely successful. The UK leads the world with its booster rollout, with some 185,000 booster jabs being rolled out across Northumberland so far. Our local NHS has been amazing at rolling out the vaccine at such speed, whilst also persuading those who were previously unsure to get the jab, to get jabbed.

My single most important message would be to get vaccinated. COVID has taken such a toll on our communities in so many ways, but the vaccine is our single most effective defence against the Omicron variant. It is the best way to protect our friends, family, and vulnerable members of the community.

I hope you have had a very merry Christmas and wishing everyone across Northumberland a very happy and prosperous new year.