Thursday, 8 December 2022

Cold Weather Payments triggered

Cold Weather Payments are made to recipients of selected benefits. 

To trigger the payments, the average temperature at a specified weather station must be recorded as, or forecast to be, 0°C or below for seven consecutive days. 

The DWP’s Cold Weather Payment pages provide further information for claimants.

The alert was triggered for the period 4/12/2022 to 10/12/2022. 

£25 will be paid to eligible residents within the Hexham constituency living in the following postcode districts: CA9, DH8, NE19, NE47, NE48, NE49.

For more information, visit:

Pension Credit

I've been with the Pensions Minister Laura Trott MP making the case for Pension Credit.

Checking eligibility and applying for Pension Credit by 18 December 2022 – just ten days away – will mean pensioners could also receive a £324 boost thanks to Pension Credit backdating rules.

The average Pension Credit award is worth over £3,500 a year and even a small Pension Credit award can provide access to a wide range of other benefits – such as help with housing costs, council tax or heating bills – in addition to the extra cost of living payments.

Claims can be made online and over the phone, with the Pension Credit calculator on hand to help pensioners see if they’re likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they may receive.

Pension Credit tops up a person’s income to a minimum of £182.60 per week for single pensioners and to £278.70 for couples.

Currently, around 1.4 million pensioners in Britain receive Pension Credit. However, many are still not claiming this extra financial help.

Applications for Pension Credit can be made in the three following ways:

1) On the How to Claim page: Pension Credit: How to claim - GOV.UK (

2) Over the phone by calling 0800 99 1234 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)

3) By printing out and filling in a paper application form: Pension Credit claim form - GOV.UK (

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Positive Prudhoe Drill Hall update

I am pleased that following our campaign magistrates have granted an order under The Building Act Section 77, which gives Northumberland County Council the power to carry out works six weeks from last Friday to prevent the current danger at Prudhoe Drill Hall. 

The six-week period is to allow the owner time to organise and undertake the work.

There will be at least weekly site inspections and the council will take action should the building deteriorate. 

I welcome this update and I will continue to work with NCC to ensure this dangerous eyesore is dealt with.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Interview with Gloria De Piero on baby loss and my brain tumour

I discussed baby loss, “take home children”, brain tumours and more with Gloria De Piero last week. 

Full credit to my Labour colleague Toby Perkins MP who has also spoken about his baby loss. 

Watch the full interview here:

News report here: MPs bravely reveal personal pain of child loss ahead of new bill aiming to support bereaved parents - 'A little bit of you dies' ( 

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Haltwhistle fire - latest updates

I am aware of the overnight fire in Haltwhistle.

I'm in contact with the local agencies coordinating the response.

Please visit: Northumberland County Council - Firefighters tackling major fire in Haltwhistle for regular updates. 

If you would like to raise an issue, please contact me on:

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Haydon Bridge High School investment!

I recently visited Haydon Bridge to see for myself the investment that is going in to rejuvenate the area to improve the lives of local young people.  

As part of my regular catch-up with headteachers across Tynedale and Ponteland, I went to Haydon Bridge High School to hear about the fantastic progress that has recently been made.  

Just a few years ago, the school was deemed inadequate and was facing closure. Now, thanks to £4.5m of investment from Northumberland County Council, and the hard work and dedication from the teaching staff and the headteacher Michael Smith, the school has been truly transformed.  

Haydon Bridge High School is no longer in special measures, pupil numbers are up, and this summer, all students who applied for university succeeded in that ambition. The High School is a real success story, and I look forward to hearing about even more successes when I next visit.  

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Mobile Barclays bank in Ponteland - campaign success!

I’m delighted that after months of campaigning, we have been able to find a solution to help the 10,000-strong community of Ponteland with physical banking facilities.

Due credit to Barclays for listening to us – the other banks didn’t.

I will continue to call on banks to rollout these services across Tynedale - these services are very important to local people.

Article in the Northumberland Gazette is HERE.


A great Storm Arwen meeting with many parish councils and community groups in Hexham last night. 

My thanks to all who came as we make progress on the significant funding for community resilience locally from Northern Powergrid.

There is funding of up to 20k available for parish councils with a resilience plan for a community hub that requires funding. 

Thanks to parish and community representatives from Allendale, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Humshaugh, Newbrough, Hexham shire, Slaley & Great Whittington for coming. 

The Great Whittington application for £4,000 for their village hall was approved last night, 2 weeks after application.

We do it all again on Friday in Bellingham.

The dedicated Storm Arwen section of my website has the application form for NPG's community fund and a sign up page for the Bellingham meeting. 

Please visit: or call: 01434 239 205.

Friday, 23 September 2022


I am organising two public meetings with Northern Powergrid to give residents an opportunity to hear about energy resilience improvements and planning for this winter. 

Northern Powergrid will also be outlining how organisations can apply to its £7.5 million energy resilience scheme to reinvest in the hardest hit communities during Storm Arwen. 

The public meetings are taking place on: 

Monday 26 September, 18:30 - 20:00 at Hexham Mart 

Friday 30 September, 18:00 - 19:30 at Bellingham Town Hall 

If you would like to attend, please sign up at: or call 01434 239 205.

The 'mini-budget'

Today, the Chancellor delivered his ‘mini-budget’ which will help bring more growth and stability for people across Tynedale and Ponteland 

My focus remains on supporting households and businesses through the price rises everyone is facing. 

The key announcements today were:


Cutting everyone’s energy bills by £ðŸ­ðŸ°ðŸ¬ðŸ¬ð—ž this year through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

Supporting businesses, charities, and hospitals through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

Income tax

Basic rate cut – 20p to 𝟭𝟵𝗣 

Top rate cut – 45p to 𝟰𝟬𝗣 

National Insurance

Rise reversed – saving the average worker £ðŸ¯ðŸ¯ðŸ¬ each year 

Stamp duty 

Abolished below £ðŸ®ðŸ±ðŸ¬ð—ž and below £ðŸ°ðŸ¯ðŸ±ð—ž for first time buyers

Supporting our local pubs

Freezing alcohol duty for beer, cider, wine and spirits to support our local pubs

Investment Zones

The Government has announced that it will introduce investment zones to drive growth and reduce tax burden for business. Formal invitations for local authorities to bid for these Zones will follow shortly. 

For further information on the support available for households and businesses with the cost of living, please click HERE

Monday, 12 September 2022

Paying respects to Her Majesty The Queen

As we continue to mourn Her Late Majesty The Queen, there are several ways people across Northumberland can pay their respects to Her Late Majesty. 

Lying in State

From Wednesday, The Queen will lie in state for “four clear days” in Westminster Hall until the morning of her State Funeral on Monday, September 19. 

A guide has been produced by the Government on how people can pay their respects during the lying in state - please click HERE 

There will also be a National Minute's Silence at 8pm on Sunday 18th September 

Laying of flowers 

Following the death of Her Majesty the Queen, members of the public are invited to lay floral tributes at a number of locations around Northumberland as a mark of respect. 

Northumberland County Council have asked that people laying flowers remove any cellophane to help protect the environment. 

The following designated locations in Tynedale and Ponteland are:

  • Hexham – Cenotaph, Sele Park.
  • Ponteland – Coates Green, by St. Mary’s Church.
  • Haltwhistle – Memorial park, Westgate.
  • Prudhoe – The Glade.
A map of all the exact locations can be found by clicking here HERE

Books of condolence

Books of condolence are now open across Northumberland. These will be open until the day after the funeral and Northumberland County Council invite members of the public to record their thoughts and sympathies in the books.

The national book of condolence is now available to sign online HERE. A selection of these messages will be passed onto members of the Royal Family, and may be held in the Royal Archives for posterity.

Here is a list of the locations and opening times across Tynedale and Ponteland:

Hexham Library (within Queens Hall) Queens Hall, Beaumont Street, Hexham NE46 3LS Tel: 01670 620450 

Monday: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM 
Tuesday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM 
Thursday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM 
Friday: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM 
Saturday: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM 

Ponteland Leisure Centre, Callerton Lane, Ponteland, NE20 9EG Telephone: 01670 620200 

Monday 6am to 10pm 
Tuesday 6am to 10pm 
Wednesday 6am to 10pm 
Thursday 6am to 10pm 
Friday 6am to 10pm 
Saturday 7am to 5pm 
Sunday 7am to 5pm 

Wentworth Leisure Centre, Wentworth Place, Hexham, NE46 3PD, Telephone: 01670 620200

Monday 6.30am to 10pm
Tuesday 6.30am to 10pm
Wednesday 6.30am to 10pm
Thursday 6.30am to 10pm
Friday 6.30am to 10pm
Saturday 8am to 6pm
Sunday 8am to 6pm

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Tribute to Her Majesty The Queen

Rest in peace Your Majesty. And thank you for your service. The country, and the whole world, will miss you so very much. 

The Queen was the best of us and a constant in a changing world. The shock to our country will be profound, as all our lives have evolved with hers. Thoughts and prayers with her family. They mourn their mother, and grandmother, as her country mourns her too.

God Save The King

Her Majesty's health

The whole country will be deeply concerned by the news of Her Majesty's health. 

My thoughts - and the thoughts of everyone across Tynedale and Ponteland are with Her Majesty and the Royal Family at this time.

Support for families and businesses with the rising cost of energy

I am Pleased that the Government have today announced emergency legislation to establish an Energy Price Guarantee.

This Guarantee with ensure that the average British household pays no more than £2,500 per year for their energy bills for the next two years, starting in October this year. 

In particular, I am pleased to hear the Prime Minister confirm a Heating Oil, Park Homes and Heat Networks fund to protect those in rural areas from increasing energy costs. This is something that I had raised with Ministers and will directly support households in rural parts of Tynedale. 

The £400 Energy Support Bill Scheme will be maintained, as will the £1,200 of support for the most vulnerable households already announced. 

Businesses will be offered an equivalent guarantee for six months, and after six months further support will be provided for vulnerable sectors. The Government will work with businesses to review where this should be targeted.

For more information, please click HERE

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Covid booster jab online bookings open tomorrow

 Online booking for autumn Covid boosters opens tomorrow for people who are:

🍁 aged 75 and over

🍁 immunosuppressed

🍁 health & social care workers

Other eligible groups should wait to be contacted by the NHS.

More info: NHS England » NHS COVID-19 vaccine bookings to open to millions of people as autumn booster campaign kicks off

Thursday, 25 August 2022

GCSE results

I want to take this opportunity to wish every student across Tynedale and Ponteland every success in their GCSEs, Level 2 or vocational scheme today.

I’d also like to thank the incredible teachers and support staff. 

A very well done to all!

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Ukrainian Independence Day

Today is Ukraine Independence Day.

And six months to the day since Putin’s invasion. A brutal event that has disfigured Ukraine and destabilised the world. 

Our support to them must be resolute.  They are still fighting. They will prevail. 

The UK must stick the course with them.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

The Coach & Horses in Hexham has reopened after investment

I am delighted that the Coach & Horses has reopened. 

It was awarded £240,000 as part of the Hexham High Streets Heritage Zone scheme - a Government Funded scheme designed to secure lasting improvements and rejuvenate historic high streets.

I look forward to continue working with Northumberland County Council and Historic England to deliver on the funding secured for Hexham Town Centre.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Cracking down on litter

The Government has announced new measures to assist councils tackle fast food litter at its source.

Litter is a blight to our streets and a source of frustration to local residents. 

Updated guidance will clarify the powers councils in England have to set stricter litter rules for new hot food takeaways when considering planning applications, including making sure that more bins are installed to reduce rubbish in the surrounding area.

The move will help create cleaner town centres across Tynedale and Ponteland, with figures showing that fast food items are the fourth most common type of litter found on UK high streets.

The guidance will give councils clear and consistent advice on what rules they can enforce when new takeaways open, such as ensuring they install more bins and anti-litter signs around shops or have staff members pick up litter regularly. Failing to adhere to these rules could result in financial penalties.

This is part of wider measures set out in the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy to improve the public realm and create safer and cleaner spaces.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Investment in the Great Northumberland Forest

I am delighted that the Government have announced further investment into the Great Northumberland Forest. 

The project, announced in 2019 as part of plans to slash carbon emissions, will see trees of various types planted in locations up and down the county.

The government has announced millions more trees will be planted across England following investment to expand woodlands.

England’s 13 Community Forests, as well as partners including the Northern Forest and Great Northumberland Forest, are all set to receive funding.

As part of the government’s £750 million Nature for Climate Fund, these projects will expand woodlands near cities, towns, villages and rivers.

Collectively around 2,300 hectares of trees – equivalent to around 3,220 football pitches – will be planted as part of this year’s £44.2 million funding allocation, playing an important role in Government ambitions to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament and reach net zero.

It is estimated the planting announced will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050, valued at nearly £100 million.

More trees will help to reduce flood risk in vulnerable areas and the funding will also create more green jobs within the forestry and environmental sectors.

I am proud that Northumberland is leading the way. The Great Northumberland Forest will tackle climate change, create more jobs and support our local timber industry.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Freedom of Northumberland for Lucy Bronze!

I am delighted and fully support Northumberland Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson proposing Lucy Bronze to be granted the Freedom of Northumberland.

Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson said:

‘‘Following the magnificent victory of the Lionesses in Euro 2022 we would like to propose the Freedom of Northumberland is bestowed on Lucy Bronze.

The former Duchess High School Student was born in 1991 in Berwick-upon-Tweed and went on to live on Holy Island, in Belford and in Alnwick.”

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

The Tynedale Jobs Fair is back!

The annual Tynedale Job's Fair is returning on 20th October 2022!

Every year, I host the Tynedale Jobs Fair. The Tynedale Jobs Fair brings together many of Northumberland’s biggest employers with local residents who are searching for their next job.  The jobs fair is a great opportunity for those who are currently out of work or for someone looking for a change of career. 

The 2021 Jobs Fair was our biggest yet, with over 75 employers in attendance, Attendees included Prudhoe-based manufacturer Essity, Northern Rail, British Volt, Aldi, McDonalds and many more. 

The Jobs Fair is organised in collaboration with the Hexham Jobcentre Plus, ensuring job coaches are there to assist those on Universal Credit. 

The 2022 Jobs Fair is once again being held on Thursday 20th October 2022 at the Wentworth in Hexham. If you are an employer, and would like to showcase your business, please sign up using the form HERE

£400 Energy Bill Discount for homes off the grid and park homes

I am delighted the Government has listened to the concerns of residents living in park homes and those living off the electricity grid. 

Homes not connected to the energy grid were ineligible to receive the Energy Bills Discount as they do not have a domestic electricity meter and a direct relationship with an electricity supplier.

However, the government has now confirmed that further funding will be available to provide equivalent support of £400 for those who will not be reached through the discount.

I look forward to seeing more details on how and when these payments will be made in the autumn.

Monday, 1 August 2022

Welcoming Christopher Coleman Opperman

Welcoming Christopher Coleman Opperman, who has been called Kitto for many months, to this wonderful world. 

Know that you will always be loved little man. 

Massive thanks to St Thomas Hospital, after a long journey to this place, and a long week in hospital. Huge thanks to all the team from IVF to delivery. Mum and babe doing fine.

Kitto will always be our third child. 

Sadly our twin boys did not make it, being born too soon for this world. They are loved, and never forgotten but, for now, we celebrate a long journey to parenting 👍

Friday, 29 July 2022

Prudhoe drill hall update

I am delighted that Northumberland County Council are listening to the very serious concerns for residents' public safety at the old drill hall. The building is a dangerous eyesore.

Northumberland County Council have confirmed to me they are taking the following action: 

Due to the potential risk of failure of part of the building close the small section of road between Swalwell Close and Fair View, from Swalwell Close to the back lane.

The Council will start to prepare an application for a court order, under Section 77 of the Building Act to undertake work to the building, and/or installation of structural scaffolding to remove the "danger".

I look forward to continue to work closely with NCC, HMRC and Prudhoe Town Councillor, Tracey Gilmore, to ensure the voices of Prudhoe are heard.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Low Prudhoe flooding - major investment news!

Following more recent flooding, Northumberland County Council have confirmed that it has had to secure wayleave agreements to enable a new highway drainage system to be installed on private land adjacent to the adopted highway.

The council expect all of the documentation to be completed and to undertake the implementation of the drainage scheme as well as resurfacing of the road this autumn (2022).

I am delighted that after campaigning with local Prudhoe Town Councillor, Chris Barrett, NCC have confirmed their plan to tackle a problem that has been causing problems for people and businesses in Prudhoe.

It is brilliant that the Council have listened to residents’ concerns. The drainage system and resurfacing of the road will make a difference to local people.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Why I am backing Rishi Sunak

Our great country is at a crossroads and the decisions we make today will decide our future. Serious times call for serious people. That is why I am backing Rishi Sunak. 

I have got to know Rishi as a fellow Northern MP very well over the last seven years. He is a genuinely decent man doing politics for all the right reasons. Rishi has a proven track record and can grip the challenges we face and push the country forward. He is a second-generation migrant, whose dad was a local NHS GP, and whose mum ran a local pharmacy in Southampton. He grew up in Southampton, and went to a local school before hard work, intellect and aspiration got him to Oxford University and then a successful business career. He has my support. 

As Chancellor, he showed leadership by gripping the most unprecedented economic situation since the Second World War, saving millions of jobs through the Furlough Scheme during the pandemic. This showed leadership qualities that will be required to rebuild our economy and tackle the inflation crisis. 

When inflation began to rise on the back of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, Rishi introduced a raft of measures to support those who needed help the most. Some of these have made it through to people’s bank accounts and some are still to arrive, and include cutting £400 off every household’s energy bill; cutting council tax by £150 for 20 million households, plus giving an emergency, one-off, £650 payment to eight million struggling households.

Rishi has a proper plan of investment, innovation and growth. We need to rebuild the economy, so we can then cut taxes.

Rishi understands the challenges in the North East. A lot of people lent their vote to the Conservatives in 2019 to implement Brexit and level up opportunities in a region that has been forgotten for far too long. Rishi is committed to keeping Brexit safe and ensuring that his government continues to deliver investment and regeneration to our region. 

The challenges our region and country face need a serious and experienced leader – that person is Rishi Sunak. 

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Greenhead and Henshaw schools going from strength to strength

I recently was delighted to recently visit Henshaw and Greenhead Primary Schools.

Mike and the team of dedicated teachers at both schools have created a brilliant environment for the children to learn and develop.

The forest schools are a brilliant way for the children to learn about the local rural area and how food is produced.

The children gave me a thorough grilling about being an MP and asked a lot of questions about the Queen!

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.