Monday, 15 September 2014
Sunday, 14 September 2014
I got my photo done in Westminster last week - and chose a very robust pink tie - albeit the Breast Cancer Campaign girls who were in the Commons to promote the cause gave me the giggles by suggesting everything from a pink boa to a pink cloak. Not sure it was quite my style.
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Scotland edges back from the brink - encouraging signs that momentum has swung back to a "No Thanks"
Firstly the message is getting through that the Uk as a whole wants Scotland to stay
Second the economic arguments become more overwhelming every day as all the major employers say they would leave if the Scots go independent.
And why would not they do that when people like the SNP oddball Jim Sillars saying the following?
Separately I am a massive fan of Inverness's Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator. His report makes a sad but sober read.
I could have gone to Scotland, for obvious reasons: to anyone who reads the blog this matters desperately to me. But I decided to stay in London and support the International Aid Bill.
More about the campaign is set out here:http://www.turnupsavelives.org.uk
People sometimes ask - can we afford to give money to refugees, to the vaccine programmes, to help feed the starving?
There are three ways to answer this question.
Firstly, ask yourself - do you give money to charity? Because the reality is that we are looking to give £7 out of every thousand this country makes to a type of charity. That is 0.7%.
Secondly, we are a first world country with wealth beyond the wildest dreams of many. Slowly our country is turning its economy around and balancing our books, and although there have been significant hardships we have clean water, few diseases, a free and superb NHS, welfare for all who slip through the net, pensions for all, a fair judiciary, democracy, law and order, and so much more.
I think the wealthy should help support those in need. The difference this makes to so many is astounding. Examples of the help include:
Thirdly, try and see the difference yourself. I wanted to be convinced the money was really reaching the refugees and not being squandered or filtered away in corruption. That may have happened before, but it is not now. Earlier this year, I went to visit the Syrian refugees stranded north of Aleppo, in a British government supported Aid camp. The experience moved me beyond words. I have seen for myself that our aid helps save lives. The Journal covered the story as follows:
Friday, 12 September 2014
Mr Paisley, who was 88 when he died, moved from the being the "Never Man" to become Northern Irelands First Minister in a power sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein.
This today from Marin McGuiness:
"Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government. I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists."
The lesson for all those in Gaza, Kashmir, and all the other conflicts around the world is that even the most difficult problems can be solved and that peace can be found, if there is a genuine will to forge a better way forward and a commitment to work together peacefully with former enemies.
The BBC reports on him as follows: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29173707
I have been many times these last 18 months: some examples are here from two Saturdays ago: http://www.thejournal.co.uk/north-east-analysis/analysis-news/hexham-mp-guy-opperman-heads-7713615
and here: http://guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/better-together-embraces-all-parties-to.html
Sadly this weekend I cannot go to Scotland as I have a family wedding to attend. However, others can go and lend a hand:
The Better Together website is here: http://bettertogether.net/blog
Two contact details for Northumberland people of any political persuasion or inclination, who want to help, in the Borders, which is less than 80 minutes from Hexham:
John Lamont MSP - whose Hawick office is
25 High Street
TD9 9BU Telephone: 01450 375 948 [ask for Ross]
Or the Better Together team HQ in the borders
Better Together South of Scotland Office (Galashiels, Scottish Borders)
2 High St
Galashiels, Scottish Borders TD1 1SD
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Before building on the green belt we should bring derelict properties into use - what do local people think?
Homes on the green belt or action by the County Council to bring empty homes back into use?
I believe it is clearly important, and potentially better value for money, to bring derelict properties back into use rather than building from scratch on green belt land as the NCC are proposing to do in some places. It is also of aesthetic benefit, as well as being popular locally. For the present argument I have put to one side all the brown field land that is available to be built upon, such as the police site in Ponteland.
Some progress nationally is being made, and a recent study of Kent could provide a good guide. According to the Empty Homes Agency there were 324,733 long term empty homes in the private sector in November 2009. By November 2012 it was 259,842.
One explanation is that the New Homes Bonus applies not only for new homes but long term empty properties brought back into use:
As the DCLG Minister Baroness Hanham said::
"Under the new homes bonus, local authorities also earn a financial reward for bringing a long-term empty home back into use. To date this has provided an income to local authorities of £59 million for almost 51,000 homes brought back into use. Our reforms on council tax flexibilities and the new empty homes premium will also allow councils to remove the tax subsidies being given to empty homes and instead use the funding to keep the overall rate of council tax down and support frontline services."
I am pushing NCC on progress they have been making in bringing the number of long term empty properties in the county back into use.
There has been great success in some Counties such as Kent, with its "No Use Empty" campaign.
The Kent example is worth noting:
- Sometimes enforcement is used, where there is a real eyesore but the carrot is preferred to the stick.
- Mostly it is just advice – putting the owner in touch with a local auctioneers.
- Or there might some modest help – paying the auction fees or dealing with the admin. This is often useful for those who live outside the area.
- The county council also offers interest free loans to restore properties. These are paid back when the property is sold.
- So far 455 empty properties have been restored and sold due to these loans.
- Another 3,000 properties have been brought back with just a bit of nudging and some more modest help.
There is some cost to the Council Taxpayers of Kent. A couple of staff are employed to run the scheme. Also, if at any given time Kent County Council is borrowing money, and then lending it interest free, that is also a cost. However, the New Homes Bonus offsets that. It’s worth six years Council Tax for each new home. In Kent, the districts get 80 per cent and Kent County Council 20 per cent. Even so that is a significant sum. Then there is the impact on Business Rates to consider. Dealing with derelict properties is an effective way to regenerate an area. Councils now have an incentive to encourage economic growth.
Tackling the problem of derelict empty homes is also about fighting crime and improving the environment as well as providing more jobs and housing. It is something as Conservatives we should proud of. This is something where the Government is making a difference.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Better Still: tell your friends to come and visit soon.
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
The evidence from Canada's referendum 20 years ago when Quebec thought about leaving is that the rest of the country needs to be passionately making the case to the undecided nation that they want them to stay. I will be doing this myself in the days leading up to the Referendum next week.‘There is a lot that divides us – but there’s one thing on which we agree passionately: the United Kingdom is better together.That’s why all of us are agreed the right place for us to be tomorrow is in Scotland, not at Prime Minister’s Questions in Westminster.We want to be listening and talking to voters about the huge choice they face.Our message to the Scottish people will be simple: “We want you to stay.”
As always close to election people worry, but it was ever thus, and you just have to keep campaigning, keep making the case, and worry not too much about the media. I will be going back north of the border in the last few days to help Better Together team get out the vote. In reality, like all elections this will be a numbers game and turnout on the day is key. If any of my constituents south of the Border want to do more then they can contact me and I will direct them as to where we are helping or they can contact Better Together direct - their website is here: http://bettertogether.net/blog/entry/no-borders-between-our-young-people-and-opportunity
The crucial day will be 17th and 18th September. Any locals wanting to help on the 18th should get mark it out in their diary.
Monday, 8 September 2014
Later in the week I have the Association of Air Ambulance awards meeting - where we attempt to identify and assess who the winners of these annual awards will be.
Also on Wednesday parliament will be debating the conflicts and unrest in the Ukraine, Middle East and beyond from around 12.40 onwards.
I have multiple constituents coming to Westminster this week for meetings and some on tours, and we are working the full week once again in Westminster as Friday is another Private Members Bill day.
Sunday, 7 September 2014
I believe the Northumbria NHS Trust are wrong not to reduce, or take away entirely, the car parking charges that are required of both patients and NHS staff.
The previous argument that this was required otherwise locals and tourists would use the Hospital car park if it was free, I entirely supported. However, the town centre is now free: the debate is well argued with several very interesting ideas and suggestions. In my speech I went out of my way to make it clear that I have nothing but respect for the managers at the NHS Trust. They, like the NHS staff are doing a great job. But the managers are in the wrong on this issue. Patients, their families who attend them, and the staff themselves, who are effectively having to pay to park close to their place of work deserve a better deal.
Saturday, 6 September 2014
The origin of horse racing in this country is steeple chasing - riding from church steeple to church steeple across country. These days you can do this across Tynedale by horse, foot, bike or even car.
You simply pick the churches you want to go to, plan a route and get a few sponsors. Last year I went everywhere of Wylam to Hexham to Whitfield and finished at the church of the Holy Paraclete in Kirkhaugh.
This year other commitments prevent me from taking part but I warmly recommend it. It is for a great cause and you get the chance to see some of the amazing churches we have here in Tynedale. If you can do it on a horse so much the better but a bike is still brilliant.
Friday, 5 September 2014
I managed to attend some of the debate and was able to speak briefly as follows:
Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I congratulate him on securing this debate and support the motion, on behalf of the many constituents who have contacted me. May I make a simple point? The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has gone through the process of traceability for cattle, sheep and other animals, so surely the way forward must ultimately be a register of and traceability for cats and dogs.
I can do no better than cite parts of the speech of the former Science Minister, David Willets MP, which sets out very eloquently why this ground breaking research, pioneered in Newcastle, and which will save lives, should be supported.
"I think that this is a great piece of British scientific advance. We should congratulate the scientists at Newcastle university who have been in the lead in the research. My view is that provided it meets stringent safety requirements this is something that should go ahead because it will alleviate the suffering of constituents whom we represent.
Thursday, 4 September 2014
The western worlds leaders have a lot to discuss over the next two days. The need for a reasoned discussion and then decision on Ukraine is obvious, but it is clearly very important that NATO shows that it is relevant and effective in a post Cold War era.
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Plus the campaigns on road safety and A69 improvements, the need for an integrated "Oyster" card style ticket in our region and the work I am doing in many ways on the Tyne Valley Line. All in the usual 5 minutes of radio time! Tune in if you can.
Puppy and Kitten Farming petition - Mass commercial production / sale of young pets is wrong and needs reform
I welcome the Government’s commitment to look further at the issue of pet sales over the internet, as well as the guidance that is being provided to people looking to buy a puppy. I urge all my constituents who are interested in purchasing a young dog or cat to research thoroughly the breeders or pet shops beforehand. It is a good idea to choose a dog or cat through the Assured Breeder Scheme, or by adoption from legitimate rescue organisations. You should also be sure to ask ‘where’s the mum’ and check to see how the puppy interacts with the mother to make sure that they have not been separated.
The Prime Minister confirmed key points:
- Police will gain the power to seize passports at the border temporarily so that they can investigate an individual. This power will include safeguards and oversight arrangements.
- Ministers will also draft legislation giving the authorities powers to stop British nationals who have travelled abroad to join jihad from returning to the UK. Existing powers do not apply to those who are solely British nationals; he said a ‘targeted discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals’ would redeveloped with agencies and on a cross-party basis.
- Airlines will have to give the government details of passenger list and comply with security screening demands or their flights will not be able to land.
- The government will start preparing legislation that it can introduce in case an ongoing legal challenge to the royal prerogative powers allowing the Home Office to seize passports succeeds. That primary legislation would be introduced immediately if necessary.
Monday, 1 September 2014
Tuesday I have a Treasury question at 12.15 and will then be trying to take part in the Pensions Bill debate, which is a groundbreaking improvement on how we control our pension and retirement funds.
Wednesday is packed with meetings, PMQs and my Northumberland transport debate at the end of the day in the Commons chamber. There is a lot to raise but we are drafting the speech in the office at the moment.
Thursday I will try and go to the chamber for the puppy farming debate although I do have a series of meetings that day. We are here for Fridays debate as well, which is a recurring theme this coming winter as the Commons is sitting a lot of Fridays, making it difficult to get home for Friday surgeries. As always, if anyone has anyone complaints, problems or issues to raise then please get in touch by email, letter or phone or take them up locally with Pete, who is my roaming caseworker, holding surgeries in 6 different locations across the constituency.
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Fraser Nelson of the Spectator examines this decision and the fact that only a few months ago the MP was telling everyone to get behind the PM. Whether you want to get out of Europe or simply want a referendum to resolve the matter once and for all it is worth a read.
My advice of course would be make sure everything is locked away and as secure as is possible.
Farm insurer NFU Mutual’s rural crime survey says the most common items targeted by thieves in the North East over the last 12 months were quad bikes, metal, and horse transport and equipment. Rural crime is definitely becoming more sophisticated and Northumbria Police must ensure that tackling and preventing rural crime is a priority.
The cost of thefts from farms across Northumberland and County Durham rose by 12% in 2013, costing the regional economy an estimated £840,000, compared with £750,000 a year earlier.
Saturday, 30 August 2014
On trains I will be focusing on the rail infrastructure in Northumberland, focusing on the Tyne Valley Line between Newcastle and Carlisle, but I will also be addressing many other rail issues like the Gilsland and Bardon Mill stations.
Locals all know that with the Tyne Valley line:
- the rolling stock is old, there are issues on fares and and other issues and there is no Wi-Fi on the trains; we feel that the service is the poor relation of the Northern Train Network, notwithstanding a passenger increase; there are concerns as to the Northern Rail Franchise Consultation - noone wants to see lesser services.
I will be asking about the possible Designated Community Rail Service and what this means, in reality.
- Gilsland Station rebuild: this is presently in the GRIP system but needs more Northumberland county council and network rail support. The old station was disbanded many years ago. Lots of the infrastructure remains and it would provide a massive boost to jobs, tourism and infrastructure if it were reopened. I am a big supporter.
- Rail crossing improvements – a Network Rail issue but we are looking to explore the future upgrades and improvements programme.
- I will also be raising the bridges controversy, notably the Bardon Mill proposed bridge, which I visited last week and spoke to residents and members of the Parish Council about.
Finally on trains I shall discuss the fact that the North East has no Oyster Card system for an integrated transport network system, as London and elsewhere does have and why this is the case.
On Roads I shall be raising A 69 Improvements west of Hexham leading to the Cumbrian Border. It is an accident black spot and I saw the Secretary of State for Transport on this issue last session; clearly money is tight but we want to know that we are in the queue for upgrades. Similar comments apply regarding the A696 safety improvements north of Ponteland. We will also be raising traffic safety elsewhere in Northumberland, and continuing to push for the A1 upgrades.
As always please get in touch with your comments, requests and suggestions. I have received many comments thus far over the last few weeks on many of these issues. All thoughts very welcome.
Friday, 29 August 2014
In a letter send to parents by the Council's Passenger Transport Operations Manager a Council officer informs parents "We have not so far received the same volume of applications for transport from Post 16 students that we would normally expect this time of year This is probably due to the recent changes regarding the provision of Post-16 transport." We warned the County Council that parents in rural areas could not afford their new £600 tax and already we have the evidence. The Council received dozens of letters from families in rural Northumberland warning they simply did not have the money for this new tax on school transport. It is very sad to see that already there are less applications.
Parents have been told by the Council it was "not in a position to award your child a seat from 2nd September." - which is the start of term!
In the Council's rush to impose charges on rural families they have created chaos in their own system. We now have the ridiculous state of affairs where some parents do no even know if their child will be able to get the school bus. That situation is not acceptable.
You can read the full story in the Journal:
Thursday, 28 August 2014
It makes sobering reading. But if you want a high tax, union controlled, job destroying, approach to an economy and a country then vote for the Two Eds.
"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Councils across the country can now bid for government funding to build thousands of new homes on brownfield land. The £200 million fund will be shared between up to 10 new housing zones, all which must be outside of London. It is hoped the sites will deliver between 7,500 and 20,000 homes.
Since 2010 the government has taken a number of steps to make sure that brownfield land as possible is prioritised for new housing development. By 2015 100,000 new homes will have been constructed on previously developed state owned land. If we are to protect the greenbelt here in Northumberland we must see the Council
plan to develop more brownfield sites.
The Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis, said “We need to build more homes in this country, but it’s also vital we protect the countryside that people rightly treasure. That’s why the government is offering councils a share of £200 million to prioritise development on brownfield land. The new dedicated housing zones will transform
disused and derelict land, and ensure the new homes are built quickly in a process that is more straightforward for councils and builders."
This is another valuable step to protect our greenbelt. I am delighted by this funding announcement which will
further help protect the greenbelt. I have written to Northumberland County Council to encourage them to prepare a bid for this project. Across the country the level of greenbelt development is at its lowest rate since records began in 1989. As it stands the Council’s draft housing policies are simply unsustainable.
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
If you have not signed up and want to come at this late stage - we leave Hexham at 9.45 sharp Saturday but please let me know if you are coming - email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
This week I have a young student, Joshua Babajide, helping Dan in the Westminster office, and trying to learn more about politics and the office of an MP, albeit I am based in Hexham this week.
Joshua comes to us via the Social Mobility Foundation, which is an excellent charity that aims to make a practical improvement to the lives of young people by helping them gain work experience in a range of professional environments. This is a charity that is doing so much to help young people get their first experiences of a number of different professions. Other students from the foundation go and experience what it is like to work in a variety of career sectors such as Accountancy, Media, Engineering and Law. It is nice to know that, out of all the possible fields, Joshua decided to learn more about politics.
The consultation is now being considered by the council. All letters or emails to me these last few months are definitely part of the consultation. Ten days ago there was a march in Hexham - I could not go as I had long booked surgery appointments with 2 local businesses and had agreed to visit several local constituents at their homes in Heddon on the Wall. Sadly the diary has to be planned in detail and a fair way in advance, particularly in August, which makes the ability to change plan spontaneously quite difficult.
My understanding is that we will get a decision on the consultation soon: what "early Autumn" is I am trying to find out but this is the recent comment of the county council spokesman Cllr Ian Swithenbank, policy board member responsible for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council, who said: “We are very keen to engage with and gain comments and feedback from as many people as possible on the options for the bus station. No decision will be made until early autumn, and only after further consultation has been completed.”
Monday, 25 August 2014
- Scotland at Home
- Scotland in the World
- What Happens after the Vote
Are you going to help, get involved, or host an event - or simply go along, meet your friends and neighgbours and raise money for a great cause? Last year I was in Heddon on the Wall Village Hall and a great time was had by the dozens of people who turned up.
Full details are here: http://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx
I am unclear where I am going to go but I know that events are already organised locally in places as far apart as Ponteland and Humshaugh.
Sunday, 24 August 2014
AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.
Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleet. I am pictured with puppy walker Vanessa and Ushka the puppy and Community Engagement Officer Sue Rowan and her guide dog, Layla.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Book now to avoid disappointment - I am going to try and go at some stage on the weekend of the 18-19th but diaries are always difficult, not least as the House is sitting.
Friday, 22 August 2014
Kindly the store offered me a charity bet. As a a former steeplechase jockey and tipster I would normally bet on horses but I am not a huge fan of the flat so I picked this Saturdays football game and backed:
- Newcastle to beat Aston Villa at odds of 7-4
- Newcastle to win 2-1 at odds of 10-1
2 good charity causes riding on this so no pressure lads! The game is at 12.45.
The preferred new site is now to co-locate with the Hexham Hospital. I am fully behind this idea for a number of reasons, not least that all 3 emergency services know it is my strong view that we should have co-location of emergency services wherever possible. As they all know I would go further with far greater co-responding and interconnection between differing services in responding to events, led by the relevant expert. This particularly applies in truly rural areas.
The Hexham Hospital site is not perfect - no site ever is - but it is a massive improvement on the present site, it comes at a genuinely reasonable cost given the alternatives, and provides Hexham with a 21st Century Fire Station. It also allows the Northumberland County Council to reassess and use the present Hexham site, and the alternative Golf Course site that has lain idle for many years. Given all that my provisional view is to back this move wholeheartedly, although I want to see the product of the consultation and see what comments are made.
The Consultation is ongoing until 5th September so I urge any locals supportive or opposed to get involved. The email address is email@example.com
or write to Headquarters at West Hartford Business Park, Cramlington NE23 3JP
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
The key passage for me is this:
For more details on the debate and my speech click on the link above.
He is wrong on many issues and fortunately retiring at the next election. I think it is a very good thing that the commons is becoming more representative of the country, with many more female MPs at every election. I help lead Women to Win and have helped train such future Conservative stars as Nusrat Ghani, Lucy Frazer, Maria Caulfield and Vicky Atkins. All will be amazing MPs, and are presently excellent candidates in Wealden, Cambridgeshire, Lewes and Louth.
I could go on about certain MPs in all parties saying things they should not but this is not ageism. What annoys me about Austin is that we rarely see him in the commons chamber. There are some veterans who are there a lot - whether you agree or disagree with them Dennis Skinner, David Winnick, Richard Shepherd and sir Peter Tapsell all contribute a great deal. All are 70+.
So on this issue I am strongly against Austin and stand on the barricades with the female MPs who are rightly up in arms. Eventually the dinosaurs became extinct. I hope Austin's views will be extinct soon too.
If you have not visited it is a beautiful village - immaculately looked after. Full credit to all the locals who have put in so much effort.
The full list is here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/communities/pdf/bloom/Britain-in-Bloom-2014/finalists
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
There is no doubt that Darling won the first debate, and that Salmond seems ever more desperate. His argument on the pound is unravelling. If he wants independence then he can have it – provided the Scottish people agree. But with independence comes a different currency. It is that simple. Last week’s suggestion by the SNP that Scotland is more predisposed towards ‘social justice’ than other parts of Britain is frankly absurd, and embarrassing. I hope to continue our campaign to maintain the Union and that ultimately Scotland will say “No thanks”.
Monday, 18 August 2014
The key section of the debate is as follows:
- "On what basis would Scotland get to keep the pound? Would it be used informally, just as some Latin American countries, Greece and Montenegro use other currencies?
- Why should the Bank of England take notice of Scotland in setting monetary policy?
- Why should the Governor travel to Edinburgh and be interrogated by Scottish MPs in such an event?
- After independence, surely the Governor would owe his appointment entirely to a rest-of-UK appointment system?
- At that stage, would the First Minister come to London seeking an audience to negotiate?
- when one goes through Mark Carney’s speech and looks at the currency options, it would seem that the SNP proposes to keep the pound as part of a formal sterling currency union agreed with the rest of the UK. However, the SNP seems not to have contemplated the fact that that would involve giving up huge amounts, as Mark Carney made very clear, as well as requiring the agreement of all other parties. The SNP seeks independence but would require and accept greater control by a third party."
Many more details on the debate in parliament at the link above.