Dear Sir,

In a recent post to the Newton News, I alluded to changing times and changing faces. Change is inevitable and necessary including within my own Party. I just wanted to relay a few points regarding one of our new recruits whom I am very excited to welcome into the team.

Before that, I would just like to say that it hasn’t been easy. The requirements for selection as a Labour candidate have been stepped up and for me it meant a tough but successful scrutinised testimony from my Whip, plus an onerous probing application pack from the selection panel, which took me 10 hours to complete. Then, a long arduous search campaigning to win a selection vote, and to top all that, a further security and diversity probe from the General Secretary. This was my experience and it applied to all of the County candidates.

These exacting requirements ensure thorough vetting, due diligence, prior to becoming a candidate and I am pleased at this point to mention a gentleman who was successful in becoming a candidate for Neville ward in the Town Council elections. Simon Hocking is a bright young family man, Aycliffe born, reared on local stories and educated to Greenfield College excellence. The things that make him stand out in a crowd are his passion for his home town and how much he wants to serve and contribute into his community. He is a project manager with a firm on the Town and has already built up a strong network of connections. Having attended meetings and watched others perform as councillors for eight years, it is clear to me that Simon is an asset with many attributes I am more than happy to endorse.

The campaign will be ramping up soon so can I just say to voters happy hunting, you have not let the town down in the past and the information, as usual, is there to help with your decision. It will all be over soon along with, we hope, the pandemic. Let’s stick in, keep safe and take the Town and County forward together.

Cllr Jim Atkinson

Town and County Councillor