Visiting people who are making a difference in their community is one of the delights of my job. Last weekend I went to Middleton St George Community Centre to see their latest efforts which were the addition of a new car park. Then the week (commencing Monday 30th October) started with a catch up with the Integrated Care Board for North East and North Cumbria (ICB) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) Mental Health Trust. The meeting was about many things, but, in particular, I raised the issues constituents are having with getting support through Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHs) and Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). I am currently meeting as many affected parties as possible and welcome approaches from anyone else who is affected.
I also had several briefings over the week on what is happening in Gaza. This is a truly horrific situation and the sooner a solution can be found the better. I have been able to listen to many people closely impacted and getting to the truth behind the media stories is a challenge. As I said last week, Parliament is prorogued. Prorogation is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session but that does not mean it stops working. Whilst the actual Chamber is not in operation and laws are not being updated the Ministers and Civil Servants continue to work in Westminster and the rest of us are active in our Constituencies. Therefore, despite the prorogation, I still had my weekly catch up with the Treasury Ministerial team. This was a Teams meeting but still meant I could feed in important issues for us.
As I said earlier, I am having many meetings around Mental Health support and these continued with Constituents this week and I will be talking to schools and providers as well as support agencies. I also called into Moore Lane Eco Centre, the new home for Greenfield Arts, an organisation who are passionate about creative learning and inspiring all ages. I look forward to them developing in their new home. I also took the opportunity to call into Hub of Wishes, they are a fantastic bunch of professional staff and skilled volunteers. It was an absolute pleasure to chat to a number of them and their guests. On Wednesday I was also able to call in at the Newton Aycliffe PACT (Police and Communities Together) Meeting at The Big Club, this is not normally possible due to me being in Westminster. Biggest issues raised were anti-social behaviour and off-road bikes. Concerns were also discussed about the courts not being as robust as people would like. I also was able to join the meeting for the Aycliffe Hub Steering Group. I have been supportive of the creation of a Community Hub in the Town Centre for a number of years, I am delighted they are now making real progress and I will do all I can to support them. I also went up to Wheatley Hill for a meeting with Constituents.
On Wednesday I spent the morning with veterans selling poppies etc for the Royal British Legion appeal. The Constituency Garden of Remembrance, in partnership with the Royal British Legion, opens on New Palace Yard in Westminster on Monday 6th November. This is where each MP can place a cross. We typically look to personalise the cross to associate to the Constituency and in previous years I have referenced the Durham Light Infantry and the Aycliffe Angels. This year I reached to Bill Cooksey, after his incredible efforts, and Bill has referenced the Middle East Command where he served and I will be proud to place this in the Garden of Remembrance in the Palace of Westminster.
I should have had a meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for County Durham and Darlington on Friday 3rd November, to be briefed on several issues with other MPs and I was going to raise the ongoing frustrations with the Newton Aycliffe Police Station as well as the issues from the PACT meeting but unfortunately this was cancelled at short notice. I have a one-to-one meeting scheduled later in the month so, if that takes place, I can raise the issues then. The week finished with a trip to Sedgefield Farmers Market which takes place on the first Sunday morning of each month and is well worth a visit.
Week commencing Monday 6th November will start with more Constituency meetings before The King’s Speech on Tuesday and I will be at Faslane as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme at the end of the week before a full weekend of Remembrance Parades and wreath laying.
If you want to catch up – please give me a call on Aycliffe 01325 790580 or email me at