The week of 29th April started with me travelling to Westminster on the morning train. Whilst on the train, I joined a call with Durham County Council about HUG (Home Improvement Grants) that was particularly about Ferryhill. Once in Westminster, the first Business was seeing the Post Office (Horizon) Offences Bill through its remaining stages – which was really positive. The day finished with meetings with staff and also a catch up with the Secretary of State for Defence.
Tuesday started with the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) for the Menopause. I took an interest in this group after meetings in 2022 with ladies from Sedgefield and the problems they were having getting support. The meeting is all about supporting and education for women about the symptoms of the Menopause and where and how support can be accessed. It was an education to me of how many women don’t recognise some challenges they may have, either physical or mental, that have their roots in the Menopause and I am working with them to look at how we can broaden this education, not only for women, but also for men who might want to support the women in their lives. I also recently visited a Menopause support session at Chilton, led by the PCP, and I will be joining one at Aycliffe in the near future. If you would like to know more, please do get in touch with me. Tuesday afternoon I had a couple of visitors who travelled down from Newton Aycliffe for an event at No 10 Downing Street celebrating ‘Community Childcare Champions’. My invitees were Jackie from Forest Park School and Kerry who links with Mums in small businesses to network support. There are so many more people in the constituency I could have invited to this, but I only have two slots. I was able to take the time to show them around the Palace of Westminster whilst they were down.
I finished the day with an Armed forces briefing from the Navy. Wednesday, as usual, started with Transport Select Committee where we were taking evidence on strategic transport planning and I was particularly interested in the evaluation processes that historically have been biased towards the South East.
From there it was to Prime Minister’s Questions before sessions on support for Agriculture and Wine Taxation. There was then a meeting of the Northern Research Group discussing our priorities for the North in any future election manifestos and finally a round table event with other MP’s and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Laura Trott. This was talking about some of the real progress the Economy is making as it recovers, but also our priorities going forward. After all of this it was the late train north ready for the elections on Thursday. Clearly, across the country, I found these disappointing, but I was pleased to see Ben Houchen re-elected in the Tees Valley as Mayor. Whilst I would obviously have preferred different results in the North East Mayor and The Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner elections, I congratulate Joy and Kim on their elections and look forward to working with them for the good of our communities.
Friday was an incredibly busy day which started with the visit by Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education, to Dean Bank Primary School in Ferryhill. This was the first school I attended as a child before moving to Aycliffe and going to Sugar Hill. I was delighted with the time she took at the school, being there for close to two hours, she was able to have good discussions with not just the Teachers and Governors, but also many pupils and she opened their new library. I then drove up to Wheatley Hill to meet a constituent and spent time talking with the manager of Greenhills Centre where we are planning a surgery in the next few months.
I then finished off with a call to Cash Access UK. They are the organisation behind the banking hub in Aycliffe and they are looking at one for Ferryhill. I have also asked for one in the Trimdon to Sedgefield corridor.
After Bank Holiday, in Westminster, we will have Treasury Oral Questions and the Finance Bill and I am sure lots of party politics following the elections. I have to say that, whilst I love my job as a Constituency MP, my least favourite bit is the politics that goes on when elections loom large. As always, if you want to catch up with me on Politics or anything else, it’s or call Newton Aycliffe 01325 790580.