After a short week in Westminster last week, it’s back to normal timings now with a Monday morning trip to London on an Azuma made by Hitachi. It always makes me feel good that such an amazing product is made on our industrial estate and services one of the best connection routes to London in the country.
There are some particularly interesting debates this week starting with the final stages of the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill which changes the financing protocols for Nuclear Energy projects and should facilitate increased investment opportunities in this key strand of future energy demand. On Tuesday I need to be in 3 places at once! I am scheduled to be on the Finance Bill Committee at the same time as sitting on the BEIS Select Committee (looking at the outcomes of the Post Office Horizon scandal which is very important to all those caught up in it). I would also really like to contribute to the Westminster Hall debate on eye health and macular disease. I managed to secure a slip from the Finance Bill and will attend part of each of the others. The eye disease debate is particularly interesting as I have recently met with a company on NETPark that has created a product that could make a huge difference to people who suffer with macular disease and save the NHS a small fortune
I will have several meetings with the BEIS team, apart from the Select committee session, to raise issues raised by a variety of businesses I have met over last week. In addition, I will be meeting the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust for a regular catch up and, similarly, I will have a meeting with Durham County Council and the other Durham MPs. These meetings are a two-way process, with MPs being given situation reports from local agencies and being able to raise issues arising in our constituencies. We normally take anything raised by constituents direct to these organisations as they arise, but this is a perfect opportunity to progress chase any that are not making enough progress. If there is anything you would like us to raise, please get in touch via the email address below.
I am particularly looking forward to Friday this week as it starts with meetings on the Aycliffe Business Park in the morning before similar meetings with businesses based on Teesside Airport in the afternoon and then meetings about anti-social behaviour.
It’s always great to hear about community champions who take part in fundraising in the constituency and I recently heard about Ian Palmer who has bravely tasked himself with the Land’s End to John O’Groats Virtual Challenge so he can collect funds to build new changing rooms for Newton Aycliffe Cricket Club. At the time of writing, and on his first week, he’s raised £110. You can find out more on Ian’s Facebook page and the Newton Aycliffe Cricket Club page.
Talking of community champions, I must also give a shout out to Val Fawcett and thank her and her helpers for all they did through the Aycliffe Alcohol Recovery and Mutual Support Group, aka AARMS, sorry to hear you have decided to close the group Val, but many thanks for everything you and your team delivered.
Meeting people like Ian and Val is very definitely one of the best bits of my job!
We continue with the ongoing level of Covid restrictions that are probably the least restrictive in Europe now, which is very largely facilitated by the level of vaccinations delivered. It goes without saying that if you have not been jabbed or need a booster you are doing everyone, including yourself, a huge favour if you do get one. Our local NHS staff have been creating the opportunity, but it is up to you to take it up and get jabbed. The biggest risk is over the next few weeks of winter so getting your jab now makes absolute sense.
My thanks once again to the NHS teams delivering the jabs but also to all our front-line workers, particularly to those in customer facing roles. I specifically think about our shop assistants and those working on buses and trains who are trying to enforce mask wearing, remember it’s not their choice to require us to wear masks so please don’t blame them. Let’s all accept this minor inconvenience for a few more weeks and get through to Spring and Summer.
I would also give a shout out to our teachers and school staff for everything they are doing to try to keep our youngsters’ education up and running.
For now, let’s all stay safe and look after each other.
If you need to get in touch with me and the constituency team, please send an email to
Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield