Whilst we are in party conference season and Westminster is in recess, I have been able to get out and about in the constituency. Tuesday started with a visit to Roman for a catch up on their plans, and some nice coffee and cake, thanks Kay. I then went to the Aycliffe Secure Centre where I was able to see the incredible achievements of staff who are working with some young people from extraordinarily challenging backgrounds, I was massively impressed by their commitment and delivery. After holding a surgery at Middleton St George, I then went to County Hall at Durham to join a briefing on Levelling Up investments in the Sedgefield Constituency by Durham County Council. The primary points were around Aycliffe Town Centre and the Ferryhill Station railway project.
Last Wednesday I had discussions with a number of groups, including Durham University, about a possible Community First Graduate scheme before a surgery at Middridge. There we had a representation about speeding traffic in Middridge, I will push that concern to the police and the Police and Crime Victim’s Commissioner. After surgery was complete, it was on to the Ferryhill local history society. They had a talk about the Green Howards and next time it will be Chris Lloyd from the Northern Echo talking about Darlington.
Thursday started with a walkabout with the Police and Crime Commissioner and local councillors in Ferryhill looking particularly at the ASB shopkeepers were suffering and she was strongly encouraged to apply more resource and improve the 101-phone system. I then went to see the outstanding Sedgefield Community College and hear their plans to make it even better. After that I headed to Newcastle to visit Inex which is one of the companies associated to the eco system of space orientated businesses in the north east. It was interesting to understand their connections with businesses in Aycliffe and Sedgefield and their impressive growth plans. It was then back to Sedgefield to join the forum of NETPark ambassadors. Whilst NETPark has been in place for around 25 years it needs to have its profile promoted to further encourage more private sector inward investment to support Durham County Council’s recently announced plans and this is the role I and the other ambassadors can deliver.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of a visit to 3M to understand how their business coped through Covid and the significant changes that have arisen in their marketplace. It was then back to NETPark for another discussion on the Space sector. At the weekend I headed off to the Conservative party conference. My initial engagements, apart from meeting many colleagues and friends, have been to join a fringe event on “Trusting the People,” which was about getting meaningful power to local communities and participating on a panel discussing the importance of Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 eastern leg. This gave me the opportunity to further make the case for Ferryhill Station and the Leamside line.
This was written on Monday and I will tell you more in next week’s column about the rest of the conference.
I have had the invite to go for a flu jab, like I am sure many of you have, and I would encourage those of you invited to go, to get it and if you’ve not yet had your Covid jabs, please sort that too.
Paul Howell MP
Member of Parliament for Sedgefield