Autumn has come flooding in, literally for some people in Newcastle and it looks likely that the rain will be with us for some time to come so I hope everyone can stay safe and dry over the next few weeks – and that there are enough umbrellas and wellies to go round!
But we shouldn’t forget what a good summer it has been, with the Olympic rings on the Tyne Bridge and everyone enjoying the spectacle of the London games. During both the Olympics and the Paraolympics we saw great sporting achievement celebrated across the United Kingdom, in all communities.
However there is nothing to celebrate in the economic situation. The double dip recession continues, borrowing has gone up to pay the unemployment benefit of those without a job, and there is worse to come as the majority of the cuts have still to be implemented.
Meeting with the leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, I learnt of the difficult choices facing the Council as Government cuts its grants in half over the next three years. But the Council is going ahead with implementing the Living Wage – those who have a job deserve to earn enough to live on.
And the Council was helped me to recruit an Administration Apprentice to my office. I can’t guarantee her a job at the end of it. But I can make sure she has the right skills to take advantage of the eventual recovery.
Over the summer I took the time to visit one of the people who helped me get the skills I needed. My old Headteacher at Kenton School, Mrs Inniss. It’s almost thirty years since I left Kenton, but she hadn’t changed a bit!
Housing is the number one issue that constituents come to me about. In particular privately renting tenants regularly tell me just how insecure they feel knowing they could be made to move out when their lease ends. Many have no significant period of security, even when they have lived in a house for years. This is why I am in launching a campaign this week to make housing more accessible for local people.
In Newcastle there are over nine thousand people on the waiting list for a house yet there are 4,000 homes currently sitting empty and 99% of those privately rented. There is no protection or safeguards for private tenants from lettings agents and private landlords. Residents in the private sector should get the same level of Government protection as private buyers and council tenants. The Government should take steps now to stop irresponsible agents and bring an end to rip-off fees.
I intervened in questions or debates on Universal Credit and Welfare Reform, benefit eligibility, Housing and Fire and Rescue Services [Westminster Hall] and academies. I also held a 30 minute debate on Science and Public Service Broadcasting where I called for improved coverage of science and engineering in non-specialist programs.
I held a special business surgery at the Civic Centre and I am launching a campaign on private sector housing this week.
I am now co-chair of PICTFOR, the Parliamentary ICT Forum, and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nigeria.
Shadow Ministerial Role
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill completed its Bill Committee stage on the last day before recess and will come back to the full House before going to the Lords. This Government seems to believe that the answer to the double dip recession lies in making it easier to sack people, not hire people! But they refused to accept any of the changes we proposed to help small businesses grow and give big business a more long term perspective.
Quoted many times in Chronicle and Journal, as well as an as well as in trade press particularly on broadband. I write monthly blog for computerworld uk and also wrote several articles over the summer, for Total Politics, Reform and the Fabians. I was interviewed by the BBC on diversity in parliament.
I continue to use twitter extensively (@chionwurah)
My summer parliamentary intern, Kelly Weaver, has worked on the housing campaign and knowledge management. A 16 year old apprentice, Alice Fleming has started in the Newcastle office. I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 1500 per week.
Meetings included: David Doherty Chief Exec Council for Industry & Higher Education (CIHE), SME Innovation AllianceRoundtable, Fabian Woman’s Summer Reception, Jon Gluyas Durham University, Rolls Royce Newcastle, Nick Forbes, Durham Miners Gala, Newcastles from round the world opening ceremony garden party, Royal Society of Chemistry Summer Exhibtion, Walmsleys Dry Cleaners. 165 Estate Walkabout, Discovery Museum, Newcastle United Women’s Football Club. BAE Unions, Northern Film and Media, Royal Society Scientific Pair (David Kavanagh), Phil Easdon, Moorbank Botanic Garden, Cruddas Park Bingo Club, EPSRC, Mrs Innis, Trinidad & Tobago 50th Anniversary of Independence, Virgin Money, Fujitsu, Tyneside Cinema Pop up Film School, Carillion, Quality Care commission, Eldon Square, West Farm Mews, . Ibrahim Dogus, Airport Operators Association, NESTA, David Sainsbury, Tyne and Wear Chief Fire Officer, Institute of Directors, Mastercard, UK Biosciences Sector, Breast Cancer Campaign, Policy Exchange, Chemical Industries Association. David Connell, Mariana Mazzucato, Canning Street Primary School, UK Airports, Nick Forbes, Newcastle Tenants Federation
Speaking engagements included, Unveiling of Alan Hull Memorial Plaque, Special Business Surgery, Young Fabians Meeting Sunderland, Shafto Court Summer Bbq, Urban Games Opening, chaired Westminster eForum Delivering digital Future for all, Launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nigeria Young Democracy Report