Well it has been a number of months since I wrote my monthly report and I can only apologise for the ‘pause’: I will try and keep it monthly in future.
It has been a very busy time. In Parliament I have spoke for the Opposition on the European Committee debate on European Space policy and in private members bills on regulatory charges and St Georges and St David’s Day.
I spoke from the backbenches in the debate on rural Broadband and held a debate Westminster Hall on the economic benefits of Machine to Machine Communications. My background as an Engineer means I am very aware of the importance of technology in growing jobs and the economy. In the North East we were at the forefront of the first industrial revolution and I want to make sure we take our place in the lead of the new, green industrial revolution.
That was the main reason why, just before the budget, I organised a Regional Economic Roundtable at Durham Cricket Club, with Gordon Marsden, Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Skills, to bring businesses and organisations together to consider what we wanted out of the budget and particularly how we could support the Local Economic Partnerships (LEP). Everyone there regretted the abolition of our RDA, 1NE, which gave us a strong regional voice and significant funds to invest in local businesses. But we are all determined to make the best of the LEPs.
In the budget debate itself I spoke about how important it is to support growth in the economy, and how reducing regulation, although important, is not going to give the next generation of businesses and entrepreneurs the skills they need.
Outside of parliament there was a heavy constituency workload. Many people have written to me about the proposed changes to the NHS, and their concerns. These have been passed on to the Minister.
I have been in close contact with those whose jobs are threatened by the closure of the Baron House on East Coast Rail service centre. We need skilled jobs like that to stay in our city. Many people also told me they feared for their jobs as a result of the redundancies and reorganisation announced by Newcastle College. I have written to the college a number of times about that.
I submitted 19 written questions and three oral questions. In particular, I am pressing departments on how they recruit interns, procurement and STEM education. In the last month I also met with many organisations and spoke at many events. Here is a sample:
- Meetings: National Physical Laboratory, Federation of Small Businesses, National Endowment for Science and the Arts, Institute of Engineering and Technology, North East Ambulance Service, Proctor and Gamble, Royal College of Nursing, East Coast Call Centre unions, SCARPA, Norcare, Open Clasp Theatre, West End Women and Girls Centre, Forces for Good, Newcastle University, 72 Engineers Regiment, Royal Academy of Engineering, Chairman’s Forum, Everything Everywhere, North East Economic Forum (with Eric Pickles), Gosforth Cub Scouts
- Speaking engagements: Leases Park Green Festival Green Debate, British Science Council AGM, Northern Ireland Veteran’s Association Bench Dedication, Return to Learn, Labour Small Business Task Force, Friends of the Earth Energy Bill Debate, Love Music Hate Racism festival, Kenton School Aspirational Film
Finally, Geordie Shore trashily exploited our city, our name and a number of our young people in a desperate search for ratings. Many wrote to me, and I have raised the issue in parliament.
But we should not exaggerate its impact. Newcastle is much bigger and better than Geordie Shore. 320,000 people watched the first episode. After this exploitative and derivative series finishes more people will have heard of George Stevenson than Geordie Shore. More people will be following Newcastle United than the programme. More people will recognise the Tyne Bridge than any of the poor kids in the show. They are the Newcastle icons which leave a lasting legacy.