I hope everyone has had a good Christmas and New Year.
Over the recess I was able to spend more time with local groups and businesses. I was particularly moved by two events. Firstly an outdoor carol service in Places for People estate in Wingrove just before Christmas, organised by the local residents association and followed by mince pies and mulled wine. There were residents of all ages there and the sense of community was very strong.
I found a equal sense of community when I dropped in on the People’s Kitchen near St James Park. Entirely volunteer staffed, they provide hot meals for anyone who comes through their door every night, but especially at Christmas.
The return to Parliament last week was intensive with the Welfare Reform Bill in the Lords and Local Finance Bill in the Commons as well as important Westminster Hall and Private Members’ bills..
The Government announced they would go ahead with HS2 announcement which should, eventually, have a positive impact on the North East. But I was concerned at signs that the Government is not treating the North East fairly in some very important areas.
Over the summer the Government announced changes to the formulae which determines how much is spent on Health Services in the North East. That resulted in Newcastle losing 2.5% of our funding, whereas South Cambridgeshire, the constituency of the Secretary of State for Health, will see a rise of 2.1%.
Equally, the Chancellor’s Autumn budget announced new transport infrastructure spend to ‘kick start’ growth. But analysis from IPPR showed only 0.04% was spent in the north-east. The Government will be spending £2,731 per head in London compared with a mere £5 in the north-east.
In 2012 I will be working to make sure Newcastle is not treated unfairly in these and other areas.
Backbench Parliamentary Contributions
I spoke at Justice questions on the case of constituent Ann Nicholl’s daughter, Health questions on the changes to the health funding which mean Newcastle loses money and Lansley’s constituency gains money, Transport questions on the tiny proportion of Autumn Statement transport spending which was in the NE (0.04%) and in the Westminster Hall debate on regional pay on the disproportionate impact that has on the most poorly paid.
- Quoted many times in Chronicle and Journal, as well as an as well as in the Daily Telegraph, BBC News and many trade publications (eg Computer Week). Interviewed by Fabiana and wrote an article for Research Fortnight
- I continue my Extra article every three weeks and use twitter extensively (@chionwurah)
This month we are recruiting for part time junior caseworker, the last remaining permanent position. I offer work experience/volunteering to interested constituents and half one-day week LSE intern. I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 1500 per week.
- Meetings included: Open University, Technology Strategy Board, R3, EEF, Professor Stephen Clark, FT, Wingrove Carol Service, TUC North, ISIS Arts, Chief Superintendant Gary Calvert, People’s Kitchen, Greg Barker, Nexus, Tynemouth Fabians, Someone Cares, Virgin Money/Richard Branson, Air Products, IET, National Housing Federation, Cancer Research, ITV, Marianna Mazzucato, Sir Peter Carr (Strategic Health Authority), Newcastle City Council
- Speaking engagements included: Skeptics in the Pub on Innovation in the NE.