Dear Newcastle


Chi attends  Newcastle Youth Council meeting 

 We hope that we have seen the worst of the winter weather and now the snow is finally off the streets of Newcastle.  I know how difficult it made ordinary journeys to work or shopping. Christmas and New Year seem a long time ago with Pancake Day is almost on us, although, hopefully, many of us are still managing to stick to New Year’s Resolutions. I have made it to the coast for a run just about every weekend and am hoping to keep that up.

But the New Year has also brought significant threats to our City and the most vulnerable within it. The final settlement for Newcastle City Council has confirmed unprecedented cuts being handed down from Whitehall . The consultation on how to implement the Government’s £100m of cuts has now closed with 57,000 submissions. The people of Newcastle have said very clearly that we do not want to see respite homes and libraries closed, youth services decimated, arts funding abandoned, not now or in three years time or ever. But the disproportionate and unfair cuts from Eric Pickles’ Department of Communities and Local Government are forcing incredibly difficult decisions on councillors – and us all.  I was struck by the Newcastle Youth Council report which consulted children and young people in the city and which can be found here: .  They note that some of the children consulted could not understand the magnitude of the cuts and offered to give up sweets in order to save local libraries or youth services.

I believe that this Government does not understand the magnitude of the long term impact that these cuts will have on the city and the country.  We will be paying the price for them long into the future.  We will get no support from this Tory-led Government or  their Lib Dem allies who have voted these cuts in.  However some innovative responses to the consultation from local people and organisations may mean together we can protect the most vulnerable and rebuild our economy.

I received many letters expressing concern over the historic  Same Sex Marriage vote. Before voting Yes, I set out my reasons for so are set out here: :

Shadow Ministerial Role

Ed Miliband asked me to take up the policy work on social entrepreneurship in the shadow Cabinet Office and Jon Trickett the Shadow Secretary of State then asked me to take on Cyber Security, eGovernment, Open Government and Civil Contingency as well.

Whilst I was sad to leave the BIS Shadow Ministerial team and science and innovation being my area of expertise, the more wide ranging role in the Shadow Cabinet Office encompasses pressing areas of policy development.  It will give me the opportunity to contribute to key areas of policy development as we move towards the election as well as helping make the machinery of Government more effective.

I spoke for the Opposition in response to a private members bill on the registration of lobbyists: [1] and at Cabinet Office questions on cyber security.

Backbench  Role

Continuing my housing campaign I spoke in Opposition Day debate on Private Rented Sector  about housing in Newcastle (and also mentioned  Live Theatre and the proposed  cuts to the arts here). I asked questions or intervened on  4 February 2013 (Newcastle Youth Council report on the cuts to Council grants) 31 January 2013 (Energy Bills ) 30 January 2013 (Scam Mailing [Westminster Hall]),  28 January 2013 (Basketball (Funding) & Disability Living Allowance) 21 January 2013 (Security of Engineers working abroad ).


Media: Quoted in local media, interviewed for BBC4 Feedback, A Nation of Innovation published in Fabian pamphlet[2], Blog on Broadband in Australia versus broadband here picked up in Australia


I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over  2000  per week, and currently the time to respond to non-urgent enquires stands at six working days. I have recruited a spring intern for Parliamentary office who will start on February 11th in Westminster.


  • Meetings & Visits: Lord Drayson, Malaysia High Commissioner, Northumbira University Malaysia, University of Western Australia, Melbourne University, Senator Conroy, Minister for Communications (Australia), UKTI UK Science and Innovation Network, Director of Investment, High Commission, Sydney, Malcolm Turnbull, Shadow Minister for Communications, NBN Co, Harvey Nash Asiapac, Friends of Earth, Peter Ingram, Richard Benyon, Commercial Union House project, Northern TUC  Leazes Homes, Capital Shopping Centres, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Openess in Animal Research Dinner, Social Entreprise UK, Northern Housing Consortium, Fabiana, Guardian, ITV, Live Theatre, Regional launch Joint Agencies Campaign on food & hunger St Mary’s Newcastle, HSBC, Broadband Forum, Sky News, McAfee, BAE, Smartwind Parliamentary Reception, BBC Radio 4, Intellect, Montagu DIY, Judith Kirton-Darling, Newcastle Youth Council, Service of Dedication St Nicholas Cathedral, Electrical Safety Council, Business Sprinklers Alliance, Supporters Direct, Federation of Small Businesses, Reuters, Vocalink, APPG Medical Research Annual Dinner, LGA Reception, Nick Forbes, Newcastle University Department of Synthetic Biology, Blessing & Dedication of New Organ St Mary’s Cathedral,
  • Speaking engagements: Chaired There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. Chaired Cloud computing Westminster eForum, spoke at PICTFor CEO Dinner,  Ravenswood School,  House the House, chaired PICTFOR Broadband Debate, Fabian Parliamentary Group Launch of the Great Rebalancing, Economist Superfast Broadband Webinar, Intellect Financial Infrastructure Programme Launch, PICTFOR and NextGen Superfast Broadband Breakfast, Friends of Earth Energise England Event, EEF launch of Primary Engineer, P&G Innovation Talk.

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