Keeping You Informed (October 2013)

Dear Newcastle

As the evenings darken and the Christmas adverts begin the last thing we want is a huge energy bill. But that is just what we have to look forward to as energy companies announce price rises of around the 10% mark, much more than inflation and much, much more than average pay rises – for those who have jobs!North East MPs campaigning against the privatisation of East Coast at Central Station. L-R: Mary Glindon MP, Chi Onwurah MP, Catherine McKinnell MP, Ian Mearns MP, Stephen Hepburn MP

The Government refuses to stand up to the big six energy  companies. They seem to think that everything is fine.  Yes it’s true that unemployment has fallen slightly – and that’s good news.

But in Newcastle we know that the cost of living crisis isn’t over, and whilst it may be boom time for energy companies’ profit and bankers bonuses, ordinary people and small businesses in the North East are being hit by soaring bills.

Energy bills have risen by an  average £300 for families since 2010.  Small  businesses say that energy is the second  biggest cost they face. When wholesale prices rise, the energy companies pass the costs on to  consumers – but when they fall, bills stay high.

Ed Miliband’s energy plan will see gas and electricity bills frozen from the General Election to 2017, while the next Labour Government resets the energy market – making sure it works for ordinary families and businesses instead of ripping them off. The plans will save a typical household £120 and the average business £1,800. 

As we come to the time of the year when we need to put the heating on, many in Newcastle may be having to choose between heating and eating. So this Government sends the Chancellor to Brussels to fight to protect bankers bonuses.

That just isn’t right!

Shadow Ministerial Role

I spoke for Labour Front Bench at the Committee and the Report stages of the Lobbying Bill or the Gagging Bill as it is known. It has united almost everyone in lobbying, charities and trade unions against it and I have received hundreds of emails.  The Government refused to listen but we hope to achieve  some concessions in the Lords.

Backbench and Constituency Role

I spoke on Royal Mail 12th September, Zero Hour contracts on 16th October, Energy Bills competition on 17th October and Free Schools on 17th October. On 22nd October I raised the issue of the proposed cuts to Health Care funding in Newcastle highlighting my recent visit to Cruddas Park surgery and what great work is being done there despite difficult circumstances.

I was active in the British Science Festival, organising a People’s Science debate at the Miners Institute and introducing Armstrong’s Admirable speech. I also celebrated Black History Month in the constituency  and organised a Newcastle University ‘the University & the City’ event at Labour Party Conference.

I visited Paris and Brussels to discuss youth unemployment, social enterprise and cyber security with the Assemble National and the European Commission. I spoke at a European Affairs Committee on youth unemployment: (@50mins)


Media: Quoted extensively and on a number of subjects  in local media including Journal, Chronicle,. Interviewed by  Professional Engineer, Voice of Russia and Capital FM.  Published women in ICT  Guardian article, Research Fortnight article  and digital democracy and Ada Lovelace blogs, and Wonga blog in Mirror.

I also wrote for Backbench on declining voter turnout.


I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2000  per week.

Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:

  • Meetings & Visits : St John the Baptist Church, Age Cymru, Bangladeshi National Party, Cassidian, Detica, Prolynk, Telesoft, the Challenge, Glenroy Watson, British Science Festival, Northern Stage, Northern TUC,  GP Out of Office centre, Great North Run Blessing, Kable, Chaplain Rose,  Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience, Probation Service Demonstration, British Energy Challenge, Scotswood Community Garden Apple Challenge, EEF, Home Builders Federation, NHBC,  Sky, British Chamber of Commerce, CBI, A4E, Huawei, Mind, Heathrow, Bethnal Green Ventures,  French Assembly Chairman of Economic Affairs Committee, EU Commission Social Business Initiative, Laszlo Andor, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, DG Connect, Opening of Inspirational Women of North-East England Past, Present, Future, South African Trade Delegation, Newcastle Mental Health Day, Newcastle University, Nominet, Regulating Higher Education Report Launch, Justice Union NAPO Lobby, National Arthritis Week, Her in Hero Photocall, Liz Truss re Girls in IT, STEMnetworks, James Berrill, Vision Aid, Parliament’s World Mental Health Day, NEEF Forum, Open Government Partnership, John Fistein, Foundatiion for Science and Technology, Bobby Hajjaj Special Advisor to former president H.M Ershad Jatiyo of Bangladesh, James Firth, Newcastle Special Schools Trust launch, NCFE, Cruddas Park GP’s surgery.


  • Speaking engagements:  People’s Science Panel, Armstrong’s Admirable Speech Chair, Pictfor Digital by Default Chair, Rededication of Turbinia by IMechE, Arup Engineering Connect Women, Policy Exchange breakfast discussion Designing a truly digital government, Fujitsu Creating the collaboration nation – how can large and small businesses work together to deliver the growth agenda for UK plc, Countryside Alliance Mobile Signal, 2020Health Duty of Candour, Infrastructure Alliance Vision for & barriers to infrastructure & long term plans & consensus on projects, Green Alliance Building Real Communities, BCS Cyber Security, Newcastle University the University and the City, BAME Martin Luther King Celebration event, OPECST Cyber Security inquiry, French Assembly European Affairs Committee, CQC Black History Month, Sheila McKechnie Foundation CVS campaign workshop, Medsin/Medact, Newcastle University Nigeria Society, Westgate Hill Primary School Westminster Visit, North East Feminist Workshop, Show Racism the Red Flag Martin Luther King the Speech, Ada Lovelace Celebration, Canon Safe and Smart Reception.



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