It has been a wet Christmas and New Year with flooding in many places but thankfully not in Newcastle Central. I hope everyone managed to enjoy a few days rest and relaxation as 2015 ended, I know my emails were considerably reduced over the period, which I consider to be a good sign!
Royal Mail sorting office in South Street
Nevertheless the lack of well resourced, intelligent and effective flood defence strategy must be of concern to everyone. Climate change, land management and Atlantic storms all played a part but cutting 800 people from the Environment Agency Flood Risk Teams cannot have helped. This week Labour held the Government to account over their weak response to the recent floods that have devastated communities across the country.
The emergency services and military have done a sterling job in their response to the floods ensuring swift and safe rescues for those affected. However, the Government has failed to adequately prepare our country for the effects of climate change and the impacts that flooding has on our communities
To make matters worse they have introduced a Housing Bill which does nothing to correct the causes of that failure and in many areas will make the housing crisis much worse.
This Bill will lead to a huge loss of affordable homes to rent and buy, which will intensify the spiral of ever higher housing costs. Home-ownership has fallen every year since 2010, and this Bill is a big let-down for aspiring home-owners. It leaves home-ownership out of reach for most families and young people on ordinary incomes.
Shadow Ministerial Role
- · I spoke from the frontbench for Shadow DCMS on the 25 November 2015 UK Musicians Performing Overseas [Westminster Hall] debate , on 3 December 2015 on Superfast Broadband
- · I spoke from the Front Bench for BIS questions on 3rd December on Adult Skills
- · I set out Labour approach on Culture and the Creative industries in a blog for the Morning Star http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-ff32-2016-Time-for-a-culture-of-change#.Vo6u-_mLTcs
Backbench and Constituency Role
· The vote on airstrikes in Syria was a difficult time for the party and the country. The overwhelming vote of people who contacted me was against strikes. I voted against airstrikes but the vote was carried.
· I spoke from the backbenches 16 November 2015 on Investigatory Powers: Police/Security Services and 26 November 2015 Women Engineers
· The Benwell and Scotswood ward summit held on Monday 23rd November was a great success and thanks to everyone involved in it. I will be publishing the notes later this month. We are now planning the next one, in Blakelaw in February
· I launched the new APPG for Adult Education (which I chair) in Parliament then raised it in the Chamber on 1 December 2015 by pointing out to that the Chancellor’s so called Long-Term Economic Plan required life long learning
· I intervened in the debate on airstrikes on Syria on 2 December 2015 to support Jeremy Corbyn’s view that more should be done to attack their financial revenues and on 1 December 2015 I argued we needed more time for the debate to consider alternatives.
· Visited five local businesses for small business Saturday.
· Met with the Minister for Africa and the DG of the UN Economic council on African economic development
· I discussed Newcastle City Council budget with Nick and Pat and other MP and then raised a number of questions with the Government on behalf of the Council including whether Apprentice Levy applying to local government (it does) and whether Academy School reserves are included in Council balance sheets (they are not)
Quoted regularly in local media. Recorded Politics show and two more interviews for BBC North East on Empty Housing and Geordie Shore, cited as one of six women of 2015 by Guardian. Interviewed by Irish World and Cyber Security Journal. Wrote a number of blogs.
· Namala, our Shaath Scholar from Palestine, ended her placement with us. We are advertising for a short term living wage intern in the Westminster office
Meetings and visits [till Jan11th]
- WEA Annual meeting, BAMER, Ignite, Emiline Bowman – Virgin Media, Channel 4 APPG, – Buzzfeed, Parliamentary and Scientific Committee’s Annual Lunch, Marcus Gruenwald – Kapturo, David Austin – British Board of Film Classification, together for short lives reception, advertising association reception, Judith Donovan & Scott Couldridge – Keep me posted, , Medical technology, Five Talents, 2015 UK IT industry award, John Mathers – Design Council, Alex Stepney and Alex Towers – BBC trust, Anti-bullying week, Adam & Patrick Collerton & Kanya King & Zoe Cook , Clare Moody MEP – Digital single market reforms, Henry V – Barbican, Abigail Pogson – Sage, Youth Parliament, Launch to build a Conservatoire for Dance Gateshead, Lloyds Bank foundation, Launch of Freeview play, Seven Stories 10th birthday, Royal Society science pairing scheme, Johh Walton muscular dystrophy research centre, Joanna Elson & Matt Hartley – Money Advice Trust, Luke Warren – Carbon Capture & Storage Association, NEA Members reception, RNIB & Blind veterans, Fairtrade panel discussion, Russell Group – Impact of research, Eve of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, “Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer” and “High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson” viewing, Canon UK reception, IET – House of Lords Briefing, Packaging & Films Association, Launch of Handz campaign, Cholesterol management in primary care, , Inspire UK, Cardiac risk in the young, The value of hedge funds to the UK economy, ITV drinks reception, Ed Brewster – Huawei, Charlotte Eyerman – Monteray Museum of Art, GDPR general data protection regulation, Our Lady of St Ann’s – Unison Stars in our Schools, John Tulip – Northern Film & Media, Inauguration of Bishop Of Newcastle, Tour Crowne Plaza Clouston hotel, Books on Tyne festival – Chris Phipps lecture, The People’s Post Campaign, Infrastructure North, British Entertainment Industry Radio Group, V&A Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition, Hetty Bailey Africa APPG, Labour to Palestine, Your Life, Dr Dave Innovation, BAE Wallace Collection, Vodafone, Ofcom, Shelter, National Youth Jazz Orchestra, David Clouston, , North East Quarterly Economic Survey briefing, Generator, Rev Lindridge Methodist Church.
- Pictfor CEO forum, What Next, Roundtable discussion with Israeli Orthodox Jewish Women politicians, Launch of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s latest report, Women students in STEM, Aveika opening, Courier interview, Ward Summit, Policy Connect Digital, Digital Evolution conference, UK Musicians performing overseas debateNE Climate Action UK Newcastle march, APPG for Adult Education, Syria Interviews BBC radio & TV, Host & Chair Africa APPG, Great North Museum, ICAEW Cyber security report, Google/parentzone school visit, PICTFOR annual dinner, Africa APPG meeting with James Duddridge, The Performers’ Alliance APPG, Westminster Education Forum, WhatNext NE gathering.