MP’s Report 5th October 2020

MP’s Report 5th October 2020

Dear Newcastle

I know this is a worrying and frustrating time for so many in Newcastle Central. I have received so many emails and phone calls from constituents angry, anxious and/or frustrated. Angered the lack of support for so many hit by the virus or struggling to do their best, like schools, in such difficult circumstance, and the incompetence, mess ups and mix ups that we see from Government on a daily basis; anxious about the prospects of a second wave of Coronavirus cases and what that will mean for jobs and loved ones, and frustrated by the lack of clear communication coming from the Government and the mixed messaging.  In particular, as we see in the graph below, there has been an exponential rise in cases in Newcastle and that is a cause of huge concern.

Reported cases per 100,000 for Newcastle

Cases have gone up almost tenfold since new lockdown measures were introduced on September 18th.

People ask me what is the evidence for the measure like early pub closing and I am afraid I just can’t answer them. Business owners  want to know why the Chancellor apparently thinks there lives’  work is ‘unviable’ when they were doing so well before the virus struck, and know they can make it work once the virus is beaten. Ten thousand Newcastle jobs are dependent on the Hospitality sector. The Chancellors Winter Economic Plan did little to help and there are increasing fears of widespread unemployment. Indeed the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions has admitted to planning for four million unemployed

In non-virus news, on September 9th I presented my Newcastle United petition, which attracted a great deal of attention and on the evening itself Mike Ashley announced that the Premier League had rejected the bid, rather than the bidder walking away. I found myself in the rare position of supporting Ashley if only in attacking the Premier League.

Pledging to fight for every job with Unite the Union

Backbench and Constituency Role

  • All staff continue to work from home. Casework is at record volumes and response times for non urgent issues have risen to three weeks. We are looking to bring that down to the target two week maximum and have taken on additional staff in order to do so.
  • The second attempt to open a BurgerKing on the West Road was rejected by Newcastle City Council following objections by myself and others.
  • I continue to engage with Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, urgent processing of citizenship for a local girl’s mother so she can pursue cancer treatment abroad, availability of testing data to local authorities, increasing track and trace capacity, financial support for individuals and businesses facing ongoing COVID-19 disruption and restrictions in the North-East, calling for increased transparency of football governance, raising questions surrounding the Newcastle United’s failed takeover, ensuring funding for measures taken to ensure children can return safely to Newcastle’s schools, forward planning for next summer’s exams, objections to the planned development of the former Police Station on Westgate Road and the Horizon scandal.
  • I raised the issue of a constituent child with a life-threatening brain tumour, DIPG, with Ministers in an effort to support her getting treatment.
  • I presented my Petition to Parliament calling for an independent investigation, greater transparency and fan involvement following the collapse of the NUFC  takeover

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role

  • Government announced the inquiry into the Post Office Scandal would be  lead by a judge following our calls and campaigning activity as well as many others including the Subpostmasters Alliance. But as the Urgent Question I responded on the 5th of October indicates there are still major problems with the inquiry, which cannot call evidence and expressly rules out considerations of compensation.
  • We held a number of roundtables and engagement events for Our Digital Future consultation.
  • We are continuing to meet with key stakeholders for the different briefs.
  • One hundreds days from the end of the transition period and we still do not know whether the UK’s Science community can continue to participate in European Union science programmes.

Discussing online harms as part of  Our Digital Future consultation

Spoken from the back bench twelve  times: School finances (7th Sept), School finances (7th Sept), Public sector algorithms (7th Sept),  Armed forces Northern Ireland (8th Sept), Premier League transparency petition (9th Sept), Welfare in the North East (14th Sept), Japan Trade deal (14th Sept), Coronavirus financial support (15th Sept), Covid evictions (23rd Sept), EU exit transition period (23rd Sept), Students return to University (29th Sept), Covid hospitality curfew (1st Oct),

Spoken from the front bench seven times: Intellectual property SI (9th Sept), Square Kilometre Array Observatory (9th Sept), European Structural investment funds provision (16th Sept), Galileo (29 Sept), Energy Licences SI (30th Sept),  Horizon Post Office prosecutions (5th Sept),

I asked 42 Written Questions: Digital Technology: Training (10th Sept), Exhibitions: North of England (10th Sept), Children: Internet (11th Sept), Teachers: Training (11th Sept), Universities: Overseas Students (14th Sept), Teaching Excellence Framework Independent Review (14th Sept), Small Businesses: Cybercrime (14th Sept), Telecommunications: Huawei (16th Sept), Internet: Safety (16th Sept), Telecommunications Systems (17th Sept), Telecommunications Systems (17th Sept), Coronavirus: Disinformation (17th Sept), Coronavirus: Screening (21st Sept), Coronavirus: Vaccination (21st Sept), Coronavirus: Disease Control (21st Sept), Coronavirus: Newcastle Upon Tyne (21st Sept), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Cybercrime and Digital Technology (22nd Sept), Children: Internet (22nd Sept), Revenue and Customs: Computer Software (23rd Sept), General Practitioners: Medical Records (23rd Sept), Asylum: Newcastle Upon Tyne (24th Sept), Asylum (24th Sept), Contact Tracing: Computer Software (25th Sept), TransUnion: Coronavirus (28th Sept), Ministerial Policy Advisers: Shares (28th Sept), Telecommunications: Watford (29th Sept), Companies: Venture Capital (30th Sept), British Patient Capital (30th Sept), British Patient Capital (30th Sept), Life Sciences (30th Sept), Pension Funds: Science and Technology (30th Sept), British Patient Capital (30th Sept), British Patient Capital (30th Sept), Twitter: Racial Discrimination (30th Sept), Cancer: Children (30th Sept), Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma: Research (1st Oct), Sustainable Innovation Fund (1st Oct), Sustainable Innovation Fund (2nd Oct), Asylum: Newcastle Upon Tyne (5th Oct), Coronavirus: Disease Control (5th Oct), House Of Commons Tabled Parliamentary Question 2019-21 98965 (5th Oct), House Of Commons Tabled Parliamentary Question 2019-21 98966 (5th Oct).

Sky Arts commissioned a Swing Bridge painting


Charlotte Holloway left the team, Charlotte Butterick joined to look after the  Digital Consultation and Brooke joined the Casework team


Quoted frequently in local and national media including the Chronicle Black Lives Matter appearing on BBC Politics and interview with BBC Look North regarding Lily Jha,.


Meetings and Visits  (Organisation/Name)

Royal Mail, Bioindustry Association, William Perrin, Danny  Stone Antisemitism Org, Datastax, Jamie Susskind, Sky Arts, APPG East Coast Main line, Minister Warman Telecoms Security, One Web, Match Group, African Ambassador, BEIS Unions 21, Newcastle City  Council briefing, Northumbria Water Innovation Festival briefing, Northern Culture Club, Holy Jesus  St Mary Magdalene Trust, Climate Action Newcastle, Alzheimer’s  Research, St Paul’s Primary School, Business Surgery, Patricia Cooper


Digital Innovation Roundtable, Future of Digital Rights Roundtable, Regulating Tech Roundtable, Digital Divide Roundtable, Online Harms (Disinformation) Roundtable, Online Harms (Children) Social Media Regulation Roundtable, Technology & Public Services Roundtable,  , Business Surgery, Westminster Higher Education Forum, presentation of NUFC petition, Islamophobia Awareness Video, Newcastle Central Town Hall, , Africa APPG British Council webinar, Geordie Happiness interview, Industry Forum – Privacy Shield , Black History Month videos,  Johnson & Johnson –  inclusion,  Life Sciences Roundtable, UK Internet Governance Forum, Hamilton Commission Launch. Confederation of British Industry at Northumbria Water Innovation Festival Digital Connectivity

Staying active carefully and mentally well

Labour Connected (Online Conference:  Business Forums – Cyber resilience & cyber security, Fostering Innovation and R & D, Digital Connectivity; Institute for Government -Tech for All, Royal Society Covid Discussion, Frontbench event, Coadec-  Labour’s High Tech jobs strategy, Intuit – Small Business summit, Labour Business Reception,  , North East Chamber Commerce Connected North East, Fabian panel – economics, Labour Women’s Network

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