Every young person across Tynedale and Ponteland, whatever their background, deserves a great start in life. This means access to a quality education that provides them with the skills and confidence for high-paid employment.
When I was first elected in 2010, our whole region had suffered from decades of underinvestment. Not a single high school across Tynedale and Ponteland had been rebuilt or refurbished in the preceding 13 years.
- In 2015, I was elected on the promise of getting every high school across Tynedale and Ponteland rebuilt or fully refurbished.
- Following £98.1 million of investment, I have delivered on this pledge and now I want to go further.
However, our rural schools were ignored by consecutive governments for too long. For decades Northumberland was at the bottom of the table for schools funding. This is why I launched my fairer funding for rural schools campaign.
I fought to change the funding formula so students in rural Northumberland got the quality education they deserved, to give them every opportunity to thrive. Working closely with consecutive Secretaries of State, Ministers and the education sector, our campaign succeeded and funding formulas were changed so children in rural Northumberland have access to the same opportunities as those in larger, inner-city schools. Some rural schools saw budget increases of over 10%.
Thanks to this campaign, Northumberland is no longer at the bottom of the table for schools funding and now sits around the middle so our young people receive the investment they deserve . This is a significant improvement worth millions, but there is more to do.
- I want to go further on per-pupil funding. Every child should be equipped with the resources and attention they need to thrive. I won’t stop campaigning and meeting with Government and Northumberland County Council to secure more funding for our pupils.
- Despite securing almost £100 million for new facilities, we can do more. Further investment in school facilities provides our young people with the skills they need for a great start in life – I will continue to push for more money for our school facilities.
- I was one of the first Members of Parliament to hire an apprentice over a decade ago. Therefore, I know the importance of alternative routes to high-paid, high-skilled employment, outside of going to university. This is why I want to expand access to apprenticeships for residents across Tynedale and Ponteland.
I won’t stop campaigning and working with Government to secure more funding for our schools so every child in Northumberland has the skills and education on par with any other part of our country.
As a former criminal prosecutor, I spent my career before politics putting dangerous criminals behind bars. Everyone should feel safe in their community, wherever they are, whatever the time of day.
- Since being first elected in 2010, all crime (excluding fraud) is down 50% and since 2019 neighbourhood crime has fallen 20%.
This is good progress, but there is more to do. I have a three-point plan to cut crime and anti-social behaviour; so residents feel safe wherever they are, whatever the time.
- More police on our streets. Since 2019, Northumbria Police has an additional 705 officers; however, they are allocated by Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner. I am fighting for Tynedale and Ponteland’s fair share through regular meetings with the Chief Constable, so we are not ignored in favour of Sunderland and Gateshead.
- More CCTV and lighting in anti-social behaviour hotspots. Working with local residents and Northumberland County Council, we are implementing more CCTV and lighting to curb crime and intimidating behaviour so residents feel comfortable in their communities.
- Tougher punishments for perpetrators by making offenders clean up their mess so we can have pride in the places we call home.
But we are going further than these three priorities. Through the Police Funding Settlement 2023/4, we secured £355.1m for Northumbria Police, an increase of up to £12.3m on 2022-23, meaning we have more resources for our police to make our neighbourhoods safer.
We are also working closely with Northumbria Police’s Rural Policing Team to pinpoint hotspots for criminals operating in our rural areas to crack down on theft.
These actions mean local residents feel comfortable and safe when they are out and about, so our local businesses thrive, and we can pride in our communities.
The NHS has saved my life twice and I will always fight for it. In fact, leading the campaign to save my mother's local hospital from closure was one of the primary reasons I decided to enter politics.
I am working to strengthen our NHS as it still recovers from the pandemic. This means working with Northumbria NHS Trust and Government Ministers to secure Tynedale’s fair share of the £326 million package Northumbria Healthcare is investing in the North East.
For example, we have worked to expand surgical theatres at Hexham General Hospital and build new endoscopy and maternity units as well as a new MRI scanner, so residents wait less time to receive treatment, and receive high-quality care without having to travel to North Tyneside.
Rural residents need quality services delivered locally. Following a long campaign, the North East and Cumbria Integrated Care Board agreed to open Bellingham Pharmacy as a Covid booster site, so residents can access life-saving healthcare without having to travel large distances.
- This record means Hexham Urgent Treatment Centre saw 99.7% of A&E attendances within the national 4-hour target - well above the national average of 57.3%.
Our campaign for a new care facility in Haltwhistle would increase bed space, reducing A&E and ambulance waiting times. I regularly meet with Government Ministers, Northumbria NHS Trust and other partners to secure the funding and backing for the would-be multi-million-pound ground-breaking site.
But we can go further. I want to:
- Provide parity between physical and mental health treatment
- Secure more funding to increase capacity
These priorities would ensure local residents wait less time for treatment and receive high-quality care.
Improve our roads
Making journeys and commutes quicker and easier is at the top of my agenda.
Working with Northumberland County Council, we secured £220 million to restore Northumberland’s roads, with £30 million invested into improving the A69 to create miles of duel carriageway – making journeys quicker. I meet with the council’s Cabinet Member for Highways on a monthly basis to secure Tynedale and Ponteland’s fair share of funding for resurfacing and pothole repairs, so journeys are safer and more comfortable.
But there is more to do. I will work to:
- Increase the number of pothole repairs
- Freeze fuel duty
These pledges will make life easier for families across Tynedale and Ponteland by ensuring journeys are cheaper and more comfortable.
I have been working with Government Ministers to secure more investment into transport links across Tynedale and Ponteland. Going forward, I want to secure more money for key links such as the A1, A69 and Tyne Valley Rail so commutes are safer, shorter, and easier.
Protect our countryside
Northumberland has the most beautiful countryside in the UK. That’s why I have fought to protect our environment and stop the development of our greenbelt.
By working with the local community, Northumberland County Council and Government Ministers, as well as establishing the Greenbelt Protection Group in Parliament, we successfully blocked the previous Labour Council’s plan to build on our greenbelt.
- I will continue to work with local residents to block Greenbelt development.
After meetings with Government Ministers and other partners, we secured funding for my Great Northumberland Forest Campaign which sets to plant one million trees by 2024.
So far, we have planted 543,000 individual trees, improving our natural environment, biodiversity and air quality as well as supporting local industries such as Egger. Whilst this is great progress, there is more to do. I recently met with the Secretary of State to secure support for the continued expansion of forestry in Northumberland.
Northumberland National Park is vital to our natural environment, biodiversity, clean air and local economy. I am campaigning for a fairer funding formula, so our National Park receives the funding it deserves. In April, this campaign led to a £440,000 funding boost using an equal formula across the country, but we need to ensure this continues so Northumberland National Park continues to thrive.
I am committed to tackling climate change, so our children and grandchildren are not faced with the terrible consequences of inaction. Therefore, I worked to secure more electric vehicle charging points across Tynedale and Ponteland, so it is easier to run an electric car. I am also working with Northumberland County Council to make the county Net Zero by 2030, creating thousands of green jobs in the process.
But we can go further. I am fighting to:
- Protect local greenbelt
- Plant one million trees in Northumberland
- Secure more funding for Northumberland National Park
Since being elected, I have worked to provide more well-paid jobs to local people. Every year, I hold my annual Jobs Fair to provide opportunities for those seeking work and the skills needed to apply.
- As a result, over the last ten years, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has fallen by 45%, meaning more local residents have the security of their own job and our local businesses benefit from more customers.
Every year I hand out small business awards to local businesses and work with them to provide jobs for local people. For example, I recently met with apprentices at Essity in Prudhoe - one of the largest local employers and as part of National Apprenticeship Week. I regularly invite Government Ministers to meet with businesses across Tynedale and Ponteland to see how we improve jobs and skills for local people.
- Through initiatives like National Apprenticeship Week, and working closely with local employers, youth unemployment has fallen by nearly 70% in the last 10 years, down from 7.0% in January 2013, to 2.1% in August 2022.
I have worked to secure investment in projects that provide secure jobs for our local economy. For example, my Great Northumberland Forest Campaign will plant one million trees across Tynedale, supporting sustainable jobs and industries for local people. We also secured millions through the Levelling Up Fund for active travel routes, boosting tourism and creating more green jobs.
We have a great record. Unemployment is down 45% over the last ten years, but we can go further. I am working with Government, Northumberland County Council and the private sector to secure more investment across Tynedale and Ponteland, meaning more high-paid jobs and thriving centres from Hexham to Haltwhistle to Ponteland.