During the General Election campaign, I made six key promises to the people of North West Durham. I have had countless conversations with people across the constituency about these issues and delivering on my promises is my top priority.
PLEDGE 1: Get Brexit Done. End the dither and delay of the previous Parliament. Deliver on the will of the people of the UK and of North West Durham.
PROMISE DELIVERED: Within weeks of being elected I joined my fellow Conservative MPs in finally getting Brexit done in a seriews of clear votes in the House of Commons. After years of dither and delay, the UK finally left the EU on the 31st of January, 2020. The delaying tactics of the previous Parliament were swept aside with the "remain at any cost parties" of Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens - who had done everything possible to overturn the referendum - finally defeated and Britain able to move on and respect democracy.
PLEDGE 2: Fight for our local economy and local jobs. Only with a strong economy can we fund good public services, have a strong local economy providing jobs and services for people and provide for people that need it.
PROMISE BEING DELIVERED: As soon as I entered Parliament, I began fighting for local businesses. I was instrumental in securing the reversal of the "Motorhomes Tax" that was hitting Elddis in Delves Lane, Consett. In the Budget, I voted to lift the amount people can earn before having to pay National Insurance to £9,500 a year, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn and spend it locally. I lobbied hard for the furlough scheme to allow people to keep their jobs and be paid during coronavirus, rather than being laid off and I have also campaigned for better support for the self-employed and local businesses. I have visited the jobcentres in both Crook and Consett to understand the local needs and I am working hard to deliver more opportunities, particularly for young people. I have also consistently backed freezing beer duty to help people keep more of their own money and to help local pubs and clubs.
PLEDGE 3: Campaigning for better local transport links, including:
- Campaigning to get a link into Consett from Gateshead/Newcastle
- Fighting for better local bus services, particularly for Tow Law, Weardale, Crook, Willington, Burnhope, Dipton & Burnopfield
- Stopping Labour's plan to raise fuel duty by 13p/litre
PROMISE BEING DELIVERED: I am organising a campaign, working with local councillors for all parties, the Department for Transport, and the local council, for a feasibility study for the Consett to Gateshead Link. I am also lobbying hard for better local bus routes and easier, cheaper and more frequent bus services (including night buses and more weekend buses) as part of the National Bus Strategy, which will be published later this year. Against Labour's continued efforts, I campaigned for and helped deliver the fuel duty freeze in the budget.
PLEDGE 4: Back our local NHS, including protecting services and working to deliver a new hospital at Shotley Bridge
PROMISE BEING DELIVERED: My mum works in an NHS local community hospital and the NHS saved my dad’s life when he had heart problems. My grandparents also rely on the NHS for their healthcare. Just like everyone else, I am fully supportive of the NHS as I have seen first-hand what a difference it makes to people’s lives and the fantastic work it does. I backed the NHS Funding Bill in Parliament, which delivered a record increase in the NHS budget – Government spending on the NHS will be £148.5 billion a year by 2024, meaning our NHS will get £33.9 billion a year more than it currently gets. This is the equivalent of a weekly boost of £650 million. We've already seen some good results starting to happen with 12,000 more nurses this year than last - good progress towards the 50,000 more I promised nationally by the end of the Parliament with our area getting above the national average.
Locally, I’ve been working hard on a replacement for Shotley Bridge Hospital, with the potential of merging it with an Urgent Care Centre on a new site, and have got commitments from the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister, to look closely at any scheme brought forward. I am also working on delivering better outcomes and treatment for those suffering mental health problems and I am working closely with local suicide prevention charities.
PLEDGE 5: Protect and expand provision in our local schools
PROMISE BEING DELIVERED: Many of my family and friends work in the education sector and I myself worked in the Department for Education, and I have a keen interest in improving education in North West Durham. Measures that I backed in the Finance Bill will ensure that schools in County Durham got a 4.13% budget rise this year, with guaranteed increases in their budgets for the next two years. The special needs budget has also seen a 13% rise nationally. I have visited Benfieldside Primary School, Derwentside College and have met with the senior leadership from Delta North Independent (an Alternative Provision School). I have also spoken with teachers across the constituency and have plans to visit more schools as soon as I am able to.
PLEDGE 6: Back tough action on crime
PROMISE BEING DELIVERED: From anti-social behaviour in towns and villages to rural crime, myself and my team are working closely with local forces to establish what the key issues are and how we sort them out. I’ve visited the police stations in both Crook and Consett and have met with the Acting Police and Crime Commissioner. I have also met with the Home Secretary and the Policing Ministers in Westminster to raise local concerns. I backed the Prime Minister’s commitment to deliver more police officers, which will see Durham’s police numbers increase every year for the next three years and will ultimately result in a minimum additional 220 officers. The budget for policing has risen by over 7% this year. I have spoken to a number of constituents who are concerned about drug dealing in Consett, anti-social behaviour in Crook and Willington, and rural crime (particularly recent thefts of farm vehicles and equipment and am in close contact with the senior responsible officer at the National Police Chief’s Council on this) and am working with the local police and other nearby MPs on tackling these issues.