This is the second of Richard Holden's busy two week summer surgery tour. Richard really enjoyed the tour, which saw him travel all over the constituency, and gave him a great opportunity to discuss issues and pose questions of concern to them, You can read about the first week in detail, here:
- The week started in Cornsay Colliery at the Royal Oak pub, where Mr Holden followed up on his speeding survey with local campaigner Sarah Drummond. With a near 90% response rate from the village, Mr Holden heard clearly that speeding was an issue that affected everyone in the village and promised to pass this on to the council. Mr Holden then heard concerns about patchy broadband and as such was pleased with the Government's recent announcement that his constituency would benefit from the Government's new broadband plan, which you can read about here.
- Mr Holden then went to East Hedleyhope where he discussed the new Police, Crimes, Courts and Sentencing Bill, as well as hearing that local muck spreading problem had been resolved.
- At the Roddymoor allotments by midday, Mr Holden heard the horrible testimony of a group of local people concerning anti-social behaviour in the village.
- Mr Holden made back to the Duke of York pub in Fir Tree where he was met by a group of local residents also concerned with speeding through the village, wanting traffic calming measures.
- Mr Holden then went up to Edmunbyers on the village green, by what used to be the Derwent Arms, where he heard local frustration over the garden waste bins being removed from the village and how the roads are not ploughed far enough.
- Richard Holden MP was then in Muggleswick where he met with local parish councillors who also had issues around broadband.
- The day ended with a chat with the team who run Hobson Golf Club, hearing about the club's recovery and plans to build out around the balcony, with a full membership waiting list.
- Mr Holden started the morning at the bustling Crook Market, where he spoke with traders and stallholders about how their businesses were doing and picking up some fresh produce for himself and the constituency team.
- Richard Holden MP then spent the midday in North Bitchburn at the Community Centre before going to Helmington Row and starting the afternoon in Sunnybrow to start some other surgeries. Richard discussed a range of topics including tree planting in communal areas, A-Level Results, Anti-Social behaviour and Levelling Up public transport for the North East.
- The afternoon followed on at the Dipton War Memorial, where Mr Holden was asked about local bus networks and road safety measures along the A692, including the possible addition of tactile surfaces at crossings for the blind.
- Mr Holden then made up to Burnhope where he and Cllrs Doug Oliver Mike McGaun sat at The Garage Bar and Grille and discussed village issues with the manager, Terry. They discussed plans to improve the run down football field and local planning issues. Mr Holden also had the opportunity to hear about the importance of the beer duty campaign locally, which he is currently pushing in Parliament, backed by 80 of his colleagues.
- Mr Holden then finished the day in Langley Park where he shared coffee with local Cllr Arnie Simpson who, apart from stories of his old boxing days and knowing just about everyone who walked by, told Mr Holden about plans for a new local playground.
- Mr Holden spent the evening hosted by B Company of the Consett Detachment of Army Cadets. Detachment Commander SSI McKenna inspected the parade with Mr Holden before explaining to him the range of work the Army Cadets do for local children, before helping him handle an LA98 A1 rifle. This led to the discussion of safety improvements over the storage of rifles and whether they might possibly be stored on-site in future.
- Mid-way through the second week the tour started at St Cuthbert's Church in Satley. There Mr Holden heard again about traffic problems with HGVs rumbling through the villages as if to illustrate the point. An electric car was parked by the church and Mr Holden was also asked about when charging points would be deployed across villages like Satley and come as standard in new homes to encourage cleaner energy driving.
- Mr Holden then heard from constituents on the Village Green in Cornsay and by the high street in Willington. In Cornsay, Mr Holden was able to answer questions about the plans for Shotley Bridge Hospital (which can be read about here) and met Jane Nattrass, who's son, Henry died aged 12 from primary bone cancer. Jane set up a charity in his memory for others suffering from the same condition. You can find out more about the charity here.
In Willington, Mr Holden listened to concerns about unresolved council issues and on national issues such as climate change.
- In the afternoon Mr Holden had been invited by the NFU to visit Vickers Farm where he was shown young Thomas Vickers' rotational grazing, seeing how local farmers are best placed to manage their land to produce food without damaging the environment. Out in the field with farmers young and old Mr Holden heard about their plans for sustainable farming and local produce, some of which he hope to bring to a County Durham food day in Parliament. With the rain starting, the party moved from the field to a barn and Mr Holden also heard concerns about the new ELMS scheme and British farming in an time of new trade deals, where he was able to reassure those present, especially the NFU representatives, that he would always help those farmers who came to him looking to expand their exports to new markets.
- The rest of the day was spent at Maiden Law by the Three Horseshoes pub, where Mr Holden heard about dangerous driving on Lanchester Road. Later at Burnopfield Community Centre, Mr Holden was delighted to meet Betty and Christine and hear about their fantastic work they do for the local area.
- The evening was spent back in Consett at the Parliament Street hall, this time with the Air Cadets. Mr Holden had the opportunity to speak to cadets both personally about the aspirations and the skills and qualifications they have earnt through the cadets. Mr Holden met all the instructors, learning about the part they play in making sure the cadets get the most out of their experience in uniform and then tried his hand at being a fighter pilot on the state of the art flight simulator. At final parade, Mr Holden particularly honoured to say a few words before handing out an bronze DofE Award.
- Turning Westward into Weardale, Mr Holden started the day at the Eastgate Village Hall with Conservative County Council candidate for the area in last May's election, William Wearmouth. Mr Holden also heard from local parents about nursery places and the proposed 30mph limit through the village.
- From there Mr Holden went straight to the North Pennines, past Killhopeburn by the border of North West Durham, where he met local farmer Greg Dalton and the Environmental Agency to hear about their natural flood management project (which you can read about here).
- The visit lasted most of the day but making his way back through the Weardale, Mr Holden stopped at Westgate to take a personal surgery from a constituent about council tax and adult social care. He then made his way on to Rookhope Village Hall and found locals who wanted to talk about council leadership and the economy across the dale.
- With 47 stops so far and most of the constituency visited, with discussions over such a range of issues, Mr Holden ended the tour going back to the Weardale, stopping first at St John's Chapel to hear further concerns about the local GP service there.
- Further along he made a stop at Ireshopeburn by the Weardale Adventure Centre to hear about how well they have done since the country's re-opening, limited only by being fully booked and unable to find enough qualified staff.
- From there Mr Holden stopped at the Cowshill Village Hall where he was caught by a member of the local business group to discuss how furlough might hinder recruitment and other post-pandemic challenges small business might face. With a couple minutes before the next stop, Mr Holden was delighted by the photo exhibit hanging around the hall, capturing local moments during the pandemic.
- Mr Holden then made back to Consett Police Station for the afternoon where he met the new PCSOs and heard about their strategy for neighbourhood policing, proposing more collaboration between his office and them in dealing with local issues.
- The tour ended at Billy Row and Stanley Crook where Mr Holden took questions about COP 26 and pensions, before finishing at Cornerstone in Willington. There Mr Holden was met by Phil Hardy, the Operations Manager who showed him some of the work they do in teaching new, practical woodworking skills for the homeless locally looking to rebuild their lives.
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