Last Friday I was delighted to attend the unveiling of the memorial to those who died in the Stargate Pit Disaster of 1826.
Brighten Ryton have been working hard on this project for a number of months, so I was very pleased to see it come to fruition.
The memorial remembers the 32 men and boys who died in the explosion – some as young as 10. It’s very important that we remember the terrible conditions that coal-mining families lived and worked in – particularly in the north east.
i was therefore pleased to hear the wonderful readings by the children from Crookhill Primary School, and was glad to see them learning a little more about the coal-mining history of our area.
Yesterday I spent the day with Northumbria Police to find out about their work on the ground. I started at Whickham Police station, went on to the control room at Ponteland, met the Safeguarding team based in Gateshead and visited the custody suite at Forth Banks and finished by going out on patrol with my local neighbourhood police team.
Thanks to all the officers and police civilian staff who took the time to show me policing on the ground.
The Government must give our police service the funding it needs to protect us. Our local police are doing a great job but are really stretched to do all that we ask them to do.
This afternoon I chaired a debate on the teaching of RE in schools.
Young people from across the country, including a group from Whickham School in my constituency, have come to Westminster to debate issues around religious literacy.
They have debated the right to withdraw from RE lessons, challenging extremism and whether there is still a place for the study of RE in a modern, secular society.
I’m pleased that MPs have joined us to listen to such an eloquent and stimulating debate.
Thanks to NATRE, RE Today and the RE Council for organising such an informative and challenging session.
I very much enjoyed visiting the children from Sacred Heart Primary School in Byermoor this afternoon.
During the visit I spoke to the children about the job of an MP, and it was great to see so many young people interested in politics. It is increasingly important for young people to know how politics affects them, and how they can get involved.
I previously met the children from Sacred Heart when they visited Parliament a few months ago, and they were particularly enthusiastic then, too. I do hope they continue their interest in politics!
For years the use of Blaydon Station has been hindered by the lack of a step free access to the Newcastle platform. To cross the line the footbridge with its many steps had to be negotiated, causing problems for the disabled, and families with prams and pushchairs.
The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership came up with a scheme to provide level access to the platform via a surfaced pathway from the back of the platform to the adjacent Keelman’s Way, the riverside path. This has provided better links from the station for walkers and also for residents of the Stella Riverside housing development, with its 500 homes. The scheme was funded by Gateshead Council, Department of Transport, and ACoRP.
On Thursday 19 April 2018, on a beautiful spring morning, the new entrance was formally opened by Liz, who talked of the history of the railway and its importance to Blaydon. She was delighted to see the station was much more accessible. Since a timetable change five years ago the use of the station has grown steadily. Craig Harrop for Northern, thanked Gateshead Council for funding the ramp and hoped the new entrance would encourage more people to use the station. Liz then cut the ribbon and opened the new entrance.
Further good news is that the train service to Blaydon will be greatly increased with the introduction of the new railway timetable beginning on the 19 May this year with trains stopping every hour.
Yesterday Liz was delighted to Chair an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) aiming to raise the profile of the rare disease, Phenylketonuria (PKU).
PKU is a rare genetic metabolic disorder affecting around 1:10,000 people in the UK. People with PKU cannot metabolise phenylalanine, an amino acid found within protein foods. This disease can cause irreversible brain damage or impaired cognitive or neurological function if not correctly treated.
Currently, the only treatment funded in the UK is an extremely restricted dietary therapy in which almost all natural protein is removed from the diet. The majority of PKU patients in other European nations have access to the drug BH4 (Kuvan), which can increase a PKU person’s protein tolerance. The NHS does not currently commission Kuvan treatment.
We am hopeful the APPG will raise awareness of PKU and consider the need for improvements to access to treatment. The picture shows Liz with members of the NSPKU (National Society for Phenylketonuria).