IT is now four years since I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield and it has been an amazing privilege.

No one could have imagined what a tumultuous period those four years would be with everything from the Covid pandemic to a war in Europe and the resulting pressures on both public finances and the cost of living.

We have also lived through notable, historic events like the funeral of our beloved Queen Elizabeth II and the installation of King Charles III, at which I have been able to represent my constituents.

I have been delighted to have chaired the Left Behind Neighbourhood All Party Parliamentary Group where we have been able to ensure the creation of a Community Wealth Fund which should help so many of our communities.

My team and I have to date created close to 17,000 items of casework, which is around 12 for every single day since I was elected.

These are individual cases but of course they also consolidate into issues that affect lots of people. For example, I’ve been contacted by many parents who have concerns about Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) diagnosis delays and local authority communication regarding Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). Following meetings with parents individually and at CAMHS roundtable events, I am engaging with local authorities and NHS Trusts to address the issues raised.

I am delighted we have been able to secure the investment decision for Ferryhill railway station which will facilitate connections to Teesside and Newcastle for the local communities. This will support economic growth and let people get to jobs and education.

A railway station will, of course, take time to build so my immediate transport focus remains on buses. We have seen a shocking decline in provision by Arriva, in particular, and I am therefore pushing everyone from the Department of Transport (DfT), Transport for the North, Durham County Council and bus operators to do something about it.

The Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funds from the Government are there and available, but we need local application. It is only by good transport links that we can deliver social mobility via better jobs and education.

Another of my major focuses is policing and anti-social behaviour. My biggest concern with our policing is the management of assets. The controversial custody suite is now delayed significantly, so whether you agree with it or not, the failure to manage delivery is concerning and disruptive to on the ground policing.

Probably more impactful than this for Newton Aycliffe and Sedgefield, though, has been the nonsense around the Aycliffe police station where the lease has run out. How the Police and Crime Commissioner has allowed such an uncertain situation to develop is beyond me. The lease always had a finite time and the head in the sand planning has meant a major distraction to the operational teams when they need to be in our communities.

I try to get to as many community events as I can from Trimdon to Aycliffe and Sedgefield to Ferryhill. At such meetings I pick up on many different issues, ranging from public rights of way to the menopause and from housing to banking, but if there are any agendas I am missing, please email me at

I wish all my constituents and readers of The Northern Echo a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.