With just weeks to go until the General Election on Thursday, May 7, we have offered the candidates standing in the Berwick Upon Tweed constituency an opportunity to address our readers.
NIGEL REVELL COGHILL-MARSHALL (UK Independence Party)
Born in Tynemouth, Nigel Coghill-Marshall lives with his wife in Alnwick. He has two adult children.
A retired Chartered Insurance Practitioner, he joined Ukip in 2004. He has campaigned against the EU since the late 1960s, recognising even then that it is designed to create a country called Europe.
His interests include riding and football. He is a season ticket holder at Newcastle United.
A member of the Countryside Alliance and Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, he believes that Parliament has neglected rural areas and occupations for decades. Opposing further Green Belt encroachment, he believes in Brownfield site development. He wants to see affordable housing to own and rent for young people on low wages and for older people wanting to downsize, not more executive housing.
He also recognises the need for policies to reduce rates paid by small shops in our town centres. These high rates stifle competition and affect profitability. Small businesses are great wealth generators and help build community spirit, they must be protected.
He believes that local people should be able to overturn unpopular planning decisions through the use of binding, local referendums.
High-speed broadband is vital to our region, but large telecommunications companies attempt to persuade customers into taking online bills by charging for paper bills, he will campaign against this practice. The 101 police reporting line must be free to users.
If elected, he pledges to put his constituents’ interests first.
SCOTT DICKINSON (Labour Party)
I’m a proud, born-and-bred north Northumbrian, who is passionate about my community. I’m unashamedly ‘local’, went to school in Northumberland and my father was based at RAF Boulmer. My mum and dad now run a successful local pub not far from the base.
I’ve been a parish councillor and now a county councillor and I’m the Business Chairman of Northumberland County Council. I also chair the Health and Wellbeing Board, which co-ordinates working between the NHS and the council across the whole of the county.
Since Labour formed an administration at County Hall in 2013, we’re showing what a Labour Government would do for the country, across north Northumberland.
We’re building thousands of affordable homes locally, we’re partnering the NHS to build a new hospital in Berwick as Labour nationally promises to save the NHS from even deeper cuts, we’re investing in improved transport links like the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line, and we’ve worked hard to protect public-sector jobs.
Thousands of public-sector workers have lost their jobs over the past five years, but Labour are working locally to protect public-sector jobs from creeping privatisation and we’re using local council spending to increase opportunities for local businesses and workers to grow and profit.
My job working with young people across our community has reinforced the need to give young people a chance to get on, whether it be in further education or in an apprenticeship and, if elected, I will focus on giving north Northumberland a strong voice in Parliament, putting the people before politics.
NEIL HUMPHREY (English Democrats)
Neil Humphrey is on his second marriage and has three children (including twins).
Born in 1969, he was named after the first man on the moon. His dad was a plumber and his mum worked on the Co-op checkout (and at an egg farm). He grew up on a rough council estate in a rural constituency.
A middle child, he did well at school and could often be found at the local library. The first of his family to go to university, he graduated in physics from world-ranked Imperial College.
His hobbies were raising chickens no longer wanted, astronomy (belonging to the same club as Patrick Moore) and later home-brewing.
His calmness under pressure, and interest in world-travel and electrical-equipment, comes from his paternal grandfather, an accomplished lieutenant commander.
Neil grew up sea-fishing and is a recreational cave-diver. When Neil was assisting a friend sail his boat out of Littlehampton, seaweed clogged the outboard motor and the boat started drifting dangerously. Fearing deadly undercurrents, Neil took to the bow to successfully guide the boat over the breakwater to safety.
Neil currently works in marine controls for a green, tidal energy company, but has also worked for Rolls Royce on nuclear submarine projects. He has worked offshore in Oil and Gas for the North Sea and South China Sea, as well as onshore projects securing UK gas supplies.
JULIE PÖRKSEN (Liberal Democrats)
A mum to my two boys Ben and Silas, I am married to Paul and live in Rothbury. I grew up in Belsay and my dad is a sheep farmer near Cambo. I’m determined to continue Alan Beith’s work standing up for local people and getting a fairer deal for our area.
We’ve had huge success on our campaign to dual the A1 with Lib Dems in Government announcing £290million to improve the road. I will keep working to get diggers on site and more investment for dualling all the way to Berwick. We cannot afford to let up on this issue.
Local people tell me they are worried about getting high-quality healthcare quickly and conveniently. Alan and I have had success moving services closer to where people need them – like dialysis now in Alnwick – and improving ambulance cover. I will keep working to make sure services meet local people’s needs.
Unemployment is falling here thanks to the work being done by the Liberal Democrats locally and in Government. We’re supporting local businesses to create more jobs and have helped create more than 3,570 apprenticeships in the Berwick constituency to give our young people the skills needed to build a career.
I have been fighting for families against the Labour-run county council’s £600 school bus charge for over-16s. It is simply not fair that rural families are hit with this extra cost for education. I don’t want where we live to limit what any of our children can achieve.
RACHAEL AMANDA ROBERTS (The Green Party)
I have lived in Alnwick for nine years. My career has predominantly been in Higher Education in London and the North East. I am a practitioner and senior manager in the Careers Service at Newcastle University.
I joined the Green Party in 2009. In 2011, I stood for Alnwick Town Council and topped the poll. I personally knocked on 1,300 of the 1,600 doors in my ward.
During the four years I have been a councillor, I have spent three of them as chairman of the Planning, Highways and Transport Committee. I have encouraged more scrutiny of applications and use of Section 106 agreements. I also represent the council as a Trustee of Alnwick Playhouse and have been a Trustee of the Gallery Youth Project.
I chair The Friends of the Bullfield Community Orchard and have co-coordinated Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth. I have been the Environment Topic Lead for the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan, am a volunteer steward at Alnwick Playhouse and a member of the Alnwick Playhouse Community Choir.
I have a proven track record of service in public office, as well as a history of contributing to the community through projects and initiatives.
My garden is my allotment and I grow lots of fruit and veg. Walking is my favourite exercise. I celebrated my 40th birthday by walking the Northumberland Coast Path from Cresswell to Berwick so I can honestly claim to have walked the length of the constituency.
Other passions include bread-making, folk music, real ale pubs and a good debate.
ANNE-MARIE BELINDA TREVELYAN (The Conservative Party)
Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick-upon-Tweed. Anne-Marie contested the seat at the last General Election in 2010, managing to secure a swing of 8.3 per cent from the Liberal Democrats, reducing Alan Beith’s majority from 8,632 to 2,690.
A formidable campaigner who, as founder of the Dual the A1 Campaign in 2008, has been at the forefront of the campaign to upgrade the A1 north of Newcastle, achieving a major breakthrough last December when the Chancellor of Exchequer announced a £290million funding package for this stretch of road in the Autumn Statement.
Anne-Marie also founded the Broadband4Northumberland campaign in 2011.
She has been a Governor of Northumbria Healthcare Trust since 2007 and a Governor of the Berwick Academy (formerly Berwick High School) since 2008.
Anne-Marie was recently included within the ICG list of ‘top 50 parliamentary candidates to watch’.
Described by George Osborne as ‘brilliant’, David Cameron as ‘a first-class candidate’, and Boris Johnson as ‘a sensible, moderate, one-nation Tory’.
Anne-Marie trained as a chartered accountant and runs a small business support consultancy, helping small businesses and charities with regular and one-off accountancy provision.
She has been active in campaigning for small business who she says are the ‘lifeblood of many local jobs’.
Anne-Marie is married to John and has two children.