Farming and forestry come to the fore

Guy Opperman MP with Michael Gove.
Guy Opperman MP with Michael Gove.

This summer has already been one to remember, having been officially declared the hottest since 1976, and so far it has been just as memorable in the Hexham constituency.

We had a very special visitor this month when I was pleased to welcome the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to the constituency following the Cabinet’s meeting in Gateshead.

Mr Gove visited Northumberland National Park’s The Sill and Housesteads to mark the beginning of National Parks Week. He also took part in a discussion with local upland farmers and forestry experts on the positive future for the Borderlands.

It was great to be able to show Mr Gove the wonderful National Park on our doorstep. His visit was a valuable opportunity for our forestry experts to make the case for more forestry and timber to support rural jobs and future prosperity, and to stress the importance of farming and agriculture in the constituency.

We all know what a wonderful place Northumberland is so it is always special to be able to show it off to others.

On July 5 the NHS celebrated turning 70, and having had my life saved, not once, but twice, by the NHS, I was happy to be able to pay tribute to the doctors, nurses and physicians who make such an important contribution to the quality of NHS care.

I was, therefore, very disappointed to hear of the new overnight closures at Hexham Hospital.

This is unacceptable, and not a funding issue, but one of planning. We funded and organised a further 60 nurses when this problem previously occurred. I expect the trust to sort this out far more quickly than the proposed timeline.

I spent nine months persuading the trust to change its mind and re-open overnight care at Hexham — this is only a temporary setback, which I know we will resolve.

The completion of the new flood defence at Tyne Green in Hexham is undoubtedly one of the best pieces of news of the summer. After the devastation caused by floods in December 2015, which affected so many people in the area, it was great to visit the completed site, which will protect homes from future flooding.

The project was part-funded by residents, who pooled the individual grants they received following the 2015 flood. I am delighted that the campaign for flood prevention has finally come to fruition, and I am looking forward to attending an event to celebrate this success later in the summer.

We’re having a fantastic summer of sport, and I have been able to get in on the action myself. There aren’t many better ways to spend a summer’s day than with a game of cricket, and that’s exactly what I was able to do after being invited to take part in the Newton Village Cricket Match in aid of the St James’ Church bell appeal, Chance to Shine and Wecan.

Unfortunately, my team didn’t win, but it was a really great day in the sunshine, with an amazing £328 raised from the raffle, as well as Bob Taylor’s incredibly generous sponsorship.

I was also pleased to go along to the official opening of Haltwhistle Jubilee FC’s new ground and see this fantastic facility for myself. Work has been going on for years, with the pitch resurfaced and drainage improved, while the pavilion and changing rooms have also been renovated. Northumberland County Council and Coun Ian Hutchinson provided funding.

The ground looks amazing and I have no doubt that the club will benefit hugely from this brilliant facility.

It’s hard to believe that there is still more of the summer to come, but there is plenty planned for the next few weeks and I am looking forward to being out in the constituency and meeting as many people as possible.

As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch if there is anything I can do to help.