News

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As a keen recycler I leaped at the opportunity to visit the recycling centre in Washington to find out what happens to our waste.

It was clear that the better people recycle their waste, the better quality it is to sell on which leads to lower costs for Durham County Council and lower council taxes. Green waste from our county is used to produce electricity. 

A rubbish day out

As a keen recycler I leaped at the opportunity to visit the recycling centre in Washington to find out what happens to our waste. It was clear that the better... Read more

Financial health is undervalued

Two million adults in the UK don’t have a bank account. I think that’s staggering.

Of the adults that do have bank accounts, a third have been with their bank for over twenty years. Only one in fifty people switch their main account provider each year. That’s why competition to sign up young customers for their first current account is so fierce. Once you open an account with a bank, chances are you’ll be with them for years—an accidentally loyally customer.

So how do we shape policy to cut financial exclusion and enable customers to get the most out of their banks?

Financial exclusion is a huge, largely invisible problem. In my Durham constituency there is a town of 12,000 people with no bank branch, because low incomes mean their custom is not profitable. The financially excluded pay a “poverty premium” of £1,300 a year because they are forced to meet their financial needs through other methods. For instance, two million people took out a high cost loan in 2012 because they couldn’t access other credit.

Financial inclusion, switching and banks: Helen writes for Prospect

Financial health is undervalued Two million adults in the UK don’t have a bank account. I think that’s staggering. Of the adults that do have bank accounts, a third have... Read more

Following her meeting with local Teaching Assistants at Evergreen Primary School last week Helen has written to Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council and Chief Executive Terry Collins calling on them to "think again" over their plans to end Teaching Assistant contracts next January.

Helen said:

"Having met with local Teaching Assistants it is clear that there are still questions that remain unanswered and I believe that the Council should return to the negotiating table with an improved offer combining some regrading and retained payments.".

 

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Helen calls on Council to "think again" over Teaching Assistant contracts

Following her meeting with local Teaching Assistants at Evergreen Primary School last week Helen has written to Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council and Chief Executive Terry Collins...

This morning I made the point that the Pharmaceutical industry already faces uncertainties following the Brexit vote. It is not sensible to introduce a further uncertainty by pledging to remove tax relief for pharmaceutical companies.

You can listen to my full interview on BBC Radio 4 Today programme (starts at 1:26:37).

BBC Radio 4 Interview - Pharmaceutical industry

This morning I made the point that the Pharmaceutical industry already faces uncertainties following the Brexit vote. It is not sensible to introduce a further uncertainty by pledging to remove...

I was recently contacted by my constituent, John Charles who asked for help to raise awareness for a fundraising campaign to help get his son, Finley Ingles, to America for life-changing surgery on a brain tumour.

John explained to me that Finley’s life is seriously affected by the tumour, causing up to 10-20 seizures per day, amongst many other things. The brain tumour is 2.5cm deep in his brain and therefore only a specific type of laser surgery can be used to shrink the tumour. This specific surgery is not done by the NHS so Finley will have to travel to one of the two places in the USA that do offer it.

The cost of the surgery plus travel and follow ups is extremely high. The Go Fund Me page has already raised over £30,000 of it's £200,000 goal, but it still has a long way to go. I urge you all to share the link I have put below and even to donate a little bit to the fund to improve Finley Ingles' quality of life.

https://www.gofundme.com/23qfrhte

Helen backs Finley’s campaign

I was recently contacted by my constituent, John Charles who asked for help to raise awareness for a fundraising campaign to help get his son, Finley Ingles, to America for...

Helen challenged the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury to guarantee the £800 million of European structural funds which formed part of the north-east devolution deal.

She told David Gauke MP, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury that "without a guarantee from the Government, the loss of that money will drive a coach and horses through the deal." 

In his response the Minister refused to give any guarantees but said he recognised "the need to bring any uncertainty to an end as soon as we possibly can" and indicated that an announcement on transport infrastructure will be made in the "not-too-distant future".

You can watch the full exchange or read on Hansard.

Helen presses for guarantee on continuation of funds to North East

Helen challenged the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury to guarantee the £800 million of European structural funds which formed part of the north-east devolution deal. She told David Gauke MP,...

I have received a number of emails asking about my position concerning the United Kingdom’s independent nuclear deterrent and the Successor submarine programme.

As you know, the Government held a debate in Parliament on the principle of continuous-at-sea deterrence and their plans for the Successor programme to replace the current Vanguard class of nuclear submarines.

I support international efforts toward multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and I would like to see greater progress toward a world without nuclear weapons. Indeed, I am very proud of the huge progress made under the previous Labour Government in nuclear disarmament through international frameworks. This saw the number of operationally available warheads almost halved, and the number of deployed warheads on each submarine reduced.

These efforts also resulted in the UK becoming the only recognised nuclear-armed Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) country to possess just one nuclear system, when the WE-177 freefall tactical nuclear weapons were withdrawn in 1998. This was important action towards multilateral nuclear disarmament and I hope the current Government will ensure that Britain continues to play a leading role in moves toward this ultimate goal.

Indeed, the UK now possess approximately 1% of the total global stockpile of nuclear weapons amongst recognised nuclear weapons states, and by the mid-2020s the UK is scheduled to have achieved a 65% reduction in the size of its overall nuclear stockpile from Cold War levels. This would make the UK the smallest of all the NPT nuclear weapon states.

I am not convinced that renewing Trident is the best option for the UK’s defence; our responsibility for non-proliferation; and cost effectiveness.

I welcome an open and inclusive debate on these important issues and I can assure constituents that I will continue to bear in mind the points that have been raised with me.

Helen votes against government motion to replace the current Vanguard class of nuclear submarines.

I have received a number of emails asking about my position concerning the United Kingdom’s independent nuclear deterrent and the Successor submarine programme. As you know, the Government held a...

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Britain and Labour needs new, strong leadership for the months ahead.

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#SavingLabour

Save Labour, save democracy. After the referendum, Britain is at a crossroads. Britain and Labour needs new, strong leadership for the months ahead. There is now a leadership contest, so...

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Helen was granted an Urgent Question on seeking Parliamentary approval before triggering article 50 this afternoon.

Helen asked John Penrose MP, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet office 

"If he will make a statement on whether the Government will seek parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50."

Helen continued by arguing that to use the royal prerogative to activate Article 50 would be "a breach of promises made to the public" by Leave campaigners who said they would "take back control and restore parliamentary sovereignty". 

Such an important step "should not be decided behind closed doors in Whitehall while Parliament is presented with a done deal", she said.

You can watch Helen here or read her full speech.

For more information on Urgent Questions you can visit the Parliament website.

Helen granted Urgent Question on Article 50

Helen was granted an Urgent Question on seeking Parliamentary approval before triggering article 50 this afternoon. Helen asked John Penrose MP, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet office  "If he will make... Read more

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Helen joined Ella and her family on Friday to join in her 100th Birthday celebration. Joined by Coundon's County Councillor Charlie Kay Helen said:

"It was such a privilege to meet Ella and her family who were just returning from a birthday meal. Ella, a keen dancer, is still a very active lady who is passionate about her local area in Coundon where she was born and raised."

Helen joins 100th Birthday celebrations in Coundon

Helen joined Ella and her family on Friday to join in her 100th Birthday celebration. Joined by Coundon's County Councillor Charlie Kay Helen said: "It was such a privilege to...

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