Mary Kelly Foy’s Newsletter – 10th May

Miners and Mining Communities 

I gave my first full speech in Parliament this week, on miners and mining communities.

It was an incredible debate. I made the demand for a public inquiry into the strike, including at Orgreave, as well as economic justice for ex-miners and their communities. I also spoke about the incredible efforts of women in the North East.

A big thanks to the Durham Miners Association, Dave Anderson, and Canon Michael Everitt for their assistance.

Now, onto the Gala. Saturday 13th July. Be there!

Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee 

You’ll recall that I wrote last week about the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee and how passionate I am about securing a smoke-free future for the next generation.

The committee is now working, and I’ve already raised the possibility of a ‘polluter pays’ levy to make sure big tobacco pays for the harms they cause. You can see a clip here.

I’ll no doubt update you with further developments in the future. 

Captain Noah

In Summer 2023, I met with the President of St Chad’s music. Phoebe was hoping to put on a performance of Captain Noah by Joseph Horovitz involving schools in Durham.

I’m delighted to say last Saturday, the show which took place in the Gala theatre was a resounding success! The pupils from Durham Johnston and St Hild’s CE Primary were absolutely phenomenal and the adult choir was simply brilliant.

Following this performance, I wrote to Phoebe and the Principal of St Chad’s College to offer my congratulations on a wonderful achievement. I am also writing to the Minister for DCMS to push for more funding for the arts in Durham.

Mary Kelly Foy’s Newsletter – 3rd May

 

May I thank every single member who has supported campaign activity over the last few weeks. We have worked hard to secure the re-election of Joy Allen as Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham and the election of Kim McGuinness as our first North East Mayor.

A special thanks must go to Nick Rippin, our CLP campaigns officer, and to my constituency team who used their own annual leave to support GOTV.

We won these important elections because of our members, so a big thanks to everyone who did their bit – especially to our new members. They took to campaigning like ducks to water!

I’ll reflect fully on what they mean for our constituency, and the wider county, in my next newsletter; until, a huge congratulations to Joy and Kim.

Our success, joined with our victories around the country, will hopefully pressure Rishi Sunak to finally call a General Election.

Until then, we’ll take a well earned break from campaigning. Future sessions will be highlighted in my next newsletter. Please make a note of them and come along. You’ll be very welcome!

It was my first proper week back in Parliament since my cancer operation. I have been advised to take things slowly before I can get back to my usual pace, but my constituency team is always on hand to assist people in Durham.

Eagle-eyed readers will know that I am passionate about securing a smoke free generation, so it was only right that I joined the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee in order to achieve the first smoke free generation.

This time, I hope the government doesn’t vote down any of my amendments like they did the last time I tried to tackle Big Tobacco!

I also co-sponsored a debate in Westminster Hall on the contribution of volunteers. If you think you’d like to volunteer, head over to Durham Community Action for some local suggestions.

I’ve also written to the Home Secretary this week with concerns regarding the government’s ‘rapid review’ of the graduate route visa for international students. As well as making a notable contribution to the local economy, these students enable universities like Durham to thrive.

The government should not take them for granted!

Look out tomorrow in The Northern Echo for my column on the Battle for St Leonard’s, too.

Locally, may I say thanks to Rotary North East for inviting me to unveil their 100th community public access defibrillator at Farmhouse Dine & Wine in Parkhill as part of their hugely important One Life Initiative.

I opened the first defibrillator back in 2020 and have been a huge supporter of this initiative for the last four years.

The One Life Initiative has helped raise awareness of the importance of CPR, and the early use of a defibrillator, for someone in cardiac arrest.

Speaking to local residents, I could feel just how proud they are to have this installed and whilst I hope they never have to use it, the difference this defibrillator could make is huge.

Well done to everyone who made this happen!

Mary Kelly Foy’s Newsletter – April 26th

St Leonard’s Petition

You’ll recall that last week I highlighted my Parliamentary petition asking the Secretary of State to put in place special exam considerations for the pupils at St Leonard’s school.

Although I am still recovering from my cancer surgery, I returned to Parliament to hand it in. It has been signed by thousands of people in Durham. It’s time for the Government to listen, and provide mitigating circumstances for pupils at St Leonard’s for their exams’ this year.

In Westminster

While I was in Westminster, I met with Fr Gabriel – a priest serving in Gaza – who informed MPs of what Palestinians are going through. I had previously raised the killings of two of Fr Gabriel’s parishioners in Parliament.

Listening to Fr Gabriel reinforced my view that we need a ceasefire. 

Early Day Motion

I’m sure that you are well aware of my opposition to the two-child limit, which pushes many hard-working families into poverty.

I was pleased to table this EDM, which has been signed by several of my colleagues, calling for it to be reconsidered.

 

Knife Crime Taskforce

Although I was in Westminster, my team attended the latest meeting of the Northern Echo Knife Crime Task Force on my behalf.

You may well already know, but the Labour Front Bench has held meetings with affected families and representatives from the group, which has gone some way to informing Labour’s policy on knife crime. I was pleased to hear that the group is now considering how it can become a sustainable body moving forward, and how it can have a continuing impact on knife crime in the North East.

As always, I’ll continue to support this important organisation.

 

Please check in next week for more updates as we head towards polling day for an important set of local elections! 

 

Mary Kelly Foy’s Newsletter – April 19th

St Leonard’s Update

You’ll recall that I have been collecting signatures on a Parliamentary petition asking the Secretary of State to put in place special exam considerations for the pupils at St Leonard’s school, and I will be handing this in Parliament next week!

The text of the petition reads:

“Declares that the Department for Education is not doing enough to mitigate the anxieties and stress of the parents, pupils and teachers at St. Leonard’s Catholic School in City of Durham following on from the disruption caused by RAAC; further declares that pupils at St. Leonard’s Catholic School have not been offered mitigating circumstances for the disruption to their education caused by RAAC.

“The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to bring forward legislation to ensure that the Secretary of State for Education can provide the pupils at St. Leonard’s Catholic School mitigating circumstances for their exams this year, and all those who suffer similar circumstances.”

I’ll be trying to get into Parliamentary questions this week as well.

 

SEND Update

This week, my team visited the Laurel’s Primary School to discuss the funding issues the school is facing with SEND provision. As the demand for services increases, the school is having to use more and more of it’s usual budget to meet the needs of children in the school.

It’s pretty clear that the Laurel’s will not be the only school affected by the shortfall of SEND funding from the council and central Government, so I’ll be taking this issue up with both the local authority and the government at the earliest opportunity.

 

Leazes Bridge

You’ll remember that in recent weeks, I have been asking people to sign the petition demanding the council replace Leazes Footbridge. If you haven’t signed it yet, please do so here

You can imagine my surprise when I saw a leaflet from the local Lib Dem councillors suggesting that this was Labour’s issue! As I said on social media, they will be stunned when they find out who runs the council!

In the meantime, residents have been trying to get more information from the council on the actual structural survey that has been carried out, costings for a replacement and what discussions have taken place between officers and councillors. It is proving rather tricky to get to the bottom of this, as there seems a real reluctance on the part of the council to share information.

I will be making contact with the council again next week to let them know that this lack of information is not acceptable.

 

Durham Easter Egg Run

I was shocked to be tagged into a Facebook post this week, where volunteers taking part in the Durham Easter Egg Run had been fined by a parking company for staying too long in Tesco’s car park.

I immediately reached out to Horizon Parking to challenge this. It’s totally wrong that people were fined simply for organising a charity event. I’m pleased to say that those who were fined and now receiving word that these charges have been dropped!

 

In Parliament

It’ll be good to be back in the House of Commons representing the City of Durham. This week, I would’ve participated in the smoking debate, where the Tories nicked some of my amendments. I’m glad the Bill passed Second Reading – although they could’ve done this years ago when I put my amendments forward. I would’ve also spoken in the Rwanda Bill and the Gaza statement as well as hammer the government on their disgraceful social security proposals which I’ve highlighted now for a while.

As ever, please let me know if there is an issue you’d like me to raise in the House of Commons.

 

NEW! Office Phones – Manned Hours

To allow my small team of 3 people time to carry out important work supporting constituents in the City of Durham, our office phones are manned as follows:

Mon – please leave a voice message
Tue – 10:00-12:00 then 13:00-15:00
Wed – 10:00-12:-00 then 13:00-15:00
Thu – 10:00-12:00 then 13:00-15:00
Fri – please leave a voice message

We do our best to return all voice messages within 24 hours, during busier times it may take up to 48 hours.

If you would prefer to email you can reach me at: [email protected]

VOTING CLOSED – Durham’s Small Business of the Year 2023!

VOTING CLOSED - Small Business of the Year 2023!

Thanks to every single person who has voted for one of the wonderful small businesses who were nominated by their loyal customers.

Now we tally the votes!

The winner will be announced tomorrow – 2nd December 2023.

Congratulations again to all of the below businesses who were nominated. GOOD LUCK!

A&R Hair Salon
AJH Automotive
Adore
Akarsu
Amaani at The Pumphouse
Ash Signs Print & Graphics
Bainbridge’s Fresh Produce
Bean Social
Bean to Brew
Bee Beautiful
Bespoke 
Bookwyrm
Circle Vintage
Collected
Coviello
Clairebear Crafts
Claypath Delicatessan
Crossroads Motor Services
Daisy Rose Coffee House
Deerness Meats
Discovering Durham
Durham City Fruiters
Durham Distillery
Durham Vintage
Elegant Flowers by Gemma
Elvet & Bailey
Evie Black
Expert Fire Solutions
Flexibility Fitness
Fram Ferment
Fusha Durham
GJF Furnishings
Hair by Sash
Harry’s House
Haunting Heavens
Hog n Chix
How Bazaar
Immyzillustrationz
Jindamai Thai Massage and Spa
JLH Print
Julie’s Deli
Katherine Cherry Designs
LGs PT Fitness
Lingotots Durham
Lofty Solution
Made for an Angel Designs
Market Cheese & Deli
Meeple World
Moon Jewellery
My Kid Rocks
Old Cinema Launderette
Orchard Care Fostering
Pizza Time
Quirkshop UK
Reanie’s
Roxy Box Pet Treats 
Safe Space Cleaning
Stivanos Pizza
Taylors News
The Daisymill
The Ginger Dog
The Pink & Passionate Florist
The Pumphouse
The Station House
The Ultimate Ladies Boutique
The Village Deli 
The Weigh To Shop
Vanity by Katie West
Wing and a Prayer
Woven

Israel Gaza Conflict – Mary’s Response to Constituents

Mary's response to constituents on the Israel Gaza conflict.

I understand that this issue weighs heavily on the hearts of my constituents as we all try to come to terms with the horrific events unfolding in Gaza.  

Like you, I have been horrified by the violence in Israel and Palestine. Every life that has been lost is a tragedy. There is no justification for attacks on innocent civilian populations. 

Please be assured that I have made my position clear and will do my utmost to ensure that your voice is heard, as well as the hundreds of other constituents who have contacted me to express their anguish. 

Over the last few weeks, I have made representations to the Labour frontbench regarding the need for a humanitarian ceasefire and will continue to do so. I have also publicly declared my support for a ceasefire. Every effort must be made to restore peace to the region and ensure both Palestinians and Israeli authorities are encouraged and supported by the international community to re-engage with the peace process. 

Innocent people in Gaza must not be collectively punished for the actions of Hamas, who must be condemned for their part in these atrocities. My thoughts remain with the victims of those horrific attacks as well as the Jewish community around the world who continue to grieve. All hostages must be returned safely.  

The actions of Hamas, no matter how devastating, cannot justify the violation of international law. Indiscriminate bombing and collective punishment only leads to further devastation. We must seek peaceful solutions whenever and wherever possible to ensure more civilian lives aren’t lost. 

Gaza is in the midst of a humanitarian emergency. It is estimated that almost a third of Gaza’s hospitals have already ceased to function; many are running out of water and fuel for generators while struggling to cope with the sheer number of casualties. The stories and images coming out of Gaza are absolutely heartbreaking, and I agree with you that we cannot simply sit back and watch.  

Labour has called on the government to increase Britain’s humanitarian aid to Gaza by an extra £10 million, appoint a UK special coordinator for international aid to Gaza, the immediate deployment of British experts and medical support teams, as well as working with international partners to give UN agencies, such as UNRWA, the long-term resources they need, as well as insisting that fuel is allowed into Gaza. 

The British Government must do everything in its power, and work proactively with international partners, to ensure food, water, medicine and fuel reaches those affected. Britain must uphold its commitment to the protection of human rights of all and call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.  

An immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and the release of hostages, is the only way to prevent further loss of innocent civilian life and lay the foundations for progress towards a lasting peace.  

 

  

 

‘We MUST Prioritise Emergency Funding for Hospices’ says Durham MP

Mary has joined with MPs across the House of Commons to call for urgent additional funding for much loved hospices as they battle soaring costs. Mary Kelly Foy & Peter Gibson urge Chancellor to ‘prioritise’ hospices | The Northern Echo

After previously writing to Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt before the Spring Budget to press for much needed cash for hospices such as St Cuthberts in Durham, Mary has continued to fight in the House of Commons to secure new funding. 

Hospices face soaring prices for essentials such as energy, staff and food, with the sector facing a deficit of £186 million this year alone.. Hospices are reliant on fundraising with the NHS only funding 58% of the cost of clinical services at St Cuthbert’s. Despite Inflation reaching 11% the North East Integrated Care Board recently uprated St Cuthbert’s contract by just 1.7%. Children’s hospices put at risk by loss of £21m grant | Express.co.uk)

 Mary has called for the Government to intervene to ensure no patient is turned away, adding: “The Government can’t bury their heads in the sand on this issue. If they do not provide sustainable funding, hospices may well close and a vital source of care and comfort to people in their final days will be lost. 

With inflation comes increased costs. St Cuthbert’s has seen a massive rise in their energy bill – by tens of thousands of pounds. And let’s be clear about something: a care home can’t reduce their energy consumption. It’s really not an option. Medical equipment must be kept on.”

Paul Marriott CEO of St Cuthberts Hospice said: “I am grateful to Mary Kelly Foy for amplifying the serious challenges hospices like St Cuthbert’s are facing at present. The need for our services continues to grow- with demand for our beds outstripping supply.  

Rising energy, food and wage costs, are making it an ever more challenging environment in which to provide care. In spite of these challenges, the percentage of patients that report a positive of experience of care using the NHS Friends and Family Test continues to run at 100%.

However, we are increasingly reliant on the community to support us through their volunteering and their fundraising. However, we cannot be complacent about this and we cannot keep on relying upon voluntary donations of money and time to plug the growing gap cause by under-funding by the NHS. I hope the Government will recognise the importance of the service we provide, and properly fund us to ensure we can continue to support those who need us.

MP welcomes ‘Groundbreaking’ Local Forum to tackle Student Housing Crisis

Mary Kelly Foy MP has chaired the first Durham Student Housing Forum. The Group hosted at Durham University together over 30 organisations including Durham University, Durham County Council, landlords and letting agents to create the first forum to resolve these issues locally. (Read More; Durham University: Code of practice plan to fix ‘broken’ student housing – BBC News)

The group has been convened by Mary in response to disgraceful scenes of students queuing up overnight to secure housing which was too often in a poor condition and unaffordable (Durham University students queue overnight to secure accommodation – BBC News). There has also been a spike in Durham residents being evicted in the private rental sector so housing can be converted into expensive student lets. 

The goal is for landlords and letting agents to sign a joint code of practice to enforce higher standards. The university has confirmed its student population will reduce by 1,000 students next year, easing the demand for housing. 

Commenting on the inaugural meeting, Mary said:

“This meeting was a welcome first step towards improving the student rental market in Durham. 

“In recent times there has been growing evidence that the current housing system is not working for students or residents. As the elected representative of everyone in our city, it has been heartening to see the University, County Council and other vitally important stakeholders proactively engage with this new process.  “I hope this forum will continue as a means to open, frank and constructive discussion of these important issues and that practical resolutions can be agreed together in the near future.”