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
Amaani at The Pumphouse
Ash Signs Print & Graphics
Bainbridge’s Fresh Produce
Bean Social
Bean to Brew
Bee Beautiful
Circle Vintage
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
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
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

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 |

 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.”

City Unites to Celebrate Durham Pride

Mary Kelly Foy MP has written in the Northern Echo of her pride in the Durham City coming “together to celebrate our LGBT+ community and the inclusivity of our county and to march in unison through our historic winding streets, in a public display of support and celebration of the freedom to love without discrimination”.

As Durham Pride celebrates its 10th Anniversary, Mary has praised tireless work, infectious enthusiasm, and vision” of founder Mel Metcalf and his team. 

Speaking of Labour’s commitment to LGBT+ equality:
“I am proud to be a Labour MP – and my party’s record supporting the LGBT+ community is one of the many reasons why. From the repeal of Section 28 to the creation of civil partnerships, the Gender Recognition Act or introducing the right for same sex couples to adopt, history shows we have stood with the LGBT+ community. But we must continue to defend and advance these rights.

We are, at our core, the party of equality, that’s why Labour will always treat all LGBT+ people with fairness and respect nor waver from upholding people’s dignity. We must build on the positive legacy of the last Labour Government by breaking new ground for LGBT+ rights. This includes introducing a full, trans-inclusive ban on conversion practices.”

Read Mary’s full column here: Mary Kelly Foy: My pride in Durham – and in Labour | The Northern Echo

MP says “let Councils run services” as Durham’s Private ‘buses don’t turn up’ 

Durham’s broken bus services are one of the major casework issues raised with Mary. Unreliable, slow, and fragmented services make it incredibly hard for passengers to reach work, education or healthcare.

That’s why after meeting Arriva and Go North East to express constituents’ concerns, Mary has recently taken this issue to Westminster. 

After welcoming the introduction of capped £2 fares, Mary stressed the need to focus on reliability to encourage more passenger to buses. (Mary Kelly Foy MP says ‘buses don’t turn up’ as £2 fare extended | The Northern Echo)

Sadly, since 2016, County Durham has lost over one million miles of bus journeys; all under the Conservatives watch. Cuts to vital evening and weekend services continue to be announced. Consequently Mary has called on Transport Secretary Mark Harper MP to end his Governments Ideological ban of Councils to create Municipal Bus Companies to ensure vital routes can be continued.

Asking in the House of Commons:
” Recently, Arriva gave up its subsidised 57A route, which goes through my constituency. The council has struggled to find an alternative operator because the Government have banned it from creating its own bus company—one that could serve the local community, which is left struggling to access key local services and even to get to work. Does the Minister agree that it is long overdue and common sense to end the ideological ban on municipal bus companies?”

Mary Urges Government to stop the rot in Durham’s Dentistry

As part of her long running campaign to end the crisis in NHS Dentistry, Mary Kelly Foy MP has written to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, urging him to adopt the “fundamental reforms” recommended by the Health and Social Care committee.

In her letter Mary said:
“The report’s findings echo the experience of hundreds of constituents who have contacted me about the struggles they face when trying to access affordable dental care. Vast areas of our country, including Durham, are increasingly being described as “dental deserts”, where not a single dental practice is accepting new NHS patients. 

Despite repeated promises from ministers that the department will outline further reform measures to the dental contract, the government’s long-term NHS Workforce Plan did not mention the NHS dental contract. While we wait for action, countless people are left to suffer, unable to access or afford dental services and, in some cases, even forced to resort to do-it-yourself dentistry.”

The report, authored by a cross-party committee of MPs, provides a damning indictment of the mismanagement of dentistry services in England which have seen over one thousand dentists leave the NHS in recent years, creating significant barriers for many looking to access affordable dentistry.

The reports key recommendations include:

  • Scrapping the discredited NHS dental contract
  • Focusing on Prevention 
  • Ensuring anyone who needs a dentist us able to access one within a reasonable time frame and distance.

Mary has been spearheading campaigns alongside the British Dentistry Association to improve Durham’s dental services, conducting a constituency wide dentistry survey, holding a parliamentary debate on worsening services in the area ( Mary Kelly Foy MP’s plea to improve dental services in County Durham | The Northern Echo)  , and calling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to correct the record after repeatedly misleading the house of commons by stating there are more dentists in the NHS, contrary to official figures. 

Mary has written how she believes the next Labour Government should fix NHS Dentistry here: (People are pulling their own teeth out — Labour must urgently fix NHS dentistry – LabourList | Latest UK Labour Party news, analysis and comment

Government set to miss Smokefree target by SEVEN years after U-turning on MPs tough cigarette and vaping laws

Mary Kelly Foy MP welcomed a Government U-turn to consult on new laws to combat children vaping and smoking, after the same measures proposed by her just two years ago were voted down by the Governments own MPs. 

Mary reacted stating ““It’s incredible that almost two years after the Government rejected similar proposals, they are now consulting to do the same. These were common-sense proposals and enjoyed cross party support and the backing of health campaigners- but the Tories voted them down. It’s clear they put party politics before public health.”

At health and Social Care Questions The Labour MP asked “In 2021, the Government voted down my amendments to the Health and Care Bill to tackle smoking and youth vaping. England is now set to miss the smokefree 2030 target by at least 7 years and countless children will have become addicted to vapes.

I welcome the U-turn but what steps is the minister taking to make up for this lost time?”

Consequently, Mary has branded new Government proposals to cut smoking and stamp out children vaping as “unnecessary dither and delay” and as evidence of putting “politics before public health”, as the UK looks set to miss the Governments target date to stamp out smoking. 

Mary, who is Vice-Chair of the Smoking and Health All-Party Parliamentary Group, has been quick to point out that these measures mirror similar proposals the Government whipped Conservative MPs to vote against when presented as amendments by her to the Health and Care Bill Committee in 2021. 
While serving as a member of the Health and Social Care Bill Committee, Mary presented amendments to the bill to: 

 1. Prohibit tactics such as branding and sweet flavourings to market vapes to children

2.  Close a legal loophole which permits the free distribution of e-cigarettes to children for marketing purposes.  

3. Allow the Government to raise a levy on tobacco companies’ profits to fund stop smoking activities. 

4. Allow the Secretary of State to increase graphic anti-smoking messaging on cigarettes and require inserts containing health information and links to smoking cessation services.