I have lived in the Stockton North constituency for nearly 30 years and brought my family up in the area so know, understand and share local issues with my community.
More than 17 years in public life and Labour Party life, the earlier career in journalism work within a national company and as a business owner, has broadened my knowledge and understanding in everything from the needs of people to the issues facing business.
Close work with MPs and Ministers in my work and Council roles has equipped me well with knowledge of the working of Government. National and regional roles covering business, my Council, Health, Development and Regeneration the arts and culture roles has also helped broaden my knowledge and experience of public life, business and government affairs and policies.
I joined the Labour Party in Stockton North more than 20 years ago and have held a series of different posts at branch and constituency level including Constituency Chair/Vice Chair, Secretary, Youth Officer, Campaign Coordinator, Press Officer and Executive Member. I’ve organised and led campaigns for County and Unitary Council elections.
I have served as a Labour County Councillor for seven years and 11 years as a Borough Councillor holding Chair or Cabinet posts during both periods. I was re-elected May 2007 and currently lead the Children and Young People agenda for Stockton Borough Council. I have been a trade unionist since the day I joined work – first in the National Union of Journalists where I held office and was a delegate to the Stockton Trades Council and later a member of NUPE and latterly Unison.
My career path has covered newspaper and broadcasting journalism followed by public relations and communications roles, the last as Head of Communications for Transco, covering everything from crisis and media relations to public affairs including parliamentary and new media for the gas industry. That gave way to me developing my communications and web design business five years ago.
My political and professional life as journalist, communications manager and businessman has resulted in excellent communication and influencing skills. I’ve managed internal, media and stakeholder strategy across a series of platforms from being Head of Communications for Transco to being a member of the national MLA Council and Chair of Stockton Children’s Trust.
I am trained in television, radio and related media skills and have done many interviews, some in crisis circumstances. I have strong leadership and motivational skills. I pride myself in leading teams effectively in work, in politics and in the community.
Leadership roles have ranged from managing major crisis to encouraging communities to empower themselves through residents’ groups and chairing difficult public meetings. My writing skills, developed as a journalist, provides expertise in developing materials, reporting to the constituency and ensuring that issues or problems raised by constituents can be explained clearly thus enabling early solution.