Karen Allen

I fought South Shields at the May 2010 General Election for the Conservatives, gaining a 6.4% swing which was a 4% vote increase. The Conservatives polled 7,886 up from 5,207 in 2005. I was born in the North East and grew up in South Shields. I currently live in London and am employed as a Director at Lloyd's Broker Howden International.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring Forum

.......with Conservative Chairman, Eric Pickles

Although there were fewer sessions at this year's Spring Forum, which was held in Cheltenham at the weekend, it was nevertheless a busy weekend and of course it was the opportunity to meet up with old friends and colleagues, as well as the chance to meet new people.

It was joked in one of the sessions, that we were accused of having not enough policies a couple of years back, yet now some are complaining we have too many policies! It's true to say, there has been a lot of work carried out in the policy unit and there are some exciting new initiatives coming out of the party and by, don't we just need these policies. The budget last week was truly depressing and deeply frightening, to think of the debt we are going to be saddled with for a whole generation fills me with contempt for this Government and its mishandling of this financial crisis.

It was also interesting to bump into leading members of South Shields Labour Party at the main conference dinner on Saturday night. I'd say I hope they weren't there pinching our ideas and policies, but actually I hope they were there doing exactly that. Any cut to red tape, bureaucracy and pointless targets and increase in localised power is something I'd love to see happening in South Shields.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Tax on Bingo??!!!

Further to my invitation to visit to the Mecca Bingo on Dean Road earlier this month, the Bingo Hall were then contacted by Mr Miliband's office who were also keen to arrange a visit to the Bingo Hall, as reported by the Shields Gazette:


Unfortunately it looks like Mr Miliband musn't have had a chance to raise "important issues" with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he promised to the Mecca Bingo - I suppose Mr Darling has been much to busy trying to find areas he can increase tax to listen - although it is a pity Labour continue to let down their electorate. Alistair Darling's budget last week sees bingo now worse off than ever. Bingo duty has been increased from 15% to 22% which is paid in addition to VAT - so bingo is now taxed at 37%. This is yet another example of where the lower earner are made to suffer most, which makes no sense to me and is completely against the supposed "Labour" fundementals. This raise in tax is going to cost the industry an extra £9m annally and unfortunately looks set to threaten the closure of more clubs:


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conservative Spring Forum

Next weekend it's the Annual Conservative Spring Forum Conference. This year the we'll be in Cheltenham.

Conservative Way Forward is hosting a Spring Forum Midnight Reception on Saturday 25th April 2009. This reception will be held in the Sovereign Room at the Cheltenham Racecourse and commences as the main conference dinner winds down next door. Doors open at 11pm and we will be serving complimentary white and red white until 1am.

This event is strictly members only. It is possible to join CWF in advance of the reception on our website www.conwayfor.org. Membership forms will also available on the door on the night.

If you would like to attend, please email me karen.allen@conwayfor.org. Hope to see you in Cheltenham.

Ferry Cross the Tyne...

It was a beautiful morning so I thought what a good idea to have bike ride along our beautiful coastline. I rode along the Shields coast and even popped over to Cullercoats on the ferry. I'm doing the Thames Bridges Bike Ride at the end of May, so I thought it would be a good idea to get a few practice rides in. I'm part of the Tower Perrin "Actuaries on Wheel" (although I am not an actuary!) team who are riding to raise money for the Stroke Association. We're riding from Tower Bridge to Hampton Court, crossing 14 London bridges along the way.

If you would like to sponsor me and donate money to the Stroke Association, you can by visitng our Just Giving page:


It was my second venture across the Tyne this weekend. On Saturday morning me and a few people from South Shields Conservative Association popped across to Tynemouth to help Wendy Morton, the Candidate for Tynemouth. We drove through the tunnel that time, but I can assure you cycing and taking the ferry was much more enjoyable - the traffic we were stuck in on the way back was horrendous!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Visit to South Tyneside NHS Trust

This morning I went to visit the South Tyneside Hospital. I met with Peter Davidson, the Chairman of the South Tyneside NHS
Foundation Trust and Helen Ray, Executive Director, responsible for business development, GP liaison and risk management.

Peter and Helen gave me a tour of the newly refurbished Stroke Ward and the Cardiology Unit.

The visit to the new Stroke Ward was particularly poignant for me, as my Grandmother had been a patient there in 1995 and did actually pass away in the hospital.

The new facilities on the ward were fantastic. There was a wealth of new equipment, which makes it much easier to mobilise patients and make them more comfortable. The design was state of the art to minimise possible infection and to give patients the dignity they deserve - all of the rooms on the twenty bed ward are single sex and in the new design one bed was removed from each room so an en suite bathroom could be built to increase patient comfort.

I also met with one of the Therapists on the Stroke Ward. She explained to me the reading system she'd set up so that visitors could read with patients - she'd developed the graded system based upon the stage of the patient, because many visitors wanted to try to help when they visited their loved ones.

The Trust have a schedule of future renovations planned, so I look forward to going back to visit again soon. The doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals do a fantastic job which has been proved by their results in regulators' assessments which have seen the hospital consistently ranked as one of the best in the sector.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Town Centre's Nightlife Dying too

I had a lovely meal in the Rattler on the sea front a couple of Thursday ago and as the night was still young, I decided to have a couple of drinks "down town" to reminisce. I had feared that the new 24 hour drinking regulations might have regularly created mayhem around the Ocean Road and Mile End Road area, but to my surprise I found that at 10.30pm the town centre was virtually dead.

Talking to bar staff and door staff they said the town's nightlife really died a few years ago. Although Saturday nights are still quite busy the rest of the week (including the old Student Night on Thursday) is virtually dead. The door staff put this down to people not having the money to go out and instead they choose to drink at home. That amazes me though as the Yates Wine Lodge - which was the only busy bar - was selling wine for £4.95 bottle.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Still Time to Save Sea Dragon

Swan Hunter's Cranes ready to set sail to India

Reported in the Northern Echo today is news that in fact by shipping SeaDragon to Singapore for construction, instead of having it erected on the Tyne, is set to cost up to £110m more.

Lloyd's TSB (the part nationalised bank - we own 43% of it) refused to fund the project in the North East, sighting safety and efficiency reasons, in light of this new information on the actual costs of the project, surely it's time for the Government to intervene.

Come on Mr Miliband, speak up and do something for the future of South Tyneside's workforce.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hard Hats down at McNulty's

Yesterday, I was accompanied by Martin Callanan MEP to visit McNulty’s Shipyard on Commercial Road, South Shields. McMulty’s is one of the largest private sector employers in the town. Sasha Keyworth, the yard’s Health and Safety Manager kindly gave me and Martin a tour of the yard.

The vastness of the yard and the extent of the work going on there is reassuring, particularly in light of recent contract disappointments. McMulty’s Yard lost out on two large contracts recently, first the £2bn MOD aircraft carrier contract, which was sent up to the Clyde and then just last week the £300m SeaDragon Contract which has gone to Singapore.

Standing on the docks of the Tyne yesterday morning we also witnessed a piece of history. The red cranes from Swan Hunter’s shipyard were being prepared for shipping off to India, where they will undertake new contracts in Indian Shipyards. It was all a bit sad really.

I hope very much the optimism and hard work of the 500 workers currently employed at McNulty’s is rewarded with new contracts. We have skilled workers on the Tyne and in addition to the wealth of experience in the town, we have young people leaving school and college in the hope of finding an apprenticeship. Securing new work at McNulty’s would provide future job security for hundreds of our youngsters and this is so important for the future of the town’s workforce and prosperity.