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.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Casting Off... Coat for a Boat at the Customs House

I went to visit the exhibition commissioned by the MillDam's Visual Arts development Officer, Esen Kaya. "Coat for a Boat" consists of a 21ft fishing coble completely covered in knitting.

Volunteer knitters came to the Customs House every Saturday morning and knitters from as far away as Australia and America sent their work in.

The exhibition is on until September 13, but on Sunday, July 12, the boat will sail down the river, as part of the Mouth Of The Tyne festival.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

BBQ - Saturday 11th July

South Shields Conservatives are hosting a Summer BBQ at 24, The Kingsway on Saturday 11th July from 2pm. A £6 ticket includes your burgers, sausages and drinks - hope you can make it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bird Spotting

We'd just finished our Sunday lunch in the garden, when my mother pointed out the unusual bird feeding from their newly installed bird feeder. My father hot footed to grab his bird book and reliably informed us it was a Green Finch (as pictured to the left). I must write to Matthew Capper, who is co-ordinating the RSPB's bird spotting effort in South Tyneside, to tell him. I thought it was quite encouraging to spot some rarer birds in South Shields and a pleasant change from the beady eyed Seagulls who leers down at me with view to steal my breakfast most mornings!

Having a Butchers

I popped down to see what was going on at the Dog Walk this morning - admittedly I didn't have very far to go and it was a beautiful morning - so I think it would have been a crime almost not to pop down. The Butchers Great North Dog Walk has been going since 1990 and is organised by one of my old teachers at Harton, Tony Carlisle.

With over 12,000 dogs there was a great atmosphere, despite the fact the Walk was nearly cancelled a few weeks ago due to a key sponsor (for the water) pulling out, as Tony said "It is like having the Great North Run without water."


Visit to Fire Station

The new South Shields Community Fire Station was built in 2001 on the John Reid Road, when the old Keppel St Station was closed. I was very interested to visit the station and to meet Station Officer, Neville Charlton to learn more about the functions of the Station - particulary with regard to its role as a Community Station. I have to admit, though, I was very disappointed to find no Fire Engines or Firemen present at the station at the time of my visit, so I do think I might have to drop in again!

The fire station is one of only two that provides Tyne and Wear with a rope rescue capability in addition to the firefighters responding to all types of emergencies and the staff at the station are also the main asset in undertaking a range of Community Safety (CS) activities aimed at preventing fires, deaths and injuries in fires. The figures speak for themselves on what firefighters have been able to achieve - there has been a vast reduction the number of fires in the town and the severity of fires has also been reduced - last year there were no fatalities as a result of fire in South Shields. All incidents are mapped on the Tyne and Wear Fire Services' website:


Fully integrated into the station is a Community Centre which comprises an auditorium seating 120, a meeting room and a computer suite for further educational learning available to the public, who can come and go throughout the day. The station also used to house a police team, but unfortunately due to local authority cuts this facility was removed from the station.

Speaking to Officer Charlton, he explained to me most fires are unfortunately started deliberately. It's difficult to forget the fire at Lisle Road:


and only last week I read of several deliberately started fires in the Gazette. It was particularly mindless and upsetting to read about the van set on fire in Tennyson Avenue, which was used to transport disabled children.


Seeing our youngsters resort to setting fire to vehicles, wheely bins and with the most catastrophic results homes, is truly representative of the broken society David Cameron talks about and is deeply disturbing.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sunny Shields Weekend

We had a very successful coffee morning at St Peter's Church this morning. As well as support from our stalwarts we had several new faces there, as a result of the invitations we'd delivered in the Harton area of the town. We raised around £300, it's believed at this stage, from donations towards the refreshments and the raffle, which all goes towards the campaign, but of course the gathering was more about meeting people and talking. This was the first of several coffee mornings we'll be hosting in different areas of South Shields, so keep an eye out for an invitation coming through your door soon.

I'm off to see the amateur dramatics production of Rent tonight at the Customs House. Hope the weather keeps up so we have enjoy the sunny Green Room beforehand.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Continued Fury in South Shields at Expense Abuse

I've always loved reading the letters page in the Shields Gazette - I remember fondly my Grandmother encouraging me to write letters into the paper when I was at school, which I enjoyed doing very much. I still always read the letters and I have been really interested to see the continued rage at MPs expense abuse which is featured almost everyday in the Gazette. But you know what, I'm not really surprised people are writing in and are outraged. You just have to look at what South Shields' Labour MP, David Miliband has been up to if you really want to get annoyed. It's clearly stated within the expense rules that MPs can claim for expenses incurred doing their job. If Mr Miliband thinks tending his garden is fundamental to his Parliamentary duties for South Shields, I think he's got it severely wrong. But I suppose that's the arrogance we can expect from the politician who frequently boasts 'South Shields is the only constituency never to have been Conservative' while at the same time taunting the electorate with bills for a reconditioned antique armchair, a child's pushchair, as well as his gardening, is taking South Shields for granted. It's about time the town had a local MP who properly understands and cares about the North East.

I read a letter from Colin Campbell tonight in the Gazette:


and I whole heartened agree with Mr Campbell that parachuted candidates – which I take to mean politicians sent to safe seats, who are likely to know nothing about the area, but are favoured by their party - are a very bad idea, particularly at the moment, when people are more suspicious than ever of the political system. David Miliband embodies ever personna of a parachuted candidate and frankly I’d bet he’d never ever heard of South Shields before Tony Blair mentioned it to him.

I was born in South Shields. I went to school in South Shields. My family have lived here for generations and they still do. I am working in London during the week, because I couldn’t find a job in the North East. I want to lobby to bring more enterprise and investment to the region, because I want this to change. I want our young people not to have to move away from South Shields. I believe in this town and put myself up to stand here – knowing this would be a tough fight, knowing Mr Miliband has a very strong majority – because I care about South Shields, because I am one of you and I think you deserve a local voice in Westminster from someone who really knows the town.