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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

British Heart Foundation

Unfortunately the reality is that heart disease affects us all whether directly or indirectly. The British Heart Foundation have been doing a fantastic job to fight against premature death and disability from heart, the charity’s aim being to raise awareness on the causes and affects of heart disease thereby preventing and improving the care for people with heart disease.

The British Heart Foundation shop in South Shields is one of the busiest shops the charity runs. Lisa Burles, Manager at the store told me they are always looking for more volunteers to cope with the demand. I wanted to start giving some of my time whenever possible to work in the shop - to help in whatever way I can. There's a great atmosphere in the shop and I've really enjoyed the afternoons I've volunteered there. The store is up for Shop of the Year for the second year running, because of its record profits - fingers crossed for Lisa they will win this year.

If you have any donations of clothes, books or other household items that you would like to donate to the British Heart Foundation, you can ring the shop to arrange a driver to come to collect the items on 0191 427 9125.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Off to Rwanda

As reported in the Shields Gazette


I'm off to Project Umubano Project in Rwanda on Saturday 25th July. I learned of this year's project from Andrew Mitchell, Shadow Minister for International Development when he spoke at one of the CWF Shadow Cabinet Breakfasts earlier this year. I had heard of Umubano when it first started in 2007 and as I already had a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification) - from when I worked in Moscow in 1997 - I thought I would really like to go to volunteer in Africa.

So I have all of my jabs, my teaching plans are packed, boarding passes printed. It'll be my first time in Africa and as well as trying to help, I am really keen to understand more about the country and the continent.

When Andrew spoke at our breakfast about International Development and the role of the developed world and its responsibility to the Third and Developing World, it really did make me think quite differently about our contriution and indeed our peacekeeping and educational roles.

Internet access is limited in the Eastern Province where I will be, so I doubt to be blogging - but photos and posts to follow in August.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fundraising BBQ

Presenting the donation cheque to Shields Treasurer, Edward Russell

We had a lovely afternoon for the South Shields Conservatives BBQ today. After a morning slaving away preparing burgers, salads and dips, I was just about ready to put my feet up and enjoy a cool beer by 2pm when guests started arriving!

I was delighted to receive another substantial donation, from a local business, towards campaign funds - we have a by election to fight now in Westoe. The donation will certainly go towards leaflets and literature we want to print - but the poor tax payer is left to foot a £20,000 bill for the By Election as a result of a councillor being booted off for non attendance.

Our Candidate is Association Chairman, Tony Dailly. We are fully committed to serving residents in Westoe. Tony and I will endeavor over the next few months to meet as many people in Westoe as possible with the aim of assisting with any problem brought to our attention. Westoe deserves proper representation in the Council Chamber and Tony is the man who can deliver that. I very much hope that we can replicate By Election results achieved by the Conservative Party in other parts of the country. People are tired of broken promises and want change.

Mission to Close after 150 years

I contacted the Gazette to break the very sad news I learned at the Tyne Area Shipping Club on Thursday night that the Mission is not to reopen.

pictured with Keith Atkinson, Chairman of Tyne Sea Shipping Club


I think this is hugely sad and a real blow for the town. The Mission has been open in the Mill Dam since 1858 and has served thousands of seafarers
providing valued shelter and amenities.

The Tyne Area Shipping Club had held its meetings at the Mission for years. Meetings will
now be held at the Old Ship on Sunderland Road

in Harton Village. Further details of the group can be found on their website:


Chairman, Keith Atkinson does an excellent job organising a monthly speaker. The talk given by Silversmith Les Howe on Thursday, was fascinating. Les has had the honour of making commemorative jewelery for Prince Charles and HM The Queen. Les can frequently be found at Bede's World in Jarrow demonstrating his techniques.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tribute to Nancy Warren

It was sadness I read in the Shields Gazette this evening, that Mrs Warren had passed away. I remember her fondly from my Girl Guiding days at the Westoe Methodist church. I think the attached picture was taken when I was working towards my hostess badge and I was hosting a coffee morning table on which Mrs Warren sat on my table. She played the organ beautifully and I know will be greatly missed by everyone.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A dry day to visit Temple Park Leisure Centre

Temple Park Centre is one of the largest and most popular leisure centres in South Tyneside, opened in the 1970s and extended in the 1980s, I remember very well as a child being taken to the newly extended centre and riding the waves of the new wave machine after shooting down the AquaBlaster slide. As a keen swimmer though it was Derby Street baths I went to every week.

I was fairly shocked at the deterioration of Temple Park. You'll see from the posted picture which was taken by Richard Jago, from the South Tyneside's Cultural Operations department, that me and Assistant, Michael, are literally surrounded by plastic pots to catch the rain coming through the roof. I was glad I visited during a dry spell, as apparently the roof leakages fill the pots pretty quickly and it can get very wet and slippy.

I was heartened to hear South Tyneside's Leisure facilities are being scrutinised and the council have been pushing to get plans for a new pool at the site of the Pier Amusements. Since Derby Street Baths closure in the 1990s South Shields has not had a proper swimming facility - the pool at Temple Park being very much a leisure pool - if you want a pool for a proper swim you need to travel to Hebburn.

It's such a shame for Temple Park though. The Centre needs a serious amount of investment to take it into the twenty first century - it could be argued it needs completely demolishing and rebuilding - as the cost of a new roof would be exorbitant. Surely when considering the high rate of obesity and the propensity for young offenders in South Shields there would be a way to wangle the funding on the basis a state of the art leisure centre could help to negate these two problems?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On the Beat

Further to a meeting with Chief Superintendent Mark Dennett of Northumbria Police last month, I took up the offer to accompany a team of response officers and a neighbourhood bobby on the beat in South Shields.

This morning was certainly very insightful into some of the anti-social behavioural problems in South Tyneside, as well as a glimpse at some of the bureaucracy officers have become increasingly caught up with - the Policing Pledge being the newest set of standards or targets:


The Pledge includes a Police promise to behave fairly and respectfully and to attend emergencies immediately. Isn't that what our officers do anyway?

Later this week David Burrowes, MP is visiting South Shields to attend the National Victims Support Conference at Littlehaven on Saturday, which has been organised by David Hines whose daughter was tragically murdered.


David and I will meet with South Tyneside Young Offenders and the Safe Stop Initiative to gain more information into how crime is being tackled in South Shields.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Today I visited TEDCO (The Tyneside Economic Development Company Ltd), which is a leading company in enterprise development with two centres in South Tyneside. TEDCO was formed in 1984 in a typical year helps to create more than 300 new businesses and assists over 500 businesses to develop and grow. Through its Enterprise in Education project, TEDCO works with more than 4000 young people each year, inspiring them to become more enterprising.

Doug Scott, Director and CEO, as pictured gave me a tour of the Henry Robson site and the landmark Quadrant Centre in Boldon, explaining how TEDCO helps new and established businesses by providing information and advice on every aspect of running a business, including business start-up, survival, success and growth.

As a Conservative I fully support business innovation and think the work TEDCO does is fantastic and hope work continues from strength to strength. We are of course currently in a particularly difficult economic time and we need to give businesses in South Tyneside every assistance and opportunity to succeed.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Toyah Wilcox at the Bents Park

After seeing the Killers and Blur at Hyde Park within the last couple of week, I was glad to find my concert going was not at an end and we had Sinead Quinn, T'Pau and Toyah Wilcox in the Bents Park.

This afternoon was part of South Tyneside's annual Summer Festival which is three months of free fun and entertainment. As well as big name entertainment during the school holidays there are parties hosted by Tommy the Trumpeter, Street Entertainment and Saturday fun days.

Brolly in hand today we set off, hoping the rain would stave off. As we found, however, it was not just the weather that was a bit blue. T'Pau's front woman, Carol Decker, got off to a bad start with a string of expletives and struggled to reach most of the notes in her hit single China in Your Hand. Anyway.... Toyah was brilliant. She really captured the audience and gave an extremely vibrant performance. I only had my umbrella up half of the time too!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fish 'n Chips Friday

It was a lovely evening for Colman's freshly prepared fish and chips last night. It's not surprising Colman's can boast a host of accolades, which include: Winner of Fish and Chip Shop of The Year No. 1 England, National Champion UK TV Food Heroes, Winner Best UK Takeaway at the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2007, Regional Winner Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, Sea Fish Quality Awards Holder and recommended by BBC Good Food Magazine and Olive. They are certainly the best fish and chips I've ever had.

Great weather also this morning for the Catherine Cookson Festival. Fowler St and Ocean Road were heaving - it took me over half an hour to cross over to King Street! Hope the weather keeps up for the live music down in the Bents Park tomorrow. I'm looking forward to singing along to T'Pau!!