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.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day

Christmas in South Shields has been crisp to say the least, but today has been much milder and lots of folks were out for a Boxing Day stroll after lunch, as the sun went down.

After my MacBook met a most untimely death yesterday, this is my first blogspot on my new MacBook Pro. I'm going to keep this post short - but include a couple of pics - and try to get up to speed with my new machine!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's a pretty slushy Christmas Eve in South Shields this morning. The ice, similar to many other parts of the country, was treacherous yesterday and is likely to become more so with the rain today. I was hoping to venture down to King St for a few last minute items, but I'm going to play it by ear - looking at the alternatives I don't fancy the Two Ronnies very much and the presents are already wrapped and under the tree.

I would like to wish everyone in South Shields a very Merry Christmas. Hope your day with is filled with joy and spent with your loved ones. For many people Christmas can be a difficult time, particularly where loved ones are missing and for some families were it's the first Christmas without a close family member and for those people a special prayer this Christmas.

In the Allen household, we'll have a very traditional day - turkey with all of the trimmings, followed by a very lethal homemade Christmas Pudding I picked up at a farmers market - with close family members in the Kingsway. As always I am looking forward to our post lunch stroll along the seafront and Marine Park, just hope the weather is OK for it. I last remember a white Christmas in South Shields in (what I recall as being) 1994. Although this has just sparked a mild debate and my father thinks it was 1995!

Tonight I'm going to pop along to the carol singing at 6pm in Westoe Village - which should be lovely, so long as you are wrapped up warm!

Merry Christmas.

Westoe Village Carols

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers with our Armed Forces

As I was braving the ice and snow this morning I thought, just ahead of Christmas, about our soldiers who are serving in much harsher conditions in Afghanistan. There are many families in South Shields who will be without their loved ones this Christmas and Christmas will be really tough for these families. As David Cameron said this week, every single soldier and all their families should know that the whole country is right behind them and incredibly grateful for the work that they do.

As President Obama announced a big increase in American troops for Afghanistan last month, if you add in the extra soldiers Britain is sending over, we now have the best chance to ensure that our counter-insurgency campaign is successful, deliver a safer country to the Afghan authorities, and then bring our brave troops back home.

But in before that happens, thoughts, prayers and gratitude to our troops in Afghanistan. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cruel Attack on Rare Birds

Sickening to read about this in the Gazette. I'm sure it brought particular distress to the town's many twitchers and recent Eastern Warbler admirers:


But glad to see that the pair were brought to justice and hope South Shields sea birds and rare birds continue to thrive.

No Number 1 for Joe

Call me a cynic, but it looks clear to me there has been one winner of the Joe McElderry - Rage Against the Machine Christmas Number 1 battle and that is the record label.

Sony Music, the label for both Joe and RATM have surely enjoyed the soaring sales and even encouraged the fight between the two songs, then reaping the rewards.

Well done Joe, anyway on your Number 2 hit single and here's to your first Number 1 which I am sure will be in 2010 and Merry Christmas Sony.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Harton and Jarrow Schools Partnership

Harton has always been an excellent school. Once the Boys Grammar School in South Shields former pupils include Malcolm Barbour, of Barbour clothing, Hollywood Director, Ridley Scott and my own father!


I was at Harton from 1990-1995 and I remember very clearly the dedication of the teachers, which was manifested in a variety of after school clubs and societies - drama, public speaking and various musical instruments were the activities I remember best, having been involved in them. When I left Harton to do my 'A' Levels, I remember my new music teacher being astonished my teacher at Harton had given up lunchtimes, without any sort of charge, to give me piano lessons and my form tutor gave up time after school to teach me German as an additional GCSE. Many of these truly dedicated teacher I know are still at the school and certainly have contributed to making it the success it is today.

Ken Gibson was my maths teacher and also my mentor for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Even as a teenager I remember his drive and flair for teaching, so when I read the Gazette on Friday:


I thought if anyone can run two schools he can. What is also very important to remember is Ken has an excellent team around him. The SLT (the executive made up of Senior Leading Teachers) is made up of extremely talented and experienced teachers (many of whom have been at the school for 15+ years - I know because they were my teachers!) A good school is run by a strong head teacher who has respect and authority to make decisions with a team of equally strong staff supporting.

As Harton is now truly excelling - it's one of the best schools in the country - I would fully support the move for Harton to partner with Jarrow, a school which was deemed "indequate" and on "notice to improve" from OFSTED inspectors. Good governance, aspirational teaching and hard work from staff at Harton, I am sure will provide the support Jarrow needs to recover academically and to give the Borough another good school - we need to remember not all of the schools are as good as Harton and all of our children deserve the best education possible.

I wish Ken and Harton Technology College the very best for 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Conservative Promise to Help the Elderly

A Conservative government will introduce a new home protection scheme that will end the desperate situation whereby tens of thousands of older people are being forced to sell their homes each year to pay for residential care at the end of their lives.

Under our voluntary scheme, people reaching retirement will have the option to pay a one-off joining fee that we estimate will be around £8,000, in return for a guarantee that absolutely all fees for permanent residential care would be waived - for life.

The scale of Labour’s betrayal of pensioners was revealed as it emerged that every year at least 3,000 elderly people are forced to sell their homes to pay for residential care. The scandal of Britain’s crumbling care system has reached such proportions that a third of all those paying the cost of their care end up without their house. I know from visiting Care Homes in South Shields and speaking with a number of pensioners that people are very angry that after more than a decade of Labour promises, a record number of people who have saved all their lives are still having to put their houses up for sale, while those who have squandered their money get free care.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Youth Unemployment Hits Record High

It's very worrying to learn that youth unemployment has reached a record high. The number of 16-to-24 year olds who are unemployed now stands at 952,000, the highest figure since records began in 1992.

This is yet more evidence of the devastating effect the recession is having on young people. Ministers need to stop trying to rewrite the unemployment figures and start tackling the problem. Almost two years after the recession began and unemployment began to rise, the Government's flagship guarantee for young people hasn't even started yet. Conservatives have put help for youth unemployment at the heart of our plans to get Britain working again. We have pledged more help for all young people unemployed for six months or more, backed up by hundreds of thousands of new apprenticeships and training opportunities to give Britain's young people the support they need during the recession.

I know The Sun are doing a feature on Youth Unemployment in the North East in the wake of Joe McElderry's X Factor success. I've been amazed at the attention and focus Joe's win has brought our region and particularly our town. I've been asked about South Shields by so many people this week - not just by journalists - and it's interesting majority of the questions are socio economic related and asked by people without much knowledge of the North East, but want to understandstand more of our region. If you're not an X Factor winner, what sort of career are you likely to follow if you grow up in South Shields? I had to leave South Shields to follow my career. How great it would be if we could encourage more industry; more maufacturing the South Tyneside, I fully endorse the work of John Wood and Geoff Ford with the Manufacturing Forum and truly hope a Conservative Government can help our young people get into viable and successful careers in the North East.

Meeting with Business Matters in the Market Place

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Congratulations Joe!

A thoroughly well deserved X Factor victory for Joe McElderry of Westoe, South Shields tonight. We had all been rooting for him from day one of the competition and maybe it was the Sand Dancer support that tipped it for him - although it was clear to see he had the best voice and was a clear winner from early on. Comparing the supporters in Temple Park to those in Colchester, I felt a little bit sorry for Olly - the Sand Dancers were out on mass and were bursting with enthusiasm and pride for young Joe - as picked up and commented on by Kimberley Walsh. Go Joe posters were everywhere - many of which I'm sure came from the Gazette, who had also followed him and supported him all the way too.

Our Mayor was extremely excited, but it's that sort of enthusiasm and support that makes me proud to be from South Shields. I'm doubly proud Joe is also an ex-Harton pupil. When I was at the school recently, one of the teachers told me Joe as Danny in art teacher Harry Lynch's production of Grease, was obviously a star in the making - my appearance under the same direction in the Christmas Carol in 1993 had none of the same merits alas!

Well done, Joe and wishing you all the best for the future and a long and successful musical career.

Tributes to Joe as reported in the Shields Gazette:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Watch this space for South Tyneside CF Launch

We're almost ready to launch South Tyneside Conservative Future - due to the hard work of members, in particular of Phil Thornton from South Shields. By pooling young members across both constituencies, we hope to attract more young members. We have successfully signed up new people in both South Shields and Jarrow over the last year - what we need to do is engage these members and encourage new members to join. In particular I'd like to see more female members too!

Our South Tyneside CF website will be released shortly.