Good to see that a three month investigation by the Teesside Evening Gazette into Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell is being picked up by the nationals.
Today the Independent is running the story revealed by the Gazette, that the MP has not held a surgery for constituents for 14 years, on its front page under a headline which asks: 'Is this Britain's laziest MP?'
The Independent says Gazette reporter Neil MacFarlane tried to speak to Sir Stuart on 100 occasions earlier this year. Despite phoning daily – 50 times to his constituency number and a similar amount at his Westminster office – he never managed to get through.
The Independent says "getting in touch with Sir Stuart is the hot political talking point on Teesside".
The MP has claimed the Gazette's investigation was politically motivated. But Gazette acting editor Peter Montellier tells the Independent today the investigation was "most assuredly not politically motivated", but followed complaints from locals who had tried and failed to secure Sir Stuart's help.
Sir Stuart was the only Teesside MP to refuse to take part in the Gazette’s weekly Question Time column, which offers readers the chance to quiz elected members. He told the paper by email: “Many thanks for your interest in our work, but your scheme is not one which commends itself to me.”