David Parkin takes in the corridors of power, enjoys Arnold’s and gets an indecent proposal

EVEN before yesterday’s dramatic Brexit-related developments in Parliament, there was a slightly feverish feel to the corridors of power at Westminster.

You could sense it on Tuesday when I attended the annual Yorkshire and the Humber MP Reception organised by the CBI and Barclays in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons.

Given Theresa May was poised to announce her Brexit withdrawal deal, most MPs were at Westminster this week and business people from the region expected to see a bumper turnout at Tuesday’s panel discussion and drinks reception.

More than 20 MPs from the region were listed as attending the event but not that many turned up, which, given fast moving situation, was probably not a surprise.

We heard from the impressive Rachel Reeves, whose presence on the back benches with Hilary Benn among others are Labour’s loss.

She was joined on the panel by Dan Jarvis, who is Labour MP for Barnsley Central and the Mayor of Sheffield City Region and Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies.

Harrogate MP Andrew Jones was due to take part but had just been promoted to the recently resigned Jo Johnson’s job.

In stepped Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes, who gave an erudite overview of the complexities of the Greater Grimsby Town Plan.


As the panel discussion came to a close, Beckie Hart, regional director of the CBI in Yorkshire, made her way over to where I was sitting and presented me with a packet of Ryvita complete with the use by date crossed out and “Out of date” scribbled next to it.

This clearly was a response to my comments about last month’s CBI Yorkshire annual dinner which I described as “drier than an ageing Ryvita”.

Fair play to Beckie for this and I proudly carried the Ryvita around for the rest of the drinks reception to a point where someone asked me if I had brought my own canapes.

We’re going to meet up soon. Beckie is providing the coffee and I’m bringing the snacks.

Guided by former MP and Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, several of us headed to Strangers Bar to discuss regional devolution, Brexit and macro economics whilst sampling their guest ales.

We spotted Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot deep in discussions in a corner of the bar.

“Don’t let her add up the bar bill,” commented one guest.


LAST weekend’s Firecracker Ball raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Barnardo’s for the fourth consecutive year.

The charity will benefit from £265,000 raised from the black tie event which took place at Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate on Saturday night.

The Firecracker Ball, which is now in its 17th year supporting the world famous children’s charity, takes place every November in a huge themed marquee attached to Rudding Park Hotel, and this year over 680 guests attended.

The lavishly themed ball has previously had themes including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.

I don’t think this year’s Brazilian Carnival theme dazzled like previous years, when guests’ jaws would drop in wonder as they entered the marquee.

All funds raised on the night are donated to Barnardo’s in Yorkshire, who each year help almost 14,000 children, young people and their families in over 80 specialised projects in local communities.

Since the first Firecracker Ball for Barnardo’s in 2002, the event has now raised more than £2.8m.


THE dinner jacket was back out of the wardrobe again on Monday evening for Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Awards.

The event at Harrogate Convention Centre is always a lively do and is a big night out for the region’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Guests included Archbishop of York John Sentamu who told the audience: “When the wine runs out don’t come to me, go and see Gary Verity!”

Those recognised on the night included record-breaking Middleham race horse trainer Mark Johnston and England football manager Gareth Southgate.

I actually thought my old colleague, Yorkshire Post artist and cartoonist Graeme Bandeira, who has recently published a book of his best cartoons, was getting an award given the reception he got when he made his way to see presenters Harry Gration and Amy Garcia on the stage, but it turns out he was presenting one.

I also learned that this year’s Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate participant, former Yorkshire and England cricketer Ryan Sidebottom, is taking part in the next series of Dancing on Ice.

I sat next to Alex Shaw, director at Progeny Wealth, the newest member of Welcome to Yorkshire’s Y30 scheme for businesses who support the region.

Alex is great company and tells an incredible story about how, when he was a young boy visiting Yorkshire beauty spot Brimham Rocks, his mother fell and was paralysed from the neck down.

Alex was sent into foster care for two years and then given training to cook and clean for his mum before he returned home.

It is an uplifting story of the power of positivity, family love and inner strength and Alex tells it beautifully in a blog post you can read here https://theprogenygroup.com/blog/why-social-responsibility-matters-at-progeny/


READER Tony Armitage pointed out my mistake in last week’s blog when I referred to renumeration rather than the correct remuneration.

Apologies. You just can’t get decent sub-editors these days.


TRAVEL across Leeds city centre and you don’t have to go far before you see something that has benefited from the support of the late Arnold Ziff.

The founder of property group Town Centre Securities and the former shoe retailer Stylo Barratt was, with his wife Marjorie, a wonderful benefactor to his home city with the art gallery, museum, hospital, university and religious organisations of all denominations among the projects he supported.

I always thought Arnold should have had a knighthood.

Now there is a restaurant that bears his name beside the Merrion Centre, which he created.

Photograph by Richard Walker – www.imagenorth.net

The opening of Arnold’s marks the return of one of Leeds’ most likeable and knowledgeable restaurateurs, Steve Ridealgh.

Steve is well known from his time at Pool Court and Brasserie 44 and he is joined by wife Carol as head chef whilst his son Dave has the role of restaurant manager.

Where some restaurant owners used to shout at their customers in French or offer them a drink and then add it to the bill, Steve’s understated but engaging approach has made him many friends across the city.

Arnold’s, which has 70 covers, feels both traditional and quirky, with flat caps in picture frames and modern lighting adding to the warm welcome provided by the team that runs it.

Those who used to dine at Steve’s former establishment in The Calls will recognise some old favourites on the menu including pork tenderloin wrapped in Parma ham, deep fried brie and venison haunch with blackberries and red wine sauce.

The restaurant is perfectly positioned to benefit from events taking place at nearby Leeds Arena.

Whether it can attract business people from their traditional haunts in the centre of the city is the challenge, but it boasts a super private dining room that should prove popular.

Given its position next to an Ibis Styles hotel, perhaps providing more dishes on the menu that appeal to shoppers and tourists could be an idea.

The disappearance of many of Leeds’ well known eating establishments in recent years is testament to how tough the restaurant business is.

It is great to see a new addition run by old faces and it deserves success.


I WAS approached by a leading figure in the Yorkshire business community at the White Rose Awards with the words: “Who do I have to sleep with to get a mention in your blog?”

To be fair it isn’t the kind of offer I get every day.

But the person who said it isn’t my type.

Well, I don’t like beards.

Have a great weekend.

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