You may wonder what our MP gets up to – if anything – as far as local issues are concerned. How much has she been involved in the last six months with the issues that have been in the forefront of our communities? Does she know what’s going on with our local NHS providers, our schools, our environment? Does she care?
In Felixstowe she did hold a meeting about the struggles to access the Minor Injuries Unit – but what was the outcome? And what of wider NHS issues with ambulance response times, long waiting lists and mental health support? What about the impact of Sizewell C ? What about the problems with education provision, especially Felixstowe and Langer Academies?
Below is a summary of her recent newsletter – focusing on the issues she has got involved in and some of the outcomes. I have highlighted the specifics as far as Felixstowe is concerned. But all of it is interesting reading. If you have any concerns on anything covered or omitted, or just have a point to make – there are lots of contact options on her website
including her e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
writing to her C/o House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
or make an appointment to see her face to face at one of her surgeries by calling 0207 219 7164
September 6th or 13th (TBC), October 18th, November 22nd, December 13th or 20th (TBC)
It has been a busy few months with a change in Prime Minister. I have been asked to continue to as Environment Minister, taking on responsibility for climate change adaptation and resilience, though no longer undertaking our international environment work. I was pleased to receive a promotion to Minister of State level.
Sizewell C: EDF has launched a fourth stage of consultation on Sizewell C, which closes on September 27th. The biggest issue on which they are seeking views is transport. There are more details on these options, including a new hybrid model and the timing of trains. I still do not think there is enough detail on why a marine-led strategy has been dropped. Rather than putting more pressure on our road network, of the options presented I am keenest on the rail-led option. I have attended, as an observer, the Joint Local Authority Group and a public consultation event. I have not yet gone through all the latest papers. I will, as I have before, post my submission on my website. I will be hosting a public meeting on September 6th for constituents only, though attendance will be prioritised for those close to the proposed site and associated development (including transport issues). To register, please email me with the subject SZC MEETING.
SPR Onshore Substations: Thank you to the 200 plus people that attended the public meeting I organised with local councillors. I found it a useful meeting for people to share their opinions on the latest proposals for the offshore wind farms and the associated infrastructure proposed by Scottish Power Renewables, as well as ask questions. I have consistently raised my objections with SPR about the impact their proposed sub-station would have on the local environment. Neither of the sites SPR considered were appropriate, either at Friston (their preferred site) or Broom Covert at Sizewell. It was my suggestion, via the consultation, that SPR and National Grid find an alternative, such as the proposed nuclear site at Bradwell. The turnout at the meeting just goes to show the strength of feeling against the Friston site and I will continue to press for local voices to be heard by SPR, National Grid and Ofgem. There has been a change in ministerial responsibility and I will be resuming my lobbying with the new ministers.
Suffolk Coast Energy Delivery Board: This was established a few years ago by the then Department of Energy and Climate Change, which I was invited to chair. It has provided an opportunity for central government, local government, developers, representatives of business and further education to come together to discuss issues, including the significant cumulative impact of energy projects. I have decided to resign from chairing the group as I see increasing conflicts of interest with my ministerial role, though I have sought to stay on the Board to ensure that, alongside our local government representatives, that the issues we experience are appropriately considered.
Climate Change and Environment Public Meeting: I hosted a public meeting, held in Campsea Ashe, to discuss with residents the national and local responses to climate change. Tackling climate change and improving the environment is a key cross-government activity, with strong support for action from across Parliament. As the Environment Minister, this is the essence of what I do in my ministerial time. In particular, I have been steadily making sure that within the government but also on a global basis, that these issues be considered together holistically. That has been part of the challenge in the past where carbon emissions have been prioritised over the environment. The two are sometimes in conflict but we must continue to have a holistic approach, ideally where we don’t pursue solutions that are damaging or at least recognising and mitigating if trade-offs are needed.
2) Health & Care
Felixstowe Hospital Minor Injuries Unit: I held a public meeting on Felixstowe Minor Injuries Unit. Local NHS bosses gave a commitment to fix the ‘IT issues’ that seem to have prevented some patients from getting an appointment. When the MIU moved to an appointment-based unit back in April, I was assured that patients could still access same-day treatment by calling NHS 111 or via their GP surgeries. Having IT problems is unsatisfactory but they are working on it. CCG CEO Dr Ed Garrett committed to having a follow-up meeting in October.
Ambulance Service: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its latest report. I am alarmed that the leadership is still failing to make the necessary improvements to the service. It had a cash injection from local CCGs last year to help them with their plans. The CQC and the Ambulance leaders are in Parliament the first day back in September at my request, where all regional MPs can scrutinise. I have also raised this issue with health ministers and want them to consider breaking up the Ambulance Service into two or three smaller services.
Mental Health Service: After the roundtable in February, there was a follow-up meeting on what is being done to turn around the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust provision for patients. I also had a 1:1 meeting with the new Chair, Marie Gabriel. Our CCGs are also working on new proposals for future services.
Air Ambulances: The East Anglian Air Ambulance and the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (which covers the Felixstowe area) was awarded a total of £2.3m from the Department of Health to pay for new equipment and to improve facilities.
NHS Parliamentary Awards: I welcomed Darren Atkins, Deputy Director of the East Suffolk & North Essex Foundation Trust ICT team, to Parliament for the NHS Parliamentary Awards. I nominated Darren and his team for an award in the Future NHS category for their work in tackling inefficiencies through technology. One example of this is their efforts in developing virtual robots, which work behind the scenes to cancel and reallocate outpatient appointments. Whilst the team didn’t win, considering there were over 600 nominations, making the final shortlist was a real achievement.
School Visits: I was pleased to visit primary schools in Reydon, Melton and Felixstowe, discussing important issues for the children.
I’m always keen for schools to visit Parliament, where there are a number of educational tours available. Only a few schools have visited and I do encourage headteachers to think of adding it to their agenda if they are staging a general visit to London. Whilst at Langer Primary Academy, I took part in the Bin It Roadshow. The roadshow is part of the largest government-led anti-littering campaign to date where we are working with all generations, including our young people, to help end this scourge on our environment.
Felixstowe Academy and Langer Academy: I was pleased to speak to Tim Coulson, the CEO of Unity Schools Partnership, about their plans to take on the leadership of the schools. Formally, this all happens on September 1st though Unity have already been working in partnership with AET to make changes to help students. This change took longer than I would have liked but I am pleased it is underway and I am receiving good feedback already. I look forward to visiting the senior school in the Autumn Term.
Suffolk in 60: The first Norwich in 90 and Suffolk in 60 trains started. From now on, there will be two fast trains in each direction every weekday between East Anglia and London Liverpool Street.
Bus services: I have followed up local concern with the County Council about the changes to council-subsidised routes to the peninsula and around Halesworth. I know that local county councillors are also actively involved, particularly Cllr Goldson.
Benacre Estate/Openreach Community Fibre Broadband: I visited top executives from Openreach and Edward Vere Nicholl at the Benacre estate to see first-hand the innovative self-dig broadband project that has been installed there. Local landowners, Openreach and Better Broadband for Suffolk all worked together to make it happen. By working together, local communities can make a big difference to broadband rollout in some of the most rural parts of our county. It is certainly something that could work well in other parts of Suffolk.
FSB: I met a group of small business owners at a roundtable chaired by the Federation of Small Business to discuss local issues. The common theme was workforce supply and skills. There were some issues specific to the commercial plans of a business which as an MP I am not best placed to advise on but I recognise that starting your own business takes courage and I am pleased that the government is there to help, particularly through its start up and growth support. To find out more, check out the gov.uk and http://www.newangliagrowthhub.co.uk
Rural Oscars: Congratulations to Suffolk Coastal businesses that won the East of England Countryside Alliance business awards which merited a visit to Parliament for the national final – Lynn and Steve Tricker from Truly Traceable Venison & Game Pies from Halesworth and Orford General Store.
7) Constituency and Suffolk Matters
Hollesley Prison: I met the Prisons Minister, Robert Buckland MP to discuss the report on HMP Hollesley Bay, particularly focusing on the problem about inadequate assessment of prisoners prior to moving to this open prison. I am pleased that this situation has now been addressed.
Southwold Community Hospital – next steps: I was delighted to attend the formal groundbreaking of the old hospital as it takes its next steps into becoming the new centre and housing. It is just over a year since I hosted a thank you reception in Parliament. I know lots of people are involved though I want to pay particular tribute to Jessica Jeans who has really put so much into this.
Homelessness Fund: The Government has given East Suffolk Council just over £200k in funding to help those sleeping rough in the district. I understand this will principally be used in Lowestoft and Felixstowe.
Tackling Climate Change – Net Zero Emissions: We legislated for the UK to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The UK is the first major country to do this. We have already reduced emissions by a quarter since we came to office in 2010 – and last year was the cleanest and greenest on record, with low-carbon sources making up more than half of our electricity.
Animal Welfare – Finn’s Law: I met the stars of Britain’s Got Talent – Finn and his handler PC Dave Wardell – in Parliament to celebrate ‘Finn’s Law’ – the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act, which has now come into force. The new law makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence and means it is now a criminal offence to cause them unnecessary suffering.
Tug of War: I captained the winning team of female MPs, as we overcame the collective might of female peers to secure victory for the House of Commons in the Macmillan Cancer Support Tug of War last week. The annual event has raised over £3 million for Macmillan since its conception in 1987. This year alone, over £180k was raised.
Leadership Contest: Westminster was dominated by the Conservative Party leadership contest and the next steps on Brexit. I did support Boris Johnson to reach the final contest. After his election by Conservative Party members, the Queen appointed him Prime Minister and I am serving in his government.
As ever, I spoke in a number of debates, answered questions, took forward secondary legislation, gave evidence to select committees, represented the country at European Council and undertook various ministerial visits. Progress has been made on preparations for leaving the EU, consultations on new policies to transform our resources and waste processes and further action on air quality and marine. I have undertaken a higher number of international visits in the last year recognising our role in the Commonwealth – the UK is “Chair in Office” from April 2018 for two years – and the work that we have set up particularly on tackling illegal wildlife trade, investing in other poorer countries to tackle plastic waste and protecting land and habitats. Other work that I have done, some of the highlights include:
G7 and G20: I represented the UK at the G7 Environment Ministers summit in Metz and the G20 summit in Japan to discuss our joint approach to tackling climate change and the natural environment. I also attended the Nature Summit in Montreal.
Marine Conservation Zones: I signed the orders for 41 new Marine Conservation Zones in our waters, which includes the new Orford Inshore zone, which will provide a haven for breeding fish. The additional 41 Marine Conservation Zones bring the total to 91 around English seas meaning our UK Blue Belt is now substantially complete.
Animal Welfare: I spoke in the 2nd Reading of a new Bill in Parliament to toughen prison sentences for the worst animal abusers, strengthening our position as a global leader on animal welfare. Once enacted the new legislation will ensure that animal abusers could face up to five years in prison – a significant increase from the current maximum sentence of six months. This builds on recent positive action we have taken to protect animals, including plans to ban third-party puppy and kitten sales, banning the use of wild animals in circuses and providing increased protection to service dogs and horses.
Salisbury and Novichok a year on: As minister responsible for the decontamination of Salisbury and Amesbury, I was delighted to host a thank you reception for many of the people involved in this arduous process and was also pleased to re-open the Bishop’s Mill pub in Salisbury, part of the empire of Suffolk brewer Greene King.
Food Waste Summit: This was an exciting all-day event at the V&A that food waste and surplus champion, Ben Elliott, organised. Top chefs demonstrated how they use a variety of food that may often end up discarded to make tasty food and other organisations spoke on the activities they are doing to make sure surplus food gets to people rather than into landfill or incineration. I am pleased that we are supporting a number of organisations around the country on this as well as more on how we can all reduce the food we waste.
Global Resources Initiative Taskforce: One of the actions that I have really wanted to come to fruition finally did last month with the first meeting of this taskforce. Bringing together leading businesses, investors and think tanks, I have asked them to come up with policies on how our main commodities for food can be supplied in an entirely sustainable way. We estimate that about 75% is so far, in the UK, and we want to reach 100%.
Migratory Birds: One of the special parts about our constituency is the amount of migratory birds we see, whether it be in Minsmere, Dingle Marshes or at the Landguard Observatory in Felixstowe. I was delighted to visit our sovereign base area on the island of Cyprus, which is very important for our Armed Forces and membership of NATO. It has also been the scene of organised crime on the trapping and illegal killing of birds. I took the opportunity to visit and raise the profile of the important work that our military police are undertaking to protect these birds. With biodiversity under such huge threat globally, it is important that we do our bit to stand up for nature.
General Licences: Talking of birds, Natural England withdrew its general licences after a legal challenge and replaced them with some more specific licences. Locally, this caused an issue for farmers, councils and businesses. I was pleased to work on the replacement licences and we will be issuing a further consultation this year on this.
- Other Meetings & Events
– Attended the Great Eastern Main Line rail taskforce meeting.
– Guest speaker at the Ipswich East Rotary Club.
– Spoke to children from Langer Primary School in Westminster and arranged a tour for children from Edgar Sewter Primary School.
– Attended a cricket event in Southwold where the World Cup trophy was on tour.
– Attended a women’s sport reception in Parliament.
– Said farewell to long-serving Environment Agency Area Director Charlie Beardall and met the new director, Simon Hawkins.
– Attended the Southwold Mayor’s Civic Service.
– Attended fetes in Bawdsey, Rendlesham and Martlesham.
– Attended the Suffolk Show.
– Opened the East Coast Hospice charity shop in Saxmundham.
– Met Suffolk firefighters and representatives of the Fire Brigades Union.
– Spoke to the new Interim Chair of the East of England Ambulance Service.
– Met Alison Brett from the East of England Air Ambulance at the Association of Air Ambulances meeting.
– Met local farmers and the NFU to discuss UK farming policy.
– Opened the ‘Peewit lounge’ at the Firs Anchor care home in Felixstowe.
– Spoke at Suffolk Wildlife Trust Nature Summit in Ipswich.
– Attended Tesco 100th Birthday Party in Parliament
– Spoke at the UK IT challenge organised by the Shaw Trust and BT at Adastral Park, focused on children with disabilities accessing IT
– Met Suffolk County Council cabinet to discuss strategic issues.
– Attended exhibition on Ipswich Northern Route Bypass
– Met local businesses to discuss Brexit
– Attended SAAFA 75th Anniversary of D-Day concert in Woodbridge
– I spoke to Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk, Professor Helen Langton, to discuss the government’s review of post-18 education and funding and the university’s sustainable future.