Out and About in Mid-Beds
Posted Monday, 31 October 2016 at 14:18
Another busy day in the constituency on Friday. After the stuffy committee rooms and gloomy corridors of Westminster it’s always a pleasure to get back to the real world.
First up was a meeting with a large group of farmers, kindly organised by the NFU. They briefed me on their concerns about rural crime with some truly horrific examples that had happened to them personally.
We are making progress on this issue. Just two weeks ago the other Bedfordshire MPs and I had a meeting with the Police Minister to press him on our case for changes to the funding formula. It isn’t right that Beds Police are funded as a small, rural force when they have serious and diverse challenges, not least an international airport.
We then discussed Brexit. During the referendum campaign I lost count of how many times people told me that farmers would vote en masse for Remain, because they want the subsidies. I thought at the time this was wrong. All but one of the farmers in our meeting on Friday couldn’t wait to get out the door and see the back of the intrusive bureaucracy that comes with our EU membership.
On to the next meeting in Ampthill. My constituent Ben is running a campaign on behalf of our local mental health service provider called Break the Stigma. This is such an important issue, none of us will be without friends or family members who at some time will have experiences a mental health problem. The ongoing stigma can prevent people seeking help and, ultimately, cost lives.
Barely had I gulped down my tea in the snug, welcoming and award-winning Cakestand and Crumb (please do stop by if you’re in the area) before I was off to a local manufacturer to talk more about Brexit.
Neil at Colpac is a straight-talking model of an upstanding businessman. He cares for his customers and his employees as a way to build his business. And it is thriving. Neil told me that he diversified his customer base long before the referendum and doesn’t rely on domestic or EU business. Colpac now has customers all over the world including, most recently, Japan and China.
Companies like Colpac rely on an educated and multi-national workforce. I would never vote for a Brexit deal that threatens the rights of EU citizens already working in this country, just as I hope our nationals elsewhere in Europe will be protected. Brexit is about stepping up to the challenges of the globalised world, not shutting ourselves off from it.
A Busy Week Begins
Posted Monday, 17 October 2016 at 09:24
Another busy week in Westminster is beginning. Starting today I’m chairing proceedings of the Small Charitable Donations Bill for its Committee Stage.
Later other Beds MPs, as well as our brilliant Police and Crime Commissioner, are meeting the Police Minister to lobby for reform to the funding formula. Currently Beds Police are funded as a small rural force despite the challenges of modern urban areas and an international airport to look after.
After the police meeting I will be having another quick chat with my colleagues from Luton to mention the incredible support in Mid-Beds for the Luton Town FC Power Courts development. I’ve been copied into hundreds of emails sent to the planning authorities about this and I’m happy to offer what support I can.
At the other end of the week, when I’m finished in Westminster, I hope to be back in Mid-Beds on Thursday evening in time for my round of constituency engagements. This is what I always look forward to on Mondays, if you’re a constituent I hope to see you either this week or sometime soon.
Delay Repay Improvements for Thameslink Line
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2016 at 12:00
The Department for Transport has announced that our Thameslink line will be the first in the country to get the new enhanced delay repay scheme that kicks in after 15 minutes, rather than the current 30.
This is something my constituents have long been asking for, with many of them suffering delays just under the previous 30 minute limit on several days a week, making them late for work but ineligible to claim any money back.
While I’m incredibly pleased at this move, which I think demonstrates the DfT is finally recognising the plight of those of us who use Thameslink regularly, the fight doesn’t stop here.
Compensation for delays is all well and good but we need to improve the service on the line so there are fewer delays and we can all get to work and home again on time. Figures show that about 40% of the delays are the fault of Govia, the operating company, and most of the rest are due to problems with Network Rail’s infrastructure.
Investment and better management in both companies need to cut the delays experienced by my constituents and all the other people using the Thameslink line. I will keep lobbying Ministers and managers until that is what we get.
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