Ed Vaizey has said he is ‘very unhappy’ with the secrecy surrounding an overhaul of health services in Oxfordshire. The Oxford Mail reports, Mr Vaizey said there was ‘very little information being given to the public’, and complained that even he, as MP, was being excluded from decisions.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group published the draft Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Sustainability and Transformation Plan just before Christmas.
The draft STP sets out how the health service will close a predicted budget deficit of £479m by 2020. The plan covers 1.8m people and services including maternity, children’s services, learning disability, mental health, autism, specialist advice and urgent and primary care. It could see reductions in the number of qualified nurses and ‘new roles’ given to Oxfordshire’s community hospitals. The plan could also lead to cuts to the number of hospital beds across the county.
Health service campaigners have repeatedly criticised the OCCG for its secrecy around the plans, discussing much of the strategy behind closed doors. Mr Vaizey said: “The situation has become very urgent, and I will be meeting local NHS chiefs shortly to try and get from them a clear timeline for the publication of the full and final version of the BOB STP so that we can all have a say in how our health services are developed over the next few years.”
Mr Vaizey also said he would be seeking a meeting with health ministers to find out why a bid by Wantage Health Centre for expansion funding was turned down in the autumn.
Before the end of March next year, Theresa May will formally invoke Article 50 and our negotiations to leave the European Union will begin. These negotiations will impact us all, and with that in mind, early in the New Year I will be holding two public meetings to hear my constituent’s views and concerns.
The first of these will take place from 18:30 – 21:30 on Friday 20th January 2017 at The Beacon in Wantage. The second will take place from 19:00 – 22:00 on Friday 3rd February at Didcot Civic Hall.
I would like to invite you to attend one, or both, of these meetings, with the aim of hearing your views on Brexit and answering any questions you may have.
Questions, Contributions and Debates This Month I took part in a debate on press freedom and the Leveson inquiry. I also took part in the debate on the third reading of the Investigatory Powers Bill on the same subject. Finally, I helped present the Defibrillator (Availability) Bill 2016-2017 to the House of Commons, a Private Members Bill drafted by my colleague Maria Caulfield.
SUDEP Action’s EpSMon epilepsy self-monitor digital tool Local charity Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) Action has had their digital safety tool EpSMon accepted onto the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) Programme. The tool was chosen as one of the 8 innovations to be selected for the programme as it can have a significant impact on the safety as well as the personal and financial costs of epilepsy. The charity is also funding a clinical trial of a Wearable Apnoea Device to stop epilepsy deaths
National Film and Television School Entrepreneur Course The National Film and Television School has created a ground-breaking course for Entrepreneurs across the creative industries which has become a real trailblazer for young people in business people across the arts and media. The course has now been validated as a MA, from January 2017, and places on the course are still open. More information on the course can be found here.
A34 Update This month myself and other local MPs have held a number of meetings on the A34 with Ministers and representatives from Highways England. The meetings covered the upcoming safety review of the A34, which will focus on the M4 to M40 which is the stretch with the most accidents. The review will look at many ways to improve the road including which laybys need to be closed, upgraded or used solely by the emergency services. The Minister for Highways assured us that he intends to make sure that short term measures and improvements are delivered as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
Response To Further Delays to Healthcare Consultation I was extremely angry at the news this month that the consultation that will directly affect the future of Wantage Community Hospital is now not due to start until after the County Council elections next May. The Oxfordshire Healthcare Transformation Consultation is to be split into two phases with services provided out of community hospitals such as Wantage being considered later in the year. I was furious at the announcement as it will prolong the closure of the hospitals 12 bed in-patient service which was closed early this summer while its long term future was decided by the consultation. It is essential that the date does not slip again.
Where I’ve Been & Who I’ve Seen Firstly, I was privileged to be able to participate in the Remembrance Day services in both Wallingford and Didcot this year. It was great to see so much of the local community come out to honour the courage and sacrifices made by generations of British service men and women.
This month I have met with County Councillor Mark Grey and representatives from the Environment Agency and Oxfordshire County Council to discuss the ongoing flooding problems in Cholsey, which was once again hit by flooding last September. As a result County Council have agreed to clean the gullies and drains on an annual basis rather than once every three years, as well as a look at the configuration of the pipes and a camera survey to look at any damage.
I was also grilled by Primary School children during the Primary school Council Conference, attended Didcot First’s 2016 Business & Community Awards, and met with Sovereign Housing Association to discuss issues facing the housing provider.
In the News
Supporting AEA Technology pensioners in the fight for justice, here.
Being appointed to the National Youth Theatre board, here.
Commenting on the Ministry of Defence’s plans to close Vauxhall Barracks in Didcot.
Commenting on new safety measures being discussed for the A34, here.
Assisting a constituent in getting the Home Office to issue a visa to his wife, here.
Getting action on Cholsey’s flood problems, here.
This Month’s Mailbag This month I have received 345 items of correspondence (emails and letters) from constituents. Subjects raised with me included The A34, game shooting, Philip Green, Universal Credit, and live animal exports.
With regard to live animal exports, European Union single market rules make it illegal to ban the export of animals to other EU countries, but there are EU and UK laws to protect the welfare of live animals during transport. I have been assured that the Government will continue to pursue a more sustainable approach to the transport of livestock on long journeys. It has already called on the EU Commission to update the rules on welfare during transport where there is sufficient scientific evidence to support a change.
Questions, Contributions and Debates On National Issues in the last month I have taken part in the debate on the BBC Charter Review; the debate on the Cultural Property (Armed Con
flicts) Bill which aims to implement the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and a debate on press freedom.
On Local Issues I praised our new University Technical College in Didcot; in Department for Health Questions I pressed Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to start their review into the future of Wantage Community Hospital and local health services as soon as possible. I also welcomed the Department for Health’s review into the funding of community pharmacies. Finally, I took part in a debate on the plight of AEA Technology pensioners, who have seen their pensions reduced after the company went in to administration. The debate was hosted by my colleague Oliver Letwin.
A34 Debate Last week I hosted a debate on safety of the A34. As a result, the Minister, John Hayes MP, agreed to undertake a safety review of the A34. This is an excellent outcome to my constituents and those in the wider area as this stretch of road is not fit for purpose. I will make sure that my constituents views and concerns are represented in this study.
Challow Rail Bridge After I raised my concerns with the planned two week closure of Challow Rail Bridge on the A417 and the disruption that it would impose on the local community, I was pleased that Network Rail have put forward a new plan for these works. They will now take place between 22:00 hours on Friday 18 November to 06:00 hours on Monday 21 November, and between the same hours during the weekend of 25th November to 28th November. A diversionary route has also been agreed with Oxfordshire County Council during this time, and Network Rail will ensure that pedestrian access is maintained at all times.
Aviva Community Fund In last month’s news letter I plugged the Aviva Community Fund, and I am pleased that a number of local community groups have applied for funding. Friends of O.S.C.A.R. Harwell Village Hall, Riding for the Disabled Association Abidgdon, Marcham Women’s Institute, Buckland CofE Primary School, Blewbury Village Hall, Cholsey Holiday Playscheme and Wallingford Boys Brigade have all made applications, and funding will be awarded to those with the most public votes.
Voting is open until 18th November, and can be undertaken here.
High Sheriff’s Awards 2016/17 Applications for High Sheriff’s Awards for 2016/17 are now open, and the purpose of these awards is to recognise people in Oxfordshire who have made outstanding contributions to the communities in which they live and work. Nominations can be made by anyone who lives or works in Oxfordshire or who is representing an organisation in the public, voluntary and charitable or private sectors. Nomination forms can be downloaded here.
Where I’ve been and who I’ve seen This month has seen a number of busy visits within the constituency, which included the lovely Grand Opening of Letcombe Regis New Village Hall. I attended a Didcot First Board meeting to hear about the exciting plans for Didcot Garden Town. I also welcomed The Duke of York to Harwell Campus for Pitch at Palace, in which 42 companies from all over the UK pitched their business ideas to a global audience of influencers. Prior to my debate on the A34, I met with Richard Benyon, Nicola Blackwood and the A34 Action Group to discuss ideas and what we can do to improve the road, and on Social Saturday I visited social enterprises at The Mix in Wantage.
Following my suggestion of a visit I welcomed the secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, to UTC Oxfordshire to see how the new school works with local businesses to provide its wonderful students with a fantastic STEM education. I also met with the new MP for Witney Robert Courts and Oxfordshire County Council Leader Ian Hudspeth in Parliament to discuss local issues. After Oliver Letwin’s debate on the plight of the AEA Technology pensioners, I met with my constituents affected in Parliament.
Wantage Literary Festival was held over the last weekend, and it was a pleasure to introduce technology writer Luke Dormehl to the festival as well as writer and newspaper columnist A.N. Wilson.
Finally, I was delighted to have been appointed as the chair of a new sub-group focused on driving forward investment in creativity culture, heritage and tourism in Oxfordshire. These industries contribute significantly to the Oxfordshire economy, and support thousands of jobs across the country. I chaired the first meeting of the sub-group on Friday, and also met with the head of the Oxfordshire LEP.
A major safety review of the ‘dangerous’ A34 has been announced by the Government, with ministers looking at whether the road should be a motorway. The review was announced by Roads Minister John Hayes after a fresh outcry from campaigners over the dual carriageway’s sixth fatality of the year. They have called for urgent action along the route, which in August alone claimed the lives of a mother and four children.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Hayes told MPs: “I offer my condolences and sympathies to those affected by those dreadful events. But although sympathy matters, support matters more. And it is really important for those people and others that we show support. “I think Disraeli said, ‘Justice is truth in action’ and we need action.
“I have been thinking about this for some time and feel we do need to look at safety on the A34.”
The minister also promised ‘a round table meeting’ on November 22 involving activists, MPs and Highways England, saying ‘urgent work’ on the road before 2020 could include new gantries, electric signs and speed cameras. But he added: “I want to go further than that, too. The call has been made in this debate for a still more strategic piece of work and the member for Henley, [John Howell], described it as a ‘motorway’. I think we do need to think that through. The significance of this road is not lost on me and we may be able to look at that still more fundamental piece of work.”
The pledges were last night hailed as a ‘huge’ breakthrough by campaigners, but they vowed to continue pressing for urgent action. A34 Action Group spokeswoman Cathryn Millward said: “Too many people have died on this road and we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to have a plan that does something right now.”
Mr Hayes’ announcements came during a debate called by Wantage MP Ed Vaizey, who warned the A34 was ‘no longer fit for purpose’ and over-capacity. He said it carried almost 80,000 vehicles every day. Mr Vaizey said: “It is a dangerous road. And delays and accidents that happen regularly are having a significant economic impact. Action is long overdue and the need to urgently improve road safety alone would justify a significant investment.”
The fresh outcry over safety on the dual carriageway came in August. A multi-vehicle pile-up on August 25 at Hinksey Hill injured 13 people – including three-year-old Isla Wiggin, who died in hospital. In another crash just two weeks earlier at East Ilsley, Tracy Houghton, her sons Ethan, 13, and Josh, 11, and her partner’s 11-year-old daughter Amiee Goldsmith, from Bedfordshire, died in an eight-vehicle crash. Twelve others were injured.
Mr Vaizey was joined in the debate by Henley MP Mr Howell, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, with Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood having spoken privately to Mr Hayes beforehand. Mr Smith said commitments by Highways England, which said improvements would come in 2020, were ‘simply not good enough’. He added: “Measures need to be started now if the risk of further accidents is to be reduced. It needs to be a motorway standard to guarantee the safety and capacity that we all want to see.”
The review was welcomed by Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth, who said: “As a key transport artery through Oxfordshire, the safety concerns and capacity issues of the A34 need to be addressed urgently to mitigate the serious and all too often tragic accidents that have occurred.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Vaizey added: “It was great to have that announcement and I was not expecting it. Hopefully in November we can cover what realistic action we can take in detail.”
Since Parliament’s return from the summer recess I have used my new role as a backbencher to ask a number of questions and hold debates in the chamber.
I have asked the Home office about cybercrime – an area of increasing concern, and one where I am keen to see more specialist recruitment into the Police. On Brexit, an issue of huge concern to so many of my constituents, I also questioned the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union about reassurances for the creative industries after Brexit. Finally, I asked the new Justice Secretary about how the arts can help rehabilitate offenders in the criminal justice system. I also attended the debate on the BBC Charter and asked about diversity, and made a speech in the debate on the Digital Economy Bill, focusing on the success of the rural broadband programme in my constituency. The new broadband Universal Service Obligation will be of great importance to rural areas such as Wantage and Didcot.
On constituency issues, I used Transport Questions to secure a meeting with the Minister responsible for highways, John Hayes, to discuss issues with safety on the A34. This meeting is to be held next month, and I am looking forward to discussing some ideas on how safety on the A34 can be improved.
I also hosted a debate on funding in the arts, where I called on the Government to increase funding and support to the arts and heritage.
Thames Water have contacted me to let me know about their new ‘Bin it don’t block it’ campaign, aimed at alerting the public of the problems created when fat, oil and grease is poured down drains and when wet wipes are flushed down toilets. Over the last year there were 3025 blockages in our area. Over the next 6 weeks, Thames Water will be contacting residents to encourage them to change their behaviour, and prevent these blockages and their consequences from occurring.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with. Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist.
Parliament has returned from the summer recess, and an interesting Parliamentary term lies ahead. The Government will begin to produce its proposals on what Brexit will mean and what form our future relationship with the EU will take. As you know, I campaigned for remain during the referendum campaign, and I will be watching developments carefully to ensure that jobs and the economy in our constituency and the country as a whole are protected.
Being a backbench MP now gives me more freedom to raise constituency issues in Parliament. As a Minister, I could not ask parliamentary questions or participate in debates outside my own department. I have hit the ground running since Parliament's return, and details of the questions I have asked and debates I have hosted can be read on my website.
The last few weeks have seen two trag!c accidents along the A34, and this has led to renewed calls to make improvements to the road. I have had a meeting to discuss this situation with local MPs Richard Benyon and Nicola Blackwood, and I am arranging a roundtable meeting with the Minister responsible for roads, having raised the issue in Parliament. I am looking forward to discussing what proposals the Government has to improve the safety of the A34.
I have also been made aware of a number of funding opportunities for local community groups and charities, First, the RBS Skills & Opportunities Fund is a £2.Smillion fund, with a maximum grant of £35,000. It is designed to help people get work or set up a business, or improve the financial skills of people from disadvantaged backgrounds. More information can be found at http://skillsandopportunitiesfund.rbs.co.uk/. There is also the Aviva Community Fund, which awards funding of up to £25,000 for local community projects, applications can be made until 11 October www.aviva.co.uk/good-thinking/community-fund/.
The last month saw a continuation of the fall out of the EU referendum. We now have a new Prime Minister, who has set the gears in motion for the EU renegotiation. We have a Department for Brexit, and a Department for International Trade, who will take the leading role in these negotiations.
I am also returning to the backbenches, where I will continue to support the Government. I first took up the role as Arts Minister in opposition, in November 2006, so I had almost completed a decade covering the brief. It’s a job I thoroughly enjoyed, and I intend to continue to take an interest as a backbencher. Change is unsettling but also exciting, as a Minister I couldn’t take part in parliamentary debates which weren’t in my policy area. Now I can apply for debates that cover issues that affect my constituents locally and nationally, and question Ministers on specific areas. I can spend more time in the constituency, as I have done in recent days hearing the concerns of scientists and businesses about Brexit. I’m delighted to have had the chance to have been a Minister, but more delighted to carry on with my main job of representing my constituency. There’s another silver lining – my fabulous colleague Nicola Blackwood is now a Minister in the Department of Health – so Oxfordshire maintains its representation in Government.
Like many of you I am also enjoying some time with my family over the school summer holidays and have been thoroughly impressed with the amount of activities available throughout the constituency. There are many local museums open throughout the summer which are putting on special events. The Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage is hosting ‘Free Summer Fun for Families’ every Tuesday during the summer holidays, with each Tuesday based on a different theme. The Wallingford Museum is holding a William the Conqueror Day on the 20 August, free for both adults and children, where you can see a Norman knight, help create the Museum’s own Bayeux Tapestry and dig in the archaeology sandpits. Didcot Railway Centre is open throughout August, with Steam Days on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays where you can ride the steam locomotives. They are also holding a Steam Train Event on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Faringdon Folly Tower and Woodland is a beautiful place to visit, and the Tower is open on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month, with children under 11 getting in free.
Please note this was written earlier in the month of July
The UK recently made one of its biggest decisions for a generation. I campaigned for remain, and my constituency voted for it. While I appreciate the strength of feeling from many of my constituents, and the outcome may not be what we wanted, the decision has been made. We put this decision to the British people, and had the outcome been 52% remain and 48% leave, we would have expected the decision to be respected.
Therefore I cannot support a second referendum because we disagree with the outcome. Nor can I promise to vote against Brexit in Parliament as I cannot know what the Bill before us would contain. However, those who have emailed or contacted me following this momentous decision have not wasted their time, as it gives me the support I need to press for the best deal possible in our future negotiations with the EU.
My first priority is to protect the jobs and economy in Wantage, many of which depend so heavily on the EU. Our relationship with the EU is currently unchanged, and will remain so until an agreement over Article 50 is reached and put into effect. There will be no immediate change to European citizens currently living in the UK, nor for British citizens living in the EU. All applicable EU rules and funds in the research, innovation, and education fields remain in place.
While we wait for the selection of a new Prime Minister, the life of an MP continues. I recently met with representatives from East Challow, Cholsey & Watchfield Parish Councils at the Scottish and Southern Electric Parliamentary Reception for the launch of their Resilient Communities Fund. These three Parish Councils received funding for a variety of projects from the fund, such as public defibrillator, portable generators and pumps for emergencies, and equipment to combat flooding. The next round of funding from this scheme is now open for applications, and more information can be found http://bit.ly/29GAON4.
The Big Lottery Fund is also calling on local groups to apply for funding to hold events or activities that will bring people together and celebrate what makes their local community special. This funding could be used to celebrate something in the community’s local history, a local hero, to mark something of national importance such as Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday, or just to get to know their neighbours better. Applications can be found at http://bit.ly/29ujude.
As the Minister responsible for digital infrastructure, I am always looking for schemes that can help rural communities such as ours eliminate their not-spots. Vodafone has unveiled a programme to give indoor mobile coverage to 100 rural community hubs, from pubs to village halls and community run shops. Further information can be found here: http://bit.ly/29A741w.
"Scamper", the pet hamster of Ed Vaizey, has won an award in the Parliamentary Pet of the Year competition. Organised by the RSPCA and MP Sir David Amess, the little rodent was a runner-up in the yearly contest.
He was beaten by Milo the lurcher, owned by Conservative MP for Castle Point Rebecca Harris, who took the top prize. Each finalist had five minutes to make a presentation about why their pet should win before judges made the final decision on July 13.
The criteria was not based on species, breed or appearance of the animals and any staff member, MP or Peer from the Houses of Parliament were able to enter their pampered pets. The event was about rewarding the happiest, healthiest most well cared for animals.
Ed Vaizey has left the Government
He tweeted Friday night saying he is “Looking forward to supporting the government from the backbenches #vexit”.
Ed was the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, with responsibilities in the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). He had served since 2014 as a Minister in the Department for Culture and Department for Business, responsible for digital industries.
Speaking to RadioToday earlier this week, Ed Vaizey hinted he may be serving his last days as Minister and took the opportunity to thank reflect on his work: “Politics is very fluid at the moment so in case things don’t go my way under the new Prime Minister I wanted to say thank you to the colleagues I’ve worked with over the last six years to make digital radio a brilliant reality in the UK”
I was delighted to see that a local charity, based at Long Wittenham, The Earth Trust, has been given The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It is thanks to volunteers like this that many of us have access to large areas of open space, which we can use freely and widely, such as Wittenham Clumps, Thrupp Lake, and the Castle Meadows in Wallingford. The work done by the Earth Trust Volunteers is undoubtedly deserving of this award.
Young people looking for volunteering opportunities over the summer months might be interested in the programmes run through the National Citizen Service. This is a programme for 16 and 17 year olds, and runs for three weeks in the summer, followed by a 30-hour community action project. The scheme brings together young people from different backgrounds and helps them to develop greater confidence, resilience, self-awareness, responsibility and skills for work and life. Over 200,000 people across the UK have already taken part in NCS. Further information on the 2016 programme can be found at http://bit.ly/28nEaty
I recently met some amazing young people undertaking apprenticeships at Oxford Instruments, a local company. Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular choice for school leavers and more information on the current apprenticeship drive can be found athttp://bit.ly/1PiTEmU
I frequently get contacted by constituents who are experiencing problems on the roads. Highways England have informed me that they are updating their route strategies which will inform projects for the period 2020-2025. This is one of the key steps of research required to help provide information on the use and performance of roads and shape future investment priorities. An online mapping tool has been launched that allows the public to inform them about the performance, impact, and challenges the road network faces. Further information and the mapping tool can be found at http://bit.ly/1RYiN6a
Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with. Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist.
I have been out and about in the constituency this month. I met with Drayton Parish Council to discuss their neighbourhood plan, and attended the grand opening of Millbrook Primary School's new library, with Winnie the Witch (aka the head teacher!) and the book's illustrator Korky Paul. I was also able to meet with John Marston and Rachel Warwick, heads of St. Birinus School and Didcot Girls School to catch up on local education issues.
I also visited Harwell Campus, which is always an interesting and informative trip. I met with Element Six, the world's largest supplier of synthetic industrial diamonds, who have invested £20million in a new headquarters and created almost 200 jobs. I also discussed infrastructure and digital services with Jisc, who provide digital services for education and research establishments. My breath was taken away by the Campus's newest addition, the UK's largest Thermal Vacuum Chamber (used for testing satellites).
Oxfordshire's place at the forefront of scientific innovation could result in the 'Holy Grail' of energy production - nuclear fusion being developed in the county. Fusion is the opposite of nuclear fission, and, with no CO2 emissions, no risk of meltdown, and no radioactive waste, fusion could one day solve our energy needs. Atoms are joined together rather than split, in a process that usually only happens in the sun and stars. An impact study into benefits that this research brings to our county has been published, and can be read at http://bit.ly/1TuFSPd.
Towards the end of the month, I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Year 10 students from Wallingford School who were visiting Parliament for the day. The Parliament Education Service runs fantastic tours of the House of Commons and House of Lords for visiting schools, and I was able to meet with them to discuss my role as their MP. If you think your local school would benefit, let me know.
I would also like to pass on my congratulations to local sculptor David Harber, whose company have been awarded the Queen's Award for International Trade. In March I visited David at his studio in Aston Upthorpe and saw some of his very impressive work.
This month I have received 625 items of correspondence (emails and letters) from constituents. Many of these were relating to national campaign and policy issues such as the Academies Programme, the ban on bee pesticides, and the UK steel industry.
I will be taking part in a number of debates on the EU referendum across the constituency between now and polling day on 23 June. The first will be held at Didcot Civic Hall on Friday 27 May at 7.00pm. The second will be held in Faringdon on Friday 03 June at 6.00pm, with the location to be confirmed. The third debate will be in Wantage at The Beacon on Friday 17 June at 7.00pm. These events are being organised by the respective Chambers of Commerce, so for any further information please contact them.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with. Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist. You can contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, 020 7219 6350 or email@example.com. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. I also send out occasional general interest emails about developments in the Wantage and Didcot Constituency. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please complete the online form by clicking the "Sign Up" notice at the top right of this page.
During March I met with the Environment Agency to discuss their work across the constituency. An area of concern was that only 59% of the 1,578 properties at risk of flooding from rivers were registered to receive their Flood Warnings Direct service. The service is the Environment Agency's free 24-hour warning service for properties at risk of flooding from main rivers. You can find out if your property is at risk and sign up for the service http://tinyurl.com/EAPrepareforflood. The Environment Agency also offers support for community groups. For example, they can host a workshop if you want to know more about maintaining watercourses (they recently held one in Charney Bassett). The Environment Agency is keen to meet landowner or community groups, and if you would like to arrange a meeting their Operations Manager Peter Collins can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month I also launched the Government's white paper for culture, the first in more than 50 years. It is the latest contribution to our approach to public support for art and culture. The white paper seeks to spread the gifts of our arts, heritage and culture to more people, and communities across the country and abroad and free the creative genius that can make a better world for all. You can read the white paper http://tinyurl.com/DCMSCuitureWhitePaper.
As exam season approaches, GCSE students may find a new app launched by BBC Learning to be very useful. After entering some information, the app will present the user with personalised, relevant revision flashcards. These will include a mix of text, audio, video, infographics, quotes and quizzes. The launch version of the app includes core subjects of English, maths and science, although further subjects will be added in the future. More information can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/je77jrx.
This month I have received 457 items of correspondence (emails and letters) from constituents. Many of these were about this year's Budget. I was pleased to see a number of announcements in the Budget, such as the introduction of a Lifetime ISA for adults under 40, and increasing the Personal Tax Free Allowance to £11,500 and the higher rate income tax threshold to £45,000. I also welcome announcements such as freezing of fuel duty for the 6th year, new efforts to stop large companies artificially shifting profits out of the UK, and additional funding to protect homes and businesses from flooding.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with. Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist. You can contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A OAA, 020 7219 6350 or email@example.com. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly.