The Queen’s Speech paves the way for a further 20,000 police across the UK. In Essex we are receiving funding for an additional 135 officers on top of the 368 increase over the past two years. September was a record month for new applications to join Essex Police. There are new measures to tackle county lines drug gangs, to equip more officers with Tasers, and to strengthen sentencing for offenders. The Domestic Abuse Bill enhances protections for victims.
Funding for infrastructure, schools and the NHS has also been increased. Chelmsford has already been awarded the largest infrastructure grant in the country of £218 million to deliver our second railway station and a North East Bypass. Funding for the A12 widening between Chelmsford and Colchester has also been agreed. All six Chelmsford secondary schools and 16 primary schools will benefit from a significant step up in funding, and extra resources will be available for special educational needs. Broomfield hospital has opened a new ward providing modern, dementia-friendly facilities for elderly patients.
On the Environment, the UK has already reduced carbon emissions faster than any other developed economy and is the first major economy to commit to “net-zero”. At the recent UN General Assembly meetings in New York, we in Britain led the global effort to help poorer countries address climate change challenges and to protect the world’s oceans. The new Environment Bill will deliver a step change for the environment including by improving air and water quality, reducing plastic waste, improving recycling and restoring habitats for plants and wildlife. I joined volunteers for Chelmsford’s autumn riverside litter pick. I was delighted to learn that the amount of litter in our river and on its banks has reduced. Keep up the good work!
Since becoming your MP lots of people have spoken to me about veterans. I am pleased that a new Office for Veteran Affairs has been established with support from the highest possible levels in order to support ex-servicemen and women. It’s great to welcome Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, Armed-Forces charity, to Chelmsford. It has moved its head office to our City. They do amazing work in communities across the UK assisting serving and ex-Service men and women who have suffered life-changing limb loss or the use of a limb, an eye or sight.
In Chelmsford work continues to deliver a long-term solution to the Army and Navy. Removing the existing flyover is a very specialised project. The good news is that Essex County Council is now well on its way to securing a contractor for this role. A number of options are being considered for the long-term replacement of the junction. Engineers are working on the detail and a public consideration of the various options will be commencing as soon as this is available.
I am concerned about the decision to restrict access for 14 and 15-year-olds at Riverside Leisure Centre. This has caused great distress to many of those affected. The vast majority of our young people are caring and considerate. They want to make a positive impact on our communities. Riverside had received some complaints about the behaviour of certain young people in the gym. However, it does seem disproportionate to punish all young users as a result. Furthermore, physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight, improve self-confidence and enhances attention levels and performance at school.
At the time of writing Boris Johnson has secured a new Brexit deal with the other 27 EU countries. After such a long time of uncertainty this gives us a chance to get Brexit done whilst also safeguarding many jobs and caring for those most directly affected. Our country has been divided for too long and I firmly hope this deal will get the support of Parliament, allow us all to come together and move on.
Vicky Ford 18th October 2019