Last Wednesday marked 100 years since women were given the right to stand in elections in the UK. I am very honoured to be the first female MP to represent Chelmsford. It is important that people from all parts of society can take part in our democracy. Today, only one in three Members of Parliament are women. Women often face additional hurdles when entering politics. Travel and long hours can be challenging to those with caring responsibilities and women politicians are often more targeted with online abuse and threats than their male counterparts.
On the centenary day we celebrated the accomplishments that women MPs have made. I also helped arrange an action-packed day to support and inspire the next generation. Three hundred and fifty women came from all over the UK to meet their MPs and learn more about the role. This was part of the #AskHerToStand campaign which encourages women to be involved in public life.
Much of the discussion in Westminster is of course about the Brexit deal. I have always said that this would be the most complicated negotiation for a generation. I am pleased that we now have a deal to consider and study. In the 2016 referendum people were told that their decision would be final, so it is important we respect that vote. The deal does deliver on the outcome of the referendum, it also paves the way towards new trade deal which will help protect jobs and security. Other options would be a “no deal” Brexit which would cause great uncertainty for businesses, jobs and our economy, or a second referendum which I believe would lead to even bigger divisions. The deal negotiated with the EU is not perfect but, in my view, this is the best and most certain option available.
Thank you to everyone who has written to me about buses in Chelmsford. I met First Bus Essex to discuss recent problems. The company explained that they had a series of issues relating to changing driver rotas, closing a depot and moving their customer service centre. They had a significant problem with driver sicknesses and staff leaving. They tell me this has now improved with new staff and training. They have agreed to look again at timetables so that reliability can be improved and problems with the interactive digital displays are being worked on. I have also written to the Traffic Commissioner who grants the bus companies licences. Please do keep telling me about your experiences as we do need to hold the company to account.
Broomfield hospital have told me about a number of changes they are making to help improve services this winter. This included using facilities in Braintree for more elective operations, a new process to reduce the waiting time for ambulances when they arrive at A&E and a new control centre to help staff manage beds more easily and plan discharges. A specialist bed cleaning team is now automatically notified when a patient is discharged. This shortens the bed turnaround time and frees up nurse’s time to spend with patients.
With Christmas quickly approaching, many children will want to write to Father Christmas. The Royal Mail have published his address on their website. The elves at Royal Mail have asked me to remind children to write by the 7th December if they want to get a reply before Christmas Eve.