The Parliamentary year ended with a flurry of activity in Westminster. The police minister announced new rules for funding, the health team introduced a new package of winter support for the NHS and the environment minister has been taking actions to protect the oceans.
The policing news could mean around a hundred new police officers in Essex from next year. This is helpful as many local people have told me they would like to see more police around. However, it will be funded by a small increase in council tax of around £1 per month for an average home. In the longer term I would also like to see a fairer funding system so that more efficient services like ours don’t get penalised.
The head is the NHS has said this years package of support will leave our health service more prepared than ever before for the winter ahead. It includes more flu jabs, more GP appointments and more hospital beds.
On the environment the ban on microbeads will come into force from January. These tiny plastics make their way into the sea where marine life cannot digest them. lots of Chelmsford people write to me about environmental issues, so I’m glad the UK is taking a leading role across the world on marine protection, sustainable energy and protecting wildlife through the enhanced ban on ivory sales.
In the week before Christmas we had big votes on the finance bill and the EU withdrawal bill. These will now move to the next stage of approval. The first includes the important measure to remove stamp duty for first time buyers. This is worth on average £3,706 for people trying to get on the property ladder in Chelmsford. Discussions on the EU withdrawal bill have bee extremely complex. I am pleased that my suggestions on transparency, on the need for a meaningful vote in Westminster on the final outcome of negotiations and for the government to keep flexibility deadlines, have all been accepted. This is important for the jobs of many people locally. I will continue to work to get the best deal for all the people of Chelmsford.
The Prime Minister has started supporting local charities by following them on Twitter. It was great news that KidsInspire in Chelmsford was her second ever follow. They do excellent work helping vulnerable young people, do look them up.
My office is going to take a small break over the holiday period. We have helped well over 1,000 Chelmsford residents with enquiries since June. We are only a tiny team and my huge thanks goes out to everyone who has given support.