The summer recess brought some time to think about what we have accomplished in Chelmsford over the past couple of years and priorities for the time ahead.
On infrastructure, it certainly is good news to have been awarded a massive £218 million for our second railway station and bypass, I am also looking forward to our new trains arriving in coming months. People in Chelmsford have waited long enough for this station so I would like to see it built as quickly as possible. Over many decades investment in Essex’s transport infrastructure has failed to keep pace with growth. When Parliament returned to Westminster this month, I was with Essex County Council at the front of the queue of MPs meeting the Transport Secretary to explain why the Army and Navy needs a long-term replacement and it needs to come urgently.
Policing and crime have been a concern. It has therefore been reassuring to see many more police out and about in Chelmsford. Over 360 additional officers have now been added to Essex Police. Domestic violence is also a very serious matter, so I was very grateful to the experts from the “Safer Places” refuge for taking time to tell me about their work. The new Domestic Abuse Bill passing through Parliament will provide much greater protections to victims.
Regarding our local NHS, the medical school at Anglia Ruskin University has been a huge success and this month we welcome to Chelmsford another 100 students training to become doctors. 300 new nurses are also arriving at our hospitals which will be a significant help.
For our schools, you may remember that I led a campaign with Essex MPs for fairer funding. An additional £14 bn will now be invested in schools over next three years. In Chelmsford 16 Primary and 6 Secondary schools will benefit directly. There is also additional funding for special needs and for further education too.
Protecting the environment is another vital area. Earlier this year I worked with colleagues to draw up a manifesto for the environment. Over the summer it has been good to see parts of this already being implemented with new protections for oceans and biodiversity as well as greater investment in electric car charging networks. I’ve also worked on a very detailed cross party Select Committee report on how to ensure our emissions targets are achieved. This has now been published with over 70 different policy recommendations. Thank you to everyone who sponsored my “Give up Plastic for Lent” to establish waste recycling in some of the world’s poorest countries. A whopping £8.8 million has been has now been raised and the project is expanding to two further countries.
Brexit remains the top item in Westminster, with a very divided parliament. The Prime Minister has made it very clear that he wishes to agree a deal with the EU by the end of October. I have been doing all I can to help assist him in this, including attending lengthy meetings with British and Irish politicians and stakeholders. I have not supported the Bill to extend the timetable for Brexit as I believe that removing the deadline makes agreeing such a deal even more difficult.
It was great to spend more time in Chelmsford over the summer break, including meeting many local charities and organisations, my first canoe trip on the river and holding Supermarket Surgeries at both Morrisons and Tesco’s. Thank you to everyone who stopped to talk, and to all those who filled out my summer survey, your feedback is really helpful.
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