The planning applications for the new Army and Navy Junction and related transport measures have now been submitted. The project took a huge step forward when we secured £68.75 million in funding from the Government in November. To reduce pressure on the junction during construction the plan is to expand Park and Ride facilities first.
People have a 21-day period to comment on the applications, please do feed in your comments here https://planning.essex.gov.uk/
In Parliament, I am leading a private members bill on school attendance. We have great schools in Chelmsford. School standards have risen dramatically since the school leavers of today started off in reception fourteen years ago but across the country there has been a steep increase in non-attendance since the pandemic. More than one in five children have been missing more than ten percent of their class time.
The reasons for non-attendance can be complex and can include barriers for children with special educational needs, mental health and anxiety. My Bill will require all schools and local authorities to work together, support families, remove barriers to attendance and follow best practice guidelines.
Free childcare is being expanded to 15 hours of free childcare per week for two-year-olds from 1 April 2024. This will increase later to 9-month-olds and for up to 30 hours. This is the largest investment by any UK government in history, saving working parents up to £6,500 a year. Families with an eligible two-year-old should apply online now for their code.
Crime rates continue to decline in Essex but last autumn in Chelmsford there was an uptick in shed break-ins and vehicle theft. I know this is concerning to Moulsham residents. The police tell me they have increased both visible and plain clothes patrols and reports of these types of crimes have dropped more recently. Since December 23rd there have been six arrests or prosecutions in Chelmsford related to vehicle theft. A prolific burglar was jailed for multiple incidents just before Christmas.
Police numbers across Essex are now at record levels. There is one inspector, four sergeants, and thirty-four constables in the Chelmsford community policing team, double the number five years ago. I have asked the police to make sure that all burglaries are properly investigated.
I visited the Sutherland Lodge GP surgery in the Baddow Road to see their extensive building work. There will be more consulting rooms for GPs, a bigger waiting area and improved disability access. I have written to Beacon Health Group to ask for more GP appointments at the Moulsham Lodge Surgery.
Tens of thousands of people in Chelmsford have benefited from the reductions to National Insurance that came through in January. I have been meeting with Chelmsford businesses, large in small, in advance of this year’s Spring Budget to make sure that their voices are heard.