My high point of this week was visiting Trinity Road Primary School to see their new building which opened this term. The school has served the children of Chelmsford for over 100 years. In the old school hall pupils told us about their thoughts on the new facilities. One 8 year old explained that it felt “more professional” – a place where she feels proud to learn. Every element of the design has been thought through in detail. The children raved about the self-opening windows, sliding white boards and the hidden storage space for special pieces of work. It is always so good to see children enjoying being at school. Standards in education have risen dramatically over the past decade. UK children have recently been ranked number one in the western world for their reading.
Keeping with the young people theme, I also visited Springfield Youth Club, which was buzzing with happy young people enjoying a safe evening out with their friends. I went to Beaulieu Academy to look at the sports field where unfortunately the developers have used very sharp aggregate on the surface. The field is fine for training but results in dangerous cuts if matches are played. I will be writing to the developers to try to get this sorted.
I took the new Essex County Council cabinet member for highways to the Broomfield Road where we met the head teacher of Chelmsford County High School for Girls. I am extremely keen to find a new place for the school buses to wait at the end of the school day, both to reduce congestion and for children’s safety.
Safety must always be a priority. Our local police have been doing an exception job this autumn since they started more patrols and operations in the city centre. Last week they made 24 arrests in central Chelmsford, and this week they took down a significant drugs line. In Westminster, I was called during Prime Ministers Questions and took the opportunity to thank our local police. Please do continue to report incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Across the UK, crime rates have dropped by 50% since 2010 and they have come down in Chelmsford too. However, there is an issue with car thefts, the thieves are becoming much more savvy. Please do keep your car keys in a faraday pouch to prevent break-ins and thefts.
In Parliament, we had votes on the King’s Speech, including the amendment asking the UK to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. Like the many constituents who have written to me, I am horrified by the loss of civilian life, both on October 7th and since. In advance of the vote, I spoke in the House of Commons twice this week and issued a public statement which is available on my website.
We also heard the ruling from the UK’s Supreme Court on the Rwanda policy. The treacherous smuggling of people in small boats across the channel must be stopped. Too many lives are lost. Thanks to a number of different measures that have been taken already, the number of people crossing the channel has dropped by over 30% this year. But the Rwanda policy is an important deterrent.
I joined colleagues to discuss this with our new Home Secretary, my Essex neighbour James Cleverly. The government will now look at the detail of the court judgement and how to address the specific concerns, a new treaty is being proposed as well as new legislation.
Thank you to the many volunteers who joined me on Saturday to deliver local leaflets in North West Chelmsford. There is good news for residents of The Avenues as new CCTV cameras are on their way to cover the footpath and underpass from the Bunny Walks. Residents have often contacted me about drug dealing this area. Thanks to the work of our police, fire and crime commissioner, Roger Hirst, the cameras will be paid for using a grant from the government’s Safer Street Fund. They will add to those that have already been put up in the Bunny Walks.
Lastly, big congratulations to our new Bangladeshi and Indian takeaway, Kaani Kanna in Duke Street on winning not just one, but now two, national awards. It’s great to see a new business thriving and it was an honour to join their growing team for a celebration.