October 24, 2014
I was pleased to be able to attend last week’s service in St Mary’s Church in Braughing which was held in remembrance of a Braughing villager called Freddie Longman and those who both fought and lost their lives during the First World War.
Being the centenary year of the start of the First World War, this service was particularly poignant and was held ahead of the launch of a book called “Braughing at War: the last Post” written by Peter Boylan. The book charts the life of Freddie growing up in the village before he went off to War in 1914, where he sadly lost his life only two months after the War started.
I was joined at the service, which was very well attended, by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Jane Pitman and the High Sheriff Fergus McMullen. The service included hymns which were based on those sung at Freddie’s memorial service in 1914 and ribbons were used to signify those from the Village who had both served and died in the War. It was a very moving occasion and I am glad that I was invited to be part of the service to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. I also look forward to reading “Braughing at War” which I am sure will make for very interesting.
October 20, 2014
It really is wonderful to see yet another improvement in the unemployment figures, both for North-East Hertfordshire, and nationally. The long-term economic plan, though tough, is most definitely working. For the first time since the start of Labour’s recession, unemployment is down to below 2 million. Down 412 in NE Hertfordshire, and nationally, it dropped by 538,000, which is the biggest annual drop ever recorded. Nearly half of this is a drop in youth unemployment, which shows that this government really is getting young people into work. Also, the number of people on Job Seeker’s Allowance is down by half-a-million since the last election, which is a testament to our welfare reforms and the ability of Conservative economic plans to get people off benefits and into a job.
All these drops in unemployment are the best possible news to those to those who have now found work. The number of people in full-time work has increased by 1.26 million since the election, including record numbers of women, and over the last year, the UK had the highest growth in the G7. Britain is leading the way in the developed world in reducing unemployment, and we’re giving great opportunities to more and more people every day. I am proud to have been a part of these enormous economic improvements.
October 17, 2014
I am glad to hear that the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) is continuing its fleet modernisation programme. 147 ambulances have already been distributed within EEAS and this latest roll out of new ambulances will mean that by March 2015, its front line crews will be using vehicles which are only 5 years old or less. Paramedics carry out an extremely important role and I am sure that their work will be made easier if they have access to up to date ambulances. I am pleased that one of the stations to benefit from this roll out will be Letchworth. More information about this can be found here.
October 16, 2014
I was pleased to hear from the Environment Agency about the clearance work which is planned for the tributary in Puckeridge. This work is going to happen in stages with the first section, which will look at clearing the two highway culverts, due to take place this week. Organising this has been slightly more prolonged because the tributary is situated within a Roman town settlement as designated by the English Heritage and permission has had to be sought before some of the work could commence. All being well the channel work can be completed by the end of this month once formal permission from English Heritage has been received. I realise that constituents have felt frustrated that it has not been able to organise this work sooner, but I am glad to hear that it should be completed by the end of October.
October 2, 2014
I was pleased to hear that the Government’s Theatre Tax Relief has now come into effect as of 1 September. This measure was announced by the Chancellor in his 2013 Autumn Statement and is designed to provide support for theatres in the form of an additional corporation tax deduction or a payable tax credit. This would be worth up to 25% of qualifying expenditure for touring productions and 20% for all other productions. I am a great supporter of the performing arts within the constituency and I am pleased that the Government has taken steps to support them. For those that wish to find out more information about this tax relief, they can do so by clicking here.
September 26, 2014
It was great this week to visit Panshanger Park to see the new walks and River Mimram improvements. It is an ideal environment for a range of flora and fauna. Chalk streams are rare – there are only about 35 such river systems in the World – so their plants and wildlife are special too. I hope the rest of the park will open soon. Here are two pictures showing the Mimram in full flow and a lake which it feeds. I hope the Mimram will soon flow as well further up towards Welwyn Garden City following the decisions to cut back abstraction on the Mimram and the Beane.
September 19, 2014
I was very pleased to read recently about the positive impact that the Government’s special educational needs (SEN) reforms are already having on families. An independent report which has been commissioned following the implementation of a pilot pathfinder programme of the measures (run across 31 councils) suggests that these reforms are already significantly assisting those families who have children suffering from SENs.
The Government’s new SEND package includes a number of reforms to the existing system. Importantly, one of these is the replacement of SEND statements and learning disability assessments with a new birth to 25 education, health and care plan –setting out in one place all the support families will receive. I imagine it could be confusing about the support available to families trying to look after a child who has an educational disability, but the provision of one care plan should help simplify this. Another of the reforms is for the requirement for better co-operation between councils and health services so that the provision of services are jointly commissioned; this should help with a more joined up approach and ensuring a care plan is properly implemented. Personal budgets are also to be offered to parents and young people with education and health and care plans. This way families can be in control over the support and have more of a say about the decisions affecting their child’s future.
The reforms are already being received favourably. This bodes well when the Government’s SEND reforms are rolled out across the rest of the country imminently. Those interested in finding out more can do so by clicking here.