The Hundred Parishes Society and the launch of its new website

August 15, 2014

This week I received notification that the Hundred Parishes Society website which can be found by visiting http://www.hundredparishes.org.uk, has been officially launched. The Hundred Parishes Society is an organisation which has been set up to increase awareness of just over a hundred administrative parishes, some of which are in my constituency, and which fall within an area of approximately 450 square miles of northwest Essex, northeast Hertfordshire and southern Cambridgeshire. The website provides information about each of these parishes so that people in the area can enjoy and care for the places in which they live.

This part of the country is largely unknown apart from by those who live in the region but in fact each of these parishes retain a unique character which is enhanced by attractive belts of countryside. This makes the region a very pleasant place to live and work. The area boasts an interesting stock of over 6,000 listed buildings and I am pleased to see that the Society’s website has a section on local attractions, walks and events taking place throughout the year. The website also includes historical details about each of the parishes which will interest history enthusiasts. I am a firm supporter of the Society’s work and I hope that my constituents will visit its website and support its cause.


Constituents Beware!

August 14, 2014

I wanted to draw the attention of my constituents to a scam which is in operation at the moment and has defrauded people of significant amounts of money. The scam involves someone ringing up a person pretending to be from a computer company offering a fix for an alleged virus that the person has and then demanding a fee for the fix. Scammers have also been responsible for convincing people of the need to fix a problem on their computer, and having gained access to the computer remotely, they have installed a virus which feeds back information to the hacker about personal banking details which are then used to abstract money from peoples’ accounts. I urge my constituents to be wary when they receive phone calls from people offering computer services and never to reveal bank details or provide remote access to their computer to the caller, unless they are a trusted source.


Website launched to gather evidence from NHS workers: www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk

August 8, 2014

This week I was pleased to hear that a website called http://www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk has been launched as part of the Freedom to Speak up Review which is looking at encouraging an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS. This website enables people working in the NHS who have raised a concern whilst at work to provide feedback about how their concern was handled and whether they thought it was dealt with appropriately. This Review follows the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Public Enquiry and the information provided by people online will feed into the Review. It is clear from the findings of the Mid Staffordshire public enquiry that there were chronic failings in the NHS during the Labour years about the ability to raise concerns about the NHS and I encourage constituents who work within the NHS to respond to the Website providing details of their experiences. I understand the closing date for submissions online is 10 September.


The DCMS #LightsOut Campaign

July 11, 2014

This week the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published information about its #LightsOut campaign. The campaign is about encouraging people to turn off their lights for an hour between 10pm and 11pm on Monday 4 August in recognition of the 100 year anniversary of the First World War. I understand that many local authorities, national organisations and landmarks are planning to take part in the initiative. According to the DCMS press release, #LightsOut has been inspired by Sir Edward Grey’s famous remark on the eve of the outbreak of the War “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not seem them lit again in our lifetime.” Support for the campaign can also be demonstrated by signing up to the DCMS Thunderclap which is an online platform which will send an automatic message of support to people via Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr at 10am on 4 August. With its 100 year anniversary, it is extremely important that we remember the First World War and those that sacrificed so much fighting in it. I encourage my constituents to take part in the campaign and sign up to the Thunderclap.


Armed Forces Day in Letchworth this weekend

June 27, 2014

This weekend Armed Forces Day comes to Letchworth with a two day celebration taking place between 9am and 4pm in Broadway Gardens on Saturday and Sunday. I understand that there will be live entertainment on both days and this will include military vehicle displays, live music and refreshments. There will also be a veterans’ parade on Sunday starting at 10.45am in the Gardens which I will be attending. It is very important that we celebrate the work of the Armed Forces. They perform a valuable service and many in the Forces have sacrificed a huge amount in the most recent military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. I look forward to showing them my support on Saturday.


Two blogs from work experience students I have had in my office this week

June 26, 2014

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Cathy O’Sullivan

For my week of work experience I worked in Oliver Heald‘s office at the House of Commons. It was exciting as I had read about it and seen it on television and then I was there in person.

The first thing we did was take a free tour of Parliament and found out lots about the buildings and what happened in them. All the rooms were very impressive and grand. In the office I did filing and other jobs. I saw lots of Select Committees on topics like sham marriages, child mortality and the environment which were very interesting. I really enjoyed seeing the Select Committees as I could relate them to things happening where I live.

The best part of my week was seeing Prime Minister‘s Questions. It was very dramatic as it was just after the verdict on the Andy Coulson trial. I’m glad we got to see it because it was one lots of people wanted to go to. Lots of the MPs got very heated over the topic. There was quite a lot of shouting and pointing which made it quite entertaining. I liked seeing all the politicians I recognised from the news in person and how they reacted to the debates.

On the last day we saw a few debates and a Ministerial statement on the NHS investigations. We saw a variety of different things from the gallery where we had very good seats although they were a bit uncomfortable, we could see everything.

I’m very glad and grateful that I could do my work experience in such a respected place and have so much fun doing it.

Tom Burrows

After the tour of the Palace of Westminster I didn’t think it could get much better. I was wrong.

Tuesday started off with the tour, followed by lunch in Number 1 Parliament Street. After lunch we sat in on the Home Affairs Select Committee on the subject of sham marriages, with some lively discussion over the evidence being given. Certainly made for entertaining viewing!

As if Tuesday hadn’t been exciting enough, we were lucky enough to be able to watch a very heated, thanks to the Andy Coulson case, Prime Minister’s Questions from the gallery followed by lunch on the Terrace on Wednesday. That wasn’t even the last of the excitement! After lunch, along with Oliver, we made our way over to Downing Street, cleared the slightly intimidating security, and were able to hand a petition to Number Ten!

On Thursday we were again very lucky in that were able to watch Jeremy Hunt give his Ministerial Statement on the NHS report into the Jimmy Savile case. In the afternoon we spent some time watching the Grand Committee of the Lords in the Moses Room and also watching a debate from the gallery in the Main Chamber.

As a 6th form student studying politics, the opportunities to see what I have done over the last few days have been invaluable, as well as extremely enjoyable!

I would definitely recommend a few days work experience here at Westminster to anyone with an interest in politics, even if it were to only see the building itself!

 


Sustainable homes coming to Waterford…

June 13, 2014

I was interested to hear this week about the development of a group of sustainable homes in Waterford on the edge of Hertford. Planning permission has been granted for the construction of eight two-storey homes on Sacombe Road in Waterford which will be low or zero carbon housing. They will have photovoltaic panels on their roofs, be naturally heated and ventilated, harvest rainwater and be able to use some solar thermal hot water. I understand that they will exceed the highest ranking in the Code for Sustainable Homes and that a condition of the planning permission is that the developers will be required to build a footpath link and provide £10,000 towards transport measures which will encourage people to use alternative methods of transport other than cars.


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