January 25, 2016
The quality of local roads is a very important issue in North East Hertfordshire, and I have been campaigning for road improvements locally. I have recently received an update from Herts Highways on the state of repair of local roads and what action is being taken on potholes.
The most recent annual survey to assess the condition of all roads in Hertfordshire shows that, for A, B, and C roads, the percentage of the network that is considered in need of attention is lower than expected. Especially given the wet weather of 2014 which caused a lot of damage to local roads, this is good news and shows the fine work that Herts Highways have done to keep our strategic roads in good shape.
Although the figures for U roads were not quite as good, I welcome the news that the balance of future programmes has been adjusted to add more emphasis to the U roads in order to address this, without unduly risking the condition of the A, B, and C roads. Some of this work has already been completed as part of the 15/16 programme of works, and this may be reflected in the results of the next round of condition surveys.
As for the pothole situation, nearly 8,000 potholes have been dealt with across Hertfordshire over the past nine months, and, as a result of the mild winter we have had so far, fewer potholes are being reported compared with last year.
The improving state of our roads is good to see, and I will keep up the pressure to ensure that our smaller U roads receive more focus over the next year and that any potholes that are created in these weeks of colder weather are fixed quickly.
January 20, 2016
This week saw the launch of the Change4Life Sugar Smart campaign by Public Health England, with support from local authorities, NGOs, housing associations, and five major retailers. This campaign highlights new guidance on the maximum amount of sugar that children should be consuming, and is designed to help families make healthier choices.
Five million Sugar Smart information packs have been distributed to primary school children, and the app, which allows people to scan the barcodes of over 75,000 everyday food and drink products to see their sugar content, has caught the public imagination, with over 300,000 downloads last week.
With the Government producing its Childhood Obesity Strategy shortly, this is a great campaign which will do much to help make Britain healthier. I urge everyone to find the app for themselves at:
January 12, 2016
The Treasury’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ programme looks set to be one of the biggest and most significant changes to the tax system in years. It will make HMRC one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world by introducing simple, secure, and personalised digital tax accounts. This will lead to the end of the annual tax return – a particular hassle for many at this time of year.
In March 2015, £1.3b was allocated to introducing these online tax accounts to all businesses and individuals by 2020, allowing tax affairs to be monitored and updated throughout the year, using Government-provided software and apps, thereby ending the need for an annual tax return.
In addition to saving many individuals a lot of work, this will bring huge benefits to businesses. Many businesses report that they worry about having to wait until the end of the year, or even longer, to find out how much tax they owe, and so by enabling them to update their tax accounts throughout the year, they will be able to have much more certainty about their tax position, and allow them to budget accordingly.
This policy could prevent hundreds of millions of pounds of tax loss from incorrect tax returns, give businesses and individuals more certainty about their tax bill, and save millions the worry of the annual tax return, and I will press to ensure that it is implemented on time.