Ruth Edwards MP writes her monthly column.
This month, my ‘weather-proofness’ has been put to the test, as I’ve battled the April storms and showers to support local Conservative council candidates in the run up to the elections on May 4th.
The local Conservatives have steered Rushcliffe Borough Council to being shortlisted for the Local Authority of the Year award, which will be announced in June. Their record speaks for itself, allocating support payments to local businesses during the pandemic in record time and keeping the lowest council tax in Nottinghamshire.
They have also pledged to freeze council tax to help people with the cost of living and improve glass recycling – something that I campaigned for and voted for in the Environment Act, if they maintain control of the council.
No matter how you intend to vote, please remember you will need a Voter ID this time. Here is a list of accepted IDs.
This month, the Government delivered on its promise to put 20,000 more police officers on our streets.
418 of these new officers are serving in Nottinghamshire, focused on tackling anti-social behaviour, rural crime, domestic abuse and fraud. Last week, I went to East Leake with Police and Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry, to hear residents’ views about crime and policing in Rushcliffe.
This follows the Government’s recently announced Anti-Social Behaviour Plan. The £160 million plan named Nottinghamshire as a pilot in the Immediate Justice Scheme which will see offenders take responsibility for their actions, repairing the damage they inflicted on victims within 48 hours of the crime. Police will also have new powers to tackle local drug dealing and impose higher £500 fines for graffiti and littering, and up to £1,000 for fly-tipping.
If you missed me in East Leake, I still want to hear your views, so have your say by filling out my survey here.
There was another huge announcement this month as the East Midlands Freeport was officially given the green light. I have been a strong supporter of the Freeport, part of which is situated here in Rushcliffe at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar PowerStation. As the power station is decommissioned next year, we need to make sure that the site is developed in a way that best benefits communities across Rushcliffe and the wider area.
The Freeport will deliver a new business park focused on green energy and advanced manufacturing, supporting thousands of jobs across the East Midlands and attracting huge investment into the region.
The approval releases over £25m of funding to deliver infrastructure and investment projects. These will include upgrades to roads and transport infrastructure and a Hydrogen Skills Academy.
I am very conscious of the concerns people have about the impact that new jobs created by the Freeport could have on the local road network. That’s why I have been working with local councillors to call for a full Transport Feasibility Study and assurances of mitigation measures, before planning is granted.
This month, I and other Conservative MPs, voted for the Government to strengthen targets for the reduction of sewage discharges and to increase fines to water companies who do not reach these targets or monitor their storm overflows sufficiently.
This builds on the targets set out in the Sewage Discharge Reduction Plan that the Government announced back in the summer. This forces water companies to provide £56 billion of capital investment to help upgrade the capacity of our sewer systems. This is the largest infrastructure programme in water company history.
We have also hugely increased the monitoring of water quality over recent years. Back in 2013, the Government introduced a requirement to monitor storm overflows. In 2015, 7% of overflows were being monitored, but this will have increased to 100% by the end of this year. Our landmark Environment Act also put a legal duty on water companies to monitor water quality downstream of all storm overflows.
Water quality is an issue that is really important to me, and I know to lots of you, which is why I have worked to make sure Severn Trent invest £16 million in upgrading the sewerage network in the south of the Rushcliffe. This involves 3 new pumping stations and upgraded pipework between East Leake, Widmerpool and Willoughby-on-the-Wolds. I have also asked the Environment Minister to come to Rushcliffe to meet with me, Severn Trent and other local stakeholders, to discuss how the Government’s measures will improve the water quality in the River Trent and what more we can do.
Finally, as part of the unprecedented £94 billion package to help people with the cost of living, over eight million families will receive the first of three cost of living payments this month, totalling £900 this year. There are 6200 eligible households in Rushcliffe, to find out if you are one of these, please follow this link.