MP for Rushcliffe, Ruth Edwards writes about flooding, the A52 Clifton Bridge and East Leake health centre among other things this month.
It’s certainly been an incredibly busy and exciting last few months here in Rushcliffe, and at Westminster, not least with this week’s Budget.
The doubling of national investment in flood defences was a most welcome announcement from the Chancellor. I will be writing to DEFRA to find out whether we can bid for some of this money. In another announcement, I was pleased to hear about the abolition of business rates for nearly 50% of businesses in England this year, this will do a lot to help our small and medium businesses cope with a temporary reduction in consumer demand due to coronavirus. This Budget may well go down in history as the Coronavirus Budget and I welcome the Government’s £30 billion packages to deal with the temporary health and financial challenges brought to us by Covid-19. Substantial support for the NHS, business, councils and workers will help the country tackle the weeks and months ahead.
Locally, I am pleased to report that good progress is being made on the important issues I pledged to tackle as your MP.
Firstly, I am continuing to visit flooded communities across the constituency and speak to residents and ask them what should be done to make communities more protected in the future. I have so far held meetings in Colston Bassett, Tollerton, Gotham and Bunny. I would like to thank the hundreds who have come, despite their lives being severely affected by flooding, to tell me their stories and to give me their views.
I am generating all of this information into a report which I will present to key stakeholders at a round table event in the near future so that we can discuss what future action should be taken.
I recently toured the flood-hit Rushcliffe School and I have written to the education secretary asking him if there is any financial help available. The principal, Damian Painton, showed me the damage – estimated at £500,000 – and initially, the school lost 12 classrooms due to the flood water running from the nearby Bovis Sharphill housing development, but six are now back up and running. Staff, pupils and parents have been fantastic at getting on with school life despite this disruption.
This shows just how important it is that our communities are resilient to extreme weather and can withstand our increasingly uncertain climate.
Secondly, my campaign for a new community health centre at East Leake has gained momentum with an Adjournment Debate held in parliament on the subject. I told the health minister Jo Churchill the building was not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced with modern high-quality accommodation and relocate social services, dental practice, pharmacy and parish council offices, plus charities to a community hub.
The present 60-year-old prefabricated Gotham Road structure suffers from a leaking roof and is the oldest health centre in Nottinghamshire. Despite this, its dedicated doctors and nurses serve some 11,000 patients and will soon be adding around 3000 more. The minister kindly accepted my invitation to visit to see the issues first-hand. This is not the end of the campaign, only the beginning. I will continue to push the case in Parliament and with ministers.
Thirdly, repairs to the A52 Clifton bridge have caused misery to commuters – many of them from West Bridgford. Highways England said the extensive concrete damage to the bridge means work is expected to last until at least the end of the year. I have written to the Transport Secretary asking for a meeting to discuss the issue, which has reignited calls for a fourth Trent crossing. This is something I support even though I fully understand its location is a complex issue that needs consensus. If it happens, I would like it to have a major sustainable transport component too. The best options must be worked up into full proposals without delay, so they can be moved forward as quickly as possible.
I have also become the Parliamentary Private Secretary PPS to the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack. This unpaid promotion means I become the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Secretary of State in parliament and liaise with MPs on his behalf. It’s certainly a great honour and a bit of a surprise so early in my parliamentary career but it means I can learn first-hand about how a government department works and this will be of real benefit in my work representing Rushcliffe. Be assured that, while I will be learning a great deal, the position will not impact on my work in Rushcliffe or the promises I have made to residents to be their champion.
Finally, I am inviting all schools in Rushcliffe to come to parliament in the autumn and learn about how our democracy works. It is really important young people become engaged with politics and I look forward to schools getting in touch so we can organise tours, plus the added bonus of a question and answer session with me. I would have liked to invite them all this spring but have decided to delay until the situation with coronavirus and the impact on visitors to Parliament is more clear.
Schools interested in visiting later this year should email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org