Having the chance to speak to young people about their career aspirations is something I always enjoy and this week I have met a number of students, both locally and from further away. On Thursday evening I met students from Hampshire Collegiate School near Romsey to talk about my own career and offer some advice to help them with the important choices they will soon make. It is always a privilege to meet with the bright young people in Romsey and Southampton North and I am always happy to help them with their studies. I have also now been invited to repeat the exercise at Peter Symonds’ College.
We live in a constituency where there are very few young people who are unable to find work and it is encouraging to see schools holding events such as this to continue supporting young people into finding a career they enjoy.
Planning and development remain some of the most contentious issue in my post bag, and I am not surprised by that. I spent an enjoyable 12 years on Southern Planning, but am aware that much changes and that my knowledge is sometimes not as up to date as it was. However, what is certainly true is the planning pressures on Test Valley do not lessen as time passes, and neither does the demand for housing in our area.
I went to an event in Chilworth this week to view plans for a proposed development in the area. I know many constituents are concerned about unsustainable development, however I am aware a number of Parish Councils – working with the backing of Test Valley Borough Council – are starting to produce Neighbourhood Plans and have their say in how their villages will expand over the next 25 years. This is an excellent way for local people to get involved in the future of their community and I fully support the progression of these plans.
January 15th 2016
I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit Symetrica in North Baddesley on Monday and to inaugurate the company’s new ‘Radioactive Threat Verification Solutions Hub’. The UK is at the cutting edge of radiation detection, and from a pretty well hidden site in North Baddesley is exporting British technology around the globe. Like so many businesses in this immediate area it is a spin off from the University and a great example of how the start up hub at the Science Park really does work.
Visiting local business organisations is always interesting and later this week I am off to the Ordnance Survey, which is one of the key employers locally and certainly another world leader. We are fortunate to have the OS at the site at Adanac Park, which for years was earmarked for exactly that sort of major HQ development, and I tend to go back every few years to update my knowledge of the business there.
On Thursday evening I was fortunate to attend the Taekwando Club at Mountbatten School, and had the opportunity to see the staff and students in action. Martial Arts can provide a phenomenally disciplined outlet for energy and I was certainly very impressed by the commitment and skill demonstrated.
There is an exhibition at Mottisfont Abbey of the work of the late – and much loved – local artist Norman Thelwell which I hope to attend this week. The exhibition begins on 16th January and will display some of his wonderfully amusing cartoons of mischievous ponies alongside satirical paintings of life in the twentieth century and beautiful local landscapes. Norman was resident at Timsbury for many years and I grew up loving his cartoons and can’t wait to see the exhibition.
As usual on Friday I will be holding one of my constituency surgeries, but the highlight of the day will undoubtedly be Jack and the Beanstalk at the Plaza.
“It was a real pleasure to visit Symetrica which is doing such vital work in securing ports and other border entrances around the world. Symetrica are a world leader in developing technologies which can help protect against terrorist threats. It is a classic start up company which began on the Science Park in Chilworth but has grown steadily and has developed into a world leader in security.
January 8th 2016
After one of the warmest and wettest Decembers on record, many constituents contacted me last weekend concerned about the possibility of flooding. Interestingly, in our area, rainfall has been about average however, with the floods of 2013/14 fresh in my memory I immediately contacted the Environment Agency who very promptly sent staff to the areas at risk and reported that, at that time, there was no danger of a repeat of the horrendous flooding which occurred two years ago.
The significant levels of rain did, however, leave land waterlogged and caused some severe issues on some of the main roads around the constituency. I am grateful to the Environment Agency and to Hampshire County Council for working so quickly to ensure the roads were safe for use.
It is critical to remain vigilant at times of heavy rainfall and in particular I would urge landowners to ensure ditches are regularly cleared and properly maintained. I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announce £2.3b in funding for flood protection and will be pushing the EA for an update on what progress has been made on the plans for Romsey.
I was privileged to be at my first meetings in the Department of Transport this week having been made Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Robert Goodwill MP, the Transport Minister. A PPS acts as the main contact between the Minister and backbench MPs and supports a Minister during debates and other official functions.
I look forward to returning to Romsey on Friday where I have a busy day of meetings with a number of constituents before my monthly surgery on Saturday morning at the Burgess Road Library in Southampton from 9:30 until 11:00am. Due to time limitations these appointments are for 10 minutes on a first come, first served basis, however if you require a longer meeting please feel free to contact my constituency office.