On Saturday I met with a number of local residents who continue to be frustrated by the slow roll-out of super-fast broadband to villages by BT. This is a significant issue for many in the more ‘rural’ areas of my constituency, however I am always bemused by the fact there are people in the wilds of rural Scotland who have faster broadband speeds than the residents of West Tytherley or Barton Stacey, both a short distance from large cities. Complaints about BT make up a significant proportion of letters in my postbag and I have asked Mr Speaker for time to debate this in Westminster Hall.
Parliamentary recess gives Members of Parliament the opportunity to spend time doing things we don’t generally get the chance to do during the busy Parliamentary schedule. This week it was a real pleasure to visit fashion design students at Bournemouth Arts University who are training under the tutelage of Professor Anne Chaisty, a trailblazer who is teaching young students about diversity on the catwalk, something regular readers will know is a great passion of mine.
Whilst it is essential we keep working, as a society, to campaign for change so catwalks reflect women (and men) of all sizes, it is also crucial that courses like Prof. Chaisty’s move in to the 21st century and teach future designers that we need a real change to help slow the rise in mental health disorders around body image.
On Tuesday I was the guest speaker at the Romsey Cameo Group which regularly meets at the Crosfield Hall. The group has a long history of inviting speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds and I was delighted to have been invited to speak and answer questions. It was a large audience with a huge range of interesting and challenging questions.
February 12th 2016
This week I was pleased to support Jake Berry MP at the launch of the Homes for Heros Foundation manifesto, which sets out to help former service personnel – of which there are many in Romsey and Southampton North – with housing issues. Too many former members of the armed forces struggle to find adequate housing and more must be done to ensure we are following the commitments of the military covenant and providing housing to retired military personnel.
I also attended a meeting of the APPG for the Timber Industry, with a major timber merchant based in the west of my constituency I feel it is important to show my support to this important industry. Readers may recall my first ever rebellion against the Government was regarding the public forestry estate and I remain committed to this crucial natural resource.
As many may know, this year it is Her Majesty, The Queen’s 90th birthday and Test Valley Borough Council is among a number in the country who are supporting the ‘Clean for The Queen’ initiative Between March 4th – 6th, where local community groups are encouraged to clean their area. I know some of the villages in this constituency are planning to undertake stream cleaning, footpath clearance and litter picking and I had the opportunity to show my support for this event in Parliament on Tuesday.
On Friday I look forward to visiting the local SSE distribution site and learning more about electricity distribution around the constituency. Particularly at this time of year there is a significant concern about reliability of supply and the recent high winds have, I know, caused problems. However SSE work incredibly hard both to maintain supply and repair whenever there is an issue.
February 5th 2016
Last weekend I joined over 30 volunteers in King’s Somborne to help clean the stream which runs through the heart of the village and caused terrible flooding for many during the winter of 2013/14. Community initiatives such as this are becoming increasingly common around the constituency, where local groups are giving up a few hours of their own time to make a difference to their neighbours. It was wonderful to see so many local people slow down to say ‘thank you’ as they drove through the village.
On Monday I joined Southampton’s other two Members of Parliament at the Royal South Hants Hospital to meet with members of the local Pensioner’s Forum and sign the National Pensioners Convention Dignity Code. We all recognise with an ageing population how important it is to make sure the older people in our communities are well looked after and respected.
I then returned to Westminster to attend a debate in the Chamber moved by Guto Bebb on interest-swap mis-selling where I was able to make a short intervention to highlight the terrible affect on employees when banks foreclose on businesses. A number of SMEs in Romsey and Southampton North have been very badly affected by the sae of inappropriate hedging products and there are many concerns the FCA has not provided the support and protection they deserve.
More details were released this week on the Prime Minister’s renegotiations on Europe. I do have a significant post bag on this issue, but it is very balanced and most people simply want greater detail and clarification regarding what renegotiation means. I was grateful to the Prime Minister for his statement on the settlement to MPs after PMQs on Wednesday.
On Friday I look forward to attending the Romsey School production of West Side Story before returning to King’s Somborne on Saturday morning for my drop-in surgery at the Crown Inn from 9:30 until 11:00. These appointments are limited to 10 minutes to allow me to see as many constituents as possible, so if you feel you would require a longer appointment please contact my Romsey office on 01794 521155.