One of the great pleasures in my job is to meet people who have a huge passion for what they do, so I very much enjoyed seeing George Gallop last week. George runs People Plus in Southampton, a company which helps people on the Government’s Work Programme. The Work Programme is designed to help those who have been on Job Seekers Allowance for over 3 months get back in to work. Often there are a number of barriers for some people to successfully get find a job and George and the team at People Plus do an inspiring job in helping people overcome them.
I was very pleased to meet one client who had been out of work for a couple of years, one of the big barriers for her was her extreme shyness. She is now a supervisor in her new job and is hugely proud of what she has achieved with the aid of George and the staff at People Plus. She is now much happier and more outgoing, proving that the Work Programme goes beyond getting people back into work, it also helps provide lifelong skills.
On Sunday I joined a large congregation at the Romsey United Reform Church for the service to commemorate the Battle of Britain. The annual service remembers the remarkable victory achieved in the skies of Britain in 1940 and the great sacrifice of those 544 RAF airmen who lost their lives.
I was also very pleased to be at the opening this week of the Southampton University Science Park’s new building in Chilworth. The Science Park is very much the jewel in the crown of the local economy and its continued expansion is good reason to celebrate. The opening occurred on the same day as the Nucleus Expo 2016 which showcased Hampshire’s most exciting science and technology-led innovations.
September 27th 2016
The big news from Westminster this week is that of proposed boundary changes for Parliamentary constituencies.
Currently there is a huge difference in electorates ranging from around 21,000 in Na h-Eileanan an Iar in Scotland to 108,000 on the Isle of Wight. The new boundary proposals would see an electorate of around 75,000 for every constituency in the UK. I have long advocated this sort of change, and therefore welcome the principle if not necessarily the detail.
For Romsey and Southampton North the draft proposals mean quite significant changes. I was particularly disappointed to find the proposals suggest I will lose both Southampton wards, Swaythling and Bassett, I have grown to know a great many constituents and businesses in the area and it is very sad that these wards will no longer form part of the constituency.
Equally Dunn Valley and Blackwater wards in Test Valley are proposed to be removed from the constituency. Of course residents, Parish Councils, businesses and community organisations can all have a say on the proposals. I can see the logic in some of the suggestions, but others are harder to understand and I have already received feedback from residents about some aspects. It is important to note that these are only current proposals and will not be confirmed until 2018, after the public consultation on the issue.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet some constituents in Parliament on Wednesday for Prime Ministers Questions. It has been a particularly busy week in the Department and later on Wednesday I was in Westminster Hall to respond to my first debate in Parliament’s secondary chamber as a Minister.
September 27th 2016
Last Saturday I held the first of my revamped Saturday morning surgeries, but with a different format to the drop ins. It was great to be back at The Phoenix in the centre of Romsey, but with an appointment only system, which I hope worked well for constituents. For those constituents who work full time and are therefore unable to make surgeries on a Friday, the roving format in different locations will hopefully provide a suitable alternative.
On Sunday I had a wonderful time at a packed Romsey Food Festival. The town was packed with residents and visitors alike and the variety of foodstuffs on offer was absolutely incredible. It was wonderful to be able to wander up and down The Hundred sampling the different foods and to take home some real goodies for lunch.
This week Members of Parliament have returned to Westminster for a late sitting on the Finance Bill and to a packed schedule of events. I was pleased to catch up with the Southampton Park Lives team, who I had a great evening with at the Sports Centre in Bassett participating in their walk to run programme. I really hope to have the chance to go back again! On a separate sporting note I also met Rio Ferdinand and Jake Humphrey who were in Parliament to talk about BT Sport and inspiring more people to take part.
On Saturday I look forward to meeting many constituents at Romsey Show for what promises to be another fantastic day out for the entire family.