Last week, during the February Parliamentary recess, I was very pleased to be able to spend most of the week meeting constituents, both in surgeries and in larger meetings.
On Thursday evening, I arranged for a number of constituents, including estate managers, parish councillors and residents from around the rural parts of my constituency, to meet with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, and Chief Inspector Kory Thorne, the Divisional Commander for the Test Valley area, having heard from several constituents about their crime related concerns.
I hope all those involved found it useful to hear about the hard work Chief Inspector Thorne is undertaking to ensure there are increased resources in Test Valley to combat the threats we all face. I know the Police and Crime Commissioner certainly took on board the concerns of the people of Romsey, and hope this forms part of his future strategy for the area.
On Friday, I was delighted to visit Grove Place in Nursling to take part in a Question and Answer session with a group of residents. I was asked some very interesting questions on subjects ranging from foreign aid, to the Bank of England and Brexit.
Finally, it was great to see schools from my constituency compete in the Rock Challenge regional heats last week and it was my genuine pleasure to announce the winner of Thursday’s heat, Halterworth Primary School. Braishfield were also taking part that evening, and I thought their interpretation of Roald Dahl’s work was brilliant. I was also thrilled to hear Wellow won their heat the following night, and I very much hope to be able to get to Portsmouth to see them both in the final.
February 21st 2017
Few Members of Parliament expected such a dramatic start to the week after returning from recess on Tuesday, however with the surprise announcement by the Prime Minister that she would call a General Election, Parliamentary business was amended to include a motion which was put to the House on Wednesday.
The Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 – the legislation which now governs how and when General Elections are called – requires a two thirds majority of MPs to vote in favour of dissolving Parliament before the term is up, this was achieved on Wednesday and therefore there will be a General Election on Thursday, 8th June 2017.
It is no secret that I voted in favour of holding a referendum, but also voted to remain in the EU. Those decisions, however, are behind us and it is essential that we respect the outcome of the referendum and unite to ensure we get the best possible deal for the UK.
Of course, it is not all about Brexit; this is after all a GENERAL election and many issues will come under the spotlight. It has been a huge privilege to serve the area in which I have always lived over the last 7 years, and for the last year (nearly) as a Minister in the DWP. I am looking forward to spending the next 8 weeks out in the Hampshire sunshine talking to local residents about the issues that are important to them.
February 17th 2017
As a Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions it is always important for me to hear from people who have used DWP services, particularly in Romsey and Southampton North. I was very pleased to be able to invite a number of local support organisations and service users to a consultation on the Government’s new Work, Health and Disability Green Paper. The session was a very informative way of allowing people who have regular use of services supporting people living with long-term illnesses or disabilities to directly feed back on their experiences, in turn this will feed in to the national consultation and could make a difference to Government policy.
On Wednesday I visited the Romsey Food Bank which is run by the Romsey Freedom Church on behalf of the Trussell Trust. I was very impressed with their new space, partly dedicated to storage of food, along with a pleasant and welcoming area for those who need to use the service. I must pay tribute to the volunteers and staff who have worked so hard to secure a safe space for constituents in crisis.
Having had an increase in the number of constituents contacting me about rural crime, I have arranged a summit with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, divisional police chief and a group of constituents from all parts of the constituency to enable them to directly question Mr Lane about the issues they are experiencing. Clearly, there are a number of factors involved, however I was pleased to be able to arrange this for my constituents.
Finally, on Friday I am very much looking forward to joining the residents of Grove Place in Nursling for a Q&A session. I regularly hear from residents on a number of issues so it will be very nice to be able to speak them in person.