Derby Telegraph Column

Published in the Derby Telegraph, 30th November 2012

An issue that my constituents regularly raise with me is the level of noise from the A38 – noise that is getting worse with increasing traffic. For those living near the A38 including in Alfreton, Swanwick, Ripley, Rawson Green and Coxbench the noise is excessive and measures should be taken by the Highways Agency to tackle it – through noise barriers and a quieter surface.

The Agency has launched a consultation on its Noise Action Plan report in which it designated 2 sites in Alfreton, plus Rawson Green and Coxbench as first priority sites. Sadly this only means that some measures will be taken by 2021! Given the existing problem, and the scale of potential new development along the A38 corridor I believe the Highways Agency should be taking action sooner and in more places. We should also consider whether or not, as a condition for major new developments in the A38 corridor, funding should be put towards delivering these measures more quickly.

I have already raised this issue in Parliament and on Thursday I wrote to the Transport Secretary to ask him to help me get a better outcome for my constituents, but I am calling on my constituents to help me get a better answer from the Highways Agency. I have launched a petition web site at www.reducea38noise.com, and I invite any residents concerned about noise levels on the A38 to sign it before 27th December, when the consultation by the Agency is due to end.

A number of weeks ago, I took the decision to rebel against the Government on an important vote relating to the then upcoming EU Budget negotiations because I couldn’t bring myself to vote for a real terms increase in spending while cutting services that my constituents value.

Last week saw those negotiations in Brussels, which ended without agreement. David Cameron, alongside the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had called for financial restraint in Europe during a time of necessary cuts to departmental spending at home.

The Prime Minister was only seeking what is right for Britain. All he had asked for was an increase not above inflation. It surely can’t be right to increase the Budget on a larger scale than that, given current circumstances here at home, particularly when there is such waste and imprudence at the heart of the EU.

Next Wednesday we’ll see the Chancellor deliver his Autumn Statement, during which he’ll update Parliament on the Government’s plans for the economy. We have seen encouraging news in terms of economic growth and falling unemployment, but the announcement is important because he will use it to outline any necessary tax and spending measures he intends to take to help him in his vital work to help tackle the deficit inherited from the previous Government.

While I have to be careful not to speculate about what he will announce, I took the opportunity to press the Government on two issues when I met with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury on Monday to discuss issues facing my constituents.

I urged the Minister to scrap or further delay the planned rise in Fuel Duty which will only hurt already hard-pressed constituents and businesses who are concerned about the impact on their living standards and costs should a further rise go ahead.

I also asked the Minister to take similar action on the Beer Duty Escalator to help out pubs and breweries in my constituency.

I hope that the Chancellor is able to offer some relief to these problems.