Derbyshire Times Column

As published in the Derbyshire Times, 18th July 2013

We’ve had more good news on the economy recently, with the announcement last week by the IMF that it expects the UK economy to grow by 0.9 per cent – up from 0.7 per cent – this year. This means that the UK economy is expected to grow at a faster rate than any other European economy.

During its announcement, the IMF did warn again of the continued risk to the global economy, highlighting what we already know: we must continue tackling the financial mess left behind by the previous Government by tackling the structural deficit – the recovery and stability of the nation’s finances depend on it.

The past couple of weeks have seen it confirmed that the Labour Party is utterly incapable of taking the difficult decisions necessary to help hard-working people and fix the economy. Last week, Ed Miliband was forced to deliver a speech on the unions on Tuesday after it emerged that Len McCluskey’s Unite Union had been rigging Labour Parliamentary selections. Even after Miliband’s speech, nothing has changed – we’d still see the unions bank-rolling the Labour Party, picking its candidates and electing its leader, meaning he won’t be able to stand up to vested interests.

This week we’ve seen the Benefits Cap come in to force, which means that nobody will be able to claim more than the average family earns in work, with claims being limited to £26,000 per year. This move, alongside the new Universal Credit system and our efforts to increase the personal allowance to £10,000 – taking over 3,000 of my lowest-paid constituents out of income tax altogether – really are making progress to make work pay.

We’ve also seen some further ideas on welfare from Grant Shapps, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, including limiting child benefit of workless households to two children, and removing housing benefit from those under 25 years of age. These policies are part of a wider conversation leading up to the next election, where people will have a straight choice between Labour – the party which has opposed every single one of our benefits changes and didn’t support the increase in the personal allowance – or the Conservatives, who stand up for hard-working people.

Locally, last week, the Planning Inspector overturned Amber Valley Borough Council Planning Board’s rejection of the proposed crematorium in Swanwick. Many of my constituents contacted me about this issue to express concerns about the use of green fields, and it’s disappointing to see that they’ve been let down by the decision.

We also saw the publication of the latest round of Amber Valley Borough Council’s Core Development Strategy, which sets out how the Council wants the area to be by 2028. Included in the document is the building of the necessary 4,200 homes by 2028 and where these might be. Outseats Farm in Alfreton, Alfreton Road in Codnor, the land North of Denby, Newlands/Taylor Lane in Heanor, and Coppice Farm and Nottingham Road in Ripley are all identified as strategic development sites.

The Plan also sees the possibility of a construction of a new A610 road linking Ripley and Codnor, options for conservation and green spaces, and how best to grow the local economy through the implementation of Town Plans, affecting Alfreton, Heanor and Ripley.

The Council is consulting the public on options that it has for its various objectives. I know many of my constituents have been concerned about the construction of housing close to their own homes, so I would recommend participating in this process. You can find more information on the Council’s web site.