Ripley & Heanor column – Friday 21st October 2016

In the constituency, I recently held my fifth Jobs Fair at Ripley Leisure Centre, which brought more than eight hundred jobseekers and students together with local employers and training providers.

More than fifty stallholders attended, including a range of local employers and training providers such as Bombardier, Severn Trent, Thorntons, Blue Arrow, Talkstaff Recruitment, Deb, Filigree, NHS Supply Chain, DHL, BPI, Tesco, HL Plastics, Owen Taylor, Gowercroft, Futures Housing Group, Derby College and Derby County Football Club. Thank you to everyone who attended and supported my Jobs Fair. Special thanks also to trentbarton, Amber Valley Borough Council, Places for People and Job Centre Plus for sponsoring the event.

I’m delighted that many constituents have already been employed or given trials and interviews for jobs, apprenticeships or training programmes as a result of the fair. This means that even more people in Amber Valley have the security of a regular job and wage, and that we’re getting closer towards our target of full employment. Indeed, this month’s figures show that unemployment is down a further 8% since this time last year despite the loss of a couple of significant local employers this year.

It’s been a busy month in Parliament as well. Following my meetings with many of the pharmacists in Amber Valley over the last few months to discuss the proposed changes to the sector, the Government recently released the plans for the future of community pharmacies. I’m pleased that this Government has listened to the concerns constituents raised with me and will be exempting pharmacies in rural and disadvantaged areas from the new funding settlement.

In the Chamber, I was pleased to present a petition to the House signed by 680 constituents asking for fair transitional arrangements for women born in the 1950s who have been affected by changes to the state pension age. The Government will now consider the petition closely and provide a response in the coming months.

In addition, during recent Transport questions in the House I asked the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP, for an update on the desperately needed electrification of the branch line that runs through the train stations at Langley Mill and Alfreton.

The Minister confirmed that this Government is investing significant sums in the vital Midland Main Line route, and it’s welcome news that new trains are also being introduced on the Leeds-Nottingham Northern service, which will cut journey times by 20% on the route.

I’m happy that the long awaited electrification of the line to encompass Langley Mill and Alfreton is now being considered as part of the upcoming East Midlands franchise competition, which will focus on improving frequency and connectivity in our region, and I will continue to push for the line to be electrified as soon as possible during the upcoming consultation.

I’m also continuing my other campaigns for the desperately needed improvements to our transport infrastructure. I’ve invited the new Secretary of State for Transport to visit Alfreton Train Station to discuss the installation of step-free access to all platforms, and the Highways Agency are touring the sites in Amber Valley worst affected by noise from the A38 with me in November so I can again emphasise the urgent need for sound barriers and low-noise surfacing. I’ll provide further, hopefully positive, updates on these issues in the coming months.