Ripley & Heanor Column – Friday 18th November 2016

I’ve been supporting residents in Holbrook with their positive local campaign to revive The Spotted Cow pub in the village. I welcome Amber Valley Borough Council’s recent decision to refuse a planning application for a change of use and to demolish part of the pub to build new houses. Local residents are now applying to make The Spotted Cow an Asset of Community Value to give them an opportunity to purchase the building and turn it into a community pub. I’m glad that 1,200 pubs have already been saved this way nationally as it’s right that public houses should be retained wherever possible. So, I hope the group are successful in raising the money and saving this important community facility.

Together with preserving our local heritage, delivering some of the desperately needed large-scale infrastructure projects must also be a priority. I’m therefore pleased that, over the last month, this Government has confirmed its commitment to several big projects, such as the expansion of Heathrow Airport, the second-phase route of HS2 through the Midlands, and improvements to the Midland Main Line. These plans will revolutionise our connectivity, in addition to supporting new jobs and extra growth for our region.

During a recent debate in the House on the long awaited electrification of the Midland Main Line, I emphasised the strong benefit to cost ratio of the scheme, and the electrification of the line will also support the delivery of HS2 and its Midland branches. Following the debate, I’m reassured that the Secretary of State for Transport has reaffirmed this Government’s plans to improve capacity and make track improvements by 2019 under the new East Midlands franchise, including removing the long-standing bottleneck at Derby Station. This will mean that people in Amber Valley will finally get the faster, safer and more comfortable rail journeys they need.

Next week, the Chancellor will hopefully build on these investments in his Autumn Statement as he sets out the Treasury’s plans for the economy over the coming year. In the run up to this, I’ve signed a letter calling on the Chancellor to cut fuel duty, and therefore help families and businesses in Amber Valley. We’re also calling for a PumpWatch watchdog to ensure that falls in the price of oil are passed onto drivers. As a result of this campaign, I’m pleased that several supermarkets have already cut their prices and put more money back into constituents’ pockets.

This Government’s 2011 fuel duty cut and subsequent freezes have had a significant impact on prices so far, saving the average UK household £126 a year. For this reason, I hope that the Chancellor will maintain the fuel duty freeze up to May 2020 in order to save households in Amber Valley a further £135 on fuel bills.