Ripley & Heanor Column – 15th September 2017

Last week, I held a business roundtable with Ferrero’s Thorntons, Emma McClarkin MEP and over thirty local businesses from across Amber Valley to discuss the upcoming opportunities and challenges of Brexit.

The event gave businesses the chance to present their concerns and priorities for Britain leaving the European Union to me and Emma McClarkin, one of the MEPs for the East Midlands. Discussions focused on access to workers, regulations, customs and exports, and opportunities for regulatory and financial improvements following our exit.

I’m grateful to Ferrero for hosting this roundtable event in their Thorntons factory in Alfreton. The opportunity to discuss local business concerns in depth was invaluable to me, and Emma and I will feed the important points and issues highlighted by businesses back to Ministers who are currently working to secure a Brexit deal.

Following the roundtable, Brexit remained at the forefront of the timetable as MPs started debating the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill in Parliament. This Bill will transfer EU law into UK law at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU. This will help deliver the Referendum result to leave the EU by ending the supremacy of EU law in the UK, and it’s also an important step in preventing a cliff-edge when we leave, by providing legal certainty for businesses, individuals and consumers – a welcome move which many business owners highlighted during the roundtable.

In Parliament, we’ve also been discussing public sector pay rises following the freezes and 1% increase caps of recent years in order to deal with the record deficit we inherited and balance our public finances. Whilst we still need to deal with public debt and ensure our finances are on a sustainable footing for the future, I believe public sector pay rises need to, at least, be back up to rising with inflation so that the spending power of workers and families isn’t reduced. So, I welcome the Prime Minister’s recent confirmation that the pay cap in its existing form is gone, with the result that this Government has followed the review body recommendations of a 2% rise for police officers and a 1.7% rise for prison officers this year. And I now look forward to the reports of the pay review bodies for other sectors, such as nurses and teachers, hopefully recommending at least inflation pay rises in the coming months.

In Amber Valley, many residents have recently rightly raised concerns about anti-social behaviour incidents and drug use in Ripley Town Centre. So, I’ve set up a public meeting for residents to attend and discuss their concerns with the relevant local agencies, including the local police, Councils, councillors and charities. The meeting will take place at All Saints’ Church off Church Street in Ripley on Monday 25th September 2017 from 7pm to 8pm, and I hope as many residents as possible can come to hear what’s being done to try and solve the issues, and ask questions about what else we can do.

I’ll then be holding a ‘Meet your MP’ event in Swanwick on Wednesday 27th September 2017. The meeting will take place from 7pm to 8.30pm at Swanwick Methodist Church, on Derby Road, and will be an opportunity to hear more about my role as your local MP. This is an open, informal meeting to give local residents the opportunity to share their ideas for our area and also discuss any local or national issues with me.

I hope to see many constituents at the events in Ripley and Swanwick, and I’ll then be arranging further meetings across other parts of Amber Valley in the next few months. Please do come along!

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