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Welcome to my latest newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and around Amber Valley.
As always, you’ll find a selection of what I’ve been up to over the last few months and details of upcoming events. You’ll also find the usual information about my columns, surgeries and how to contact me.
Apologies for the absence of a column last month, I’ve switched over to new newsletter software, and I’d appreciate any comments or feedback on a new look and template, which I’ll be adapting over the next few months.
Ripley Anti-Social Behaviour Public Meeting – 25th September 2017:
Many residents have recently rightly raised concerns about anti-social behaviour incidents and drug use in Ripley Town Centre. So, I recently 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.
I chaired a panel including the local police sergeants, community safety team at the Borough Council, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, and local County, Borough and Town Councillors.
The meeting took the form of a question and answer session, and there were around 150 residents and local business owners who came along. You can find out more about the issues discussed, and what’s being done to tackle concerns, here.
First Meet Your MP Event – Swanwick:
I also recently held a ‘Meet your MP’ event at Swanwick Methodist Church for constituents to raise any local or national concerns and hear more about my role as your local MP.
More than 40 residents came to the meeting, and highlighted a variety of issues including broadband, derelict properties, the Ripley-Codnor bypass, education and, of course, Brexit! We also discussed the big local housing developments, including that at Lily Street Farm, and the importance of ensuring we have the infrastructure to match and cope with these new homes.
Thank you to all the residents who attended, and I’ll be arranging further meetings across other parts of Amber Valley over the next few months.
Heanor Grammar School Site Planning Applications:
The deteriorating state of the old Grammar School in Heanor has rightly long been a concern for many residents, and there have been several new uses for the building proposed.
The new owner has now put in for planning permission to transform the site, turn the Grade 2 listed former Grammar School into residential apartments, demolish some of the more modern buildings on the site, and build further houses in the grounds. In total, 52 new residential units would be created. You can look at the proposals in full, and submit your comments, on the Borough Council’s website here. There are three applications: AVA/2017/0897, AVA/2017/0900 and AVA/2017/0899.
Tarmac Alfreton Visit:
I was delighted to visit Tarmac’s Alfreton blocks plant and go on a tour of the site. It was interesting to get a closer look at an established business that produces important building products for use in projects and construction across the UK, and locally employs over 60 people in Amber Valley.
I was pleased to hear about the company’s rapid growth to date, and their expansion plans over the next few years. I hope Tarmac will continue to expand and can benefit from some of the fantastic opportunities offered by this Government’s investment in new roads, homes and infrastructure.
Successful ‘Brexit & Business’ Breakfast Roundtable Event at Ferrero’s Thorntons Site:
I’m delighted that over thirty local businesses in Amber Valley recently gathered for a roundtable to discuss the opportunities and challenges around Brexit.
The event, held at the Thorntons factory in Alfreton, 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. The opportunity to discuss local business concerns in depth was invaluable to me, and Emma and I will feed them back to Ministers who are currently working to secure a Brexit deal.
Following the roundtable, Ferrero offered the local businesses free factory tours to learn more about the company and see how their delicious products are made.
Thank you to Ferrero and to everyone who attended.
EU Withdrawal Bill Progress:
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.
I’m pleased that the first vote on this Bill passed the Commons, and the Houses will now be debating it in further detail over the coming months.
At the recent Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister outlined new policies on a wide range of issues, from social housing to organ donation, to revolutionise some key markets and issues. You can read more about some of the key announcements here.
Public Sector Pay Rises:
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.
Education – National Funding Formula for Schools:
The Education Secretary recently set out the final decision on the introduction of a new fairer funding formula for schools. I’m pleased that all Amber Valley schools will receive an increase in funding under this new formula, and the average percentage change overall is an increase of 4.2%, with primary schools set to benefit the most.
This new system will come into effect from April 2018 and will direct resources in areas they’re most needed, replacing the current unfair, opaque, and out of date funding system that sees each area of the country receive vastly different amounts of money.
Appearances in Parliament:
The Department of Work and Pensions recently announced changes to the locations and services offered by some Jobcentre’s in the UK. Amber Valley’s local Jobcentre Plus’, in Alfreton, Heanor and Belper, will all be retained, but I used the opportunity of the debate on the changes to ask the Secretary of State to consider the important outreach role jobcentre staff can perform out of jobcentres, by visiting places such as food banks, to ensure people know how to, and what they are entitled to, claim. I’m pleased that the Minister supports this extension of jobcentres, and you can find the full debate here.
Following the publication of the independent Taylor Review of modern working practices, which you can read more about here, the Government is now looking at the recommendations made so that the points raised can be included in the Industrial Strategy. As part of the debate in the House on this, I raised the issue of ensuring that the line is clearly drawn between workers who are really employed rather than those who are self-employed. The Minister agreed that the Government will carefully consult on this issue, to ensure workers and employees have access to their proper rights.
Adult Social Care – CQC inspections:
During a recent debate on adult social care funding, I highlighted the important role of the CQC, and their inspections of struggling care homes, to ensure that standards are improved. The CQC regularly inspect care homes across Amber Valley to ensure that services are of the highest possible standard and, if there are any problems, follow-up inspections and measures are quickly introduced. You can read the wider debate on adult social care funding here.
Following the General Election in June, and the Summer Recess, I’m pleased to have re-elected onto the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and Public Accounts Committee. The Committee’s new inquiries will fully start now that Parliament is back in sitting, but the Public Accounts Committee has already had one meeting on tackling VAT fraud and error.
As part of this, senior representatives from online retailers eBay and Amazon were interviewed, and I raised the concern that they are ‘turning a blind eye’ to VAT fraud and losing the taxpayer a lot of money. The Committee will continue to investigate this important topic in the coming months, and you can follow both committees I sit on here.
You can find my latest Ripley & Heanor column, looking at my Brexit roundtable, the EU Withdrawal Bill, public sector pay rises and my public meetings, here.
My Summer Ripley & Heanor column, which looked at NHS and better broadband announcements, can be found here.
As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
I regularly hold surgeries to give you the opportunity to meet with me and discuss any concerns or problems you may have. These are held on Friday evenings between 5pm and 7pm.
If you would like to meet me and discuss any issues, the dates of my upcoming surgeries are:
- Swanwick – 13th October 2017
- Codnor – 20th October 2017
- Kilburn – 27th October 2017
Please contact my office on 01773 744341 to book an appointment for any of the above, or to arrange an alternative meeting.
Tours and Public Gallery Tickets
As your MP, I am able to book tours of the Houses of Parliament and arrange public gallery tickets for constituents. If you would be interested in having a tour of Parliament or arranging public gallery tickets to sit in on the business of the House or Prime Minister’s Questions, please do get in touch.
Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
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Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH.