Derby Telegraph Column

As published in the Derby Telegraph, 25th October 2013

On Tuesday, the inquest into the death of Rachael Slack finally found that she and her 23-month old son Auden were unlawfully killed by her ex-partner, Andrew Cairns. The jury found that the police had failed to impress on Rachael the danger that she and her family were in, and that this had “more than minimally” contributed to their tragic deaths.

I remember raising this tragic incident in my maiden speech in Parliament three years ago and I offer my condolences again to the family.

As a result of the case, the coroner, Dr Robert Hunter, will be making recommendations to the Government on ensuring an incident like this doesn’t happen again, including increasing police powers when someone breaches bail in cases of violent and/or sexual nature.

I will be pressing the Home Secretary to act on these recommendations and will also be seeking assurances that Derbyshire police have learned any lessons necessary.

Tuesday also saw the Immigration Bill debate in Parliament. I welcomed the Government’s moves to tighten up the immigration system. Measures include: the restriction of the appeals process so that only those who raise the most important immigration issues get the right of the appeal; temporary visitors having to pay for NHS services; and restricting housing for immigrants.

Illegal immigration will be harder as landlords will have to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and illegal immigrants will be banned from holding driving licences and bank accounts.

Immigration is an important issue in Amber Valley and is one that I am often contacted about and talked to about on the doorstep. The Government has, of course, made a lot of progress in this area, with net immigration now down by a third, but there’s still much to do, particularly considering that restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migration are due to expire.

Earlier this month, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service published its consultation on the future of fire services in the county. Its proposals include a new fire station close to the A610/A38, which it claims would provide good access to all of the towns and villages in Amber Valley.

The service proposes closing the Heanor, Alfreton and Ripley stations.

While there are some advantages to these proposals, there are significant downsides. I find it very hard to justify such an outcome.

The fire and rescue service estimates the net cost of the new station will be £2.8 million, with an annual increase in running costs of £121,000.

I will be meeting service representatives next week to discuss my concerns that a reorganisation that on first appearance provides a lesser service for higher cost looks like a bad idea all round.