"This week, the Government agreed with BT a new approach to complete the Universal Service obligation for which we legislated a few months ago. BT will be investing up to a further £600M to complete the rollout of fast broadband connections with a minimum speed of 10MB. This builds on the coverage plans already being funded by BT, Suffolk County Council and the government for superfast broadband.
Jeremy Hunt announced ambitious plans to recruit 21,000 new mental health workers to support the full integration of mental and physical health services. Under the new plans child and adolescent services will see 2,000 additional nurses, consultants and therapists, while 2,900 extra therapists and other health professionals will be involved in adult talking therapies. 4,600 posts will be added in crisis care and 4,000 psychiatrists and 30,000 trained mental health nurses currently not employed by the NHS will be encouraged to return to the profession. These measures are key for delivering the high performing and well-resourced mental health services we all want to see.
My first two weeks of recess have been dominated by ministerial work, including publication of our new air quality strategy, our Secretary of State's first major speech on the environment (which I heartily recommend to readers) and then a recess road trip taking in visits to councils, businesses and environmental schemes in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Humberside and Lincolnshire. My own constituency tour returns this month and in bank holiday week, I will be stopping off in community halls, pubs and shops across the 302 square miles of the Suffolk Coastal constituency. This is an invitation for constituents to come and speak to me about any issue that concerns you. From Tuesday 29th August to Friday 1st September You can find out when I'm visiting your village or town on my website - http://theresecoffey.co.uk/tour 2017.
I've already met several people at various fetes and there are plenty more this month. This weekend I'm particularly looking forward to visiting Felixstowe Pier. This has been a long time coming but from what I've seen, the owners should be proud of their investment into this regeneration. Felixstowe is really buzzing and after another successful Carnival, the town is rightly attracting more people for a great day out by the sea."
"School funding is set to increase for Suffolk schools as the Education Secretary announced £1.3bn additional funding for schools which will support the transition to a national funding formula. This additional investment in our schools will be funded in full from efficiencies and savings from within the Education Department's existing budget, rather than higher taxes or more debt. This will be welcome news to headteachers, governing bodies, students and parents as we start to address the historical imbalance in school funding per pupil across the nation.
The Government has just launched a new Transport Investment Strategy – which gives us the opportunity to put forward an excellent case for infrastructure improvements here in Suffolk. The strategy specifically refers to creating a new category of road called the major road network, which are those roads managed by councils but are key for economic prosperity. With our councils and LEP focusing on increasing growth, it is essential that we ensure the A12 becomes part of that network. The development of Sizewell C is a key catalyst for seeking infrastructure improvements and I'm pleased that the County Council is continuing to work up the Suffolk Energy Gateway scheme and expect to benefit from government investment.
With my Environment Minister hat on, I was pleased to announce £15M of funding for natural flood management projects across the country. Within Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, over three quarters of a million pounds will be invested in projects designed to help better protect homes and businesses by slowing the flow of water. Specifically in Suffolk, work along our estuaries including the Deben and at Havergate Island will be funded which will allow proper assessment of the use of saltmarsh to support coastal defences. I am also pleased that we are able to help the Suffolk marine pioneer project with start-up costs as it works on a shingle engine project.
A new national ambulance strategy has been laid out which is expected to benefit rural residents, as ambulance trusts will be assessed on the average time it takes to send an appropriate response to the patient requiring help. I have pressed ministers for the need for reporting of performance to be undertaken not just at regional level but at least at county level so we can understand whether this new process is helping patients. I will keep up the pressure to make sure we benefit from these changes.
Finally, this July is Scams Awareness Month. As the local MP, I have seen a wide variety of scams that try to defraud people – and I thank those brave people that have become victims for coming forward. Only 5 -15% of all scams are ever reported – but there is no need to be embarrassed. There is lots of support out there, reporting not only helps to inform the work of advice and enforcement agencies it also helps prevent future scams. For more information or to report a scam or fraudulent activity visit -http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/"
"Last summer, one of my Parliamentary colleagues, Jo Cox, who a few days beforehand had been part of the team I captained in the Parliamentary Tug of War, was so tragically murdered. Before her death Jo set up the Loneliness Commission to raise awareness of the issue and to work to try and reduce the stigma of being lonely. The Commission now continues her work in her name. A recent British Red Cross survey found that one in five people said they always or often felt lonely. It's something I often see in see here in Suffolk, so I was proud to meet the Commission recently and sign a pledge to support its work to tackle loneliness. The Commission is working with Government, businesses and voluntary groups and will shortly make recommendations. However we can all play our part. Loneliness is a problem in every street and within every family. That means all of us can do something to make someone feel less lonely today. We can start a conversation with a neighbour who we know is on their own, pick up the phone to a relative or friend you haven't spoken to for a while or say hello to someone in the supermarket queue. Let's all make a pledge to tackle loneliness.
I'm highly concerned to hear more reports that the East of England Ambulance Service is pressing ahead with plans to create super hubs at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester, which would leave no ambulances stationed here in east Suffolk at all. I'm worried that the considerable and long awaited progress the Ambulance Trust has made in getting people in rural areas the appropriate medical care on time will be put at risk by this proposal. Especially in relation to the Stroke 60 target, where patients suffering a stroke have to get to hospital within 60 minutes to maximise their ability to recover. I have written to the Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service, Robert Morton outlining my significant concerns and have asked him for a full update. I am also arranging another meeting for ambulance bosses to come to Westminster so we can quiz them on their plans.
Finally, I'm looking forward to joining David Sheepshanks tomorrow (Saturday) at the official opening of the new clubhouse and changing pavilion at the Goldstar Ground, home of Felixstowe and Walton United FC. The home side are then playing an exhibition match against an Ipswich Town XI. Grassroots football is the bedrock of our national game. Let's all get behind it."
"Thank you to the people of Suffolk Coastal for again giving me the great honour to be your MP. I was delighted to be re-elected in the recent General Election with a greater share of the vote than in 2015. Whilst election night was a good night for me personally, it was a challenging one for my party. Although we didn't achieve an overall majority, the Conservatives are still, by far, the largest party in Parliament and we were able to come together in the national interest to form a Government, which culminated in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday.
I was delighted to be re-appointed by the Prime Minister as the Minister for the Environment and Rural Life Opportunities to continue to my work on coastal & flood defences, air quality and on our Environment Plan. As formal Brexit negotiations began this week, ensuring that our environment has the protection it requires as we leave the European Union is one of my top priorities and I was at the Environment Council in Luxembourg on Monday speaking to my European colleagues.
This week saw the inaugural Suffolk Day, a campaign spearheaded by BBC Radio Suffolk presenter, Mark Murphy and supported by our local newspapers. The idea came from the successful Yorkshire Day, which takes place on the 1st August every year. As Mark says, being the sunrise county on the east coast, it is fitting that our now annual Suffolk Day will take place on the longest day of the year, June 21st. With the success of our local economy based on tourism, I hope that Suffolk Day will develop as a useful fillip for our businesses and a fun-filled day for local residents.
Tomorrow (Saturday) sees another extremely important occasion in our calendar at it is Armed Forces Day. This year I will be in Felixstowe to mark the occasion. Our men and women in uniform do such a fantastic job for our country and showing our support for them is a much valued morale boost for our troops and their families. My message to all our serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans from the people in Suffolk Coastal is thank you for keeping us safe."
"Following the Chancellor's Budget announcement to provide a £300 million fund to help businesses hit hardest during the recent business rate revaluation, the Government has been consulting on how that fund will be administered. Provisionally, Waveney District Council has been allocated £417,000 in the first year and Suffolk Coastal District Council has been allocated £406,000. I am encouraging the councils to focus on the small, independent businesses affected the most in receiving the support they need.
As Parliament is now in recess, I am enjoying spending much more time in Suffolk this Easter appreciating our beautiful coastline. Unfortunately, our picturesque part of the country is often blighted by fly-tippers and litter louts, which is why the Department of the Environment has just launched a new Litter Strategy. The strategy sets out our plans to help tackle to anti-social behaviour, making the Suffolk coast an even more attractive place. It includes measures to fine people who drop litter up to £150, a better provision of public bins and using offenders on community sentences to help clear up fly-tipped waste. As Environment Minister I want to leave our environment in a better state than we found it and tackling litter is an important part of that.
It's competition time with two opportunities for local communities to bid for funds - natural flood management and any project in off gas grid areas. My Department Defra has launched a ground-breaking competition which enables flood defence projects to apply for a share of £1 million to help protect homes and businesses. The competition is open to innovative schemes that plan to use landscape features such as ponds, banks, meanders, channels, and trees to store, drain or slow flood water. For more information and to apply see - www.catchmentbasedapproach.org/resources/tools-and-casestudies/deliver/nfm
Calor Gas have also launched a Rural Community Fund offering up to £5,000 for projects that will provide an on-going service for local communities that are off the mains gas grid. Go to www.calor.co.uk/communityfund to register your project.
Good news for those on the move as mobile phone operator EE has confirmed that they have completed various 4G upgrades throughout Suffolk Coastal including in Pettistree, Trimley St Martin, Saxmundham, Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Halesworth. Mobile phone signal has been raised a lot less frequently with me in recent years as our communications infrastructure improves but there is still more to do to eradicate our not-spots."
"It has been a momentous week in Westminster as the Prime Minister triggered Article 50, the formal notification that the United Kingdom is leaving the EU. This begins the negotiation process that will lead us toward a new partnership with Europe.
Whilst the referendum last June was a vote to leave the EU, it was not a vote to leave Europe – we want to continue to be reliable partners and close friends with our neighbours. So in that spirit, we are not seeking partial membership of the EU, associate membership, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. The Prime Minister will seek a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends in the EU. It remains firmly in Britain's national interest that the EU should succeed after we have left.
Part of the process is to pass the Great Repeal Bill in Parliament, which the Government is preparing. The Great Repeal Bill will repeal the European Communities Act, meaning that EU law will no longer have supremacy over UK law. The Bill will also transpose all EU legislation in domestic UK law so the British Parliament will decide whether we keep, amend or repeal them as necessary.
Whilst the process of leaving the EU will inevitably mean some tough decisions the Government has a Plan for Britain which will deliver a stronger, fairer more united country. Throughout Brexit and beyond the Prime Minister has pledged that we will help people with everyday costs and bills by acting to ensure consumer markets work as they should whilst cracking down on individuals and businesses who abuse the system. She has also committed to delivering a modern industrial strategy that spreads jobs and prosperity across the country – good news for us in Suffolk.
Finally, a few words about the terrorist attack in Westminster last week. This was an attack on our democracy, which failed with a tragic loss of life. We will never give in to terrorism and our democratic institutions will never be defeated. It was business as usual the following day as MPs went about their work."
"It has been a busy couple of weeks in Parliament. The Brexit Bill received Royal Assent, which gave the Prime Minister the authority to notify the EU that the UK is leaving, by triggering Article 50. MPs voted to pass the Bill without amendment to enable the Prime Minister to get on with the job of negotiating our future relationship with the EU. Last week, the Chancellor delivered his first Budget which redoubled our commitment to a strong economy, laying the foundations of a stronger, fairer, more highly-skilled global Britain outside of the EU. Key measures included a rise in the personal allowance for the seventh year in a row meaning you don't have to pay tax on the first £11,500 you earn; an additional £2 billion to help fund social care; a boost for technical education with the introduction of T Levels; and a further freeze in fuel duty meaning that motorists save £130 a year on average compared to what they would have paid under the pre-2010 escalator. Locally, I was delighted to see measures to help our small businesses with the introduction of a £300m business rate relief fund, a £600 cap on business rate liability for those businesses previously benefitting from Small Business Rate Relief and a £1,000 discount for pubs.
I was pleased to address the Suffolk Coast Against Retreat (SCAR) AGM recently. The January storm surge demonstrated just how prepared we are along the Suffolk coast, thanks in a large part to the local flood action groups. SCAR's concerns about the lack of information from EDF on the proposed jetty mirrored my response to the Stage 2 proposals. It is essential EDF provide information on whether the jetty will impact coastal defences and if it does, how they will mitigate that.
Finally, I was delighted to welcome the Walberswick branch of the Women's Institute to Parliament, on Budget Day, last week. They enjoyed a tour of the Palace of Westminster and were able to watch the proceedings in the House of Commons from the public gallery. If you would like to visit Parliament for a tour then contact me via email@example.com"
"This Wednesday is Budget day where the Chancellor will deliver his financial statement to a packed House of Commons. Before that though, I was grateful to him for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet me and a small delegation of MPs I put together to discuss business rates. Under the revaluation, three quarters of businesses nationally will either see rates fall or stay the same, however the average rise in rateable value in Aldeburgh High Street is 77% and further up the coast in Southwold High Street they are due to rise by an extraordinary 177%.
I pressed the case on behalf of our local small businesses and put across that both Aldeburgh and Southwold have a large presence of independent traders, which have made them stand out as different to the chain-only high streets. I asked him to consider the role of the mixed high street with tailored support. Without that, these thriving high streets could be much more limited in their offering to residents and tourists. The Chancellor is now very aware of the particular issue in Aldeburgh and Southwold and is considering my representation. I am pleased, as the Prime Minister highlighted in Prime Minister's Questions, that the case for helping small independent traders facing very high increases is being carefully considered.
Today (Friday), I am chairing the Suffolk Coastal Energy Delivery Board consisting of representatives from Government Departments, SCDC, Suffolk County Council and businesses including EDF and Scottish Power. The board has been put together to maximise the economic benefits to our local area from big energy projects such as Sizewell C and offshore wind with a focus on infrastructure improvements and skills.
Finally, this weekend is the Great British Spring Clean which follows on from the success of last years' Clean for the Queen. As an Environment Minister my message is not to drop litter in the first place but these big community cleans are a great way of bringing people together to tidy up our towns. Good luck to everyone who is taking part in a clean this weekend."
"The House of Commons approved the Brexit Bill, which gives the Prime Minister the authority to notify the EU that the UK is leaving, by triggering Article 50. This meant some late nights voting in the chamber but in the end it was passed, unamended, by a massive majority. I now expect the Lords to give its consent.
It was a pleasure to visit several organisations in Suffolk with my Environment Minister hat on. First stop was the EAST Suffolk Water Abstraction group, then to Slaughden to meet representatives from the District and County Council and the Manager of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Government's centre for marine science is at Lowestoft. We will be considering designations for marine conservation zones in the next year and it was good to meet the team who help us with part of that process.
I was pleased to address the Bawdsey Coastal Partnership AGM and welcome their new chairman, Nick Crick. The Government has invested £2.4 million in emergency interventions at Bawdsey since 2010 and Bawdsey Coastal Partnership was formed as a result of the 2013 storm surge. I was pleased to hear that the partnership is continuing to work with the Environment Agency and have recently funded the Bawdsey Coastal Processes Study to inform future long-term solutions.
I replied to EDF's stage 2 consultation for Sizewell C. I have been robust in challenging EDF to do more work before the next phase of consultation, especially in relation to improvements to the road network and campus site. The biggest change which has happened in responses is that the councils have finally woken up to the disruption people living along the B1122 could face, as their energy has largely been focused on the A12 Farnham issue. However the traffic issues further down the A12 still need addressing. You can read my full consultation response on my website at theresecoffey.co.uk
Finally I attended the thanksgiving service for Jim Prior who was a distinguished MP for part of the Suffolk Coast. A packed church heard a thoughtful and humorous reflection on Jim's life from his son David, who was also an MP and is now in the Lords. Never happier than when being on the farm, it was a good reminder that service sits alongside stewardship of our shared environment."
"This week in Westminster was dominated by the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which was given its second reading. Despite receiving a number of emails asking me to vote against the Bill I voted to enable the UK to start the process of withdrawal from the EU. I was a supporter of the referendum and as a democrat I fully accept the outcome. As soon as the Bill progresses through its remaining parliamentary stages it will give the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50, which she has promised to do by the end of March. Earlier this month she set out her negotiating objectives and was unequivocal that we are not seeking partial membership, associate membership, or anything that leaves us half-in or half-out. Leaving will mean just that, control over our immigration system, an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and ceasing our membership of the Single Market.
I was pleased to join Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore and Suffolk County Council Cabinet member responsible for Fire, Matthew Hicks for the cementing of the date stone on the new joint police and fire station in Saxmundham last week. Saxmundham follows Woodbridge in having a joint blue light station, which saves money and promotes better joint working between the emergency services. The project has been supported by a grant by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
I visited both Hollesley Bay and Warren Hill prisons last week to meet Governors, Declan Moore and Sonia Walsh. Declan is rightly proud of the Outstanding Ofsted gained by Hollesley Bay in respect to learning and skills of prisoners. Open prisons are important to help facilitate a prisoner's transition back into normal life and learning new skills is an important part of this.
Finally, today is the last day to respond to EDF's stage 2 consultation for Sizewell C. I have submitted my consultation response which outlines my concern over the proposed accommodation campus as well as the mitigation measures for the B1122, which are not good enough. You can reply online at http://sizewell.edfenergyconsultation.info"
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