05 FEB 2018

Coastal Scene Column - 2nd February 2018

"I'm delighted that the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling recently gave the go-ahead for track upgrades at the Ely North rail junction, which once completed will expand capacity right across East Anglia, meaning fewer delays for passengers and opportunities to get more freight on to the railway – crucial for the Port of Felixstowe. The railway junction at Ely, which connects East Anglia to London, has become a busy bottleneck forcing trains to wait for others to pass. Railway improvements need to happen at Ely in order to free up capacity on the rest of line – meaning more freight from the Port of Felixstowe can go via rail instead of road. Chris also visited the port to formally opened the new container yard.

Talking of the Port one of the reasons why Felixstowe won Port Operator of the Year 2017 is because of their commitment to the environment and reducing Co2 emissions. As Environment Minister, I was therefore delighted to announce the winner of the Port's Environmental Award recently, which this year went to the Glove Use Reduction Project. In the week after the Government published the 25 Year Environment Plan focussed on reducing waste, I'm delighted that here in Felixstowe we already have a company committed to taking a more thoughtful approach to the use of resources.

I have been campaigning to improve our ambulance service ever since I became your MP – and had been liaising with Ambulance Service for them to come to Parliament in March to give MPs an update on their turnaround plan. However, following the concerning dossier of response time delays I have requested a far more urgent meeting so MPs can understand the present challenges and hold the ambulance service to account. I welcome the intervention made by the Health Minister last week who has ordered a risk summit to review the recent performance of the service.

65 years ago this week - on the 31st January 1953 - the North Sea flood caused massive devastation to the East Coast. 50 people lost their lives in Suffolk as the storm gouged sand dunes in Thorpeness, breached the seawall at Aldeburgh, flooded the train station in Woodbridge and breached sea defences at Felixstowe with further impacts up and down the coast at Shingle Street, Orford and Bawdsey. I attended a service at St John's Church in Felixstowe at the weekend where I heard very moving personal testimonies from the survivors. It is important we remember those who died and recognise the courage shown by those that carried out the rescue. Since that fateful night a lot of work has been done to improve the protection along our coastline with major investment in our coastal defences and early warning systems."

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