12 JAN 2018

Coastal Scene Column - 5th January 2018

"Happy New Year! 2017 was certainly eventful and 2018 promises as much, though probably no elections this year! We commemorate two totemic events - 100 years since the end of the Great War and of women getting the vote. Key to achieving women getting the vote was Millicent Fawcett who was born and raised in Aldeburgh, part of the great Garrett family. She is to be immortalised with a statue in Parliament Square this year - the first statue there of a woman. The Royal Mint are commemorating this with the issuing of a special 50 pence coin.

Looking ahead for the year, moving into phase two of Brexit negotiations is key to our future prosperity. Frictionless trade is vital for consumers and businesses. I am grateful to Felixstowe Port for their advice and thoughts on how to make this happen in practice, which I am sharing with fellow ministers. The success of Felixstowe Port post-Brexit is an important strategic issue that affects not only the port itself but the many local businesses throughout Suffolk and beyond, whose business relies on it.

Locally, I would hope we move onto the third and final stage of EDF's consultation on Sizewell C. I expect EDF to have done a significant amount of work since Stage 2, especially in relation to improvements to the road network. I did not support their reserve park and ride site at Woodbridge in Stage 2 and I hope this will have been dropped for Stage 3."

The disappointing decision by Lloyds to close branches in Suffolk Coastal has led to heightened anxiety in other towns in my constituency. Following my petition several years ago Barclays gave me assurances that they had no intention of closing any of their branches in Suffolk Coastal. Despite this their Saxmundham branch closed last year so it is important we get some long term commitment

So I have again sought reassurance from Barclays Bank that they remain committed to Aldeburgh, Halesworth and Southwold, and that HSBC are committed to continuing to operate a branch in Saxmundham – all of which are the last bank standing in these market towns. I am pleased to say that HSBC have already replied saying that their branch restructuring programme is completed, so Saxmundham is safe.

A reminder during Storm Eleanor hitting power supplies locally that 105 is the contact point if you are suffering disruption. Their online site www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk has more information."

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