25 MAR 2019

East Suffolk Extra Column - 22nd March 2019

"I know readers share my pride that we host the Army in our part of Suffolk– and following the decision by the Defence Secretary, I'm delighted that Rock Barracks will not just remain open but will now house a newly formed regiment with specialist capability. When the MOD first suggested closure back in 2016, I along with Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, immediately met Defence Minister, Mark Lancaster MP, to make the case on why the base should be retained. Not least because of its special characteristics and the fact that it brings enormous economic benefits to Woodbridge and surrounding villages, but also because the planning constraints on the site meant it would not generate the financial income the MOD expected. Instead, Rock Barracks will now house the Army's new Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability, a Defence task currently being undertaken by the RAF Regiment at Honnington. This will see a Royal Engineers squadron move in from its current location in Germany with other elements being added as the capability grows over time. I have had the pleasure of working with members of the units that will be coming together with the new regiments during the horrendous Novichok incidents in Wiltshire. They will be great professionals and warmly welcome to Suffolk.

I was pleased welcome Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss MP, to Felixstowe recently as we visited the Lallemand yeast plant. Lallemand provide yeast to a variety of different industries, including the bread and drinks industry. This was my second visit after I was invited a few years ago when I responded to a debate on Scotch Whisky on behalf of the Government. Scotch Whisky is the biggest single contributor to the UK balance of trade in goods and I'm proud of the role that the Lallemand yeast plant plays in that. Of course, the Port of Felixstowe also helps export the Scotch to over 200 countries.

Finally, good news for Suffolk rail users. Following discussions with the Department for Transport, Greater Anglia have agreed to introduce Delay Repay for delays of 15 minutes or more. The new scheme will come into effect on Monday 1st April 2019. Delay Repay will mean that passengers will be able to claim back 25% of a single fare, irrespective of the cause of the delay between 15 and 29 minutes. Existing compensation arrangements already exist for delays of 30 minutes or over."

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