14 FEB 2017

Star Column - 8th February 2017

"The House of Commons is set to approve the short Bill which gives the Prime Minister the authority to notify the EU that the UK is leaving, by triggering Article 50. I received a lot of emails asking me to vote against or support a lot of amendments, which were designed to tie the Prime Minister's hands during the negotiation. Parliament has a role in the ratification of treaties and I expect this to be no different. I voted for the referendum, campaigned in it and, as a democrat, I fully accept the outcome. I now expect the Lords will also give consent soon.

I welcomed the Mayor of Southwold, Melanie Tucker, to Parliament last week to press the case on high street business rates with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison and the head of the Valuation Office Agency. Business rates account for about £23 billion of Government income and is levied on the approximate rental value of property, which is revalued regularly. Southwold businesses have mostly seen very large increases while elsewhere in Suffolk, business rates will fall. Three quarters of businesses across will see their rates either fall or remain the same and many businesses in Suffolk Coastal will benefit. Southwold is a successful town but I am concerned that the VOA have overestimated when considering new rateable values, which is why I wrote to all businesses on the High St encouraging them to challenge their new rating. I was pleased to hear from the VOA's Chief Valuer that eight businesses have so far had a review before the formal appeals process has started. I will now work with other MPs who represent high street hotspots to put across the value of a mixed retail presence.

I replied to EDF's stage 2 consultation for Sizewell C. The construction of the new nuclear power plant is extremely important for the UK's future energy supply and will benefit the local economy here in Suffolk, with the creation of thousands of jobs. That said, Sizewell C will create significant disruption to local communities and the transport network, especially during the construction phase. It is essential that thee impacts are mitigated as much as possible and 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."

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