10 MAR 2017

Star Column - 8th March 2017

"Today is Budget day when the Chancellor will deliver his financial statement to a packed House of Commons. I will be listening very carefully for a mention of business rates, having pressed him and the Financial Secretary of the Treasury on the matter in recent weeks. I am hoping for a positive announcement to help Southwold and Aldeburgh.

It is good news that Suffolk New College are linking up with Alde Valley Academy to use the campus in Leiston as a hub for vocational courses. This is timely news as the Government is set to unveil plans this week to improve technical education, including the introduction of 'T Levels', which could be a good fit for many young people at Alde Valley. Whilst the partnership with Suffolk New College is a real positive for local students who want to undertake these types of courses it is important that there is also suitable A level provision for pupils in East Suffolk and I will look carefully at that.

I was delighted to address the Bawdsey Coastal Partnership AGM last month 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 2 years ago as a result of the December 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 spoke at the Suffolk Coast Against Retreat (SCAR) AGM this weekend on the same subject. 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, congratulations to all those who got involved in the Great British Spring Clean last weekend. It was a nationwide triumph. 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."

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