10 NOV 2017

Star Column - 8th November 2017

"Ambulance bosses including the Chief Executive and the Chairman came to Parliament recently, at my invitation, to update East of England MPs on the Turnaround Plan to improve response times. This was the first update since the General Election so it was good to get an insight into progress made. To their immense credit things are improving with Red 1 and Red 2 emergency response performance up by 15% and 9% from 18 months ago. I was also pleased to hear that the Chief Executive is now confident through visits by the regulator that they are now headed for a 'Good' rating having previously been marked as 'requires improvement' by the CQC. Unfortunately handover delays at hospitals are getting much worse, which is very disappointing. Especially as I had previously written to offending hospitals and they assured me they were 'looking at ways of urgently improving the situation'. Undoubtedly, there is still a way to go before the full turnaround is achieved but the vital work of our paramedics and our laser-like scrutiny is helping patients.

Constituents often talk to me about the issue of litter which blights our towns and also our countryside when discarded via car windows. As the Minister responsible, I'm pleased to be bringing in tougher penalties to deter and punish those who continue to drop rubbish. From April next year the maximum on-the-spot fine will almost double from the current limit of £80 to £150 – and councils will also be given the power to impose fines on the owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown. Up till now councils had to prove who was driving the vehicle. These new fines will make sure the perpetrators, not the local community, bear the cost of keeping our streets, roads and countryside clean. As BBC Radio Suffolk used to say – Don't be a tosser!

This weekend the country will come together in remembrance. This year I will be in Aldeburgh before heading up to Halesworth for their service of remembrance later in the day. Remembrance Sunday is an opportunity not only to remember those who died for our freedom but also to show our gratitude to our serving men and women who do so much to keep us safe. My heartfelt thanks to them all."

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