Word From Westminster

By Tony WrightWITH the start of the Parliamentary recess we get the “obligatory” headline of MPs now being on a long holiday break and this year a new group has formed to follow what MPs are doing during our “long” break away from Westminster.

By Tony Wright

WITH the start of the Parliamentary recess we get the “obligatory” headline of MPs now being on a long holiday break and this year a new group has formed to follow what MPs are doing during our “long” break away from Westminster. Can I say once again that the vast majority of MPs, from the Prime Minister down to the humble backbencher, the work continues throughout the summer, apart from a couple of weeks break.

I have had requests from a few constituents to complete an online survey of my commitments for the summer - I have no intention of completing such a survey, as I do spend the majority of my time in the constituency working. To make my point, out of the 57 working days of the recess I have already got 27 days of committed appointments with seven of the 24 weekend days committed as well. I am more than happy to let constituent have regular updates of my work.

During July I had the opportunity to visit a carbon storage system in France run by Total BP. This subject is indeed on the agenda in the UK as an opportunity of looking at ways of reducing the carbon dioxide from energy plants in the UK. The implications for us could mean a rise in job opportunities. The storage facility in France being experimented with is at an expired gas well, with the issue of energy shortage in a few years and our close proximity to many expired gas wells in the North Sea this may well open new opportunities.

With the announcement of the preferred route of the third river crossing came the inevitable issue of what properties would have to be demolished to make way. This is often an expected outcome of any new major project, however some issues raised at the public meeting some two weeks ago were of the concern of the owners of the blighted properties with some already experiencing the effect of blight, it is therefore incumbent on the county council to take this into account in the lead up to the decision-making meeting in November as well as afterwards, whichever way it goes.

Once again the issue of the Port has been on the agenda, this time for the wrong reasons. Having recently taken the opportunity to raise the question of casualisation of our Port industry at Prime Minister's Questions, I had a meeting with the Minister to discuss my concerns. It is clear we share the same concerns of safety. I am not saying for one minute that Great Yarmouth Port owners would knowingly compromise on health and safety but it is clear from the Health and Safety executive that the Port industry is the “most dangerous land based industry in the UK”. Just recently there was an accident in Southampton docks which could have proved fatal. In 1989, when the then Minister Norman Fowler abolished the dock labour schemes he commented this would not lead to “casualisation of the ports”. Although we must celebrate the fact we have had a significant public and private investment in our new port and it is a job well done, this must not be at the expense of jobs or indeed safety issues.

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The news that Bradwell Post Office had closed came without warning and the Post Office had gone to consultation on the proposed new site, some 400m away from the original one. However, I have raised a number of questions to the Post Office with regard to the current situation ie what happens in the interim? To suggest customers should use the Magdalen branch is not good enough. I would have thought that a mobile unit could be a temporary solution.

In recent weeks I have hosted meetings for Yarmouth College and Sixth Form College with Ministers to discuss the Capital Funding Project for these sites. Many authorities throughout England were badly let down by the Learning and Skills Councils inviting projects when the funding was not in place. There is no doubt the significant Government support in Capital Projects has made an impact but we must find a way to continue with these important projects and help all the colleges that have been left behind in the recent round of funding.