The last week in Westminster before Summer Recess and the House of Commons was very busy passing legislation! The illegal Migration Bill received royal assent, putting in place legislation to prevent and deter unlawful migration, particularly those unsafe crossings in small boats organised by criminal gangs - who are the only ones who benefit from this continued illegal passage. This is a key step in helping the Prime Minister deliver on his pledge to Stop the Boats. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill also achieved royal assent, ensuring that the necessary number of workers in the public sector are given work notices on the day of industrial action in order to keep services running. If the Unions fail to take reasonable steps to ensure that all work notices have been complied with, they will face financial penalties. The right balance has been achieved.
The Government also put in place new legislation to enable our environmental regulators to apply an unlimited fine on water companies that break the terms of their permits and damage the environment. Ofwat and the Environment Agency now have the teeth required to hold polluting water companies to account with unlimited fines or by stopping excessive unjustified water company dividends being paid out. I met with the Chief Executive of Ofwat, David Black, this week who confirmed that both the regulators will be working much more closely with one another and will use these new powers provided by the Government to crack down on water companies not delivering for consumers.
As a member of the Treasury Select Committee I had the opportunity to closely question the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about access to cash. During the pandemic, all of the banks in Dawlish closed. The Dawlish Chamber of Commerce applied for a banking hub with no criteria provided to guide them. Their application was rejected. No reason was given for this decision, and no opportunity was given to appeal the decision. Having found the criteria that LINK use to assess applications – very hard to find! – Dawlish most certainly appears to qualify for a hub! Something has clearly gone wrong when assessing Dawlish’s application, and with the FCA’s new powers I asked them to review the criteria and process that LINK uses to make these decisions.
I have also been informed by Lloyd’s that their branch, the only bank left in Teignmouth, will be closing. Fortunately, Teignmouth are getting a banking hub. However, this means that the constituency as a whole – that is home to hundreds of businesses and just shy of 80,000 people – is left with only one town that is banked, Newton Abbot. This is completely unacceptable - I will be fighting this every step of the way! People must be able to have access to banking facilities where they live and work.
On Friday I met Shaldon Parish Council to discuss holiday parks, planning and Shellfish bylaws! There has long been concern about local shellfish beds and the amount of over collection that can take place. The Parish Council rightly want to see some action taken to put in place a legally enforceable limit on the amount of shellfish that can be collected by the public. The Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority had started the process of creating a new bylaw which would do just this, but the process has stalled due to resourcing and staffing constraints. The Parish Councillors made a very strong case, and I will be taking away their concerns on all three issues they raised and investigating what can be done.
This weekend it was the Ashcombe Village fete. Despite the rain, a good number ensured it was a successful day. Pony and dog competitions, tractor displays, a band and a falconry demonstration were some of the highlights – and some totally fabulous sourdough bread from a baker in Bishopsteignton!
We have surgeries in Dawlish on 28th July, Newton Abbot on 17th August, and Kingsteignton on 25th August. These will be by appointment only. If you would like to book a surgery appointment, please call my office on 01626 368277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.