I was a lead member on the Public Account Committee’s inquiry into converting schools to academies last Wednesday. Committee members and I asked representatives from the Department for Education whether conversions to academy schools delivered the right results for students and taxpayers, how they addressed regional differences, and what they will do to ensure a better roll out of conversion for underperforming schools.
I met with Andrew Griffiths, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, to discuss corporate governance and possible changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Whilst the Act requires businesses to publish a statement each year setting out the steps they have taken to ensure modern slavery is not taking place in their business and supply chain, the quality of statements produced are often poor. More should be done to ensure tackling modern slavery forms part of businesses’ social responsibility requirements.
I also met with Councillor Leadbetter this week to discuss adult social care in Devon. Adult care and health has seen an increase in net budget over recent years but is facing pressure from continuing demand for services from younger adults with disabilities coupled with the need to provide care to our aged and aging population across large, rural areas. I recognise Devon County Council’s concerns over the financial pressure facing social care and agree that the forthcoming Green Paper must provide practical solutions to delivering sustainable care in the long-term. I have raised this with the Minister.
I regularly contact the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) regarding the dumping at Sprey Point earlier in the year that resulted in a suspension of dredging at Exmouth. I share constituents’ concerns over the proposed date that the dredging will recommence, and the MMO assure me that under the license conditions as they currently stand, no dredging can recommence before 1st October. I continue to voice my dissatisfaction with the MMO over the current testing system from dredge to disposal and ask that it be re-evaluated. The local community and stakeholders have worked tirelessly to create and maintain our award winning beaches, and we must ensure that they are protected for both the community and tourists.
I was delighted to attend a meeting with Network Rail to discuss their plans to safeguard the railway to the South West through Dawlish and Teignmouth for the long term. In 2016/17 Network Rail received £15m from the Government for this project and they have been working closely with the Department for Transport and the Environment Agency to future proof this vital piece of infrastructure.
Network Rail will undertake further public engagement later this year to keep residents up-to-date with the work and will put together the business case for further investment to be submitted to the Department for Transport.
I was thrilled to recently attend one of the biggest events in our county’s calendar, the Devon County Show. The show demonstrates many of the great aspects of life and work in the county, as well as bringing together numerous local farmers and businesses. It is always a highlight to sample some of Devon’s great local food and appreciate the hard work of so many of our rural communities. Devon certainly is glorious in the sunshine!
My next surgery will be in Newton Abbot on Friday 1st June at 2.30pm. Please call 01626368277 to arrange an appointment.