Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Westminster Week

Last week, MPs decisively backed plans for a new northwest runway at Heathrow Airport, a significant move for a global Britain. This marks a critical step towards ensuring future generations have the international connections we need, as well as strengthening the links between all parts of the UK and our global hub.

41% of pupils attending special schools in Devon have to travel more than 10 miles to reach their school. In the House, I asked the Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, what his department is doing to ensure that pupils attending special schools in Devon are able to access high quality, local SEN provision. The Department for Education announced £50 million of funding for specialist school provision of which Devon will be receiving £2.8 million between 2018-2021.

The Public Accounts Committee last week held evidence sessions for inquiries into Ofsted’s inspections of schools and the Home Office’s progress on implementing prior recommendations by the Committee. I was a lead Committee member questioning representatives from Ofsted and the Department for Education on National Audit Office evidence showing that school inspections were not raising the standard of education provided to children and young people.

The pioneering new National Centre for Rural Health and Care was formally launched in Lincoln last week at Bishop Grosseteste University. I have been in conversation with the new National Centre for the last two years as it has developed and I am delighted to announce I will be chairing its cross-party Parliamentary enquiry into rural health and social care. The enquiry will look at the key issues facing the country of providing good quality and effective health and social care in rural settings. There is scope for this project to bring about real change to the way people living in areas like ours access health and care services and I greatly look forward to chairing the enquiry.

Teignbridge Matters

I met with Matthew Harris, Public Affairs Manager of Lloyds Bank, regarding the branch closure in Dawlish to ask why a public consultation was not taken out prior to the closure decision. I expressed residents’ frustration with the decision and the impact it will have on local businesses. We discussed the alternative provision Lloyds will be providing to local residents. A mobile bank branch van will be regularly visiting the area and can be used for most everyday banking needs. Lloyds have agreed to engage with local community groups to discuss how alternatives like online banking, over the phone services, and the mobile bank van will lessen the impact of the branch closure.

I have teamed up with Mel Stride and Ben Bradshaw to campaign for £13 million of government funding from the Transforming Cities Fund. This funding would be used to build the proposed railway station at Marsh Barton and redevelop Exeter City Centre’s bus station. In a joint letter to transport Minister Jesse Norman, we highlight the importance of two projects to ease congestion in the city and greatly improve transport links in the Greater Exeter area.

I met with Stuart Roberts, Vice President of the NFU to hear about the work that is being done to explore and address mental health issues in the farming community.  Mental health is currently seen as an unspoken subject in the industry and we discussed a range of ongoing projects that aim to tackle the stigma around this issue.

I was delighted to attend a meeting with local charity Veterans with Dogs. The organisation supports former members of the British Armed Forces, whose psychological well-being may have suffered due to difficult past experiences and challenging life circumstances, via partnerships with assistance dogs. Their work has a profound effect on helping veterans to increase their quality of life and regain independence.

My next surgeries are in Newton Abbot on Friday 13th July at 2pm and Friday 27th July at 2.30pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.