After the Budget last week the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Greg Clarke, presented the Industrial Strategy to the House. The Industrial Strategy sets out the long-term plan to boost productivity across the United Kingdom. Investment in skills, industries and infrastructure is necessary to produce an economy for the future and I will be looking to bring some of that investment to the South West to support our own industrial strategies as set out by our LEPs.
We already have an excellent University Technical College that is one of the few establishments already focussing on the skills gap in our part of the country. I hope the Government will look at the links that have been built between the UTC, local business and local Government as a great model for other schools across the country.
Modern Day Slavery is a very serious issue. Two national reports on the subject have been published and we now have a national strategy. I’m concerned however that action may not be being taken in our areas. I will be meeting with Alison Hernandez and Sean Sawyer our chief constable and the national lead on this issue next week to discuss this. While the government has addressed some of the commercial drivers of this practice, it has yet to address the immigration issues that affect modern day slavery. A one year licence to help these individuals get their lives back and find work would make a big difference.
The Devon and Cornwall Police Federation came to meet with South West MPs this week. They raised a number of issues that I will raise, especially surrounding officers’ mental health and lone working practices and how we best support officers and give them time to decompress after major incidents.
On Wednesday the Secretary of State for Transport came to the chamber to a give a statement on the plans for Britain’s railways. Many will have seen the news coverage that said there may be a breakup of the Great Western Franchise and the potential for a Devon and Cornwall only franchise. Many I have spoken to have said that a Devon and Cornwall only franchise is not what they want, and neither is it what I want.
It was pleasing to hear Chris Grayling therefore say this was not going to happen and any breakup of Great Western Rail will only happen if it is the right thing to do. Any future franchise would have a more south-western franchise focus serving the entire region. If you want to have your say on the rail franchise, then you can follow this link: https://goo.gl/CpPE28. The Secretary of State also confirmed that Dawlish and the Teignmouth Cliffs are his number one priority for the South West, something I’m glad to hear put on the record.
This week I met with the Executive Chair of the new National Centre for Rural Health and Care, Richard Parish. Having a National Centre will add more weight behind my campaign for better rural healthcare and give us the evidence needed to help change Government policy. I look forward to working with both Richard and the National Centre in the coming months. We both agree that what we need for rural areas is very different from what we need in urban areas and that needs to be recognised.
After Teignmouth switched their Christmas lights on last week, this week it was the turn of Dawlish! After judging my Christmas card competition this week I now feel very Christmassy. The theme this year was diversity and we had some really good entries. Dawlish are thinking of their own Boxing Day dip subject of course to tides and weather!
My next surgeries will be in Newton Abbot, on the 8th December at 14:00 and at 14:30 on the 22nd December. Please call 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.