The first round of voting in the leadership race took place last week which saw Ester McVey, Andrea Leadsom, and Mark Harper drop out. The process will continue over the next week until two candidates remain. These two candidates will then travel to hustings all over the country before party members vote for the next leader. I will support the candidate that commits to respecting the result of the referendum and leaving the EU as soon as possible.
Last Wednesday, I attended a briefing at the Department for International Trade on UK Export Finance (UKEF). Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, has announced financial support for small to medium-sized businesses to help them export to fast-growing emerging markets. It includes the ‘Small Deals Initiative’ which sees UKEF guarantee the loans of potential overseas buyers of British goods to make UK bids more competitive. This financial support package for exporters is very welcome and will help encourage more British business to become part of global supply chains.
The Public Accounts Committee last week examined Central Government’s sale of public land and property across the United Kingdom. The Government sees benefits in selling land it no longer needs because sales of sites can release land for new homes and proceeds can be reinvested in public services. A recent NAO report found that the government is unlikely to meet its target of releasing sufficient public sector land to build 160,000 homes by 2020. With the need for additional housing stock growing it is crucial that this situation as soon as possible, freeing up the land in order to create the housing stock for the future.
I very much welcome the news that Devon County Council have agreed to retain a youth service in Devon for the next five years. Young people both locally and nationally are facing a number of challenges, making the youth services being provided absolutely crucial. The services are provided through 8 youth hubs across Devon, including The Junction, here in Newton Abbot. I also welcome the fact that Red Rock in Dawlish, will continue to be made available to support an offer to young people who are at risk of permanent exclusion from mainstream education.
I had further constructive discussion with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) last week regarding the dumping of silt at Sprey point. I have made my strong opposition known to the MMO regarding any further dumping and have worked proactively with all major stakeholders to ensure that our collective voices are heard to prevent our beaches being polluted in this way again. I am optimistic of a positive outcome and will continue to keep the pressure on the MMO to ensure our beautiful award-winning beaches are protected so they can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
It was good to catch up with Melanie Walker, Chief Executive of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, last week. The Trust has received £8m in funding for a new 16 bed adult mental health ward at Torbay Hospital, enabling greater provision in the local area. The Trust has also in the last few months opened a Mother and Baby Unit and a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at their Wonford House site in Exeter as part of their commitment to delivering more services for Devon. This is a great development. We also have a chance to discuss plans for a new open telephone service to provide advice and support to the public on mental health issues. This could be a great resource for local people as a first port of call if they have any mental health concerns.
Finally, I would also like to congratulate Melanie on receiving an MBE for services to mental health and learning disabilities in the NHS, it is a well-deserved honour.
My next surgery is on Friday 28th June in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.