Visit to Leonard Cheshire Agate House
Posted Friday, 27 February 2015 at 20:59
I have visited the Leonard Cheshire Home in Ampthill many times during my tenure as the MP for Mid Beds and it feels like only five minutes ago we were fundraising for the renovations. None of us know how we would cope if we were faced with such adversity. I know many of the 'back stories' of the residents and some have lived a very different life before tragedy or illness kicked in. Many thanks to Cllr Mark Smith for answering so many of the council related questions.
Read more at leonardcheshire.org/agatehouse
Nisa Toddington wins at the Best Small Shop of the Year awards
Posted Wednesday, 25 February 2015 at 20:20
Nisa Local Toddington received Highly Commended for the Best Small Shop Competition 2015
at the House of Commons. Really exciting to be with them all on the day and witness their achievement. Small business thrives in Mid Beds!
For more see bestsmallshops.uk
Why career politicians are terrible for democracy
Posted Monday, 23 February 2015 at 20:52
I'm always thrilled to be asked to appear on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show and here, I am explaining why career politicians are a disaster for democracy. Click here
about three mins in.
Ampthill Surgeries Parking Crisis
Posted Thursday, 12 February 2015 at 10:55
As a patient at the Greensands surgery in Ampthill I have always been frustrated by the parking situation in the area. The allocation by SEPT of 20 district nurses to the town was a great boost to health service provision but it has turned a serious problem critical.
When I was contacted by the management of the surgeries and the patient participation groups I was happy to do what I can to raise the issue and push the relevant decision makers to release the funding necessary to provide adequate parking. This is vital before a serious accident occurs.
Amanda Devlin of the Beds Times & Citizen has covered the story with a great article (available here
), the video above and the front page splash.
I have contacted the head of NHS England and Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health. I am working with the local council. I have started a petition in the surgeries so that the people directly affected can make their voice heard.
With a playgroup nearby and elderly patients trying to navigate the pavements a serious accident could occur near the Ampthill surgeries at any moment. I will work with any and all available stakeholders to find a solution that keeps my constituents safe.
Millbrook Technology Park
Posted Tuesday, 10 February 2015 at 09:17
It was a pleasure to attend the Millbrook Technology Park in my constituency last week for the launch event of the new business park.
This fantastic asset for Mid-Bedfordshire is a globally renowned centre for design, engineering, testing and technology development.
The new technology park will provide a home to a cluster of companies renowned for their expertise at the leading edge of automotive technology.
Expansion and development of the site’s facilities is a great boost to our local area and will provide more than 1,000 highly skilled jobs, worth a forecast £118 million to the economy.
Mitochondrial Donation Regulations
Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 12:41
Yesterday I was proud to be able to vote for the mitochondrial donation regulations. I thought about this at great length and received much correspondence from constituents on the matter so I wanted to explain why I voted the way that I did. Several people, including my own family, have expressed surprise for my support of this issue.
When I first became an MP in 2005 one of the first pieces of constituency casework I dealt with was a family with two young boys suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The regulations I voted for yesterday will enable scientists to attempt to eradicate the disease. Although neither of those boys would have been able to benefit, other families around the country and in Mid-Bedfordshire in the future will have the chance to rid themselves of what can only be described as a heart-breaking disease, which affects the very young.
The regulations presented for a vote yesterday were very specific. The slippery slope argument therefore doesn't apply as any further move would require a further vote. I am also satisfied that the regulations affect such a small number of scientists working in such specific circumstances that most of the arguments against given are not relevant.
If there are any further votes liberalising rules in this area more generally for advancement in DNA modification I would likely vote against in an instant. The arguments given by several of my constituents against general genetic engineering are entirely valid but they are fighting against changes that have not been proposed and were not voted upon yesterday.
For me, the best illustration of the broad coalition supporting these regulations comes in the form of both Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Bishop of Carlisle. Many religious groups have legitimate concerns about the direction of some medical research but this was not the right time to draw that line.
Any further attempt to loosen regulations and unleash a torrent of negative side-effects from genetic research will not receive my assent. But this was a chance to make a minor change to regulations that will bring enormous benefits to families affected by diseases such as muscular dystrophy. I could not look in the eye the parents of those two young boys in my constituency if I had voted in any other way.
Clophill Heritage Trust
Posted Wednesday, 28 January 2015 at 15:42
Last Friday I visited Saint Mary’s Old Church in Greensand Ridge after an invitation from the Clophill Heritage Trust. They asked me to visit the Church, support the project and to publicise the need for funding through donations. The Trust has lost critical funding and is pursuing different avenues from the community to raise funds to complete the Project.
The Trust is restoring the Old Church so that the village’s residents can enjoy a previously neglected area. They are also building a Heritage Centre on the site and an observation tower offering the public incredible views of Greensand Ridge and beyond. New eco Lodges will provide accommodation for walkers and other visitors to the area.
The trust is also working closely with schools across Bedfordshire so that children can get a better knowledge of our exciting local history and its context in the broader themes explored in their classrooms.
After touring the grounds and seeing the wonderful history and views the site offers I met the some of the trust members and directors. I expressed my appreciation of their work to improve the community and provide new purpose for an area that had fallen into disrepair.
Readers who wish to donate to this great cause can do so by following the link on this page:
Campaign Day in Milton Keynes
Posted Tuesday, 27 January 2015 at 12:20
Amanda Devlin of the Milton Keynes Citizen has done this great write-up and video of our campaign day for Iain Stewart MP on Saturday. As she writes...
"It’s not often you hear someone shout “oh my god there is a celebrity on my doorstep!”
But that’s exactly what happened when ex-I’m a Celebrity star Nadine Dorries MP came to support MK South MP Iain Stewart for a campaign day on Saturday.
The pair were joined by almost 50 volunteers who knocked on more than 750 doors and delivered 2,000 leaflets as the countdown to the general election intensifies.
Ms Dorries, who campaigned in the heart of Woburn Sands with Mr Stewart, said: “The reaction was really positive from people on the doorstep.
“Iain has created a really good impression because he has worked so hard.
“You wonder sometimes if people know that, but they really do, and I think that is a result of Iain’s own assiduousness in reporting back to people, his profile in the media and the work that he does - you can’t fault him.
“He’s one of the nicest guys you could possibly meet.”
To mark the 100-day countdown to the election, I spent the day filming with the Milton Keynes Conservatives last week.
Come rain or shine, Mr Stewart’s dedicated volunteers have spent the last year door-knocking to gather people’s views and tell them the Conservative’s priorities “to secure a brighter future”.
They are backing Mr Stewart to come out on top in May’s election by maintaining his 5,000 majority.
Mr Stewart said: “I was very grateful to have my friend and colleague Nadine come over the border to help.
“Politics is a team game; I couldn’t do this job myself.
“There are some 90,000 electors in my constituency - it’s not physically possible for me to knock on every single door, so I do need people to come out and help me.
“I’m very grateful to the young, the old and everyone in between who give up their spare time to come out and help.
“We have lots of fun and swap stories.”
Posted Monday, 26 January 2015 at 12:27
Further to my meeting with Govia Thameslink, we have today heard that the company will revert to the previous method for delay repay compensation.
This was an issue raised with me by many constituents who felt that reduced compensation in light of a deteriorating service was simply unacceptable.
I put this matter directly to the company with a strong suggestion that they should listen to their customers and change it back. This they have now done.
I’m still monitoring service on the Thameslink line, particularly in light of the serious disruption this weekend due to flooding in a tunnel at Farringdon.
Unemployment falling in Mid-Bedfordshire
Posted Wednesday, 21 January 2015 at 12:06
I've just had my monthly email from the Commons library about the jobless figures for Mid-Bedfordshire and the news is very encouraging.
The number of Jobseeker's Allowance claimants in Mid Bedfordshire in December 2014 was 443. This is just 0.8% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64.
The number of claimants is 302 lower than in December 2013 and 31 lower than in November 2014.
As always, there is more to be done for people who either have no job or who are underemployed with fewer hours than they want or need. But the overall trend is positive and I hope it continues across the next months and on into 2016.
In Praise of the Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Posted Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 13:25
I am often asked to speak or take part in charity events outside of my constituency but this event I would like to flag up in particular as it is very close and personal to me.
On her birthday last September, my friend, Mary Taylor, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mary is standing next to me in the picture in the very fetching dark wig. Mary is a truly selfless person who is always, and I mean always, doing something kind for someone other than herself.
It was no surprise to me when Mary called and told me she had organised a fund raising event for Blackpool Victoria Hospital and the Princess trust and would I open it?
Of course, I said yes and, like everyone else she had spoken to, I imagine, I put the phone down stunned at the fact that whilst coming to terms with a profoundly distressing situation and undergoing chemotherapy, Mary had organised such an event in less than three months.
Little did I know that, within weeks, I would also experience the amazing care provided by the medical and nursing staff at Blackpool Vic, as my own mother was admitted as an emergency admission just before Christmas.
Blackpool Vic is staffed by local people caring for local people and it shows. It’s the kind of hospital were people are born, have their own babies, visit, say goodbyes to loved ones, work and often depart this life from. The standards and levels of efficiency and the caring attitude of the staff who speak to patients as though they really like and care about them, are all exceptional.
This article was in the Blackpool Gazette and thank you to all the lovely ladies (and Tommy) who helped Mary raise almost £700 on the day.
In praise of Enid Blyton, Hilary Mantel and audio books
Posted Tuesday, 13 January 2015 at 15:56
Read my interview with the Irish Times here