Welcome to my second parish newsletter of the year - it’s been another busy month!
Some of the most productive local meetings I held this month have been with the Whippet bus company, Royal Papworth and Addenbrooke's hospitals, the County Council and Greater Cambridge Partnership. It all started with a meeting with Whippet to discuss concerns about the reliability of the X3 bus which serves Papworth, Cambourne and the surrounding area. Whippet reassured me that the issues of reliability passengers experienced towards the end of last year had been resolved. But they also indicated that the service costs more to run than the revenue it generates, so it is vital people use the service to ensure its future.
As Royal Papworth will be relocated to the Addenbrooke's campus later in the year, I figured there must be some kind of win win situation possible. Staff will need to get to the campus and the bus needs more customers! A second meeting with all affected parties saw us develop this proposal further and I'd like to say thank you to everyone involved for working with such a clear and open sense of partnership. I'll keep you updated with progress, but I'm hoping we can build a more resilient X3 service and help the Royal Papworth hospital too.
Last month saw the Ministry of Justice launch a consultation on the closure of Cambridge Magistrates’ Court. The consultation proposes that the work of the Court would be transferred to Cambridge County Court, Huntingdon Law Courts, Peterborough Magistrates’ Court or Cambridge Crown Court. The consultation revealed that Cambridge Magistrates’ Court sat for 2,376 hours out of a possible 7,620 hours in 2016/17. I have written to the Ministry of Justice to raise some questions about the consultation. A copy of the letter is available on my website - www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk and I will also post the response there. The consultation is open until the 29th March. Please do have your say - www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cambridge-magistrates-court-proposal-on-its-future
My mission to visit all schools in South Cambs continued in January with visits to Abbey College, Cambridge (pictured), Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology, Melbourn Village College, Meridian Primary School, Comberton and Monkfield Park Primary School in Cambourne.
It certainly keeps me on my toes, taking challenging questions from students! This month, a theme for many visits has been the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote. Over the course of the centenary 489 women have been elected to the House of Commons and at the last election, 32% of MPs elected were women. However, given that all the women elected in the last hundred years would STILL not fill the House shows there is more do. A step in the right direction is for young people to understand not only how our democracy works but that they own it. As I said to the women under and postgraduates at Murray Edwards College – don't think change is someone else's job. If you care about something, you can have a powerful role in making it happen.
At the beginning of January, I was pleased to be invited to speak at the Allyance Mental Health Conference kindly hosted by St John’s College in Cambridge. The conference provided workshops for 200 nine and ten year olds from local primary schools. We hear only too often how young people can face challenges with their mental health so this conference offered children a safe environment in which they could talk about the feelings, seek support and equip themselves with practical skills. My particular thanks to Ann Jones and Jenny Jones for arranging this first class event.
As the A14 upgrade continues apace, I coordinated a meeting with Highways England and a number of landowners who are affected by the project. I appreciate the work has been causing some difficulties for residents in some of the neighbouring villages (including rat running through my own village of Elsworth!) As such, I will hold future meetings with Highways England to monitor progress and issues - please do keep an eye on my website where I post a weekly update on the work being undertaken in our area.
Although my newsletter deliberately tends to focus on local issues, I continue to be busy on national issues in Parliament too. This month has seen me raise a range of matters from questioning the bosses of Carillion about the collapse of the company to speaking in the House about the Government’s welcome changes to Personal Independent Payment awards for people with mental health conditions.
I also asked the Prime Minister about pay for “live in” care sector staff, who often look after vulnerable disabled adults. There has been some confusion about the impact of the national minimum wage on staff who sleep on site as part of their work. The Prime Minister has agreed to meet me to discuss these concerns and I am hopeful that we can find a way forward.
The above is a brief snap-shot of my work at Westminster but my website is regularly updated with more information and topics. If you have concerns or views about a local or national issue, please do call in to one of my surgeries.
My next surgery will be on 3rd March 10am–12pm at Caldecote Primary School, Highfields Road, Caldecote, CB23 7NX. All are welcome, so I run a “no appointment necessary” system.
To contact me, please email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also phone my Westminster office on 020 7219 5091 about national issues or my constituency office on 01223 830037 for local concerns.
See you next month!