May I start by wishing readers a belated Happy New Year – an exceptionally busy January and staff changes in my office meant I was unable to write my usual monthly article, so I hope you will forgive me?
The victory in the fairer funding campaign for our schools was one of the highlights of 2015. The chance to see our schools finally get the funding they deserve is one that has been a long time coming. My time as MP for South Cambridgeshire has shown me however, that schools are not the only ones drastically underfunded for the service they provide.
In the first week back after Christmas, one of the founding partners of Cambourne GP surgery and I met with Alastair Burt, Minister of State for Care and Support. GP surgeries in new settlements such as Cambourne face even tougher funding challenges than established GPs. I have visited a number of practices over recent months and am acutely aware of the difficulties GPs face as they try to recruit new doctors in an increasingly stressful environment. But trying to set up a new practice is even harder. I am pleased to say Alistair listened intently and promised to go away and review the way the funding model works. Watch this space!
On January 8 I experienced first-hand the fantastic work carried out by the Villiers Park Educational Trust in Foxton. Villiers Park offers intense supplementary education and mentoring to potential high achievers from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds across the country. So impressed was I by the work they do and the success they have achieved in developing life opportunities for gifted students, I invited the Secretary of State Nicky Morgan to join us in early February. She too was extremely interested in what she saw and will be considering whether the model could be rolled out nationally.
The safety and security of the residents of South Cambridgeshire is a top priority of mine and I work hard to keep a close relationship with our police force. That’s why on 15 January I met with the Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, Alex Wood. It is clear policing challenges are very different across the County, but I am confident Alex is in tune with both our rural and city challenges.
One of the key irritations for residents in some of our rural villages is broadband provision. Over the last couple of months I have been working with district and parish councillors to try and identify any “cold” spots around the constituency where provision is simply not good enough. On 22 January I took my hit list to Noelle Godfrey, Programme Director of Connecting Cambridgeshire so she can ensure these areas are not forgotten as they work with BT ongoing. This won’t be an overnight fix, but I am confident over time we will be able to provide decent broadband to everyone. You can read about progress in your area here: www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk/broadband
Finally, I’d like to talk briefly about my trip to Lesvos with the charity Save the Children over the last weekend of January. The issue of refugees, in particular unaccompanied children has been in the news for some time now. I wanted to see for myself the refugee camps of the island of Lesvos, one of the Greek islands at the forefront of migration into Europe. You can read the full piece I wrote for the Cambridge News here. www.cambridge-news.co.uk/South-Cambs-MP-Heidi-Allen-visit-Lesbos-refugee/story-28666422-detail/story.html
The situation on the ground is just desperate – the Greek authorities are beyond struggling to cope, and although I believe Britain’s strategy of giving assistance to refugees in the region in Syria is the right one, I do feel we should do more to help those orphaned children who have made it to Europe, alone and with not a soul in the world.
As always, if you need my help, you can contact me on 01954 212707, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @heidiallen75
My next surgery dates are 11 March in Melbourn, 19 March in Sawston and 9th April in Cottenham.