Parliament returns next week and contrary to popular belief, like most MPs, I haven’t had a week off! I am looking forward to this weekend’s ABC Art Trail …. details in the diary.
Whatever your plans, have a good one,
As ever, Anna
Chetwynd Barracks meeting
I brought together officials from the Ministry of Defence and Broxtowe Borough Council to discuss progress on the future of Chetwynd Barracks. As you know, the plan is for the Barracks to be sold for housing and the excellent Neighbourhood Forum for this part of Toton and Chilwell has been doing some exciting work looking at the future of the area. It is now clear the site will not become available until at least 2021.
Given the plans for HS2 at Toton Sidings, including a business park and hundreds of new homes, I take the view we need what is called a delivery board – a small, effective group led by the private sector which includes relevant figures from local government to ensure all development in this part of the constituency is done with vision, imagination and in co-operation with local people and business. I will of course keep you fully updated.
Having raised in Parliament the poor state of the memorial to those killed in the 1918 Chilwell Munitions factory explosion, I am pleased to report work will start soon on its restoration at Chetwynd Barracks. In a letter from the Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood, he tells me that a contract has been awarded to a specialist restoration company. The memorial will be cleaned and some minor damage will be repaired – and all in time for the commemorations which begin later this month. You can read the letter here.
NHS Funding – time for even more money and reform
Last week an independent report (you can read it here) made clear that our NHS and Social Care services need even more money. We currently spend £149.2 billion on the NHS and £21.2 billion on social care – the highest ever amount. As a share of public spending, health spending has risen since 2010 but, and it is a very big but, we are not spending enough notwithstanding the extra £8 billion boost provided by the Government for the rest of this Parliament.
In short, we need to spend more year on year for some considerable time to ensure our NHS meets the changing needs of our population. It’s not simply that we are all living longer, we are living longer with medical conditions that require modern drugs and technology.
The IFS report is compelling and we need to fund our NHS and social care fully. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so it will have to come from a rise in income tax in my view.
I am not a fan of what are called hypothecated taxes for various reasons, but in any event, I believe we would all pay more for a properly funded health and social care service by whatever means.
My view is that both should share funding so we end the damaging divide between NHS spend and social care spend. I object to people having to pay for their social care if they get dementia and will argue for the gradual removal of the current system. I would however have a radical overhaul of benefits for people, like me, who are over 60 and in work. I see no good reason why I or anyone else in work on good pay, should get free prescriptions, fuel allowances, travel cards and the like simply because we have reached a certain age. And I agree with my colleague and friend Ken Clarke that people of pensionable age who are still working and earning well (like Ken) should continue to pay National Insurance.
I also believe we need a radical overhaul of public health to encourage us all to take more responsibility for our health. I particularly support tough measures to reduce childhood obesity – including a reassessment of how our primary schools are spending the £18,000 they all receive to provide sport and PE to under 11’s.
I anticipate that the prime Minister will give our NHS a suitable present in July when we celebrate its 70th Birthday. Four generations of my family have worked in the NHS and ensuring it delivers first class services free at the point of delivery is a personal priority (and I suspect one of yours as well).
Congratulations to the organisers of the Greasley Gathering and the High Road Hustle which were great successes last weekend – I enjoyed them both, especially the exhibition in St Mary’s Church, Greasely and the refreshments on High Road, Beeston. I also spent a very pleasant Sunday morning knocking on doors in Chilwell – thanks for the warm welcome!
Action on tram track vandalism in Chilwell
The tram operators NET, have put a plan together to reduce anti social behaviour along the tram line in Chilwell. This follows a meeting I called in April between residents, NET and the police. For far too long residents have put up with youths throwing large ballast stones from beside the track into their gardens and damaging property. NET’s plan includes better signage, new CCTV cameras to catch offenders and working with schools and youth clubs. Crucially, in my opinion, NET are now working closely with the police to increase patrols and put protection orders on the area which will give the police more powers over offenders.