This is my last email newsletter for a couple of weeks as I am away on holiday tomorrow. My team will be in the constituency office and I will continue to check your emails!
I have a number of important updates and a political round up which, despite its length, I hope you will read.
There are various events on so please check out the diary.
Have a great weekend and I’ll be back in two weeks time.
As ever, Anna
It has taken almost a week, but travellers who were illegally camped on the park on Ilkeston Road in Stapleford have been evicted by Broxtowe Borough Council. I am confident the Council has acted as quickly as the law allows. I am, however, very concerned about the poor response of the police to calls from local residents and have written to the Chief Constable raising my concerns.
The current law means the responsibility for evicting trespassers lies with the owner of the land – in this instance Broxtowe Borough Council. Travellers illegally camping on Council land is a growing problem and the current process of eviction takes too long, especially when the travellers are known to the authorities. The police can evict in limited circumstances but in reality (as this weeks events have shown) they are very reluctant to get involved when travellers illegally occupy land, and I believe they must change their current policy.
My letter to Nottinghamshire’s Chief Constable is self explanatory and you can read it here. I will also raise the many complaints of a poor police response with our local police Inspector, Simon Riley. I have also invited him, Broxtowe’s Chief Executive Ruth Hyde and the Council leader Cllr Richard Jackson, to a meeting as there are lessons to be learnt from this week’s events. I wiant to explore how we can follow the lead of other Councils who have provided “transit sites” for travellers so evictions can be obtained within 24 hours.
I visited the park on Ilkeston Road on Monday morning with Stapleford Town Councillor Jan Goold and spoke to travellers and Council officials who were accompanied by 2 police officers. At that time the park was clean and tidy, Jan had ensured there were plenty of bin bags and rubbish was properly bagged up and dogs were on leads.
There is no excuse for the offensive postings on social media about the travellers. However, if people feel abandoned by those who are there to protect them or believe that a group is in some way above the law everyone else is expected to abide by, then there will be outpourings of anger and abuse.
I know that Stapleford Borough Councillor Richard Macrae received a huge amount of calls about the travellers. Richard was told shortly after the travellers arrived last Friday, that the Borough would take the swift and effective action they have taken, to evict the travellers. Richard has been kept up to date with the legal process and I contacted the local police on Sunday after he passed on residents complaints.
I will of course keep you updated about the response to my letter to the Chief Constable and the meeting with Broxtowe Borough Council and Inspector Riley.
The owners of the Bennerley Viaduct have approved a three quarter of a million pound scheme to open the historic rail bridge to the public. The plans include essential repairs to the viaduct, improved access at both ends and a new walkway.
You may recall that a considerably more ambitious project almost won Heritage Lottery Funding last year and the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct believe a renewed application would secure up to £6 million funding. Unfortunately, the cycling charity Sustrans which had backed the project pulled out.
I met the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct on Tuesday and have offered them my full support in getting a group together who can reapply to the Heritage Lottery fund. In the meantime, I support the owner’s current plan though it will be tough to raise the funding. I have written to the owners urging them to keep open the Lottery Fund opportunity.
Strelley “bored” tunnel
For the avoidance of any doubt – HS2 has changed its plans and the route by Strelley Village will be in a bored tunnel not the proposed “cut and cover” tunnel. I will continue to press the case against the planned 60 foot viaduct through Trowell.
I am also pressing HS2 to include some homes in Trowell in the safeguarding zone which will provide extra compensation to those closest to the proposed line.
Friends of Beeston Station continue to do excellent work to improve the station. They’ve made progress in tidying up the platforms and remain committed to their campaign to provide full access for all, which I fully support. The Government has announced £300 million to improve access on our rail network and I’ve written to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, making the case for Beeston station to receive the funding it needs. You can read my letter here. I’ve also written to Broxtowe Borough Council and the owners of Beeston Business Park to sort out a dispute over a very small piece of land which is hindering access to the new car park at Platform 2. To see copies of my letters click here.
I visited the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in Stapleford which provides a caring and supportive service for women throughout the constituency. We discussed a number of campaign issues which I will raise in Parliament in the Autumn. I will be providing you with updates.
Bramcote campaigner Tony Smith contacted me about two long standing water leaks in Bramcote . My team immediately contacted Severn Trent. I have been told the leak on Sandy Lane will be repaired in 10 days.
The leak on Town Street is more complicated and I have been promised an update on the situation later next week.
One of our most successful football clubs, STFC, held their first community Fun Day and U7 footbal tournment last Sunday. The event was organised by Pete Scott and committee, supported by a mass of volunteers and coaches. I was unable to attend this year but there will be more opportunities in the years to come as I am confident this will be a brilliant annual event. Well done Pete and team.
Political We can’t go on like this
We are simply in a mess. Both of the main political parties are in the grip of the extremes of British politics, we are in danger of leaving the EU without any deal and important pressing issues are not being properly addressed.
One of the joys of the Summer recess is the return to the constituency – out of the Westminster hot house and into the pleasant reality of life in Broxtowe. As you know, MPs continue to work through the Summer (allowing for a holiday just like most people); it also offers us the time to do some thinking.
Before discussing my own party, it is important to consider the state of the Labour Party. The vast majority of Labour’s members support Jeremy Corbyn who has at best, a rather unhealthy association with anti-semites, is widely criticised for failing to stop the rising tide of abuse against Jewish Labour MPs and has pitifully failed to adopt the internationally recognised definition of anti-semitism. When one of the most respected of MPs, Dame Margaret Hodge, calls her leader a racist anti-semite, we should all recognise today’s Labour Party is indeed in the grip of the hard left and attendant supporters.
Whatever your political views, every democracy needs a strong and competent opposition which holds Government to account. That need is even the greater given we face the most important decision we have taken since World War 2, namely leaving the European Union. Labour is simply failing to be that Opposition and it is surely only a question of time before the more moderate Labour MPs, members and supporters face this reality and leave to form a new movement.
With a heavy heart, I admit my fears that my own party is in danger of a similar decline towards the extremes. I swiftly add Broxtowe Conservatives remains a sane and sensible island in some increasingly choppy Tory seas.
Just before Parliament rose for the summer, we debated two important pieces of legislation. After almost two years, the Prime Minister and her Cabinet had finally settled on its vision of our future relationship with the EU after we leave next March. The so-called Chequers Agreement was cautiously welcomed by British business and the majority of Conservative MPs. Mrs May asserted her authority, restored collective responsibility and made the case for a Brexit deal that met most of the needs of our manufacturing sector. The subsequent White Paper set out a plan designed to secure hundreds of thousands of jobs by keeping trade with the EU “frictionless” which means that goods would not experience delays at our border with the EU.
In my view, the White Paper was far from perfect as it failed to address the needs of our service sector (80 per cent of our economy) and frankly, I never thought the EU would accept the Government’s overly complicated and bureaucratic customs plan. But the White Paper was certainly a significant step in the right direction and accordingly I was all set to give my full support to the Government. Some of my colleagues, those who support a “hard” no deal Brexit led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, decided otherwise and tabled amendments to one of the Bills which were designed to undermine, indeed scupper, the Chequers Agreement. At the first sign of trouble from Jacob and his European Research Group (ERG), the Prime Minister backed off and accepted their amendments. In so doing the Prime Minister effectively destroyed the Brexit plan she had so determinedly argued for and won support for, in her Cabinet.
It was a very disturbing moment and in my view revealed that it is Jacob Rees Mogg, not Theresa May, who is “running” our country.
Make no mistake, those who argue so vociferously for a hard “no deal” are not only breaking the promise they made to Leave voters that we would get a deal (which they promised would make us better off after leaving the EU!), they know the adverse consequences of “no deal” on our economy. No deal means the return of custom stops and delays which will seriously harm the “just-in-time” supply chains that have made our manufacturing sector so successful.
Please do read or watch the speech I made in Parliament which explains in detail what “just in time” means.
I also explain that many “hard Brexiteers” admit in private that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost though they believe it will be worth it in the long run. With few exceptions, you can be sure these “no deal” Brexiteers will not be losing their job but they are more than prepared for others to suffer that fate.
With the Chequers Agreement petty much in tatters and the pound slipping further as fears grow of a “no deal”, the Government is consumed with Brexit. As a result, important issues like securing a sustainable NHS and Social Care system are not being addressed.
In the last two weeks I have met a number of constituents with genuine complaints that our police have failed to investigate serious allegations in full. On Tuesday, I discussed at length the continuing problems of drug dealing in Stapleford and the associated criminal activity of a small but significant group of youngsters in the town. There is now real and concerning evidence that knife crime is now a problem in parts of Broxtowe. There has been real and justified anger that complaints of burglaries and damage to cars in Beeston and Chilwell were not swiftly dealt with by our local police. The same complaints of a lack of response were echoed this weekend as residents around the park on Ilkeston Road in Stapleford called the police after travellers parked up illegally.
Our new Inspector, Simon Riley is making changes and I believe there has been a marked improvement in policing in Broxtowe (please keep up with his excellent blog here). But – I do not believe our police have the resources they need and it is genuinely heart breaking that years of investment in early years’ intervention,a variety of initiatives and cross agency workings appear to have had little or no impact on preventing too many of our children turning to gangs, violence and drugs. Our prisons are not working and instead of reforming and rehabilitating offenders they appear to be honing their criminal skills whilst in gaol.
And it has to be said – at a time when we need to invest more in policing, the prevention of crime and rehabilitation of offenders – our country is in real danger of causing such damage to our economic prosperity by leaving the EU, we will simply not have the money we need to fulfill the first duty of any Government which is to keep its people safe.
We simply can’t go on like this. Whatever deal or no deal Theresa May achieves, the people of this country have a right to have a vote on it. A growing number of people are now supporting a People’s Vote and I would urge you to check out the campaign and join us. Click here to find out more.
In any event, those of us who have always occupied the centre ground of British politics need to face up to the reality of the direction of travel of the Conservative Party and the firmly parked up position of the Labour Party.