This week was Childcare and Early Education Week, so I was delighted to meet with Vicky Ford MP and attend the Childcare and Early Education APPG to discuss social mobility and support for early years staff in Broxtowe during the pandemic. Schools in Broxtowe are doing an outstanding job in what are incredibly difficult circumstances. I want to take this opportunity to support their calls for early years staff to be prioritised in the rollout of vaccines for COVID-19. Our early education staff here in Broxtowe are brave and dedicated and need to be protected from the virus.
This week, people have been asking me about vaccinations in Broxtowe. Firstly, I want to thank all of the staff and volunteers at vaccination centres here in Nottinghamshire for the incredible work that they have been doing to get people vaccinated in these exceptional circumstances.
I am sure many of you will have seen, today a new site has opened up at Forest Recreation Ground that will increase Nottinghamshire’s capacity to vaccinate our elderly and most vulnerable. Next week a new national vaccination centre will open in Nottinghamshire with the capacity to largely increase the daily vaccine rate of the region. I will be releasing more information regarding this site next week. The CCG is also anticipating that there will also be a number of smaller vaccination facilities opening locally. I am also pleased to report that today and over the weekend GP’s will be going into care-homes to finish vaccinating residents, and from this Sunday all care homes with residents over 65 will have received their vaccines.
I am confident that both myself and all local community leaders within Broxtowe will continue to do all we can ensure that as many people are being safely vaccinated as possible. The Prime Minister was right when he stated that every vaccine given is a point in our favour in the fight against Covid-19.
Last week I was glad to speak to students from the University of Nottingham and this week a constituent studying at Nottingham Trent University. I have also received a few emails from students who raise valid concerns about their academic year. So, today I met with the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, to raise those concerns from university students in Broxtowe.
Of particular concern to me was that – in these exceptional circumstances – some students are facing financial hardship. It was good to hear that the Government has worked with the Office for Students to clarify that providers are able to use existing funds, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The Government is making available up to a further £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates and international students. You will be able to apply for this through the usual routes for your university hardship funding.
On this, it was good to also talk to the Secretary of State for Education about the new Further Education White Paper announced this week. Currently, we are looking at improving our technical and vocational education, boosting colleges and getting business more involved in qualifications. It was encouraging to hear his goal to improve adult education, as well as an increased emphasis on increasing availability of teaching resources and mental health support during exam periods. Really positive stuff!
As co-chair of The Midlands Engine APPG, my goal is to bring together MPs and Peers in the Midlands to promote economic growth and development. This week, we hosted Secretary of State Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP and Chairman of the Midlands Engine, Sir John Peace. Here, we discussed generating more inward investment to our region, improving East-West connectivity through the Midlands Rail Hub and the freeport bid based around East Midlands airport. It was encouraging to speak with the Secretary of State and I will continue to work towards driving this key investment towards Broxtowe.
As touched upon last week, I have submitted some proposals to the Treasury in advance of the March budget. This week, I presented these proposals to the Chancellor and senior members of HM Treasury. Picking up on my goal to drive investment towards Broxtowe, I outlined my case to the Chancellor to invest in Broxtowe and the East Midlands.
I also spoke with him further about expanding funding commitments to mental health support for young people. I outlined that I welcome the recent commitment from the Government to review the Mental Health Act of 1983 and there is merit in their NHS Long Term Plan. However, I am aware that funding for the mental health sector does not always make its way to the frontline services that need it most. It is important, therefore, to commit to a long-term funding strategy for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is something I continued to consider while hosting a Facebook Live event on this subject. Here, I chatted with Melanie Brooks and Iris Peel from Nottinghamshire County Council about mental health and local service provision.
I also want to touch upon the heavy rain and flooding which has hit us this past week. I have spoken to the Minister responsible for flooding, Rebecca Pow MP, and the Environment Agency to ensure necessary preparations were put in place for Broxtowe – I am relieved that so far, we have not had any serious issues in Broxtowe.
But, to keep up-to-date this winter, I encourage residents to sign up to receive flood warnings from the Environment Agency Floodline system by either phone, text or email. For anyone who is a victim or at risk from flooding please visit or call Nottinghamshire County Council on 0300 500 8080.
Finally, a brief update on the progress on the Access for All project at Beeston. Network Rail are currently at the development stage of the scheme, and are continuing to do a lot of work evaluating the different options there are to make accessibility improvements at the station. To deliver the scheme as quickly as possible they have instructed an internal design department to drive this process forward. I hope this will help identify the best option to meet the requirements of our local passengers. In the meantime, I aim to meet with them and the Friends of Beeston Station to talk in more detail about this.
As ever, if you have any immediate concerns on this or any other issue please do not hesitate to contact me.
For now – stay safe everyone,
168 Derby Road,