1. Environment & Fisheries
Increase in Fishing Quotas: Fishermen across the county are set for a boost as the Government's commitment to sustainable fishing has meant an increase in quota for North Sea Cod, Haddock and Monkfish. The Fisheries Minister – and my departmental colleague - George Eustice came back from Brussels with an increased quota for British fishermen. In the North Sea the Cod quota rises by 10%, Haddock by 23% and Monkfish by 20%.
Wangford Quarry Extension: I submitted my concern about the proposed extension of Wangford Quarry in response to Suffolk County Council's consultation on their Minerals and Waste Local Plan - which proposes to include the Lime Kiln Farm site as part of the extended quarry. This is the only proposed site in the plan which sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This heavily impacts on the local ecology, not only the protected AONB but the Minsmere-Walberswick Heaths and Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest; the Minsmere-Walberswick Special Protected Area; and the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve. I do not deem the extension of Wangford Quarry a necessary erosion of the AONB and I have urged the County Council to consider other locations to meet the need for gravel and sand extraction.
2. Health & Care
Out of Hospital Services: I expressed my concerns to the Chief Officer of Waveney CCG about the ability of East Coast Community Healthcare to run the new 'out of hospital' services in South Waveney. This come as a result of the 'Shape of the System' plan to replace community hospitals with NHS nursing beds in local care homes. It was always promised that the community hospitals including Patrick Stead would be kept open until the new out of hospital services were in place. This was the basis of my support because it was the right thing to do for patients. Unfortunately ECCH let us down because of their failure to keep and recruit staff at Patrick Stead hospital. They now want to run the replacement service so I have expressed my grave concerns to the Chief Officer.
Sustainability Transformation Plan: I attended a meeting with the Independent Chair of the Waveney and Norfolk Sustainability Transformation Plan, Patricia Hewitt. We discussed linking physical health, mental health and social care together and plans for an Accountable Care System. I raised concerns that Waveney had not yet been consulted on the plans and was pleased to hear that Patricia will be visiting the area to engage with health practitioners directly.
A12: I added my support to the business case being developed by Suffolk County Council for the Suffolk Energy Gateway, the new road to by-pass the four villages along the A12.
A14: I welcome the fact that the A14 has been marked as a potential expressway in the Strategic Road Network Report which should help us sort out some of the congestion points along the route.
Suffolk & Essex Rail Conference: I attended the Rail Conference and pressed for the development of Sizewell C to be considered alongside other network improvements.
Small Business Saturday: The first Saturday in December proved to be another successful Small Business Saturday. The campaign aims to encourage customers to stay local and support small businesses in their communities on the busiest shopping day of the year.
Post Offices: The Business Secretary announced funding of £370 million to secure the future of the UK's Post Office network, bringing the total invested in the Post Office network since 2010 to £2 billion. This is crucial to ensure everyone continues to have access to their local branch.
The Tiffin Cup: Last year, I asked on Facebook who I should nominate from Suffolk Coastal. The Cinnamon in Leiston came a very close second to Bombay Nites in Walton, so I have nominated them this year. I'm delighted that their nomination has been accepted and that they will take part in this year's Tiffin Cup. I look forward to welcoming Cinnamon Indian Cuisine to the House of Commons should they win their regional heat. Fingers crossed.
5. Constituency and Suffolk Matters
Woods Lane Update: Woods Lane has now reopened, however, it is due to close again in January which will be hugely frustrating for all concerned. During the November closure, I met Deputy Leader of Suffolk County Council, Cllr Jane Storey, to discuss the impact on local residents and further potential mitigation for the second closure. Clearly assumptions have been made by council officers about what working hours would be deemed acceptable without asking the residents. There is an opportunity to change this for the second phase and the County Council are working with the developer on this. I understand if residents on Woods Lane themselves and those directly affected were not content for 24/7 working but with longer working hours we should be able to shorten the second closure. The key point I raised with Cllr Storey though was about the need to assess transport infrastructure for the future. The roads into Melton, Woodbridge and the peninsula from the A12 are clearly at capacity and will need to be addressed.
Lloyds Bank Closures: I met the Public Affairs Manager from Lloyds TSB following the disappointing announcement that they intend to close both their Halesworth and Southwold bank branches in May 2018. Their decision is especially disappointing considering the commitment previously made to me that by employing staff split over the two sites would mean they would be able to stay open long term. I have asked for more information about their mobile banking service – which they have promised will service both Halesworth and Southwold - to get clarity on where and how often it will operate. I have told them that they need to commit to the mobile service long term otherwise customers will switch as other banks are still operational in both towns. I have also asked whether they are able to keep the ATMs open. More information is available here - https://www.lloydsbank.com/contact-us/branch-closures.asp
Dogs on Leads: I'm pleased that Suffolk Coastal Councillors agreed to drop the planned 'General Public Space Protection Order' proposal to fine owners who allow their dogs off the lead on grass verges, greens and allotments.I know many owners that like to throw a ball for their dog and I thought these measures were slightly over the top. The Council is going ahead with plans to create public protection orders making it a requirement to clean up after your dog and banning dogs from children's play areas.They are also proposing to re-consult on a larger ban area for Felixstowe beach during the summer months but which allows dogs on the beach before 10am and after 6pm.
Suffolk Coastal & Waveney Merger: Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, formally announced that he is minded to implement the locally-led proposal to merge Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils to become a new single district council, due to come into effect in 2019. Before the final decision is made, there is a period for further representations by January 8th – and the final decision will be subject to Parliamentary approval in the New Year.
EU Negotiations: The Prime Minister secured an agreement with the European Union, which brings to an end the first phase of Brexit negotiations. The agreement secured the rights of the three million EU citizens living here and the million British citizens living in the EU; represented a fair settlement in terms of money; and maintains the common travel area within the island of Ireland. Now the first phase of Brexit has been agreed we can move on to detailed negotiations on other issues, including our future trade deal. This is of significant importance to our part of the country and crucial for Felixstowe as we need to ensure we can continue to trade freely through the port.
Animal Welfare: The Environment Secretary – and my departmental colleague, Michael Gove - set out plans to strengthen animal welfare laws and enshrine animal sentience in domestic UK law. We have published a draft bill which will increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years and also sets out that the government "must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy".The plans underline our commitment to raising animal welfare standards, ensuring there will be enhanced protections for animals as we leave the EU.
Microbeads: Parliament has now approved my department's proposal to ban microbeads in rinse-off personal care products. Microbeads are often used in cosmetics but often end up in our oceans causing plastic pollution and can end up in the marine food chain. The ban on manufacture will apply from January and on their sale from 30th June 2018.
I attended a global climate conference focussing on our oceans. I also responded to a debate in the House of Commons on our marine environment. You can read my contribution here.
The UK completed the ratification of the Kigali amendment to the United Nations' Montreal protocol which will help achieve the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.
8. Other Meetings & Events
- Attended a meeting with the County Council cabinet to discuss local issues.
- Had further meetings with the Minister to discuss childcare issues.
- Addressed the Suffolk EU Alliance and answered questions.
- I visited Nacton Primary School to unveil Anglian Water's new fleet of vans - which promote the vital message that putting the wrong things down our toilets and sinks causes sewer blockages, leaks and pollution.
- Visited Aldeburgh Primary School.
- Met the Royal College of Nursing Regional Director.
- Attended Remembrance Day services in Aldeburgh & Halesworth.
- Had a meeting with the MMO (Marine Manangement Organisation).
- Had a meeting with the NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority).
- I attended the Sizewell C Community Forum and the Joint Local Authority Group meeting on the issue.
- I visited GAH (Refrigeration) Ltd at Bentwaters - the only British manufacturer of transport refrigeration systems.
- Attended Waveney District Council Carol Service.
- Attended Rendlesham Community Carols.
9. Next Surgery
Provisionally 2nd February
To make an appointment please call 0207 219 7164.