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Welcome to the thirtieth edition of my Westminster Report.
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Tom Pursglove MP's Westminster Report

It's a huge honour and a privilege to be your Member of Parliament for Corby and East Northamptonshire.

Welcome to my Westminster Report, where you can find out more about what I've been doing as part of my Listening Campaign, both in Westminster and across the constituency.

As always, if I can ever be of any help to you, please feel free to contact me at any time using the following details:

Address:
Tom Pursglove MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

Email:
pursglovet@parliament.uk

 

Telephone:
020 7219 8043

I also hold weekly advice surgeries around the constituency, and as I said in the run up to the General Election, I remain committed to being Corby and East Northamptonshire's voice in Westminster and not Westminster's voice in Corby and East Northamptonshire.


Now, for some of what I've been getting up to, both locally and in Westminster!

With best wishes,




Tom Pursglove MP
Member of Parliament
Corby & East Northamptonshire


Address:
Tom Pursglove MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

Email:
pursglovet@parliament.uk

Telephone:
020 7219 8043

Website:
www.votepursglove.co.uk
Contents:

Introduction

Tom in Westminster

Tom in Corby & East Northamptonshire

Lobbying Campaigns

Tom in the Press
Facebook
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Twitter
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Website
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TOM IN WESTMINSTER
Last Tuesday, during Health Questions, I highlighted how across North Northamptonshire, there is an enormous appetite for the new Urgent Care Hub to be built at the site of Kettering General Hospital, which would relieve pressure on A&E and improve services for patients. I then asked the Minister if he would update us on any progress. In his reply, the Minister assured me that the Government is aware that Kettering General Hospital has put forward a proposal, and that the outline business case is due to be discussed with NHS England in the coming weeks. He added that, in the meantime, the Government is looking at an interim solution for relieving pressure on A&E services in the area. You can see my question and the Minister’s answer, here.

Last Friday, I was pleased to be in Parliament to speak in the debate on the Disability Equality Training (Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers) Bill.

Discrimination in all its forms is abhorrent and must not be allowed to happen. Where we see it, it should be rooted out and stamped down on. Whilst the law is very clear, and there are protections in place, this Bill seeks to ensure that all taxi and private hire drivers have to go through disability equality training, as part of the licensing regime, and to improve awareness.

Whilst there was not sufficient parliamentary time for the Bill to get a Second Reading last Friday, it will of course come back to the House of Commons at a later date. I am wholly supportive of the principles behind the Bill and I even got the Minister to give a strong undertaking in relation to consultation and action. In my short speech, I also raised a number of issues that I believe would strengthen the Bill.

These undertakings from the Minister were very welcome - not least because this will likely result in speedier action, as there is much greater chance of this coming into effect with the support of the Government, rather than through a Private Members' Bill; the majority of which do not ever make it into law. Both prior to, and after the debate, I spoke to the Minister about the Bill, and have indicated my willingness to try and help take this issue forward. I'm not interested in party political point scoring - I am interested in action.

You can watch my contribution to the debate, here.

Last week, during a Statement on the Prison Officers Association's protest action, I spoke of my enormous respect and admiration for our prison officers, and for the difficult work that they do. I added that, a fortnight ago, the Secretary of State came to the House and committed to bring on stream an additional 2500 prison officers. I then asked the Secretary of State what reaction she had had to that announcement from the Prison Officers Association - a move which will lead to additional staffing in our prisons, with a particular focus on improving safety. In her answer, the Secretary of State outlined how this announcement will enable every single officer to be responsible for six prisoners, which will result in improving safety and ensuring that offenders are reformed. The Secretary of State added that she would like to see the Prison Officers Association support that change. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.

Last Tuesday, during a Statement on HS2, I highlighted how I very much welcomed the Secretary of State’s remarks that it was his goal to deliver faster journey times and extra capacity through Midland Mainline electrification by 2020, and added that more services, both northbound and southbound, running to and from Corby were also needed. I pointed out that Corby is growing hugely and at a rapid rate, and that we need more capacity to meet growing demand and to utilise the existing lines. I then asked how he saw phase 2b of HS2 unlocking opportunities for the Midland Mainline. In his answer, the Secretary of State outlined how, soon, more capacity will be created for intermediate journeys by more express trains being taken off the mainlines and more passengers being moved onto the new capacity. He added that the big difference for Corby is the unheralded building of an extra track to Corby, which will make more difference than anything else. The Secretary of State also said that, by 2020, the Government needs to have delivered much more capacity on the routes used by the people in the Corby and East Northamptonshire constituency – and this is essential to delivering a proper and effective commuter rail network; all improvements I will continue to campaign hard for. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.

Further to my question in the House last week, I also received communication from the Secretary of State for Transport regarding rail services in the East Midlands. And, I am pleased to say that the Secretary of State confirmed that the Government is moving ahead with works to the Midland Mainline, and the electrification works from Bedford, via Kettering, to Corby. The Government is aware that faster and better rail services going to and from our area are needed and the Department for Transport is now working with bidders to deliver new trains and to find the best operator possible to meet the demand in the East Midlands, in future. Encouraging news for our area!

Last Monday, during Education Questions, I pointed out how getting it right early is crucial to securing future success for our young people in Northamptonshire. I then asked the Secretary of State if she would join me in congratulating Woodnewton - A Learning Community on winning the Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award, for its brilliant nurture group, and asked if she would send her best wishes to Ellen Wallace, the Headteacher, and her brilliant team at the school. In her answer, the Secretary of State congratulated Ellen Wallace and her team, and agreed that they have done a fantastic job in achieving the award - showing that strong leadership in a school, alongside collaboration between schools, is a key way to drive improvement. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
Since speaking in the debate on the Disability Equality Training (Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers) Bill last Friday, I have taken a number of follow-up steps in support of the principles behind it. Over the weekend, I wrote to the Chief Executive of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, asking how I can be of assistance in improving both education, and enforcement, surrounding discrimination against guide dogs and their owners. In that letter, I also asked for a meeting to discuss this matter and we are currently in the process of arranging it. I also wrote to the Chief Executives of both Corby Borough Council and East Northamptonshire Council, to ask what action they take locally to prevent, and generate awareness around, this unacceptable discrimination, along with the enforcement measures in place to uphold the law. I also wrote to the Minister of State at the Department for Transport, the Rt. Hon John Hayes MP, following up on our pre, and post-debate, discussions and formalising my request for a meeting.

Further to this request, on Wednesday morning, I attended a very positive cross-party meeting at the Department for Transport. This was an excellent opportunity to discuss this important issue with colleagues and Ministers, and to discuss how best to take it forward. During the meeting, I made a number of suggested improvements in order to strengthen the protections against discrimination towards guide dogs and their owners, and how education in this area might be improved.  It has been agreed that the Minister will write to us all shortly, outlining a full overview of Departmental action with regards to this issue. This is a very positive step, with action expected shortly - far quicker than a Private Members' Bill could ever deliver. Going forward, rest assured that I will be championing greater education and awareness of, and stronger enforcement against, discrimination against disabled people and assistance dog owners. It is wholly unacceptable and must be stamped out, and to achieve this, I believe it is essential that we continue to work constructively on a cross-party basis.

 
Yesterday in the House, I highlighted how, this month, we have seen another remarkable Poppy Appeal in Corby and East Northamptonshire, and not only have we seen enormous sums of money raised, but thousands and thousands of people also turned out on Remembrance Sunday to pay tribute to our brave Armed Forces. I added how it was absolutely fantastic to see so many young people involved in the parades, and I asked the Leader of the House if we could have a debate next week to pay tribute to the Royal British Legion for all the work it does, and also to say a big 'thank you' to all those in our communities who work tirelessly to make the Poppy Appeal so successful. In his response, the Leader of the House wholeheartedly joined me in paying tribute to the Royal British Legion and the thousands of volunteers who work to make the Poppy Appeal a success each year—the appeal in England and Wales and the appeal in Scotland, which is run by the Royal British Legion Scotland. You can see my question and the Leader of the House’s answer, here.
On Tuesday in the House, I spoke in the Opposition Day debate on Education and Social Mobility. I outlined how it is my belief that providing local people with the opportunity to shape education in a manner that best meets local needs is key to improving education opportunities for young people. During the debate, I asked the Secretary of State if she agreed that it is also important to recognise in our education policy that different things work in different areas. In her reply, the Secretary of State highlighted how the Government acknowledges that it needs to work not only inside schools - with teachers and the head teachers leading those schools - but also outside of schools. In particular, the Secretary of State outlined how there will be better careers advice and mentoring - for example, the Government will be working with the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses on opportunities for work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
On Monday in the House, during Work and Pensions Questions, I highlighted how unemployment in Corby and East Northamptonshire has fallen by more than 50% since 2010, and how we have also seen a fall in youth unemployment. Added to this, I mentioned how we are also seeing record private investments that are bringing thousands of new jobs to North Northamptonshire. In advance of the Autumn Statement, as well as ensuring that all the right support is being provided for those with disabilities, and those looking for work, I asked the Secretary of State if he would join me in calling on the Chancellor for more of the same when it comes to job opportunities! In his response, the Secretary of State said he was very glad to hear that Corby and East Northamptonshire were sharing so fully in the wider benefits of the more flexible, dynamic, and innovative labour market that has been created over the past few years. He added that work is absolutely the best route out of poverty, and he is pleased that people are benefitting from what has been done. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
I then raised another matter during Work and Pensions Topical Questions.  I mentioned how, on Saturday evening, I met with one of my constituents, who came to see me about PIP reassessments for those with deafness-related conditions, and the question he wanted me to put to Ministers was whether, as part of the ongoing review of the reassessment process, they will look carefully at the situation relating to this group of individuals. In her response, the Minister outlined how the Green Paper will afford the Government the opportunity to do just that, and how around certain disabilities, there are some very sensitive issues about how someone might need assistance provided—for example, they might prefer to use sign language, as opposed to assistive technology—which will also be taken into account. You can watch my question and the Minister’s answer, here.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons.
 
First, I am glad that the statement highlighted our committment to tackling the long-term challenges facing our country, such as low productivity, by investing in infrastructure and innovation to boost long-term economic growth.
 
In particular, it was announced that there will be a focus on the housing market - the Government announced a new £2 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to support 100,000 new homes, and an additional £1.4 billion to deliver 40,000 more affordable homes. Given the rapid housing growth we are seeing locally, I hope that some of this funding will be heading in our direction, to provide appropriate infrastructure to support these new homes.
 
Linked to this, I was pleased to hear that the Government is committed to securing good and reliable transport networks for the whole of the UK. In his Statement, the Chancellor reconfirmed the Government’s commitment to the Roads Fund, and announced that there will be £1.1 billion more invested in more local transport networks, as well as £220 million to address pinch points on strategic roads. Another welcome measure was that fuel duty will be frozen for the seventh year running, ensuring direct savings for millions of motorists - a measure local people wrote to me about in large numbers, and which I pressed Ministers hard on, prior to Wednesday.

I was also glad to hear the Chancellor’s announcements which ensure that we are backing British business, and making Britain one of the most attractive places to do business, with measures including funding through the British Business Bank, cutting Corporation Tax, and an increase in Rural Rate Relief; affording small businesses in rural areas added savings.
 
Lastly, the Chancellor announced that the National Living Wage will be increased from £7.20 to £7.50 in April 2017 – giving many people a direct pay rise - and that the tax-free personal allowance is also being raised, giving those with low to middle incomes a massive boost and cutting taxes for many.
 
It is very pleasing to see the Government so committed to implementing measures which will directly benefit hard-working people, and investing in ensuring that our country reaches its full potential in terms of productivity.  This Government has a proud record of delivering a strong economy and this Autumn Statement lays the foundations to continue the progress made.
 
For a full list of Autumn Statement announcements, please click
here.
Last Friday, during a debate on the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill, I highlighted how, during the last (albeit aborted) review, in the intervening period between the first drafts being released, and the final proposals being announced, in light of local comments made, two thirds of the proposed seats were changed in response to concerns raised.  I hope that this will happen again this time around, and with particular regards to Corby and East Northamptonshire, I have written to the Boundary Commission for England several times, outlining my thoughts, and urging them to ensure that the minimum number of voters are displaced across North Northamptonshire. Personally, I would much prefer to see the constituency remain exactly as it is, but the current thresholds do not permit this, and the Bill we debated last Friday would only likely see the seat shrink further in size. Broadly speaking, I do think that the ongoing boundary review is needed - not least because votes should be of equal weight across the country, and because this was a key Conservative Party Manifesto promise that we were elected to deliver.
 
In particular, as part of the review process, I am campaigning hard for our constituency to be formally renamed 'Corby & East Northamptonshire', in recognition of the two distinct areas that comprise it - the wonderful steel town of Corby, and the stunning villages and towns of East Northamptonshire. This is a long overdue change of name - and I am delighted to have the support of East Northamptonshire Council for this campaign - and I hope that common sense will prevail on this point.  You too can make your views on the proposals known to the Boundary Commission for England by the 5th December 2016, and more details can be found at
www.bce2018.org.uk.  Alternatively, you can send your representations directly to:
 
Boundary Commission for England
35 Great Smith Street
LONDON, SW1P 3BQ
 
Email:
information@boundarycommissionengland.gov.uk
TOM IN CORBY & EAST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Last week, I met with Deloitte, the administrators appointed to handle Priors Hall Park, and David Oliver, the Chief Executive of East Northamptonshire Council, to talk about the current situation. It was useful to hear that works are continuing on site as planned, and Deloitte advised that residents should not see a change in building activity. A buyer(s) will be sought for the site in due course, but in the meantime, I know that the administrators are very happy to talk to people about any concerns that they may have – indeed, they have been putting on regular meetings for residents, to this end. In the weeks ahead, rest assured that I will continue to keep a close eye on progress, and if any residents have any specific concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me, and I will happily try to obtain answers.

Recently, I wrote to Corby Borough Council regarding Little Stanion and have received a response. This particular update concerns the delay in recommencing work to the roads and sewers following the decision of the Council's Development Control Committee on the 28th June, but serves as a useful update more generally:

Summary of progress since 28th June

The sequence of events since then has been as follows: the section 106 agreement was varied on 25th August as authorised by the Committee on 28th June 2016.
This delay was regrettable and was largely due to the administrator being unwilling to sign-off on the variation until further legal advice had been obtained from specialist insolvency lawyers.
The Committee decision to vary the 106 agreement became immune to Judicial Review on 7th October 2016. The Council is informed that the administrator applied to the Company Court for Silentpride to be withdrawn from administration during the week commencing 10th October 2016. 
This order was not, however, immediately made pending the final agreement of a formal Creditors Voluntary Arrangement ("CVA") being entered into between the house builders and the Company.
As at the date of this letter it is understood that the formal CVA (as distinct from an informal arrangement in identical terms that was already in place prior to the Committee meeting) has finally been executed with the prospect of the company finally being withdrawn from administration towards the end of December.
In the interim the Council has been verbally advised that the administrator has agreed that funds should be released to permit works to recommence on the roads, footpaths and sewers even prior to the Company finally coming out of administration. Please note that written confirmation of this from Deloitte has not been received.
Prior to works recommencing and the Company being withdrawn from administration the Council has met with solicitors acting for the Company and agreed a programme of works (in accordance with that specified in the varied section 106 agreement.
This calls for technical specifications for the completed roads and sewers to be agreed with the County Council within three months; consultations on the final form and disposition of the Open Spaces to be concluded within six months, and for necessary planning permissions to be obtained and works commenced within the same period with significant elements of the scheme such as the local shop and the community centre being completed within two years of planning permission being granted. The roads and sewers are expected to be complete within twelve months or work recommending on site.

I know that this is very frustrating for Little Stanion residents, and rest assured this matter will continue to be one of my key priorities - that said, it looks like things may soon be moving forward.

Last week, I received the good news that the newly released employment figures show that the unemployment rate has dropped to an 11-year low of just 4.8%. The employment rate continues to run at a record high rate of 74.5%, with 31.8 million people in work. In particular, in Corby and East Northamptonshire, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefit stands at 1.6% - significantly lower than the average UK claimant rate of 2.4%. These figures are good news and show that our economy is doing well. That said, we must never be complacent and I will always shout from the rooftops for more jobs and investment in our area.
Ensuring the successful delivery of superfast broadband across the constituency continues to be an issue I raise regularly in Parliament and recently, I received communication from BT announcing that those living on the Sovereign Grange estate in Kings Cliffe are to get superfast broadband. This is a result of a successful fundraising effort by the local community, which has meant that along with help from Openreach, the local community will be able to benefit from superfast broadband. Great news, and a terrific community initiative!
 
A fortnight ago I attended the Remembrance Sunday Service in Corby. As in past years, this was extremely well attended, and it was great to see so many people turn out to remember those who have given so much on behalf of our country in conflicts past and present. In the afternoon, I attended the service in Oundle, which also saw a fantastic turnout from local people, with wreaths laid on my behalf in Irthlingborough, Raunds and Thrapston, by Councillor Sylvia Hughes, Councillor Lee Wilkes and Councillor Wendy Brackenbury, respectively. Throughout the day it was very moving to see the tributes to our brave Armed Forces, to meet some of our remarkable veterans, and it was also very pleasing to see so many young people involved in the parades. I also want to pay tribute to the organisers of all the services - they do a brilliant job, with months of organising involved - and raise enormous sums of money for the Poppy Appeal. It is fair to say that the whole community is extremely proud of them all and the work that the Royal British Legion does on behalf of our brave men and women. We will remember them.
A fortnight ago, I was delighted to attend an event at the Corby Conservative Club in celebration of Mick Rodden receiving his MBE. Mick is one of the longest serving members of the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and was awarded an MBE for services to community safety, and to Northamptonshire. This much-deserved award recognises his incredible hard work and huge contribution to our community, through initiatives such as the Arson Task Force, and ELVIS (End of Life Vehicle Impound Scheme).  A richly deserved honour!
LOBBYING CAMPAIGNS
As you might be aware, I am now responding to standard campaign emails via my website, here.  For ease, I also wanted to share the links to the most recent replies, which you can find below:

Andargachew "Andy" Tsege 16-11-16

Beer Duty and Business Rates 16-11-16

Breeding and Sale of Kittens 16-11-16

Breast Cancer 23-11-16
TOM IN THE PRESS
Family and friends help Corby man celebrate receiving his MBE

Northants Telegraph, 16th November 2016


Building halted by housing company after foundation issues at Priors Hall in Corby

Northants Telegraph, 17th November 2016



 
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