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Welcome to the thirty third 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
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Twitter
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Between Christmas and the New Year it was great to get out on the doorsteps in Corby with the Listening Team to hear local views, issues, and concerns, and walk off all the Christmas excess! Thanks to all those who came along, and all the very best to everyone in Corby and East Northamptonshire for 2017!
TOM IN WESTMINSTER
Last Monday in the House during a Statement about domestic violence victims and family court proceedings, I welcomed the new measures outlined by the Minister to stop victims of domestic abuse being cross-examined by perpetrators, and his commitment to legislation. The current situation is simply terrible and unacceptable, and I also asked if, in the meantime, he would ensure that the best possible support is available to vulnerable victims before, during, and after, these court proceedings. In his reply, reassuringly, the Minister outlined how a great deal of effort has gone into training both CAFCASS and court staff to provide the emotional support that is needed. Rest assured that I will be keeping a close eye on progress in changing the law, and you can see my question and the Minister’s answer, here.

Last Monday in the Chamber, during Work and Pensions Questions, I said a big 'thank you' to the scores of businesses in Corby and East Northamptonshire that provide important work experience opportunities for our young people. I then asked if Ministers would continue to make sure that these high quality opportunities remain at the forefront of cross-departmental discussions, considering how crucial these introductions to the world of work are. In his reply, the Minister said that he would, and went on to outline how the Government knows that one of the most important things in being able to get a job is to have had a job and to have demonstrated employability skills. He added that, specifically on the work experience placements which are run through Jobcentre Plus, people spend 49 days longer on average in employment as a result of having done one. You can see my question and the Minister’s answer, here.

Last Thursday, during Transport Questions, I outlined how one of my 79-year-old constituents has been repeatedly refused car hire contracts by leading rental companies. I then asked the Secretary of State what assessment he has made of any restrictions that are being placed on OAPs by these rental companies. In his reply, the Secretary of State said he understood these concerns, as this is a very difficult issue. He added that the Equality Act 2010 provides general protection against age discrimination for people of all ages, but there is an exemption for a person conducting an assessment of risk for the purposes of providing a financial service to another person. He further added, however, that the Department for Transport has not made the assessment that was described in the example of my constituent, and he encouraged my constituent to contact the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, who should be able to help in identifying a suitable provider. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
On Monday in the Chamber, during Communities and Local Government Questions, I outlined how the successful application for a Garden Village at Deenethorpe will bring thousands more new homes to East Northamptonshire, and I asked the Minister if he would reassure my constituents that new infrastructure to support those new homes will be at the forefront of his mind as this project progresses. In his reply, the Minister said he would definitely give that assurance, given that this is part of the concept of Garden Villages. The Minister added that, more generally, if we want communities to accept more housing, we have to make sure that we get the infrastructure in place at the same time - a point I have long made, and will continue to make. Lastly, he added that this is why the Chancellor’s announcement of a £2.3 billion housing infrastructure fund was so welcome. You can see my question and the Minister’s answer, here.
Last week, I was pleased to hear the Government’s announcement that further capital funding will go to local councils in 2017/18 to improve the productivity of our local roads. This fund will go towards supporting infrastructure projects on key local roads and be used to ease congestion. Over £17 million has been allocated to Northamptonshire as a whole, which will not only be targeted at new projects, but also towards repairing existing roads and potholes.  Having called and campaigned for this additional funding, I will most definitely be working hard to ensure that we get our fair share in Corby and East Northamptonshire.
On Monday, I was very pleased to attend a meeting that I had organised with the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch MP, and one of my constituents, Alex Paske, who is CEO of Mintridge Events. Mintridge is a fantastic company based in Corby, which provides training and mentorship for young people through a programme of professional athletes going into schools and colleges and giving speeches, coaching, guidance and support. It was great to hear about the progress that Mintridge has made since we last met, and I know that the Minister was very impressed with the amazing work that Alex and her ambassadors are doing to increase sporting participation, not to mention foster a better understanding of physical and mental health in young people.
On Monday during a debate about the National Citizen Service Bill, I said a big ‘thank you’ and congratulations to everyone involved in delivering the NCS in Corby and East Northamptonshire. During the debate, the Secretary of State said a lot about the clear benefits of the scheme and I asked her if she agreed that boosting the employability of our young people is one of its key achievements, as, through the programme, they learn lots of key skills that transfer well into the workplace. In her answer, the Secretary of State said she absolutely agreed, and that the soft skills that NCS offers to our young people make them much more employable and much more valuable in the workplace. She added that this is exactly what we want to see from the NCS, among its many other benefits, which I have had the pleasure to see first hand in our area. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
Last Friday, I was pleased to be able to make a contribution during the debate on the Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Bill. This Bill aims to make DAB broadcasting more accessible for smaller, more local, community based radio stations. Currently, there are only two tiers of DAB broadcasting, a national tier, and a county tier - making it very expensive for smaller stations who do not wish to broadcast to a county-wide audience, given that they have a much more local focus. This Bill aims to introduce a third tier, specifically aimed at helping those smaller, more local stations, move towards DAB broadcasting. I believe that this Bill is one of great benefit, and with people moving ever more towards DAB rather than FM, it is crucial that these local stations are not left behind or disadvantaged – particularly because of the contribution they make to communities, local services and communication with local people in local areas. Indeed, I was delighted to be able to speak in a very local context - raising the incredible contribution that both Corby Radio and Connect FM make in our area, and highlighting how this Bill would be of benefit to them. Therefore, I was very pleased that the Bill passed its Second Reading and will now pass to the Committee Stage, where I have offered to serve on the Bill Committee. You can watch the debate here.
This week I was pleased to hear the good news that the national unemployment rate is at an 11 year low of 4.8%. The number of those who are unemployed in Corby and East Northamptonshire has also fallen. Added to this, the employment rate currently stands at 74.5% - a near record high. This is a great start to 2017 and great news for Corby and East Northamptonshire and the country as a whole, although I will always shout for more new jobs and investment - we mustn't be complacent.
On Tuesday in the Chamber, during a Statement given by the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, I said that I wholeheartedly welcomed the Statement given, and the excellent speech of the Prime Minister too, setting out the Government's twelve point 'exit' plan. I then outlined how steel production is hugely important in Corby and East Northamptonshire, and I asked the Secretary of State if he would pledge to continue to consult widely on the future of the steel industry to make sure we get the arrangements right for it, because this is a vital and strategically important industry for our country. In his reply, the Secretary of State said that he would, and rest assured, the steel issue is one that I will keep plugging away on. You can see my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here. You can also see a letter from the Prime Minister, detailing the plan, here.
Yesterday in the Chamber, I asked the Church Commissioner what assessment the Church of England has made of recent trends in the level of theft of lead from church buildings. In her reply, the Commissioner outlined that the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division works closely with Historic England to monitor lead theft occurrences. She added that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 has substantially reduced the instances of churches having their lead roofs stolen, but she is aware that in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, lead theft remains a persistent problem. I then highlighted how St John’s Church, in Corby Old Village, has suffered a significant number of lead thefts in recent years, which has resulted in very high repair bills, and I asked the Commissioner if she would join me in condemning those who are responsible for those thefts, and if she would also congratulate the congregation on their spirited fundraising efforts to put things right and fix the roof. You can see my question and the Commissioner’s further answer, here.
On Thursday in the Chamber, during the Business of the House Statement, and further to my calls last week, I outlined how Nene Park was once the home of Rushden and Diamonds Football Club and is still a fully usable football stadium, but the demolition notices have been issued. I then asked if the Leader of the House would join me in urging the owners to sit down with the local authority, AFC Rushden and Diamonds, and the community, to have one last look at whether a solution can be found that retains all, or part of the stadium facilities, because once it is gone, it is gone forever.  I also asked if we could have a Statement next week on these matters. In his reply, the Leader of the House said that he thought this could be a natural Adjournment Debate opportunity - something I will explore - but that he also very much hoped that the sporting and other organisations locally in our area, could come together and find a way in which to maintain a clearly much-loved community sports facility.  Of course, I am clear that any model must be financially viable, but I do think it is important that community football continues to have a presence at Nene Park, and it may well be that any agreement could be beneficial to a number of local football clubs and sporting organisations.  Given that the owners have failed to secure planning permission in the past, before the bulldozers move in, surely it makes sense to have one last attempt to see if a plan can be drawn up that is mixed-use in nature, and which has an element of community football at its heart.  You can see my question and the Leader of the House’s answer, here.
On Wednesday, I was pleased to attend a meeting I had organised with Caroline Dinenage MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years, and representatives from the Pen Green Centre, in order to discuss funding reforms. During the meeting, Pen Green were able to raise the Early Years Funding Formula with the Minister, and feedback their first-hand experience; giving some input on how they thought this could be improved. The Government is keen to ensure that the funding reforms work for centres such as Pen Green. The meeting was also an excellent opportunity for the Minister to hear about the great work that Pen Green does in nursery provision and early intervention terms, which I know local families in Corby both appreciate and value. In light of the meeting, I am requesting a further meeting with Northamptonshire County Council to discuss Pen Green’s concerns, and I hope to try and forge better engagement between the centre and local NHS services too.
On Tuesday, representatives from Big Lottery Funding came to Parliament in order to discuss their community funding opportunities and explain how Corby and East Northamptonshire can fully benefit from these. During the meeting, it was explained that funding is available for community projects which local groups and charities can utilise; currently, according to Big Lottery Funding’s records, Corby is an area which doesn’t apply for a very large percentage of the available grants, therefore this could be  further utilised to grow local projects. You can find out more about funding opportunities for local projects, here.
Earlier today I was pleased to be able to make a contribution in the debate on the Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill. The Bill aims to complete the removal of historic provisions that penalised homosexual activity by repealing the now defunct provision that authorised the dismissal of a merchant seaman on the grounds of homosexual conduct. It is the last such provision penalising homosexual activity that remains on our statute book, and it should be removed – it is so important to make sure that discrimination is not allowed. The Bill was brought to the House for its Second Reading today, which I am pleased to say it passed with cross-party support, therefore the Bill will now progress to the Committee Stage. You can see the debate here.
TOM IN CORBY & EAST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
This week it is the NHS East Midlands Diabetes Prevention Week, and as part of the campaign, the diabetes charity Silver Star are participating in a Diabetes Prevention Roadshow, which involves mobile diabetes units being stationed in various locations across the county. This is giving members of the public the opportunity to find out what their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes is, and if deemed high, they will be referred straight onto the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. Type 2 Diabetes is one of the UK’s biggest health challenges, and there are currently 4.5 million people in the UK who have diabetes - mainly Type 2. The Prevention Week is a great initiative, doing important work to raise awareness about Diabetes, and I was pleased to see the roadshow visit Corby on Monday. 

A few weeks ago, the Government announced that it will support work on a proposed new ‘Garden Village’ at Deenethorpe Airfield, occupying part of the 600 acre site and comprising up to 1,500 homes, community facilities, shops, business premises and open green spaces.

The Deenethorpe Airfield project is one of 14 schemes across the country that will share £6 million funding, plus ongoing support from the Homes and Communities Agency, to help East Northamptonshire Council work with the landowner in preparing a detailed masterplan and delivery strategy. It will pay for extra staff capacity, specialist advice (such as design and viability) community engagement, and various studies.

I know that there are a number of local concerns relating to this project – particularly the impact of it upon existing local infrastructure, as I raised in the House this week – and I will do all that I can to ensure that local views and concerns are heard loud and clear as this project moves forward, as for this to be a signature development, it is essential that it has suitable infrastructure in place and that the development is sensitive to its rural surroundings.

A fortnight ago, after attending my weekly surgeries in both Corby and Oundle, I met with the Director of Mulberry Developments, to discuss the development at the site of Weldon Football Club, after the proposal received approval from the Corby Borough Council Planning Committee in November. At that time, a lot of residents raised concerns in objection to the proposal and I met with residents of the neighbouring Woodside Park to discuss their concerns about it, given that it is in such close proximity. During the meeting, I spoke to the representative from Mulberry Developments about the plans for this development, with a particular focus on mitigation for existing residents. I was pleased that, like me, he is keen to meet with Woodside Park residents again to allay any concerns, hear their feedback, and ensure that the development is as sensitive to its surroundings as possible. After this productive meeting, I then met with a number of constituents in Stamford Road, Weldon, to discuss concerns about speeding in the area, and to understand the issue first hand. At that meeting, we agreed an action plan and we will continue to work closely to ensure that these concerns are addressed.

The Macmillan Cancer Support Committees of Wellingborough, Rushden and Northampton have recently come together to organise a Northamptonshire County Ball for Macmillan Cancer Support at Wicksteed Park, which is taking place in March. All of the proceeds will be staying within the county to fund care for local cancer patients. It is set to be a fantastic evening with a four-course meal, dancing, silent auction and casino, and more details about the event can be found here. A great evening for a great cause!

A couple of weekends ago, on a Saturday morning, I went along to Corby Parkrun at West Glebe Park. It was great to see the run was so well attended and it was good to take part and run off some Christmas excess! Corby Parkrun is hugely impressive and organised solely by volunteers, who I was delighted to be able to thank for all of their efforts – with that Saturday being their 170th run, since first starting in 2013. I was also pleased to be able to make a donation to the Corby Parkrun AED Fund – they are running a fantastic campaign to raise funds for a defibrillator and aim to have one in West Glebe Park by March 2017, for whole community use in an emergency. You too can donate by visiting their website, here.

Further to attending the run, last Thursday in the Chamber, during the Business Statement, I highlighted Corby Parkrun's successes, which is brilliantly organised week in, week out, by Paul Humphreys and his superb team, who are also leading the defibrillator fundraising effort. I then asked the Leader of the House if we could have a debate to recognise the enormous community contribution that Parkrun makes across the country, and also to say a huge 'thank you' to all those who give up their free time to organise them. In his response, the Leader of the House said that it is right to salute the importance of the Parkrun movement as an entirely voluntary body that has energised, in more than one sense, thousands of people around the country to get more active and fitter in the way that every doctor would recommend. He further added that, although he could not offer a debate, he agreed that it has helped to raise significant sums of money for charities. You can see my question and the Leader of the House’s answer, here.

Last Tuesday, I popped along to the London Boat Show at the Excel Centre, to see representatives from Fairline Yachts in Oundle who are exhibiting at the event. It was good to see the impressive Fairline stand and to have a tour of one of the beautifully designed and manufactured boats that I first saw in production when I visited the company back in the summer.  Given where things were this time last year, what has been achieved by this new company - harnessing the old, distinguished, world renowned, brand - is quite remarkable.  I was also very taken by the video they have recently produced, which details the production process that goes on in Oundle, and which you can see here. I was absolutely delighted to be able to make it along to the event to support everyone involved and it is great to see the business doing so well - here's to many sales having been secured at the exhibition and an even better year for Fairline in 2017! 
In recent weeks, I have been contacted by an overwhelming number of residents expressing their concerns about the planning application for 80 new homes in Islip, on Toll Bar Road. Therefore, last week, I wrote a letter of objection to East Northamptonshire Council, outlining my support for the strongly expressed local objections. These very valid concerns include worries about infrastructure; such as the increased pressure on roads and the ability of local GP practices to deal with a development of this scale.  This development would also undoubtedly constitute a clear case of overdevelopment – at a time when our area is already experiencing rapid housing growth, particularly in the urban extensions around the towns, and when our ‘land supply’ targets have already been met. I do believe that these concerns should be listened to, and local opinion respected. 
 
Additionally, I have also written to East Northamptonshire Council regarding the Roxhill/Howdens planning application at Warth Park. This application has also generated very strong local objection, and there are concerns that not only will this development result in the loss of green open space, but it would also see Warth Park become larger in size than the town of Raunds itself, amongst other issues.  With objections having been submitted by many local residents, as well as Stanwick Parish Council and Raunds Town Council, as the local MP, I have also made a submission, relaying the points of concern that have been raised with me.
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:

Proposed Purchase of Sky 04-01-17

Arthritis Employment Support 09-01-17

Civil Partnerships 17-01-17

Maximum Workplace Temperature 17-01-17

Protection of Police Support Animals 17-01-17
TOM IN THE PRESS
Councillors call for action on 'death trap' Weldon road

Northants Telegraph, 11th January 2017

30 Under 30 Europe: Meet The Law & Policy Class Of 2017

Forbes, 15th January 2017


 
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