Wishing you all a very happy 2019!
After spending the Christmas break recharging with my family, I am ready for what has already been, a crucial few weeks.
While Brexit is very much taking the foreground, I think that it is still important to recognise hard work, fantastic local achievements and the staunch South West Norfolk spirit!
Meetings and Events
Parliamentary Pub of the Year Awards Absolutely thrilled that The King's Arms in Shouldham was the East of England regional finalist for Parliamentary Pub of the Year. The King's Arms was one of the first in the country to become a community-run enterprise, having secured a substantial grant of nearly £200,000 from the Department of Communities and Local Government as part of the government’s commitment to help retain community assets within rural villages. This along with the £150,000 raised in share issues allowed the Shouldham Community Enterprises to purchase and refurbish the pub in 2014, with the official re-opening taking place in the summer of 2014.
From day one when local residents rallied round to save the pub from permanent closure, launching a creative and highly professional share issue, the King’s Arms has gone from strength to strength. They have created a warm and welcoming hub in the village. This is so very well deserved. It was great to welcome Ian, Abbie and Joanna to Westminster for the awards ceremony. We made sure to have a toast in the Parliamentary pub first! Really proud- well done!
Watch The King's Arms entry video here
Holkham Christmas Fair Top Norfolk produce on offer at Holkham Christmas Fair including new Norwich mustard made at the prison. #retailtherapy #Norfolkfoodgold
Dr Who New Years Special Visa-free travel with the Time Lord....#doctorsorders) #tardistime #doctorwhonewyearspecial at the British Film Institute
HMT Football team Celebrating the Treasury knocking the Foreign Office off the top spot to win the Civil Service football league. #treasuryontop #whitehallwinners
Norwich City Football Club I support safe standing being allowed in the Championship and Premier League. More choice and better atmosphere for fans. Proud @NorwichCityFC have led the way on this. #freetostand #ncfc
Countryside Alliance, Rural Oscars The 2018/9 Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars are in full swing! I proudly nominated a number of local businesses in the constituency- South West Norfolk has such rich offerings and it was great to see people supporting their local community businesses and producers.I am absolutely delighted that Garboldisham Stores and JW Sargeant Family Butchers in Stowbridge are regional finalists for the East of England!
Silica Quarry I joined campaigners opposed to the silica quarrying site planned between Marham and Shouldham. We walked along the proposed area for the site and I listened to some of the points made by residents about the impact on the surrounding area and community. Sibelco invited North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham and I to view their existing operation at Leiziate and meet the manager. I am concerned about the centrally imposed plan and am taking it up with the Secretary of State and County Council.
Holocaust Memorial 2019 I signed the Book Of Commitment to ensure we always remember this terrible atrocity and never allow it to be repeated.
Articles and Appearances
Fruit Pig As a firm follower of Fruit Pig, (having met the company at the infamous Porkstock festival at the Norfolk Showground) I was delighted to visit the heart of their production line in Wisbech and talk post-Brexit trade opportunities.The traditional breeds butchery company not only delivers its produce to top end restaurants and delis around the country, but also exports as far as Macau and Hong Kong! Great to see their passion for food and hear their plans for the future. I would highly recommend the black pudding!
Shire Foods What an Aladdin’s cave at Shire Foods! I popped in and stocked up on all the Christmas essentials.
British Sugar, Wissington invited me to view their impressive £3 million new investment in automated warehousing and to help bring in the beet. Afterwards, we discussed their post-Brexit strategy- a vote of confidence in Norfolk and the UK.
Visit to Kent As Chief Secretary to the Treasury, I visited local businesses in Kent and urged them to take advantage of exporting opportunities. Click here to read about my visit to Kent
We made the announcement that we are increasing the Police Grant by inflation and further reform will mean more for the frontline. The freedom for local Police Chiefs to raise the precept by £24 per year places the decision about resourcing rightly in the hands of local people.This could mean a funding boost for Norfolk Police of up to £11.2m in 2019/20- important that the police have the powers and resources needed to keep our families, communities and country safe. Click here to read more about the funding increase
Google at Downham Market Academy Fab to join Google at Downham Market Academy as students took part in a ‘Be Internet Citizens’ workshop. Covering really important topics like fake news, bullying, staying safe online- as well as activities in creating content. Great to see and I even picked up a few handy tips for my own Insta!
Downham Market Prep Downham Market Prep has just invested in a superb new science block. Students are already benefiting from the new building and showed me some exciting experiments with beetroot juice when I came for the grand opening!
Ongoing concerns I am incredibly frustrated by the service on the Kings Lynn to London line. Passengers should not have to experience delays, cancellations and overcrowding at such an alarmingly frequent rate. It is not good enough and I have raised my concerns with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Before the May 2018 timetable was implemented, I had met GTR senior staff to highlight my concerns about the new schedule. Unfortunately, there are still problems on the route and I know residents and businesses are extremely angry by the ongoing problems.
I have also recently pressed Network Rail on when the eight car scheme to Kings Lynn will be operational. I will be meeting them in early February to discuss further and receive an update on Ely North.
Rail users need to know that projects will be delivered, that they have a reliable train service and that capacity will be increased to accommodate demand – regrettably this is not happening as quickly as it should and I am heavily lobbying the Department for Transport on this matter.
I have received a large amount of correspondence about the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the future relationship between our country and the EU. I understand that this is something people feel very strongly about.The Prime Minister has confirmed that no deal remains on the table, Article 50 will not be extended and has ruled out a second referendum. I support the Prime Minister in efforts to secure a Brexit deal and look again at the backstop.
However, while we are doing this we must keep no deal on the table and prepare for all eventualities.