Many thanks for offering me the opportunity to report back to you on my activities specifically on the parishes behalf whilst being your MP between 2015-to this week. I intend therefore to discuss what I have done as MP, and not to take advantage of you for a lengthy candidate’s speech, though it would be a strong and stable one.
There are a number of generic issues which continue to affect residents here as elsewhere in CBC. The impact of planning decisions, of which of course this whole development is one, continues to be both a source of good and more difficult news. It is good that people want to continue to come to live and work in our part of the country, but that growth needs accommodated. Keeping pace in terms of sustainability of services, whether they are in transport, education or health, is of great importance to me and your representatives, not least those on CBC. I should place on record my thanks to them, and particularly to your Chairman and to Cllr Steve Dixon, for their regular contact and partnership in a number of issues we have tackled together.
I am aware of the expansion of the lower school, and the new Pix Brook Academy close by to cope with anticipated demand, which is helpful, but also of the recent decisions which have affected destinations of pupils for the coming year which have caused difficulties for a number of parents. I know that Councillor Dixon, as portfolio holder in education, is particularly engaged with this. Whilst I am happy to listen to any queries on this tonight, we both felt, as he could not be here, that offering a specific time to discuss these in more detail might be helpful to those who wish to do so, and of course we are both able to deal with individual concerns in a more private way for those who wish.
Part of my role is to keep in regular contact with the NHS, the police, local authorities and transport operators – which I have kept up this past couple of years. Almost invariably now these meetings involve how steady improvements to service can be delivered within tight cost envelopes, and I do not expect much change in that. The recent report by the Inspector of Constabulary about the police, was, I thought, unfair on Bedfordshire to pick them out as the only force in the country as inadequate, but whatever that sense it is essential in your interest to see significant improvement from the new PCC and yet another new Chief Constable, and they are both very determined to do so. I expect much better by the end of this present year.
On two specific matters, however, I was involved closely with the Parish and Steve Dixon, namely the Anglian Water issue and the Post Office designation for Fairfield. My role in such matters is to work with your representatives, and apply pressure when appropriate, not to get in the way of those trying to resolve a problem. There are times when an MP can be a hindrance, and slow things up, and times when an MP can be a help, by moving matters up the scale or ensuring that the urgency of a problem has been truly grasped.
In both these issues I think our partnership has been a success, and again I am very appreciative of the hard work consistently done on your behalf by those who are much more on the spot than I can be.
On Anglian Water, I was alerted by residents at the outset, and worked with Steve, CBC and the parish council to see what had happened, why and how quickly things could be put right. What was affecting you was not acceptable, and I grew frustrated at the time being taken to resolve matters, or even make clear what was to be done as a matter of greater urgency to end the problem. Having made clear to the Chief Executive, that unless things moved more quickly, that investment was brought forward, he would have to meet me on site, or at a parish meeting to explain why not, there was, coupled with the abatement notice from the CBC, some movement, as you have heard. I am pleased we are joined tonight by representatives from Anglian Water who can say more about what is planned, and I am quite sure you will make clear that we will be keeping them up to their commitments, and there will be no complacency on your representatives’ behalf.
On the Post Office, I am very pleased to hear the news announced tonight. That took some pushing too! After hearing, not for the first time, of the insuperable difficulties which would afflict the Post Office by removing the word ‘Stotfold’ from your addresses, I upped the engagement to the Chief Executive of the Post Office. The detrimental impact suddenly appeared resolved! I will place in the Parish Records my letter of the 3rd February, and the reply from the Post Office of 20th April.
Apart from all this, I kept in contact with the continuing issues at the Hall, popped into the community event last summer, and I look forward to the 5k fun run next week! I enjoy my contact with a very engaged community, and am very pleased to have presented this brief report to you this evening.