The Princess Royal visit to Chipping Campden
I was delighted to be in Chipping Campden to visit Robert Welch Designs Ltd along with HRH The Princess Royal for the official presentation of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. It is excellent to see a British company receive the Queen’s Award and even more so that it is in the constituency. Not only is Robert Welch Designs experiencing record order numbers in the UK, it is also exporting around the world – particularly to the Far East. We must do everything we can to continue to make The Cotswolds an attractive home for businesses such as this especially in terms of local employment. It was lovely to see HRH on such excellent form and I was encouraged by her statement that she hopes to see Robert Welch Designs receive many more awards in the future.
IDU conference in Munich
I was in Munich for a couple of days last week to attend the annual IDU executive meeting. These events are extremely important and it is the duty of any MP to promote British interests in the international arena. Whilst in Bavaria – along with party representatives from across the globe – I visited the amazing BMW factory in Munich to see first-hand the engineering prowess of the German automotive industry. The keynote speech that I gave to the international delegations encapsulated my thoughts on this visit. It is clear that with the UK market positioned as such an important customer for European goods, there is absolutely no reason why it is not in the EU’s best interest to formulate a mutually beneficial trade deal with the UK.
Restoration and Renewal of Parliament
Later this week I will be speaking in an extremely important debate in Parliament on its ongoing restoration and renewal. As one of the House’s only Chartered Surveyors, and a long-term member of the House of Commons’ Finance Committee, the issue of restoration and renewal is one that I take with the utmost seriousness. The Palace of Westminster is truly an iconic building and completely symbolic of everything that the UK’s democracy stands for. MPs have an absolute duty to the British people to maintain this building. There are three schools of thought concerning how the restoration should be executed. One is the impractical process of performing maintenance work during parliamentary recesses; this would equate to over 30 years of building work and is unfeasible and costly. The second school argues that Parliament should decant 50% of the building at a time and work around the restoration work. Not only would this pose extreme danger through exposure to fatal levels of asbestos and unreliable electricity circuits, it would also substantially increase the costs as extra measures would have to be taken to work around parliamentarians. The third and most sensible option is to exercise a full decant of the Palace. This would provide a good sound basis for the successful restoration of the building and would mean that we do not repeat the mistakes of only undertaking partial work for future generations.
National Funding Formula
I would like to take this opportunity to mention my work in rectifying the proposed National Funding Formula for schools in the constituency. I believe that it is important to get a result on this matter as it is clear that rural schools are disproportionately affected by this funding. Having campaigned for a National Funding Formula, rural areas seem to be losing out substantially under the new system. Those of us who represent rural areas have to persuade the Government that this is unfair.
Universal Service Obligation
I recently spoke in the broadband universal service obligation debate in Parliament to encourage the Government to improve service provision and coverage nationwide. Within a week, an additional £440 million of central funding had been announced. This is a perfect example of how an MP can help their constituents and I intend to continue to do the same for schools in the Cotswolds. Bourton-on-the-Water Buses Last week, in Bourton-on-the-Water, I had a number of very timely conversations with a several residents about the bus route in preparation for my rural bus service meeting in the town on Friday 27 January. I will provide an update of this meeting in next week’s newsletter.
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