There is great optimism and a sense of purpose in Parliament which I have not felt in many months and Westminster feels like a good place to work again. Towards the end of the last session, the Government felt paralysed by Brexit delay and it was difficult for members across the House to get work done on behalf of their constituents. I am both glad and relieved that the new Conservative majority government is on schedule to meet our election pledge of leaving the EU with a deal by January 31st. With this great weight lifted we can all go about the most important business Members of Parliament undertake; working on behalf of our constituents to bring positive change to our communities.
After returning to Parliament in the New Year I have been busy reconnecting with many of the companies and groups that I’ve been working with to achieve outcomes for North Cornwall. Infrastructure and transport links were a big issue for us at the General Election, and I have sought an update from Great Western Railways concerning their new timetable. They’ve informed me that the key change for Cornwall is that all the London trains now run without stopping between Taunton and Reading, saving around 11 minutes on the overall journey time. We also now have half-hourly, instead of hourly, trains between Plymouth and Penzance. The trains are also better thanks to improved rolling stock on Cornish lines with more four carriage trains in service, replacing the two-car trains which many local people don’t like.
I was also pleased to hear from Connect Bude, the group that are campaigning to get Bude back on the national rail network. Last year we worked together to put forward a bid for a feasibility study as a first step in achieving our goal. We should find out whether we were successful soon.
Like many North Cornwall residents, I was disappointed to learn that Stratton MIU has been temporarily closed overnight for the second time in recent years. I immediately wrote to Phil Confue, Chief Executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to ask for clarifications regarding this temporary closure and raise my concerns about Stratton staff being used as a backup for the main hospital in Treliske. I also met with local members of Cornwall Council to discuss this matter further, and I will relay their feedback to the Secretary of State for Health as soon as possible. I hope that the situation can be rectified quickly, and Stratton Hospital can be used to its full potential serving the local community.
Over the next few years, I am hoping to continue the good relationships I have built with members of the Council and support the good work these members do behalf of the community, so it was great to be at County Hall recently to attend the first of my regular meetings with Cornwall Council to discuss local issues. These meetings give me a chance to raise constituent concerns with the Chief Executive and relay feedback from the Council to Westminster. Last year, Bodmin came together to put forward plans for the town’s future vision under the ‘Bodmin 2030’ scheme; I have given this project my full support. I hope to be able to champion Bodmin 2030 in Parliament and I will update readers on this later in the year. Here are the priorities for North Cornwall which I put forward during the meeting:
- Housing – locals’ discounts; seeking a reduction in restrictions on pension providers being able to invest in social housing
- Health – urban-rural disparity and the challenges of health provision in Cornwall; organisational structure and whether we need a single body in charge of health delivery to establish clear accountability; how we can bring e-health into the system.
- Environment – including creating a cycle network across Cornwall also bringing economic uplift for rural areas.
- Transport – Camelford bypass and a new rail line between Plymouth and Exeter via Okehampton
- Skills – upskilling people in work, working with job centres.
I look forward to updating you again soon.