Despite the extraordinary circumstances of the last seven months, I remain committed to delivering on the pledges I was elected on. Getting to know many of you on the doorstep, it has become clear to me that residents want improved local transport networks – and I promised to fight for it.
On top of my work to make the A1 safer and more efficient, I want to ensure residents have more efficient and greener travel options to reduce pressure on busy local roads, and so they can enjoy our beautiful area when the pandemic is over.
In June I submitted two bids to the Department for Transport to improve rail connectivity locally. My first bid seeks to bring a more frequent and reliable service on the Poacher Line at Bottesford, and my second seeks to increase services to Nottingham to Leicester, via Syston and Loughborough from Melton.
At this stage hearing from residents would be immensely helpful, so I have launched a survey on my website for you to have your say about local rail provision at Bottesford. I am grateful to those residents who have already completed the survey, and hope many more have their say to help me make the case to Government! In the meantime, I expect to be able to report good news shortly around improvements to the A52 junction at Bottesford for road users.
On health provision locally, since my last article a consultation has been launched by the CCG on the future provision of maternity services in Melton. What was missing from the consultation is detail about the future sustainability of Melton Mowbray Hospital and a clear timetable for how they will engage with the people of Melton to make sure they are listening to you. I have written to the CCG to request urgent clarifications, will be visiting the birth centre, and working to make sure Meltonians get their voices heard.
It’s important that we invest in clean energy, and the Prime Minister was clear that this is an absolute priority for our nation during his speech at Conservative Party Conference. So I was pleased to visit Holwell Church with Farmland Deanery last week to learn about their Sustainability Project which studies the feasibility of economic and environmentally sustainable ways to generate energy for churches. This is an incredibly exciting and important project that could shape sustainability in churches across our country right from Melton! I look forward to supporting them with this, and to see the learnings rolled out nationally.
I’ve also been working with my colleagues at the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) in my capacity as Parliamentary Private Secretary on the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery fund. I’m delighted to report that on Monday, six arts and theatre organisations with importance to us locally were awarded almost £650,000 to bolster them through the pandemic. This money will go directly towards helping performances to restart and venues reopen, alongside protecting jobs and creating opportunities locally. On top of this a few weeks ago, the wonderful Regal Cinema on King Street was awarded £8,375 from the same fund to enable them to stay open. I’m proud to have worked on this landmark package, and to see us benefitting in Rutland and Melton.
Finally, it falls on me to update you all on where we are with the effort to defeat COVID-19. Sadly, in the last few weeks, the number of COVID patients admitted to intensive care across the country has quadrupled, and even increased sevenfold in some places. The data is telling us that if infections continue to rise at the rate they are now nationally, then in just four weeks’ time hospitals could be treating more COVID patients than they did at the peak of the first wave. That’s why on Monday, the Prime Minister announced a new three-tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England, so localised targeted measures can be taken in response to regional surges and prevent the virus from seeding further into our country.
The rising incidence of COVID-19 incidence and hospital infection across the country is a stark reminder that we must all remain alert to the threat of COVID-19, but the guidance locally does not change in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement. However, if we see a dramatic increase in cases here in Melton, our local COVID Alert Level could be raised.We all have a personal responsibility to follow the guidance: don’t meet up in groups of more than six socially, wash your hands regularly, maintain distance from others and wear face coverings where required.
I am acutely aware of the huge sacrifices residents have made to protect each other and our NHS since March. We need to keep going to save both lives and livelihoods.