Rutland MP Alicia Kearns offers her viewpoint on farming, community funding, HMP Stocken and GP services
My first month flew by, and the second month was the same! While I’m getting settled in my new role, my work for Rutland and Melton hasn’t stopped, even for a moment.
I’ve managed to stand up for constituents who are getting hounded by DEFRA, highlighted the plight of prison guards attacked by inmates, insisted on greater investment for the A1, asked for better supply chains for food producers post-Brexit, was elected to the foreign affairs select committee and the Agriculture Public Bill Committee and, most importantly of all, managed to get the support of the prime minister for new or improved GP services in Oakham and Melton.
First of all, it might be a good idea to explain a bit the role of our committees: for our farmers, I’m so thrilled to be appointed to the agriculture public bill committee.
I will review the legislation, and make sure that the bill meets the needs of our farmers and our food producers, who do so much to keep our environment beautiful and our communities healthy.
But the agriculture bill committee only lasts until the end of March.
All year round, I was chosen, along with five other Conservative colleagues, to sit on the foreign affairs select committee where I will be scrutinising the government’s policies around the world. I hope I can use this opportunity to make sure we seize all the right opportunities post-Brexit.
When I stood for election, I promised to stand up for our farmers. To help food producers from across the United Kingdom I am about to host the first ever meeting of the all-party parliamentary group for geographically protected food.
Along with MPs from all other parties, I will defend and promote the homegrown delicacies that make this country great. In Rutland and Melton alone, we have three: Melton Mowbray pork pies, Stilton cheese and Rutland bitter.
I have been thrilled to have such a great reaction from my colleagues, and MPs from six different parties will be joining us!
The dedication that all of us show to keeping Rutland beautiful was also evident to me this week, as I took meetings with stakeholders, councillors and constituents about the St George’s Barracks development. While MPs should not get involved in local planning, I have written to the Ministry of Defence to ensure all the proper processes were followed, and I have relayed concerns to councillors.
At the same time, I have been working with local councillors to increase funding for our communities. The government must investment more in Rutland and Melton, which is why I have publicly raised the issue of the A1, and the dangerous slip-roads between Rutland, Melton and Grantham. We must see changes, and that’s why I am working with colleagues to deliver better road services in Rutland and Melton, and the entire East Midlands.
I have also communicated my strong views that central government must increase funding to our local councils: they are two of the most efficient councils in the country but suffer from chronic underfunding which needs to be addressed. I will continue the fight for fairer funding for rural areas, especially as we approach the deadline for the fairer funding review.
In Rutland we have the prison HMP Stocken, which unfortunately experienced a prison attack in the last month; a guard was assaulted quite severely. I wrote to the prison warden, and raised the fact that, despite guidelines saying that sentences for attacking prison guards should be served consecutively with the prisoners other offences, they are often served concurrently, meaning that prisoners have no extra punishment for assaulting prison guards. This must change, and I will continue to stand up for our brave men and women in the justice system.
Happily, though, I am a step forwardin one major campaign commitment of mine: the prime minister has backed our campaigns for betterGP servicesin Rutland and Melton. This will help relieve the pressure on our healthcare providers, and it will ensure that over 50,000 patients have access to more timely care.
In Oakham, the current surgery is 4,000 patients oversubscribed, and the building badly needs to be upgraded.
Working with local councils, I have submitted plans to the Treasury for approval, and the health secretary has taken a personal interest.
While it’s early days yet, I am hopeful that, with the prime minister’s backing, Oakham and Melton will have the GP services they deserve. The prime minister has also pledged to come up and see this beautiful constituency. I cannot wait to see him in Rutland!
As I look back on this month’s successes I can’t help but be proud of what we’ve achieved together, and I’m looking forward to working for more progress in Rutland and Melton in the months ahead!
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