MP Jo Churchill focuses on issues affecting the Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket areas
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who have been successful in this week’s election and look forward to working with them for our communities.
Much has changed over the last month, outdoor hospitality, retail and leisure has reopened, and we can now meet up with friends and family again, albeit whilst respecting the rule of six.
This cautious reopening has been possible because of the hard work of people up and down the country delivering the vaccine rollout and respecting Covid guidance.
I am pleased businesses once again are able to offer their services to customers, I have certainly enjoyed popping into shops and cafes on some truly glorious Suffolk spring days recently. It is fantastic to see the town centre busy with people perusing shops and eating and drinking in pubs, restaurants and cafes around town and the market buzzing with activity. Shopping local is something we can all do to help as we recover post pandemic.
How we build back better and recover from coronavirus will be laid out by the Queen next Tuesday in Parliament. Her Majesty, in the Queen’s Speech, will outline the Government’s plans for the next Parliamentary session, with a focus on the future legislative programme.
I know from talking to constituents on the doorstep during the local election campaign that people’s priorities here are focused on the environment, infrastructure and jobs and health and wellbeing. On the environment, I am delighted to be leading work with local campaigners and regional and national groups to improve the water quality of the river Lark. Improving our chalk streams and other waterways by working on storm overflows and river pollution is important and I am glad to see this is now in the Environment Bill. I have also been working alongside council colleagues to ensure that flood safeguards are put in place to mitigate some of the issues seen both in Bury St Edmunds and villages around the constituency. I am pleased therefore that Suffolk County Council are pledging to invest a further £10million to tackle road flooding, an important first step to fixing what can be devastating on people’s homes and businesses.
On infrastructure, alongside MP colleagues from across East Anglia we met with Ministers at the Department for Transport in order to put the case forward for major improvements to the A14 and key rail junctions at Haughley and Ely. These upgrades would provide a major boost to Suffolk, improving our connection with the Midlands and the key trading port of Felixstowe. This will help us continue to attract businesses to set up and invest in the constituency, offering good quality jobs and driving the local economy. We also need to see continued investment in broadband, as we still have Wi-Fi blackspots in rural areas where residents struggle to connect, fixing this is a key step in levelling up and giving everyone access to fast broadband. The Government has committed to working with us to look at Suffolk as a whole and not leave anyone behind.
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of looking after our health and wellbeing, an issue that was repeatedly raised on the doorstep. As we look to build back better, this must include helping people improve their physical and mental health, alongside joining up services. The new Health and Care bill which will come in at the next session aims to do just this. In Bury St Edmunds we have a good choice of leisure facilities that can help individuals on the road to a healthier lifestyle. However, In Stowmarket we have less to offer residents. This is why I am working alongside stakeholders in the town to put forwards plans for a sports, leisure and education complex based between Stowmarket High School and Mid Suffolk Leisure centre. This aims to incorporate improved tennis courts, 5G all weather training pitch and a running track to be used by clubs and individuals across the community. This plan is in the early stages, but one I believe has the potential to help improve the health and wellbeing of local residents and improve facilities at the heart of communities.
-- Jo Churchill is MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket