Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill is upbeat after the Conservative party conference
This week I attended the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, to hear about the Government’s plans for our country as we build back better following the pandemic.
As we recover and rebuild, we must seize the opportunity to fix the long-standing problems that exist and level up opportunities across this country, including here in Suffolk.
That means taking action on the difficult decisions that have challenged politicians for too long – delivering a plan to fund social care, building enough houses so home ownership is a realistic aspiration and driving a green industrial revolution to tackle climate change and create high skilled, high wage jobs.
Delivering a green industrial revolution is vital as we move the country towards our net zero targets, which is an area my new portfolio in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs focuses on. To achieve this, we must look at doing things differently. For example, I recently visited the amazing Rothamsted research site to look at gene editing in plants and trees. Gene editing allows breeders to speed up processes that often happen naturally in plants over time. Plants can be developed that are resistant to disease or have an improved taste, reducing dependence on pesticides and allowing crops to be planted and thrive in difficult conditions. This enables us to help less developed countries with their food and agricultural processes.
As the Prime Minister outlined in his conference speech, we need to build back better, greener and fairer. A key part of this is levelling up our education system, to give all young people the same opportunities right across the country. This is an area of particular interest to me in our constituency of Bury St Edmunds. Although many would presume we have more opportunities than people from other parts of the country, this is not always the case. A number of schools in the area require improvement and have done so for a number of years. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of more funding for education and for teaching in particular, I will continue to make our case to the Department of Education to unlock the potential of our schools and drive-up standards across the board.
Giving young people opportunities doesn’t end with their education. The Prime Minister’s speech detailed housing as also key to opening up opportunity to the younger generation. This Government has made 5% deposits available for first time buyers, to enable them to get their foot on the property ladder. However, even 5% deposits are not enough to allow all first time buyers to find a home; currently we don’t have the capacity to meet that demand. Consequently we have to build more homes, but they must fit in with our local towns and villages, be built with care and with respect to their environment, and encapsulate all modern building methods to help us achieve net zero.
The theme running through the Prime Minister’s conference speech was opportunity. As we continue our economic recovery from Covid, and as the fastest growing member of the G7, we must use the momentum to drive entrepreneurship and business forward. We are lucky to have some fantastic businesses across the constituency, from the small to the multinational. The Freeport at Felixstowe, being delivered by the Government, will undoubtedly bring more businesses who will create opportunities and economic growth for Suffolk.
Of course, there is always more to do in the constituency, and I will continue to beat the drum for further investment in our area, including improvements to the A14, investment in sporting and leisure facilities, upgrading of key rail junctions and many more. These are the issues I will take to Government to ensure we can truly build back better for across the generations.