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Dear Constituent,

It has been another busy month representing Ipswich, meeting with residents and local businesses on a range of issues.

I have made a number of speeches in Parliament about a Global Britain in a post brexit world and the importance of increased trading potential for Ipswich and I continue to work hard to ensure that the people of Ipswich feel safe on the streets of the town and that prisoners who break rules, are punished.

I have made a number of visits to Ipswich Hospital to discuss a range of topics. Last week I was able to welcome the Health Minister Edward Argar to Ipswich Hospital for a tour and to discuss the newly planned £35 million A&E department.

Visit to my website

Last week, Tom intervened in the House of Commons debate on the Police Grant Report to demand fairer funding for Suffolk Constabulary.

The Police Grant Report is how Parliament approves the central police funding allocation for each force every financial year. This year the Government is pumping an additional £1.1 billion into policing nationwide with Suffolk receiving up to £9.2 million extra.

While this additional funding is welcome, only £152 is spent per head of population on policing in Suffolk, compared to a national average of £192 per head. And if Suffolk received the national average funding, Suffolk Constabulary’s budget would be increased by nearly £30 million.

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Announcement on Orthopaedic Centre & visit to Ipswich Hospital with Health Minister, Edward Argar

I am disappointed that the public consultation launched earlier this month indicates that the new Orthopaedic Centre for elective surgeries will not be based in Ipswich. Since the merger with Colchester Hospital there have been some positive developments; most notably that a brand new £35 million state of the art Accident and Emergency department will open its doors to Ipswich residents in 2022.

In my second speech in Parliament, I made it clear that I would take on a “watchdog” role to ensure that Ipswich benefits as much as possible from the merger with Colchester Hospital. Since the announcement, I have also raised my concerns about the merger with Colchester Hospital and the future of Orthopaedic Services at Ipswich Hospital directly with the Health Minister, Edward Argar during his visit to Ipswich last week.

Orwell Bridge Update

Earlier this month I wrote a letter to Highways England regarding the current situation with the Orwell Bridge. This follows the recent publication of the report into the Orwell Bridge by Highways England and recent closures. Though on the one hand its good to see that this time next year there will likely be no more wind related closures of the Orwell Bridge because of the new speed restriction, it is frustrating that it will likely take an extended period of time for these new measures to be introduced, meaning that in the short term there will be no relief.

I do not believe that Highways England have embraced this issue with the urgency required. Closures of the bridge cause major disruption for my constituents and taking 14 months to produce the study was unacceptable. You can understand that when Highways England massively overrun on the time they said it would take to produce the report, that many of us are concerned that Highways England will take a long time to introduce the measures outlined in the study. In my letter I have been clear that I will be monitoring the situation closely and would like to have regular meeting to check progress.
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Meeting with Prisons Minister, Lucy Frazer

This month I met with the Prisons Minister, Lucy Frazer and I am pleased that she outlined a number of steps the Government are taking to prevent social media use in prisons. During my meeting, the Prisons Minister also confirmed to me that all those found guilty of using social media in prison had been punished appropriately.

The Government have also set up a £100 million fund which will help tackle this issue, this will include cutting edge phone detection and blocking technology as well as new body scanners. This will all be rolled out this summer. I fear that there could be more examples of social media being used in prison by those found guilty of serious offences but I am glad the Government are taking this so seriously. Rest assured I will continue to monitor developments closely and I do not see this as the end of involvement with the issue.
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Selection to the House of Commons Education Select Committee

I am extremely honoured to have secured a place on the House of Commons Education Select Committee. The Committee is composed of 11 MPs from a number of different parties and is responsible for holding to account the Department for Education and other associated organisations such as Ofsted.

As many of you know, I'm very passionate about working to ensure that all children regardless of special educational needs they may have, is given every opportunity to achieve their full potential. I also feel that my responsibilities on this committee sit comfortably with my primary responsibility which is serving my constituents. I know how important education is an issue for thousands of my constituents and hopefully this gives me a platform to promote positive change.
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Meeting with Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse

Earlier this month I met with the Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse to discuss my concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour issues in Ipswich. I made clear that I think there needs to be a fairer funding formula that benefits Suffolk more than the current system and that there should be a zero tolerance approach to crime and anti social behaviour issues.

I was glad the Minister agreed with my approach and he should know, when he was Deputy Mayor for Boris Johnson he was responsible for tackling crime across the capital and he did a very good job. I was also given an update regarding the recruitment of 20,000 extra police officers and the benefit this will bring to towns such as Ipswich.
Tackling Crime

Meeting with Suffolk County Council Leadership

I held good discussions at Endeavour House with Suffolk County Council cabinet members this month. I discussed in detail a number of issues including infrastructure and special educational needs provision.

I was pleased to hear about the councils plans for 800 plus places over the next five years, with 200 of those places becoming available this September. This is part of the £45m investment agreed last year by the Suffolk County Council Cabinet.

I pledge to fight like a lion for those affected by dangerous cladding in Ipswich

Many locally will know about the ordeal of the St Francis Tower leaseholders who are being asked to stump up over £20,000 to replace the dangerous cladding on their building. Many of them have been in touch with me to tell me about the uncertainty and frustration that this has caused. They have seen their property prices fall too and communication from the building’s management company has been patchy at best, leading many of them to feel trapped.

Earlier in the month I was able to represent their message plainly to the Government. At present, the Government has made money available for replacing cladding on buildings which is the same type of cladding that was on Grenfell Tower. But no money is available for replacing the type of cladding on St Francis Tower despite it having been just as dangerous. I was clear to the Government that this is unfair and the programme must be expanded to end the uncertainty for St Francis Tower leaseholders.

I encouraged the Government to then go after the freeholders who installed this dangerous cladding to recoup the public’s money. It’s those who were in positions of responsibility and didn’t obey regulations when the cladding was put up that should be held responsible, not the leaseholders.

More videos

Global Britain in a post Brexit world

In the run up to the 31st of January, I made my third speech in Parliament in the “Global Britain debate”. I stressed the importance of increased trading potential for Ipswich bearing in mind it’s close proximity to the Port of Felixstowe and the Port of Ipswich.

Overall around 6,000 of my constituents are employed at one of the two Ports. I said that we stand ready to help the country achieve its trading ambitions as we leave the EU but to do so we need increased Government investment into both our road and rail infrastructure. In other words, the Government needs to help us so we can help them. As you all know, I’m optimistic and ambitious about what both we can achieve in Ipswich and also as a country post Brexit.
Delivering Brexit

Beer & Pubs - Let's get behind them!

During my campaign and since my election, many people have written to me about pubs and their concerns that the current tax regime doesn’t allow our local pubs to thrive. I’ve had some of my best moments in Ipswich at our pubs and I share their concerns that high beer duty and business rates are causing pubs to struggle and in some cases even shut down.
I recently represented this view in Parliament including the comment of one landlord I spoke to who said he felt more like a tax collector than a small business owner.I’ve called on the Government to get behind landlords and pubs in the next budget as the current system does not work.

Pubs employ around 1,500 people in Ipswich and are great venues for the community to come together over a drink – jobs, landlords and community must be at the heart of reform.

Think ‘pharmacy first’

At the weekend I met with Caroline and Jonathan from boots Ipswich to discuss the recently launched NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

In the first 10 weeks of the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), a total of 114,275 patients with minor illnesses, or those who urgently needed medicines, were directed from NHS 111 to a consultation with their local pharmacist.

The scheme, which launched last October, has already helped to relieve pressure on the wider NHS, including GP surgeries, by connecting patients with community pharmacists.

The pharmacy first approach makes life easier for patients and will help reduce pressure in the NHS. Patients with minor illnesses assessed closer to home, saving them unnecessary trips to A&E or their local GP surgery, and helping people get the care and advice they need quicker. We want every patient with a minor illness to think ‘pharmacy first’.

The government confirmed the consultation service is expected to expand to referrals from general practice by the end of 2020, subject to successful evaluation of pilots.

Photos from the previous month

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