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Ed Vaizey MP - News, July 2017

on Tue, 04/07/2017 - 4:59pm

I would like to start this month with a huge thank you to my constituents for re-electing me as MP for Wantage and Didcot with an increased vote share and a record number of votes. It has been a great honour to represent you over the past 12 years and I am relishing the opportunity to continue working hard to hear, voice and address your concerns over the course of the next Parliament.

Congratulations to Layla Moran, the new MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, who I look forward to working with on county issues. She replaces my friend the brilliant Nicola Blackwood – a great Parliamentarian, a tireless campaigner, a tremendous minister - her presence will be missed both in Oxfordshire and Westminster.

Parliament diversity and turnout

Figures indicate that the turnout of young voters has increased dramatically compared to the last General Election. This is excellent for political engagement as a whole and reaffirms the need to increase the government’s focus on the issues most affecting young people.

Further, this new Parliament is the most diverse to date. The total number of female MPs has jumped to a record 208 – up from 191 elected in the 2015 General Election. There has also been an increase in LGBT, ethnic minority, disabled and state-educated MPs. This reflects a considerable change in the landscape of British politics and is a welcome step towards truly representing the nation as a whole.

Fire Safety

Following the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower, I convened a group of Oxfordshire MPs to meet with Simon Furlong, Oxfordshire's Chief Fire Officer. You can watch Simon's statement here.

I appreciate that many of you will be concerned about this issue – particularly those living in high-rise accommodation. Oxfordshire has five tower blocks, all of which have been inspected by the Fire and Rescue Service, which has also issued the following safety tips and advice here.

I must also remind you that the fire service offers free ‘Safe and Well Visits’, where firefighters visit your home and see what they can do to help you reduce the risk of fire. More information can be found here.

Steventon Bridge

With regards to the proposed closure of Steventon Bridge, I have met with Network Rail numerous times to discuss the potential disruption this will cause. I have examined, with them, in great detail the alternative options - such as lowering the track to allow the power lines to pass under the existing bridge or building a new bridge parallel to the existing one.  At present, Network Rail believe there is no alternative to replacing the bridge. 

If the bridge does close, I would want to see disruption kept to a minimum, and the closure to be as short as possible.  To this end, I have met English Heritage, Virgin Media, BT, Thames Water and Scottish and Southern, all with a view to ensuring that utilities providers are ready to go if the bridge is closed (restoring utilities is often one of the reasons these projects take so long).  I have of course worked closely with the County Council, who own the bridge and are responsible for the Highways.
 
Didcot Garden Town

I am pleased that the first steps towards the future of Didcot as a ‘garden town’ are officially underway as a proposed delivery plan has been released. You can download a copy of the full proposed delivery plan and find details of venues providing paper copies here.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are also seeking your views on the proposals. Feedback will be used by officers to finalise the plan, including amendments where fit. Responses to this consultation can be submitted until midnight 31 July 2017 here.

DUP Coalition

Many of you have written this month regarding the DUP and I obviously take your concerns very seriously.  At the time of writing, the Conservative Party has finalised a confidence and supply deal with the DUP and the Prime Minister will form a Government in the national interest. While I do not share their views on social issues, it has to be said that they have supported some of our legislation in the past. I also note that the Labour party tried to reach an agreement with them after both the 2010 and 2015 election.

I would not support any agreement that meant going back on any of the pieces of social legislation I have voted for in the past, such as equal marriage, or other relevant pieces of legislation, such as abortion. While I do not have a problem with the DUP supporting any future Budget, as your Member of Parliament I will continue to promote and champion the equal rights that we believe in.

This Month’s Mailbag

Since the General Election, I have received 270 items of correspondence (emails and letters) from constituents. Subjects raised with me included fire safety, the DUP and animal cruelty sentencing.

With regards to animal cruelty sentencing, I am pleased that we have a robust legal framework to tackle this vicious behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is in regular contact with the Ministry of Justice in relation to sentencing policy for animal welfare offences, but I would note that current sentencing practice does not suggest that the courts are finding current sentencing powers inadequate.

Ed Vaizey MP

Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with.  Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist. You can contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, [email protected] or 020 7219 6350. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly.   Details of my activities in Parliament can be read on my website, https://www.vaizey.com. I also send out occasional general interest emails about developments in the Wantage and Didcot Constituency. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please complete the online form at http://bit.ly/EdVaizeyMP.