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David Johnston MP - Newsletter, July 2021

on Thu, 01/07/2021 - 1:47pm

I hope you, your friends and your family continue to be safe and well.

I was very pleased to hold my debate in parliament on Royal Mail this month (link below), in which I featured a number of the examples you have given me. Most people say the post has improved but do let me know if you encounter further problems.

At some point in the next month we should hear about whether or not we will get developmental funding for Grove Station – you can read the latest (and see a short video of me campaigning for it) here (click).

As ever, if I can help you with anything then do contact me via [email protected]

Best wishes, 


In the House of Commons

My debate on Royal Mail can be watched here (click) – I was pleased to raise the issues with the minister, who clearly understood the impact that the decline in service has. My questions in the House of Commons this month have covered GP services in the constituency not keeping pace with housebuilding (I will be meeting the minister to discuss this further); the concerns people have about planning reform; a constituent’s complaint about the National Memorial Arboretum; the concerns of local travel companies about the green list for international travel; and a couple of constituents’ experiences of the social care system and the need for reform.

On broader issues, I commented on Ofsted’s review into sexual abuse and harassment in schools; the collapse of the Hillsborough trial; my idea to let charities use empty office space so they can train young people; the behaviour of China towards the relatives of Uyghurs giving evidence to the Uyghur Tribunal here in the UK; and the security implications of the leaked camera footage from the Department for Health and Social Care.

We also had 2 Labour Party Opposition Day debates in consecutive weeks relating to education catch-up funding and I spoke in both – you can watch my speech in the first one here (click) and in the second one here (click).

In Parliament

It was another bumper month for the Education Committee – including sessions with Gavin Williamson, Amanda Spielman (Ofsted) and Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s catch-up advisor who resigned. As you may have seen in press reports, the Committee also published our report into the underachievement of white working-class pupils which you can read here (click).

Amongst other things I met carers and the MND Association as part of Carers Week and agreed to follow-up with ministers about some of the issues raised; met with the National Farmers Union about agriculture in the school curriculum (and tabled a question to the Department for Education to ask whether they've considered including it); met with Tesco re apprenticeships and a worrying rise in abuse of retail workers; attended another event on assisted dying that a number of constituents wrote to me about; took part in a Federation of Small Businesses event to help SMEs trying to diversify their workplaces; and had a number of surgery appointments with constituents to assist with a wide range of issues.

In the constituency

We had Liz Truss and the International Trade Minister, Ranil Jayawardena, visit Thales and Lockheed Martin in the Harwell Space Cluster – both were very impressed with what they saw. I followed up my Royal Mail debate with a visit to the Didcot Delivery Office to talk about how they’ve been working to improve the problems I have raised in parliament. I’ve continued visiting schools including Didcot Girls' School and Wantage Primary Academy – the toughest questions always come from children!

Forgive the plug, but I have just signed up to be a volunteer with the Didcot Good Neighbour Scheme, after a meeting with Sandy, who runs it - do please have a look if you think you could help too. I have also agreed to run the odd session for Didcot Train, another great charity we have locally, and enjoyed my time with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust team (despite the name, a significant proportion runs through the constituency). Wallingford Museum reopened last week and I was pleased to see up close the great model they had made during lockdown that depicts Wallingford in the 1330s.

I have been visiting a wide range of local shops, businesses, pubs and other organisations, including Ardington School of Crafts, Hendred Stores, Tri Beauty, Hendred Vineyard, Grove Farm Equestrian (where there is a new dog training business), Endeavour Personal Training, Ashbury Tea Rooms and pubs such as the George and Dragon in Sutton Courtenay, the Rose and Crown in Ashbury and the Beetle and Wedge in Moulsford.

In the media

There have been various radio interviews, including with Talk Radio on education catch-up and with BBC Radio Oxford on my pre-COP26 summit – they are unfortunately not easy to link to, but I will be doing ITV’s The Last Word on 15th July.

My fortnightly columns for the Herald can be read <here> (although they are currently suspended by the paper due to the local elections).