If you choose me to be your MP again after this election day, June 8th, I wanted to set out for you what my “manifesto for South Northants” would be for the next Parliament, and what I will be focusing on on your behalf. I wrote one for the 2015 general election and this is a continuation and expansion of the same; these are issues that many residents have raised with me over the course of the last two years, and will serve as the basis of my “to-do” list for the next five years. Of course, as ever, the list is not exhaustive and I know there will be many other areas and concerns that I will be working on for you, but it is a good place to start.
- Securing the early delivery of the Towcester Relief Road: Like many in the area, I want this road built yesterday. I will continue to work with local residents, the Towcester Bypass Action Group, our District and County Councils, the developers Persimmon and Bloor, Highways England, the Department for Transport, and others to do all that I can to ensure that the road opens ahead of schedule in 2020.
- Reinstating obstetrics services at the Horton: The downgrading of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital from full obstetrics to a Midwife-Led Unit not only limits choice for mothers in our area, but increases the risk to both mother and child. I have been working with my colleagues in Westminster to ensure that the temporary downgrading does not become permanent, and I am committed to doing everything possible to reverse the decision as soon as possible.
- Challenging the need for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange: I am not convinced that South Northamptonshire is the right location for an SRFI, let alone two, and I know many residents are extremely concerned about both proposals. I have been clear that I will hold the developers of Rail Central and Northampton Gateway to account, work with affected communities to scrutinise their business plans and development proposals, and engage thoroughly in the planning consultation process to ensure that local people’s voices are heard.
- Completing the Northampton Orbital: It is vitally important that the ring road around Northampton to the north is completed as soon as possible to relieve traffic pressure on some of our most congested roads. Future development that has already been green-lit makes the construction of the ring road essential to keep Northampton moving, and I will be working with local residents, the County Council and other stakeholders to secure the best route and get it built as quickly as possible.
- Ensuring proper compensation and mitigation on HS2: Now that the HS2 Bill has been granted Royal Assent, the focus of most people along the line-of-route is now on ensuring that they receive effective compensation where their properties are affected, and that the effects of the construction and operation of the line are properly mitigated. I will continue to work with communities from Brackley through to the Boddingtons to make sure that nobody is left behind.
- Providing access to superfast broadband: By 2020, every home and business in Britain will have a legal right to access a minimum broadband speed of 10 Mbps. I will be working hard with the County Council’s Superfast Northants team and the Government to close the gap on the final 2 per cent of premises in South Northants that are not expected to have access to superfast broadband (24+ Mbps) by the end of 2018. I will also be working to ensure that Northampton is firmly on the map as one of the 100 towns and cities that the Government plans to deploy gigaspeed broadband (1000+ Mbps) to by 2022.
- Opening new coffee and craft mornings: Beautiful as South Northants is, living in a rural community can be isolating at times. We have fantastic coffee and craft mornings in many of our hamlets and villages that provide a great cohesive service to those at home, and I am keen to replicate this success in as many areas as I can. I will be working with local community organisers, the District Council, funding bodies, and others to secure a coffee and craft morning in each of our 92 communities in South Northants. So much cake…
- Providing opportunities for young people: We have so many great sports and activities clubs for young people in South Northants, but the coverage can be patchy and if you are in a more rural part of the constituency it can be difficult to travel to and from. I want to advertise the many great after-school and weekend sports and activities that are available for our children to participate in, but also go further and work to provide more options where there is a clear identifiable need. I will also be working to create and support a network of volunteering, work experience, and apprenticeship placements with businesses and charities across South Northants so that young people can gain valuable employment skills as they move into the world of work.
- Protecting the Borough from unnecessary development: The areas of South Northants that skirt round the bottom of Northampton are under constant pressure for development, and we’ve seen new housing and industrial estates being proposed right across. Whilst some development can be welcome and appropriate, I am adamant that the wishes of local residents must be respected and, if development goes ahead, provision must be made for traffic concerns, new schools, GP surgeries, places of worship, community centres, and open spaces.
- Supporting the Saints: COYS…!
As I have said, this list isn’t exhaustive and there are many other projects I am and will be working on as your MP if you re-elect me on June 8th. I can’t wait to get started again!