June 2019 MNCA Report to Members
With Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt now confirmed as the final two candidates in the race for No.10, I thought you would appreciate a quick update from me (on the leadership, as well as on my ongoing campaigns here in Mid Norfolk and in Westminster)
I think it’s very important that the leadership contest is not just another coronation. Having learned the lessons of three years ago, the Party must give YOU, the members, the opportunity to see the candidates cross-examined and then decide.
I’ve set out what for me are the key criteria criteria for a new Leader – making clear that I believe that person must deliver Brexit with a sensible deal that minimises disruption to our economy, can reunite the country and Party and reach out to the disillusioned and Blue Collar voters, and see off the threat posed by Jeremy Corbyn.
I continue to be 100% committed to delivering EU Withdrawal ASAP and I believe that our new PM needs to be in the strongest possible position to be able to negotiate with the EU. (That’s why, although I’m conscious of the real concerns of local businesses here in Mid Norfolk of the potential damage posed to our main sectors of farming, food processing, haulage and R+D by a No Deal Brexit, I voted last week against the Oliver Letwin motion that would have given the Opposition the opportunity to take NoDeal off the table. I firmly believe that our new Leader needs that negotiating mandate to try and get the concessions we need).
Despite the dire state of our Party in national polls, it was good to see our constituency buck the national trend of voters angry about Brexit taking it out on local councillors, with encouraging results here in Breckland and S Norfolk. Whilst we lost some excellent and long serving councillors, our constituency of Mid Norfolk considerably outperformed the national swing, and I was pleased to be able to get on the doorsteps with many of our local candidates.
The week after the elections, I was delighted to join the new Conservative Group at Breckland to thank William Nunn for all his leadership over the years, and welcome Sam Chapman-Allen as our excellent new Leader, alongside John Fuller who has once again been returned as Leader of South Norfolk Council. I have already had positive catch-ups with them both as we look to the next four years.
Whilst so many Associations around the country shrink, our Mid Norfolk Conservative Association continues to be the largest in the county – having had another flurry of new members in recent weeks. That is in large part testament to the dedication of our officers and members, and the support of Hilary as our Admin Assistant.
There is still much more that we can do however, and that’s why I am working with Theresa Hewett, our new Vice Chair for Membership, and Eric Warnes, our new Vice Chair for Business, to set up local business forums around Mid Norfolk – to help us engage further with that key community.
I am also working with Tom in my office to set up our own branch of the Conservative Policy Forum – to give YOU the members of Mid Norfolk a chance to debate the big questions of our time and directly feed in your views to Central Office as policy is formed. (Please do let me know if you would be interested in supporting either of these initiatives).
I continue to campaign hard on a range of vital issues in our part of Norfolk - I attach a list for you below.
Outreach: Out and About
With 114 villages and 5 towns, it’s impossible to be everywhere, but I continue to do all I can to be out and about in the constituency.
It was great to see so many of you at the recent WNFH Summer Drinks, and I do hope to see you all at the various Village and School Fetes that I will be attending over the summer months. Last month, I joined the Shipdham Drynkings event where I’m told my Pathé news style commentary on the egg and spoon race has become a thing of local lore.
As many of you will know (having bumped into me outside your local stores) I continue my ongoing programme of Supermarket Surgeries touring around our four main towns. It is the ideal chance to speak with large numbers of constituents and, in between Association events, I would delighted if you too would like to ‘come and bend my ear!’ (If this is of interest, please do just let me know and I would be very happy to share details about those Surgeries upcoming).
You may also be interested in joining me at this year’s Norfolk Way Enterprise Festival. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, we are doing it even bigger and better – to champion the thousands of small and medium sized businesses across the country and help them take that next step. It is taking place on Saturday 13th July at Hoveton Hall and full details can be found on the website here: https://www.norfolkenterprisefestival.co.uk
Conservative Renewal – “Britain Beyond Brexit” book
As you may have seen in the press, I recently launched the “Britain Beyond Brexit: a New Conservative Vision for a New Generation” 2020 Conservative Group book as part of my ongoing efforts on Party Renewal and to highlight the key challenges that we must address post-Brexit if we are to win the next election and keep Corbyn out of power. A combination of MPs from across the Party – Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Penny Mordaunt, Kwasi Kwarteng and Tom Tugendhat – all contributed to the book and spoke at the event – along with 35 other MPs who have written sections in the book.
As ever, I always appreciate any and all feedback and I would be delighted to hear from you if you have comments or questions about anything that is or is not covered here.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible over the coming months, and at the Royal Norfolk Show on Thursday!
Update to MNCA Executive – 13.06.2019
A47: I continue to Chair the A47 Alliance with local councillors as part of the ongoing campaign to secure full dualling of the route from Lowestoft in the East to the A1 in Cambridgeshire in the West – and I am actively working with the A47 Alliance to maintain pressure on Highways England and the Department for Transport so that there is no further slippage on the timetable for the committed improvements on the North Tuddenham to Easton stretch.
Planning: I continue to push for reform to the NPPF with local councillors: organising a Summit to bring the Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse, to Mid Norfolk to meet with local council leaders and builders to discuss the need for reforms to stop developers land banking permissions to force inappropriate estates on our villages.
Vattenfall/Offshore Wind: I continue to work closely with the local councillors and 5 Parish councils to try and secure proper mitigation, as well as community benefits, should Vattenfall’s proposed substations be granted permission. I am leading the wider campaign for an Offshore Ring Main to prevent avoidable environmental damage and disruption to the Norfolk countryside.
Chapel Green School: After lobbying for the funding for the new Chapel Green School, I look forward to the official opening in Old Buckenham on June 28th. I continue to work closely with the school and wider network on the problems facing SEN funding, which I will be chairing a Roundtable on with the Schools Minister.
Rocklands School: I continue working with County, Breckland and Parish councillors in Ellingham and Rocklands and 3 Parish Councils on our scheme to relocate Rocklands School with extra capacity instead of shipping children to Attleborough.
Little Ellingham: I am working with local councillors and the Parish Council to try and resolve problems arising from haulage and odour pollution from the nearby Kerry Foods site.
Old Buckenham: Working with local councilors, we have secured a new, much needed pedestrian crossing across the busy B1077 – due this autumn.
Wymondham: I continue to work with S Norfolk Councillors and the Town Council to reenergise the Friday Market, and I am driving forward efforts to finally resolve the lack of disabled access at Platform 2 of the Station (as part of a wider plan to redevelop the Station site).
Watton Post Office: After lobbying successfully for Post Office Ltd to ensure a new location was found for a branch in the town, we have now officially opened the new Post Office.
South Norfolk for Jobs: Following on from the success of the excellent Breckland for Jobs (which I helped launch with Breckland Council and DWP last year), I have been supporting the recent launch of a similar campaign to help unemployed 18-24 year olds get into work and thrive in South Norfolk.
Veterans’ mental health: Having visited the Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing C.I.C near Wymondham to see the outstanding work there, I am now helping local mental health professionals roll out an ambitious new support program in Norfolk.
Conservative Renewal – “Britain Beyond Brexit” book: On Monday, I launched the 2020 Conservative Group manifesto for Renewal book as part of my ongoing efforts to ‘renew’ the Party and highlight the key challenges that we must address post-Brexit if we are to win the next election and keep Corbyn out of power. Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Penny Mordaunt all contributed to the book and spoke at the event – along with 35 other Conservative MPs who have written for me in the book. (If you would like a copy let me know).
Fairer Funding for Local Government: Ahead of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, I am lobbying Government as part of my ongoing efforts to highlight the pressures being put on Local Government, and secure a better deal for our local councils.
Rural Schools Funding: I have written to every school in Mid Norfolk to get their views on funding and have been raising all responses with Ministers ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Supporting local farmers: On behalf of NFU Norfolk, I am lobbying DEFRA and the Environment Agency on the dangers around the potential revocation of some water abstraction licences in our area.
Reversing the ban on shooting ‘pest’ birds: Along with a number of rural MPs, I raised this issue with Michael Gove and his Ministers at DEFRA – calling for common sense to prevail and for this daft ban to be reversed, which it now has.
Bridge of Hope: The charity I set up in memory of my father to help those that have had a “fall” in life get back on their feet with a job continues to go from strength to strength: we have now raised £400,000 to fund the training of people suffering from a post traumatic life collapse to get a 2nd chance through a job in a stable.
Norfolk Way Enterprise Festival 2019: Following the success of our inaugural Norfolk Way Festival last year, this year’s event to champion small and medium sized business in Norfolk, and help them take that next step, will be taking place at Hoveton Hall on Saturday 13th July. Details here: https://www.norfolkenterprisefestival.co.uk
Big Tent Ideas Festival 2019: The Big Tent Ideas Festival goes from strength to strength and the third will be taking place at Mudchute Park and Farm on the Isle of Dogs in London on Saturday 31st August. Register here: https://www.bigtent.org.uk
Conservative Policy Forum: As Chair of the CPF, I am delighted to report that it is now the fastest growing part of the Party nationally – and I look forward to working with Tom on setting up our own branch here in Mid Norfolk.
Supporting local businesses: I continue my programme of regular visits to local businesses, as well as my Local Business Spotlight on my website and social media.
Regular supermarket surgeries: I continue to take my Supermarket Surgeries around our four main towns, and hold at least one every month.
Regular school visits: I try and visit at least one of the 40 local schools in Mid Norfolk every other week, and have recently written to all our schools to ask for their input on my campaign for fairer funding for rural schools.
Village and school fetes: I recently attended the Shipdham Drynkings, and will be going to a number of other village fetes over the summer months.
Constituency Bulletins. After 9 years of active campaigning and casework and correspondence, I have now built up a database of c 12,000 email addresses and do regular targeted Bulletins on the projects and campaigns above to keep local residents informed.
13th June 2019
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