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Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson on the Conservative party conference, Safer Streets Fund, Covid booster jabs and energy prices

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Julie Marson, MP for Hertford and Stortford, writes for the Indie...

Party conferences are odd things. You've got to be pretty interested in all things politics to want to spend several days completely engrossed in it, morning, noon and night! But that is what hundreds of us, from all parties, do for a few days each year.

The Conservative party conference in Manchester last week was my first as your MP, as 2020's was cancelled due to Covid. The atmosphere was positive, partly I think because people were genuinely happy to be able to attend as a sign of 'normality' but also because the Prime Minister was seeking to set out a positive vision for our country as it recovers from Covid.

The main things I took away are that levelling up is a plan to ensure opportunity is available to all, no matter where in the UK you are born or live, and that we need to transition away from a reliance on unlimited, cheap labour towards a high-wage, high-skilled economy that invests in skills and technology. These are ambitious, long-term goals.

In order to get there, we have to give people the opportunity to gain the skills they need to thrive in that high-skilled economy. For the youngest in our community, this starts with the £2bn Kickstart scheme to help them get into the jobs and careers that offer them the best prospects possible. The Restart scheme is providing tailored support to older people to develop their existing skills and secure long-term employment.

As the global economy advances rapidly, so must the UK's, with both of these schemes being an important part of the Treasury's Plan for Jobs. More information on them can be found on the Gov.uk website, so do take a look if you think they might assist you or be relevant to your circumstances.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson applauds as Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA) (52168840)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson applauds as Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA) (52168840)

I was pleased to be alongside the whole Ministry of Justice team when Dominic Raab, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, gave his keynote speech in Manchester. In the context of the sentencing of Sarah Everard's abductor, rapist and killer, alongside the harrowing murder of Sabina Nessa, it was right and proper that addressing violence against women and girls is absolutely his top priority.

As the daughter of a policeman, I have always trusted and supported our police and I continue to believe we have the finest in the world. But none of us can ignore the damage to trust that recent events have caused and we must always ensure that we hold the police to the highest standards. I know our police locally, and nationally, are committed to this and I will always support their efforts to tackle crime and I want the criminal justice system to support their efforts too. As Private Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, this is an important part of my parliamentary work.

The ongoing roll-out of the Safer Streets Fund continues to be key to this mission. With an additional £25m of investment now committed, the fund is doubling in size to further crack down on neighbourhood crime and allow for small and simple changes to be made. This includes locking gates around alleyways, increasing street lighting and installing more CCTV cameras in areas like ours.

I know this is something our local police have already been working hard to monitor. I have been liaising with police and councils to identify problem areas and I thank them all for their co-operation and action on this so far. If anyone has any particular areas where they feel unsafe due to something like poor street lighting, please do let me know.

The continued roll-out of the Covid booster vaccine programme remains testament to our other hard-working front-line workers.

It's fantastic to see just how many people in our area continue to do their part by taking up these offers so quickly. A few people have, however, written to me with concerns about the distance they have needed to travel to receive these jabs. Because this roll-out is still in its early stages, some of those booking in doses before receiving an invitation letter from their GP are being sent to larger vaccine centres slightly further away. This is whilst more local ones remain in the process of being opened. I am continuing to monitor that vaccines remain accessible to everyone eligible in our area and I look forward to seeing the important progress that has already been made continue in the weeks ahead.

Lastly, I want to touch on the weekend's news surrounding energy supply and price issues. The simultaneous reopening of societies around the world post-Covid has caused global demand for energy to sky-rocket. Supply has also been affected, partly due to manoeuvring by Russia and with last winter's cold temperatures and the UK's relatively low number of gas storage units having reduced our ability to respond without prices increasing.

Though I am fully supportive of our necessary switch to net zero emissions by 2050, this is an ambitious target. The rate at which we do this must therefore remain both sustainable and realistic, as we continue to invest in securing our current sources of energy supply.

Temporary price fluctuations must be monitored so that businesses and industry can continue to grow and that people are not left unable to heat and light their homes. I am continuing to watch this situation, both on the ground in our local area and in government so that, as far as is possible, residents will not be negatively impacted by these events.

As ever, constituents should please email me at julie.marson.mp@parliament.uk if I or my office can help with any issues of casework.

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