Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson on back to school, planning review, potholes and Treasury Committee
Like the start of a new school year which children and teenagers across the constituency are preparing for now, I too have been preparing for parliament's return this week. With so much already on the agenda, we are set for a blockbuster start to the new session.
Before I talk a little more about what I shall be doing in Westminster during the coming weeks, I would like to wish everyone starting school again the best of luck for these new beginnings.
After a challenging few months, our schools have worked tirelessly to get the necessary preparations in order for the safe return of children, and I hope this moment will offer a real step change and new sense of optimism for everyone in the months ahead.
For me at least, it was a slightly funny summer which never quite felt like it had begun or ended. I imagine many others hold similar feelings about the last couple of months, but as we now hit September and more of us return to the office itself, I hope and think we will see a new confidence emerge in society.
Over the August recess, the Government released its Planning Review white paper, which I know many have already read because of the number of people who have written to me since its publication raising different questions.
For those who have not yet seen the proposals, the planning review aims to fundamentally change how the planning system is run in this country by enabling greater opportunity for people. Home ownership is possibly the single biggest step someone can make on the ladder to prosperity and so I am very keen to make that dream a reality for people in Hertford and Stortford.
That said, my priorities will be protecting our greenbelt and existing communities from burdensome overdevelopment. I do not want to see this review become a vehicle for greedy developers to take away the unique individualisms, quirks and beauty which make our local communities so special and which we hold so dear. Where houses do need to be built, I will work to make sure they are in keeping with the local environment and that we build in a beautiful way.
In any case, those with concerns about the proposals should know that they are still in the consultation phase, which is set to run until October 29, and which will be followed by a lengthy debating process in parliament as we look to make the changes that will ultimately benefit constituents most. I am very keen to continue a dialogue on this issue and to take in as many opinions as possible, so ask that people do keep writing to me to share their views and ideas.
On the subject of protecting our communities, you may have seen the Government's announcement of further funds to help areas like ours deal with the persistent challenge of potholes. I have been getting a few emails from constituents recently about new potholes emerging and we all know how big a problem they can be.
I am therefore pleased that the Government is offering extra support to Hertfordshire County Council and others to push back against these often dangerous annoyances. Hertfordshire County Council has a strong track record against potholes and so I encourage you to keep contacting them if you see new ones emerge, but please feel free to contact me also if you think it might help and I shall pass the message onto them directly.
This week has also seen the return of the Treasury Committee, which regular readers of this column will already know I sit on. Intensity is expected to be the order of the day for the rest of this year – the Fisheries bill returned to the House of Commons yesterday evening (Tuesday) at an interesting stage of our trade talks with the European Union, an Autumn Budget can be expected and so too can a new immigration system. I will be using this column in part to set out my views on each subject as they arise and to keep you informed with any and all progress.
Finally, I'd like to announce some of the businesses and organisations that will be exhibiting at my Online Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair this month. We have had 20 businesses sign up so far and I will be announcing the list in full over on the Facebook event page.
To name a few, I'm delighted that organisations such as Sky, Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors, the British Army and Barclays will all be exhibiting on the day. It's set to be a brilliant day for young people looking for their first job, others looking to make a career change, or if you are just someone seeking a bit of advice from experts in different fields. A big thanks to all exhibitors that have signed up so far.
There's still time and I am registering more exhibitors this week and next, so if you are a local business and want to exhibit on the day, please drop me an email.