It’s been another week to test the constitutional experts in Westminster and MPs have been consulting their copies of Erskine May trying to keep up. The Speaker, John Bercow, cited a convention dating back to 1604 to tell the Government that they cannot hold another vote on a motion previously rejected in the same Parliamentary session. Mr Bercow has been a divisive character especially of late but there is a certain common sense to this. As those opposed to a second referendum, of which I am one, point out, you cannot keep asking the same question until you get the answer you want.
As part of the Alternative Arrangements Working Group I am continuing to develop practical solutions to some of the challenges that the proposed Withdrawal Agreement creates but it has been a pleasure to be in Somerset and focus on some other issues too. I was very impressed at Buckler’s Mead Academy last week and took the opportunity to thank Headteacher Sara Gorrod who leaves in the summer after 8 years at the school.
Sadly too many young lives are still being blighted by knife crime. It’s a very serious issue and there is no one simple solution. I was pleased to hear during my meeting with local Police last week that Somerset is to get around 50 more officers and that keeping Yeovil Police Station in its current location is a positive step. The Government is taking action; the Offensive Weapons Bill toughens up sentencing for carrying weapons and I was one of the MPs involved in widening the scope of it for knives. The Home Secretary has just made £100million of additional funding available for the Police and Violence Reduction Units. There is undoubtedly a cultural issue that needs to be tackled also though and my view is that we need to emphasise that carrying a knife is actually a very dangerous thing to do.
It was exciting to attend the meetings to see plans developing for Chard and Ilminster and also see that the East Coker Neighbourhood Plan has been approved. It is great to see communities coming together to shape their own futures. I raised some issues with the planning system during a recent meeting at the District Council. Whilst I do think there are ongoing problems with the system, to be fair to the Council team they have had some unavoidable staffing issues which are being resolved and should see the process speeding up in the future.
As always, if you would like to get in touch about any of these issues; if I can help with a problem you may be having or if you would like to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries across the constituency please do call 01935314321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org