In My View - 2nd November 2017

Good news this week as Highways England has announced the preferred route for the dualling of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester. It has been a thorough consultation process looking at many areas including the impact on the environment and biodiversity and the result is that the existing road will be upgraded and widened. This was not the cheapest option but the most favoured by residents and stakeholders and I am pleased that Highways England has listened to the local community. I am also pleased that this 3 mile section of road will most likely be the first along the route to be upgraded. MPs can be a little territorial about their patches and I make no excuses for having pushed for this stretch to be a priority in the scheme.

Upgrading these major roads won’t just cut journey times but also increase capacity and improve safety. Good transport is also so important for attracting businesses and investment to an area. In a recent meeting with EDF about Hinkley Point, the company team mentioned how important the local road network is to a company like that in making long term strategic decisions. For too long it has been a weak link in the South West’s offer. I have written before about the importance of capitalising on that Government investment in the A303 in terms of skilled jobs and apprenticeships as well as potential development for new housing and will keep pressing for these opportunities with Government Ministers.

Events in Spain remind us how fragile our democratic processes can suddenly become and our hopes for a peaceful resolution to the difficulties there remain. At the time of writing the Government has announced possible charges of ‘rebellion and sedition’ against Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and even the terms used seem more appropriate to Guy Fawkes than a modern European country. In this country we have seen dramatic and historic constitutional challenges in the last few years from the referendum on Scottish independence to our voting to leave the European Union and we have done so without violence; perhaps we are not so divided after all.

Allegations of various forms of misconduct continue to circulate in Westminster and it is a very positive thing that action is being taken to increase the support available to staff who feel in a vulnerable position. Along with many colleagues, particularly amongst the more recent intakes of MPs, one of my reactions to the alleged drinking and inappropriate culture in the Houses of Parliament is wondering when on earth people find the time. Things are changing for the better and it may be that the current investigations are an uncomfortable and necessary part of that process.

As always, if you would like to get in touch about these or other issues, if I can help with a problem or if you would like to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries please do call 01935314321 or email