August is traditionally an opportunity to catch ones breath but it is hard to think of a year when that applies more than now. The last couple of months have been truly momentous in both British affairs and across the world.
It is excellent for our country’s stability and the economy that we have a new Government team in place and they have hit the ground running. I’d like to mention local MP Dr Liam Fox here – the Minister for International Trade is certainly wasting no time in getting on with the job. With a new team comes new opportunities for MPs like me to press for issues both local and national. I will be joining colleagues in reiterating the cases for groups such as the WASPI pension ladies to the relevant Ministers.
Question sessions in the House of Commons are a good way of getting things on the record and I used a recent Treasury session to seek a meeting with Ministers to make sure that commitment to the A303 and A358 dualling is reinforced and even to explore ways in which plans may be brought forward. Interest rates are currently good for financing large projects and investing in infrastructure sends a powerful statement of intent about being a country open for business. I know well from my work as a County Councillor how important a good transport infrastructure is to local businesses. From a safer speed limit in a village like Montacute to widening the A303, integration of policy from local to national levels is essential. Devolution and local decision making is attractive but only works with the national support to let areas thrive.
On that note, I will be staying involved with the discussions around the proposals at Hinkley Point. I have received communication from EDF to say they fully understand Theresa May’s wish to review the project before it can go ahead. They also confirm that over 60% of the contract value of construction is expected to go to UK companies. With 25,000 jobs being created and 1,000 apprenticeships, I believe it to be a great opportunity for the area but I will reflect the concerns that I have received as well.
Events in the news have sadly overshadowed the fact that the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio starts this week. Whatever the difficulties it is time to get behind Team GB; in some ways there could not be a better time for the biggest global celebration. Of course, London 2012 is an extremely tough act to follow. Our athletes, organisers and volunteers were rightly recognised throughout the world as being superb. Various challenges that we have faced since then make it seem like a long time ago but I hope that for the next two weeks we can again enjoy the talent and dedication on display and may I take this opportunity to wish competitors from the South West and all of Team GB the very best.