We’ve had some brilliant news for Somerset lately and it’s all come at once. Much of my work as an MP is lobbying; trying to influence Government or other agency’s decisions, usually to support the interests of South Somerset. MPs write to Government Ministers, have informal conversations and official meetings, ask questions in the House of Commons and sit on Parliamentary Committees which advise Government. So it’s really satisfying when campaigns that you have worked on see some results and it has been a great couple of weeks.
Firstly, much needed safety measures are to be carried out on the Ilminster Bypass. Work on upgraded signage and road markings will start on the 15th July and should be completed in a fortnight. Work will be carried out overnight to reduce disruption but the road will be closed from 8pm to 6am Monday – Friday for that time.
Highways England has been really comprehensive in analysing accidents and working on preventative measures. I’ve spent a lot of time with the experts to understand the trends and causes of the collisions and I am really confident that improving driver awareness of the environment will make a big difference. The measures are designed to make the road safer in advance of the planned full dualling of the section. I am pressing for that to be in the second phase of works dualled after Sparkford to Ilchester, Stonehenge, and the A358 from Taunton to Ilminster.
Further good news is that Yeovil has been selected to go forward into the second phase of the £675 million Government Future High Streets Fund. This means up to £150,000 now for work with Government on the various regeneration plans and proposals such as for the cattle market, the bus station and Stars Lane, and better access and parking for the town, which could then access a share of the main £675m fund, maybe as much as £10m.
Along with the recent 33 per cent discount on business rates for those with rateable value of £51,000 or less which I successfully lobbied for, this can be a great boost for Yeovil town centre, as well as potentially for Chard regeneration which was part of the bid.
Also in the last week I had a chance to question International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on trade arrangements with South Korea that would help Leonardo amongst other exporters. I’ve raised this with him a few times and was pleased to hear that he had discussed the very issue with his counterpart in Seoul two weeks ago and will make more progress on a reciprocal visit shortly. A closer relationship with the South Korean Defence Department procurement team could add to their Navy’s 6 Wildcats. I also raised the potential for further Wildcat sales with our Ambassador in South Korea and the Korean parliamentarians interested in trade when I visited Seoul last year.