MP’s COLUMN: Urban-centric focus should be tackled

Post 16 transport charge protestors gather outside the Duchess's High School in Alnwick.'Picture Jane Coltman
Post 16 transport charge protestors gather outside the Duchess's High School in Alnwick.'Picture Jane Coltman

As September arrives and I head back to Westminster (it really does feel like school starting again!), I am acutely conscious of the rural proofing challenges which I, and my colleagues with large rural seats, need to tackle.

From broadband to small hamlets and farms, to school transport for children who live far from their chosen school, and threats to small schools, such as Branton and Embleton, which offer vital sustainable community hubs, and the sudden closure of England’s most rural doctor’s surgery in Harbottle — we must work out how to change the urban-centric focus in Whitehall based on population to leave space for our expansive and sparsely-populated communities to thrive.

Whilst I appreciate that local authority budgets are being squeezed, getting children to school is an essential service.

I was, and remain, strongly opposed to the “teenage tax”; the restriction of transport provision for Post 16 education and the imposition of a charge of at least £450 per annum.

I am also concerned to be hearing from an increasing number of worried parents of children under 16, who are facing up to the prospect of having no transport provided to get their children to school.

Whilst I appreciate that local authority budgets are being squeezed, getting children to school is an essential service.

I am taking this up with our county council.

My work over the last couple of weeks has been dominated by the sudden closure of Harbottle surgery by NHS England due to apparent risks to patient safety, which came as a shock to us all.

Whilst the necessity of closing the Harbottle practice in the short-term is not something we can stop, I am doing everything I can to ensure that discussions to find a long-term viable and sustainable solution for the practice are set in motion as soon as possible.

This will remain at the top of my priority list until a solution is found and I will be arranging a meeting with the Secretary of State for Health’s team to discuss the matter.

I was able to meet some of our amazing firefighters last week in Berwick, and heard about the plans for more co-operation with the ambulance service.

My recent visit to RAF Boulmer helped me build a clearer picture of the vital air defence work which goes on there, and which will continue after the SeaKing search and rescue helicopter retires from duty at the end of September.

My work to consult on the most suitable coach park location in Berwick is progressing, with good collaboration between the various groups. We hope to circulate details of the consultation in the next couple of weeks.

Huge thanks to all those who made the annual Glendale Show on Bank Holiday Monday such a roaring success: my daughter has decided that alpaca farming is her chosen career path after meeting the wonderful team from Barnacre Alpacas from Elsdon.

As I write, I am approaching a busy first week back at Westminster.

On Monday, we have the EU Referendum Bill report stage, which I have concerns about as it is so important that the framework for the referendum is as clear and free from EU-influence as it can possibly be, and both the purdah and spending rules for the campaign are fair and not weighted in favour of the pro-EU lobby, who increasingly appear to be at odds with public opinion.

There is also the Assisted Dying Bill being brought back as a Private Members Bill by Labour MP Rob Marris.

I continue to be concerned by the risks to our most vulnerable and elderly, and will almost certainly vote against this Bill to legalise assisted dying.

As ever, I am always keen to hear constituents thoughts on these issues.

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime on 0207 219 4437.

Alternatively, contact me by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk