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One key issue which has been dominating my postbag in the past months is the consultation on the planned changes to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision in Wiltshire.
I held a meeting with Councillor Laura Mayes, the cabinet member for education on Wiltshire Council and the portfolio holder for SEND and Safeguarding councillor Jane Davies highlighting the concerns residents have raised with me and sharing my own thoughts on the issue.
There has been a significant rise in the number of children requiring SEND provision as a result of better and earlier detection of educational needs, plus our growing population and our SEND provision must increase to accommodate this.
SEND facilities in the north of Wiltshire are already at capacity and with an additional 220 places predicted to be required in the coming year, financially-sustainable action must be taken and I stressed that this must be done with the interests of the children and their families at the heart of any decision taken.
Wiltshire Council would ideally like to retain all three SEND schools open but need to consider the long term requirements, ensuring provision is practical and workable. The consultation into this issue is now closed but Wiltshire Council has confirmed to me that any views received after the date will of course still be considered and so please do get in touch via the Wiltshire Council website to make your concerns known or contact me directly and I would be only too happy to pass on any concerns or suggestions you have.
With my ‘meet your MP’ summer roadshow in full swing and very well attended, it has been a delight to speak to so many of you across the constituency on a wide variety of issues and concerns. Brexit has of course been an issue raised by many but so too have many local issues such as the provision of SEND education, local road conditions and housing development. I have also been able to offer support to individuals on a number of personal issues, which is the part of the job which I find most rewarding, being able to provide assistance when people often feel they have nowhere else to turn.
Even though my roadshow is coming to a close, I am still conducting a large number of surgeries across the summer and whether you have a national, local or personal issue, I hope you will get in touch on 01249 704 465 or michelle. firstname.lastname@example.org as I would be only too happy to find time to speak with you.
Over the past month, I have conducted my summer roadshow across the constituency, holding ‘meet your MP’ events in 15 different towns and villages across the constituency.
It has been an absolute delight to visit so many different venues and support so many local businesses as part of this and of course, enjoy the fantastic British summer we have been having. With over 250 individual constituents attending and sharing with me their individual concerns and problems, thoughts on current challenges facing the UK and seeking my opinion on current affairs and Parliamentary matters, it really has been a wonderful couple of weeks and something I look forward to repeating in future recesses.
I believe passionately that MPs should be as accessible as possible and this is just one part of my commitment to be the most accessible MP in the UK. I may have finished my roadshow but I still hold regular surgeries across the constituency, so please do get in touch if you would like any further details on these by emailing email@example.com or calling my office on 01249 704 465.
One of the key issues brought up throughout the roadshow was of course Brexit, with passions running high on both sides of the argument and an eagerness to discuss the recent White Paper outlined by the Prime Minister. One of the key concerns raised was concerning environmental protections and food standards post-Brexit.
As former Permanent Private Secretary to DEFRA, I know only too well the significance of these issues and passionately support the Environment Minister, Michael Gove’s commitment to not simply copy over EU standards, but to enhance them and ensure that the UK is a world leader in environmental protection, clean energy and animal welfare.
I am attending and speaking at the Bradford on Avon Climate Forum in early September and will be stressing not only my own commitment to the cause of environmental protections, but also hearing the suggestions from attendees and other panel members on how we can improve on current legislation.
I will be spending the rest of August out on the doorsteps, hopefully speaking to residents about their concerns and supporting local communities where they have specific issues. I have already been able to support one community with their speeding issues and another with traffic volume and safety concerns and worked closely with local councillors to be able to start to find solutions to these problems and so would be more than happy to assist with any local, as well as national issues, you may have. I hope to catch you in but if not, then please do get in touch and we can arrange another time to meet.