Please find below my end of year Report as your local MP. It highlights some of the things I did in 2013 to improve our area, and hold the government to account.
4,697 individual local residents contacted me during 2013 to ask for help of some kind. I responded personally each time. I cannot guarantee that I can solve every problem, but I do promise to try. I also continued to hold a regular Advice Surgery open to everyone.
Here are some of the local issues I focused on in 2013 (Click on each for more detail):
Never one to toady to party whips, in Parliament in 2013 I spoke up for what I believe is in our national interest:
Finally, I remain concerned about our economy. Although growth returned towards the end of 2013, and we are likely to see strong growth over the months ahead, we need to ensure that it is sustainable. People should not be encouraged to take out debts that they will not be able to pay back if interest rates rise. I have a publication on this subject due out early in the New Year.
I will be available to help you 2014, should you need me.
Happy New Year!
During a Commons debate just before the Christmas recess, local MP, Douglas Carswell spoke of how well Tendring district council and Essex police coped organising the evacuation of Brooklands and Jaywick during the recent tidal surge.
"It is to the great credit of people in Jaywick and Brooklands that thousands of people were moved with such minimum fuss." Douglas told the Commons.
The biggest tidal surge for 30 years in early December saw thousands of householders evacuated. Despite the tide being even higher than that recorded during the disastrous 1953 floods, the sea defences held, and most people were able to return home the next day.
"The sea wall held, but we need to ensure that we maintain our sea wall" Douglas explains.
During the Commons debate, the minister, Dan Rogerson, also singled out Tendring council for praise. "I was very impressed with the feedback I received from local residents about how the evacuation had proceeded and how reassuring it was for them, with everything well handled" he said.
He offered to work with the council to secure funding to ensure that the sea wall is maintained and enhanced.
He also went on to praise the £36 million sea defence project due to begin in 2014 along the coast of Clacton and Holland on Sea "I was particularly impressed, when I visited Clacton, to hear about its plans to use the flood defences to restore the sandy beach, which should also have economic benefits. There is a clear case for investing in flood defences not only because of the economic risks attached to flooding but because of what they can bring to the local economy. That is an excellent project."
"This is good news for local folk in Essex" explains Douglas. "We must ensure that the defences are maintained and the assurance from the minister to help get partnership funding for the sea wall is vital".
Douglas Carswell today asked the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, about police stop and search powers being used to tackle knife crime in Clacton.
"Knife crime has been a problem in Clacton town centre", explains Douglas. "The good news is that in 2013 the police recognised it has become a problem - and have taken steps to tackle it".
Operation Statesman over the summer saw more stop and searches, and a number of arrests. Knife crime fell as a direct consequence.
"I am concerned that the Home Office review of police powers of stop and search could mean that the police find that they cannot take the steps that they have taken.
"It would be a disaster if at some point in the future Essex police chiefs ruled out more stop and search in Clacton citing some Home Office guidelines."
"I have written to the Home Secretary previously saying that it should be for the directly elected Police Commissioner to determine policy towards stop and seach. We need stop and search here in Clacton - and today's question highlights the importance of ensuring that the Home Office reivew does not prevent Essex policy from policing Clacton town centre appropriately".
Details about recorded crime involving offensive weapons in Clacton can be found here:
Last week thousands of local people were evacuated from their homes. The tidal surge along the Essex coast came within a few inches of topping the sea wall, which would have been catastrophic.
It is a great credit to folk in Brooklands and Jaywick that so many people were evacuated, calmly, quickly and with minimum fuss. Three cheers to the police, Tendring council and the emergency services, too. A job well done!
The Environment Agency needs praising as well. By providing information early, many people were made aware of the danger posed by the tidal surge by mid afternoon on the Thursday.
Some of the national broadcasters might have overlooked the evacuation of thousands. Twitter and social media did not. That meant people were able to know what was happening in good time, and make their own choices and arrangements.
I was saddened to hear of the death last week of Clacton councillor, Mitch Mitchell.
Mitch was a good friend, not only to me, but to many different local people. He was extremely generous. Outgoing and full of enthusiasm, Mitch must have helped hundreds of friends, residents and neighbours down the years. He was a great man. His funeral takes place on Tuesday 17th December.
The other week, I organised a tour of the House of Commons for Tendring Technology College, and then the school council from Engaines Primary School, Little Clacton. It was a delight to meet them all. If you would like to visit Parliament, please email me for details. It is your democracy and your Parliament is open to you.
I have added my name to a Commons amendment to the Immigration Bill. It aims to restrict the movement of Romanians and Bulgarians into Britain. The government needs to come to its senses and recognise that if it is serious about curbing immigration, it cannot agree to the totally unrestricted movement of people across the EU.
I feel very strongly about this, and will not back down. Ministers need to find the bottle to act on immigration – even if that means upsetting their Euro chums in Brussels.
Good news in the Autumn Statement for local businesses in Frinton, Walton and Clacton. Business rate rises will be below inflation and capped at 2 percent. Local businesses will also be able to pay their rates in 12 monthly instalments, helping them manage the cash flow.
Unemployment in Clacton and Tendring is down since last Christmas largely because smaller businesses have been creating jobs. I hope this means we see more of that.
Finally, I would like to wish every reader of the Gazette a Merry Christmas! It is, as I explained to my four year old, the biggest birthday party in the world. Celebrate!
Douglas blogs each day at TalkCarswell.com and tweets @douglascarswell
Many local residents are concerned about GP services. One particular problem has been the difficulty some people have had in getting an appointment.
After listening to local residents, Douglas has now taken action to try to improve things in our part of Essex.
"Many local residents, including doctors, got in touch to express their concerns about GP cover" explains Douglas. "Local people have a right to expect action. As the local MP, I took a team of local GPs to meet health minister, Jeremy Hunt, in the summer. A series of changes are now underway and will help improve things" he added.
More local GPs in Tendring: There is a shortage of GPs in our area. Local NHS bosses are now looking at how to make it more attractive for GPs to work in local surgeries.A named GP for every patient over 75: New GP contracts will ensure everyone over the age of 75 gets a named, accountable GP to ensure that they have a strong, personal and regular relationship with their doctor.District nurses and better out of hours cover: Why can't people get to see a doctor on a Saturday? At the moment there is no incentive for many GPs to provide cover at evenings and weekends. Douglas is keen to encourage more out of hours cover. "Perhaps the way to do this is by ensuring that GPs have funding available to recruit more district nurses. Many patients could be seen by a district nurse in their own home, which would further remove the pressure on GP waiting rooms". Several GP surgeries have already started to do this. Scrap box ticking regulations: In order to get some revenue, GPs have to comply with rules and regulations known in the jargon as "QOF". Soon after meeting with the delegation of local GPs, Jeremy Hunt announced that almost half these rules will be scrapped.
"Doctors need to be free to get on with doing their job, and not having to tick boxes to get paid" said Douglas. "Removing these rules should give local GPs more time to spend examining patients".
Douglas adds "I am very determined that we see improvements in local primary health care provision. Many doctors find themselves in a really difficult position right now. Many patients are not getting the health care they have a right to expect. I am on their side, and determined that we see changes for the better."
Local MP Douglas Carswell has delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to take action to prevent large numbers of unskilled EU migrants arriving from Bulgaria and Romania.
"It is vitally important that the government we elect takes control of UK immigration policy. Ultimately, the only way we can do that is to leave the EU" Douglas said "But in the short term, we could suspend the agreement to allow unrestricted access to the UK, and access to non-contributory benefits".
"We could put up all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles but ultimately we need to be like Switzerland or Australia. They are both countries outside the EU, who depend on highly skilled migrants, and are selective over who they allow in".
Douglas argued in a recent article that either we can retain our system of non-contributory welfare benefits, or Britain can continue to allow the unrestricted movement of Europeans into Britain- "We cannot do both".
Douglas hopes that the petition will encourage an honest and open debate about the issue of EU migration.
"Migrants who contribute should be welcomed. But opening the doors to Bulgarians and Romanians could create real issues."
Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell, is seeking to amend the Immigration Bill, to halt the influx of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria. If voted through in the House of Commons, this new clause would extend provisions that ban the free movement of Bulgarians and Romanians for several more years.
"The average income in Romania and Bulgaria is a fraction of what it is here" explains Douglas. "So guess what is going to happen when people over there are free to move here?".
By backing this change to the law, Douglas is prepared to defy the Westminster elite. "Ministers would rather I did not try to force through this change in the law, but I am not in Parliament to do what they want. I am here to represent folk in Essex. I am putting Britain first, and we have had enough uncontrolled immigration".
Douglas has consistently raised the issue of immigration in Westminster, often coming in for fierce criticism for doing so. Most recently a London-based think tank attacked him after he uncovered new data about benefit tourism. Douglas helped reveal that many of those claiming working tax credit and child tax credit are non-UK nationals. Douglas also helped highlight how several so-called "experts" advocating more EU immigration happened to receive money from the European Commission.
"Enough is enough. We need to end uncontrolled immigration into our country. And we need to act now!".
A-level student, Ellie Dodds from Frinton, spent a week in Westminster working for local MP, Douglas Carswell.
"I've always been intrigued to find out what working in Parliament would be like. So I emailed my MP Douglas Carswell and ask if this was possible" she explains.
Douglas offered Ellie a week of work experience in the House of Commons.
As well as listening to the debates in the Commons chamber and going on a tour of the Houses of Parliament, Ellie helped with press releases, wrote letters about sea defences and other constituency issues.
"What struck me the most while working in Parliament was the amount of time spent working with constituents" says Ellie. Douglas' office gets hundreds of letters a week, and he responds personally to each one.
"I am very much looking forward to going back to college and apply what I've learnt to my studies. In the future I would love to carry on working within the world of Politics and working in Parliament has made me realise what that will entail".
"Having Ellie working in my office for the week was a big help" Douglas added. "She got some sense of what I do, and the range of requests I get from local constituents."
"In the nineteenth century, prosperity meant being connected by rail. Last century, it meant roads. In future, prosperity means being plugged into superfast broadband" says Douglas Carswell.
Passionate about the internet, and how it is changing Britain for the better, Douglas even wrote a book on iDemocracy.
Now he is pushing to get every part of Tendring on to superfast broad band.
The good news is that superfast coverage is about to be increased so that it covers almost 90percent of Essex.
"This is great news for businesses and residents in Essex as currently not everywhere in Essex has Superfast broadband" explains MP Douglas Carswell.
"The planning policy now includes the provision for broadband infrastructure that will allow access to Superfast broadband on sites with 25 and more premises, which is excellent news".
"I will continue to do more to ensure not only better download speeds, but better upload ones too"
Unemployment in Clacton has fallen to 5.9% this September, down on last September's figure of 6.8%.
Furthermore, it has dropped by nearly 2% since September 2011, and is down by almost 3% on January 2012.
"There are fewer unemployed people in Clacton today than a year ago - despite the issues of benefit migration that we have had", explains local MP Douglas Carswell.
"These figures show two things. Firstly the benefit reforms are working. They are helping people who can work back into work.
"Secondly, they show that we can do things locally to create more jobs"
"The free parking scheme for local people that the council introduce has almost certainly helped cut unemployment here in Clacton. Why?"
"Because it has boosted footfall in Clacton town centre, with more money being spent locally than before."
"Now we have to focus on ensuring young folk have the skills that they need to work. The local Tendring studio school is helping doing this. I am determined that we do much more to raise school standards across the board".