If there is one single thing I would most like improved in our area, it is local health provision. There seems to be a constant battle to keep services local.
Peter Bruff ward at Clacton hospital came within a whisker of being shut - saved only by a determined local campaign. Harwich hospital lay underused for months – despite the vast sums of money that were spent on it. Without wanting to fuel local anxieties further, there remain some serious issues with GP provision in some parts of Tendring, too. Local people in the affected areas will know what I am talking about.
Worse, I have a horrid feeling that the money is about to run out – and our local Primary Care Trust faces the unenviable task of struggling to do more, with less. As your MP, I’m determined that we keep essential local services local.
Money seems to have run out for sea defences, too. Our local council has undertaken some vital repairs at Holland-on-sea. But they would be the first to admit that they have really only applied a sticky plaster. What is needed is a major project for the longer term, which would also give us back our beach!
The amicable Norman Jacobs, of Holland Beach Hut Owners Association, has invited me to speak at their AGM. I hope to have some good news to report – but frankly, I fear our campaign for proper sea defences is going to be a long slog.
Speaking of sea defences, the other day I attended a meeting about a very different sort; World War II military sea defences, to be precise – designed to hold back Germans, rather than the tide. The Victoria County History group’s latest publication catalogues all our historic pill boxes and coastal defences, and is a really important part of our folk record of the past. Well done to Chairman Roger Kennell, Colin Preen and the rest of the gang!
Next week, I introduce a Bill in Parliament designed to make politicians properly accountable. Despite all the noise about reform since I ousted the Speaker, there has not been real change in Westminster.
My Bill will give local voters in every constituency – not just marginal seats - the right to throw out politicians who put their own interests above that of local people.
I try to avoid mentioning party politics in the Gazette. So when I say that Martin Bell, the anti-sleaze campaigner, is backing my latest campaign to clean up Westminster, I hope you appreciate that this is a genuinely non partisan initiative. It might not make me popular in SW1, but too bad. Westminster needs a real shake up.