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Fortnightly Update #20 - 27.02.2017

Welcome to my latest Fortnightly Update.

There's a 'Cyber and Strictly' theme to this edition. 

On 'Cyber', I am delighted that Cheltenham has been awarded £22m in Government investment  for Cheltenham's cyber future. This is a huge step towards the vision I first mapped out publicly in a speech at Converge in 2014, and which I have been campaigning for ever since. I think it is vital for the jobs and investment we need to secure Cheltenham's future. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid MP, made clear that Cheltenham is now on the map, stating:

As the Chancellor set out in a keynote speech at GCHQ in November 2015, the establishment of a Cyber Innovation Centre in Cheltenham is a key part of the Government's cybersecurity strategy...The town's MP, Alex Chalk, has been a powerful and effective advocate for investment for Cheltenham that will bring jobs and opportunity to the town, and I'm delighted to announce a Growth Deal settlement which supports his cyber vision for Cheltenham’s future.''

Thank you too to the LEP and Cheltenham Development Taskforce and CBC who have got behind this cyber vision and helped with this successful bid.

As for 'Strictly', Rob 'Judge' Rinder (now of 'Strictly Come Dancing' fame) and I studied law together. Following his brilliant efforts on 'Strictly', I teamed up with the wonderful local cancer charity, Linc, to invite him to Cheltenham to help fundraise at a dinner event. Rob was brilliantly witty and indiscreet as you'd expect, and it was a really successful evening. 

There's news below on my inquiry into the impact of social media on adolescent mental health, plus my latest 'health update', and news from the schools funding campaign. On that latter point, Cheltenham schools gain overall from the new proposed formula (Pittville and All Saints' Academy see an increase for example) but too many schools do not, despite Gloucestershire being an underfunded county. I'm calling for the officials to rethink their formula to spread Cheltenham's gain more evenly. 

I hope this is helpful. 

Best wishes,


Alex Chalk MP

P.S. Please note that these fortnightly updates are intended to be no more than an overview. If you want an in-depth update on my various campaigns (from education funding, to the Air Balloon roundabout, to broadband etc) please do get in touch
P.P.S. Brilliant local chef and Masterchef finalist, Andrew 'Koj' Kojima is crowdfunding for his proposed new restaurant in Cheltenham. I declare an interest - I've known Koj for many years - but he is incredibly talented and it would be great if he could  get the backing he needs. Here's the LINK

 

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Over the last two weeks, Alex has:

IN PARLIAMENT (NB - Parliament was in recess for the first week)

  • Recruited two leading children's charities, Young Minds and the Children's Society, to launch Alex's parliamentary inquiry into the "Impact of Social Media upon Adolescent Mental Health" (the charities will form the secretariat) READ MORE HERE
  • Held one-on-one talks with Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, to press for changes to the methodology used in the proposed new National Funding Formula for schools READ MORE HERE
  • Spoken out in Parliament to dispel the myth that slow broadband is exclusively a rural issue. Called too for an end to (spurious) 'EU State Aid' excuses being used to hold up progress in Cheltenham READ MORE HERE. (For the latest updates on my broadband campaign, please email ben.carlton@parliament.uk)
  • Written to the Prime Minister to call for overseas students (a key strength of the UK economy) to be taken out of net migration figures
  • Called on the Government to ease the impact of business rates rises for Cheltenham businesses (NB the town's overall bill will go down by 8%) READ MORE HERE
  • Briefed cross-party group of 50 MPs on the proposed new National Funding Formula for schools (in his capacity as Vice Chair of the f40 Group)
  • Quizzed Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, about the UK's approach to unaccompanied refugee children 
  • Attended a WASPI meeting in Parliament to discuss campaign strategy with women unfairly impacted by the equalisation of the state pension age
  • Supported the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in Parliament to tackle the societal barriers holding women back 
  • Met senior management of Northrup Grumman, a key Cheltenham employer, at annual Parliamentary reception attended by the Defence Secretary
  • Attended meeting of South-West MPs with Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling. Lobbied (again!) for earliest possible start to promised 2017 consultation on A417 road scheme solution (NB £250m has been pledged to fund the eventual design)
  • Met with Ed Conway (Sky Economics Editor) to discuss implications of Brexit for the UK economy

JUSTICE SELECT COMMITTEE NEWS
 

  • Session 1 (21 Feb): Questioned witnesses as part of ongoing inquiry into ‘Prison reform: Education and Healthcare Commissioning' READ MORE HERE. Questioned witnesses including representatives from:
    • National Offender Management Service
    • NHS England
    • BMA Forensic Medicine Committee
  • Session 2 (22 Feb): Quizzed Minister of State for Courts and Justice regarding 'The Implications of Brexit for the Crown Dependencies' (Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney) [the JSC has statutory responsibility for the Crown dependencies]

CYCLING ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP (APPG) NEWS

  • Chaired latest session of ongoing inquiry into "Cycling and the Justice System", taking evidence from police officers from West Midlands Police and the Met READ MORE HERE AND HERE 
DELEGATED LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
  • Sat on delegated legislation committee into 'Draft Claims in Respect of Loss or Damage arising from Competition Infringements (Competition Act 1998 and Other Enactments (Amendment)) Regulations 2017
IN CHELTENHAM
  • Hailed the Government's £22 million funding announcement for Cheltenham Cyber Hub and supporting infrastructure, following Alex's three-year lobbying campaign of the Government - including lobby past and present Prime Ministers and Chancellors READ MORE HERE 
  • Welcomed to Cheltenham Minister for the Constitution, Chris Skidmore MP, to the Leonard Cheshire home to discuss proposals for making voting more accessible for people with disabilities
  • Welcomed friend and former Bar colleague, Rob 'Judge' Rinder to Cheltenham's Manor by the Lake (Alex invited him to Cheltenham to support a fundraiser in aid of local cancer charity 'Linc')
  • Visited the Independence Trust on the Lower High Street to meet staff and service-users of the Mental Health & Wellbeing Service
  • Visited the Cheltenham Motor Club to congratulate the Club on winning the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Club of the Year award for the second year running
  • Met staff and clients of Cheltenham's Learn Direct who do vital work equipping people to get back into work
  • Met local residents in Park and Lansdown with local County Councillor, Tim Harman
  • Published 'Health Update' on Alex's four-point plan for healthcare in Cheltenham. READ HERE
  • Held talks with national recycling and waste disposal expert, Steve Read, to discuss ways to improve recycling rates and waste disposal in Cheltenham
  • Met local ISP representative to discuss the ongoing campaign to connect up remaining isolated pockets of slow broadband in the Leckhampton area
  • Attended the unveiling of the portrait of Isobel Holst at the Holst Museum
  • Joined Cheltenham's Mayor for the annual Civic Dinner in support of the Mayor's Charities at Manor by the Lake
  • Welcomed the establishment of the new Gloucestershire Stalking Support Service, a key step forward for our county after the joint campaign by Alex and Richard Graham MP to toughen the law surrounding stalking READ MORE HERE
  • Supported the James Hopkins Trust at their annual Kite Ball at Hatherley Manor
  • Joined the Rotary Club of Cheltenham dinner in Brasserie Blanc 
  • Held a constituency surgery
  • Hosted three Cheltenham work experience students

IN THE MEDIA
  • Been interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucestershire, the Breeze and Heart Radio about the announcement of £22 million Government for a new Cyber Hub in Cheltenham
  • Interviewed by University of Gloucestershire students about student politics, Brexit and Donald Trump
  • Featured in a national BBC article regarding the Fair Funding Campaign for schools READ MORE HERE  

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

Alex has also submitted the following Parliamentary Questions to the Government:

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government is taking to make allergen free drugs more widely available?
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the consultation on the proposed A417 road scheme solution will open?
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Government has analysed the impact of the application of the Mazars vs Woolway judgement upon small businesses who were previously eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, but no longer are due to non-contiguous occupation?
GROT SPOT UPDATE
  • Reported a number of graffiti-covered utility cabinets across Cheltenham, including those near the Park Campus
  • Wrote to the Borough Council to urge them to use their s.215 powers to expedite remedial works on a number of dilapidated buildings across the town reported by local residents following the last Fortnightly Update
  • Welcomed the re-commencement of tarmac infill replacement work in the town centre, with progress being made on Regent Street 
  • Welcomed proposal from GCC to invest £9m in pothole repairs across Gloucestershire
Let me know your pet-hate grot spot! We'll do what we can to get it fixed.
 
UPCOMING CONSTITUENCY SURGERIES

Alex will be holding constituency surgeries in March for residents who wish to raise any issues with him. Appointments can be booked in advance by calling 01242 210473 or emailing alex.chalk.mp@parliament.uk

 

PHOTO GALLERY
With the Communities Secretary ahead of the announcement of £22 million Government funding for a new Cyber Hub in Cheltenham
With 'Judge' Rinder and Dr Gill Rouse for a fundraising evening at Manor by the Lake. £3,000+ raised for fantastic local LINC cancer charity!
With the Constitution Minister, Chris Skidmore MP at the Leonard Cheshire home in Leckhampton
Supporting Cheltenham Learn Direct at their Open Morning
Meeting staff and service-users at the Independence Trust on the Lower High Street
Meeting Park residents with Councillor Tim Harman
Setting out his concerns about officials' proposed education funding formula
Meeting residents and service users at the Leonard Cheshire home in Leckhampton
Welcome progress on the unsightly tarmac infills on Regent Street. The small temporary section of tarmac will soon be replaced by block paving!
Congratulating the Cheltenham Motor Club on their CAMRA Club of the Year award along with Cheltenham's mayor
Chairing the Parliamentary Cycling Group inquiry into Cycling and the Law
At the WASPI meeting with women affected by the equalisation of the State Pension age
Cheltenham has received over £25m in grants from the National Lottery over the years. Keep it coming!
Supporting the 'This Girl Can' campaign
With 'Judge' Rinder at the fundraiser for Linc
Alex was written to by the Minister for Disabled People following an Accessibility event in Parliament
What's On in Cheltenham
 
  • MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2017

Great British Flip Off at Whole Foods Market Cheltenham

  • TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2017

Great British Flip Off at Whole Foods Market Cheltenham
12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
Anita and Me at Everyman Theatre

  • WEDNESDAY 1 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
Anita and Me at Everyman Theatre

  • THURSDAY 2 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
Anita and Me at Everyman Theatre
Farrow & Ball Design Lecture at The George Hotel
Nose to Tail evening at The White Spoon
Slams the Word Poetry Slam at Cheltenham Library

  • FRIDAY 3 MARCH 2017

YMCA Sleep Easy 
12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts

Anita and Me at Everyman Theatre
When The Eye Has Gone at Everyman Theatre

Henning Wehn at Cheltenham Town Hall

  • SATURDAY 4 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
Anita and Me at Everyman Theatre
When The Eye Has Gone at Everyman Theatre
Monsters of Rock tribute at The Frog and Fiddle
Story Space: Watchers of the Skies at Bacon Theatre
Devil Mud Run

  • SUNDAY 5 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
Devil Mud Run

  • MONDAY 6 MARCH 2017

La Strada at Everyman Theatre

  • TUESDAY 7 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
La Strada at Everyman Theatre
Cheltenham Film Society screenings

  • WEDNESDAY 8 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
La Strada at Everyman Theatre

  • THURSDAY 9 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
La Strada at Everyman Theatre
Portraits of India art exhibition at The Gardens Gallery

  • FRIDAY 10 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
La Strada at Everyman Theatre
Portraits of India art exhibition at The Gardens Gallery
Fundraising quiz at The Wheatsheaf
Charlton Kings Film Society Screenings at Sacred Hearts Parish Hall

  • SATURDAY 11 MARCH 2017

Rotary Club Coffee Morning, St Andrew's Church Montpellier
12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts

Portraits of India art exhibition at The Gardens Gallery
Charlton Kings Film Society Screenings at Sacred Hearts Parish Hall
Cheltenham Plan Consultation, Regent Arcade


SUNDAY 12 MARCH 2017

12 Contemporary Royal Academicians' exhibition at Chapel Arts
Pittville Sundays
Portraits of India art exhibition at The Gardens Gallery

Copyright © 2017 Alex Chalk MP, All rights reserved.


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