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Fortnightly Update #21 - 13.03.2017

Welcome to my latest Fortnightly Update.

A key highlight from the last two weeks has been the time I spent alongside local ambulance staff in Cheltenham. On one Saturday evening I witnessed everything from an elderly patient with a suspected heart attack, to a toddler with breathing difficulties. The paramedic I was crewed with even had to contend with volatile patient who at one stage looked as if he might turn violent. 

All of it was handled with consummate skill, calmness and professionalism. A great privilege to see, and very reassuring too. 

I have nothing but respect for those who put in the tough night shifts to serve our community with such dedication. It is hugely appreciated. 

I hope this update is useful.


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. For those of you who have contacted me about Brexit and National Insurance in recent days, I will respond if I may under separate cover.
 

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Over the last two weeks, Alex has:

IN PARLIAMENT:
  • Called in Parliament for increasing funding for adult social care to assist Gloucestershire's NHS Trust, ahead of the Budget READ MORE HERE
  • Pressed the Government in Parliament for further action on the grave threat of antibiotic resistance READ MORE HERE
  • Spoke out in debate about how best to tackle the rise in assaults on NHS staff READ MORE HERE
  • Made preparations for the national Social Media inquiry in conjunction with Young Minds and the Children's Society READ MORE HERE
  • Held face-to-face talks with Education Minister, Nick Gibb MP, to discuss grammar schools. Alex made clear that nothing should be done to disturb the delicate educational 'ecosystem' in Cheltenham which is delivering rising social mobility and education standards
  • Welcomed additional funding in the Budget for adult social care and financial support for Cheltenham's small businesses and pubs READ MORE HERE 
  • Held talks with senior representatives from Google to review the steps Google is taking (via its YouTube platform) to protect young people online
  • Met Cheltenham constituents in Parliament for restate his support for the WASPI campaign
  • Challenged the Government on prison safety READ MORE HERE
  • Called upon Ministers to take action on microbeads and for manufacturers to start moving to alternative products. READ MORE HERE
  • Spoke out in Parliament about the importance of setting employment tribunal issue fees at an affordable level to protect workers' rights and promote access to justice READ MORE HERE
  • Called on the Government to protect legal aid READ MORE HERE
  • Met the Leader of Gloucestershire County Council to discuss funding for Cheltenham's roads and the latest phase of the Fastershire 'infill' broadband rollout
  • Marked International Women's Day at a reception in Parliament with the Bishop of Gloucester 
  • Supported YMCA’s 2017 Apprenticeship Awards in Parliament as part of National Apprenticeship Week
  • Supported the eating disorder charity Beat's launch of Eating Disorders Awareness Week
  • Toured the Crossrail/Queen Elizabeth Line tunnels at Liverpool Street station, currently under construction
  • Supported the charity Disability Confident in Parliament, focusing on increasing the number of employers in the UK who are able to recruit and retain disabled employees
  • Supported the Christians Against Poverty launch of programme to raise financial education and teach practical skills
  • Received a briefing from BBC on developments in the BBC West area
  • Hosted Q&A in Parliament for University of Gloucestershire students 

JUSTICE SELECT COMMITTEE NEWS

  • Session 1 (28 Feb): Took part in the final evidence session on its sub-inquiry into ‘Governor empowerment  and prison performance' READ MORE HERE. Questioned witnesses including:
    • Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Prisons and Probation, Ministry of Justice
    • Janine McDowell, Chief Operating Officer, Justice Services, Sodexo
    • Jerry Petherick, Managing Director, Custodial and Detention Services, G4S
  • Session 2 (1 Mar): Finalised the Committee’s Report on Sentencing Council Guidelines on Bladed Articles

CYCLING ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP (APPG) NEWS

  • Chaired latest session of ongoing inquiry into "Cycling and the Justice System", focusing on driver awareness and civil justice READ MORE HERE

DELEGATED LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

  • Sat on delegated legislation committee into 'Draft Collection of Fines’ (Northern Ireland Consequential Amendments) Order 2017

IN CHELTENHAM

  • Joined South West Ambulance Service for a six-hour Saturday evening stint READ MORE HERE 
  • Met a Gloucestershire delegation from the National Union of Teachers to discuss funding for Cheltenham's schools
  • Announced a pioneering 'Facebook Live' event at Bournside School this Thursday (16th March), with senior representatives from Facebook coming to Cheltenham to meet parents and pupils to discuss issues including internet safety READ MORE HERE
  • Called Highways England to his Cheltenham office for a progress update regarding the A417 Loop scheme. The formal public consultation will commence later this year
  • Taken part in the YMCA Sleep Easy event, (spending the night in a cardboard box) in St Mark's for the third consecutive year
  • Welcomed the Government's decision to reform the Horserace Betting Levy following lobbying efforts by Alex on behalf of Cheltenham Racecourse READ MORE HERE AND HERE
  • Discussed the ongoing peace process in the Middle East with local residents
  • Joined the dedicated volunteers at Cheltenham Foodbank for their five-year anniversary celebrations
  • Met the headteacher of Pittville School to discuss topics including adolescent mental health, fair funding and grammar schools 
  • Supported the opening of the new 'Glos Info' shop on the Westal Green roundabout in Tivoli
  • Attended service at Gloucester Cathedral to welcome Cheltenham's new Archdeacon
  • Visited the Whittington House residential home in St Mark's to meet residents and staff
  • Introduced local MEP, Julie Girling, at Cheltenham for Europe group event
  • Met pupils and teachers at Lakeside School for Q&A
  • Promoted local author John Martin's new children's books for the Gloucestershire Echo on World Book Day READ MORE HERE
  • Taken part in the Friends of Montpellier Gardens litter pick 'flash mob'
  • Backed the campaign to create a new community facility at the home of Cheltenham RFC for sport in North Gloucestershire.READ MORE AND SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN HERE 
IN THE MEDIA
  • Been interviewed by the Breeze and Heart Radio about adult social care and business rates ahead of the Budget
  • Written two articles for the Gloucestershire Echo. You can read all of Alex's articles HERE
  • Featured in an article article regarding his 'Facebook Live' event at Bournside School. READ MORE HERE   

UPCOMING CONSTITUENCY SURGERIES

Alex will be holding constituency surgeries in March and April 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

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

Alex has submitted the following Parliamentary Questions to the Government:

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health what scope exists to allocate the Competition and Markets Authority fines, collected from pharmaceutical manufacturers Pfizer and distributor Flynn Pharma to go towards the research and treatment of epilepsy patients?
  • To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment the Government has made of the impact of sixth form colleges being ineligible for VAT registration, unlike schools and academies which are entitled to claim back VAT paid on outgoings?
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government has plans to extend the licence for production of oxalic acid api-bioxal to encourage a wider variety of affordable anti -Varroa treatments in the bee-keeping community?
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether an assessment has been made of the efficiency of the reporting protocols for non-statutory notifiable pests, such as the Asian hornet, with regards to alerting beekeepers to their presence?
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of monitoring the certification regarding the use, storage and disposal of Plant Protection Products?
He has also received answers to the following Written Questions from Ministers:
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of monitoring the certification regarding the use, storage and disposal of plant protection products.
    Hansard source
George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

Pesticides are tightly regulated in the UK and plant protection products can only be sold or used after they have been authorised. Authorised products are often subject to restrictions on the ways in which they are used, so as to ensure protection of human health and the environment. These restrictions can include application rates, timings and specific risk mitigation measures. There is also guidance for professional pesticide users which includes information on correct use, storage and disposal of plant protection products. Several schemes, such as cross-compliance requirements for rural payments and various farm assurance schemes, include inspections covering pesticide storage facilities, record-keeping and practices.

The UK has a National Action Plan which includes a range of measures to ensure the sustainable use of pesticides. The Government is advised on the progress with this Plan by a stakeholder group, the Pesticides Forum. The Forum considers a range of information, including the results of relevant Government monitoring schemes. Its latest Annual Report states that the UK's range of controls is effective and is ensuring that pesticides are being used in a more sustainable fashion
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  • To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the consultation on the proposed A417 road improvement scheme will open.
John Hayes Minister of State (Department for Transport):

It is expected that public consultation on scheme options for the A417 Air Balloon Roundabout improvement scheme will take place by the end of December 2017.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made an assessment of the efficiency of the reporting protocols for non-statutory notifiable pests in alerting beekeepers to their presence.
Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

Our efforts are currently focused on the reporting of statutory bee pests and diseases such as the small hive beetle and European and American foulbrood. Details of outbreaks are provided on our online advice portal BeeBase, available for all registered beekeepers to see. Beekeepers within 3km of an outbreak are notified by email. Current levels of foulbrood across the country are at very low levels testifying to the success of this approach.

We support beekeepers against non-notiable pests and diseases such as Varroa through our extensive training and inspection programme and through BeeBase. Guidance is provided on how to identify and manage their impacts ensuring healthier and more productive colonies. We do not currently notify beekeepers of local findings of these pests.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps the Government is taking to make allergen-free drugs more widely available.

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health:

No medicine is free from side effects and the balance of risks and benefits of medicines are carefully assessed at the time of licensing. Warnings about known side effects, including allergic reactions, are included in the product information for healthcare professionals (the Summary of Product Characteristics) and the Patient Information leaflet which accompanies the medicine. Ingredients (excipients) of known effect are declared on the outer packaging of licensed medicines. Anyone with an allergy should make this known during their discussion about their treatment with their pharmacist or doctor.

PHOTO GALLERY
Went on-call with South West Ambulance Service on Saturday evening
Taking part in the YMCA Sleep Easy in St Mark's
Taking part in the Friends of Montpellier Gardens litter pick 'flash mob'
At the opening of the Glos Info shop on the Westal Green roundabout
Visiting the Crossrail site at Liverpool Street station. An amazing feat of British engineering!
Meeting residents at Whittington House
Copyright © 2017 Alex Chalk MP, All rights reserved.


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