December update from Priti Patel MP

Over the next couple of weeks there will be crucial debates and votes in the House of Commons on our country’s withdrawal from the EU. I do not believe that the deal negotiated between the UK Government and the EU is in the best interests of our country and will be voting against it. The deal does not deliver on the 2016 Referendum result, where 60% of people in this part of the country voted to leave the EU, and keeps the UK chained to the EU under the control of Brussels. Instead of taking back control over our borders, our money and our laws, the proposed deal surrenders £39 billion of taxpayers’ money to the EU for nothing guaranteed in return.

The deal – which consists of a legally binding Withdrawal Agreement imposing many obligations on the UK and a Political Declaration on the future UK-EU relationship that contains no guarantees or enforceable obligations on the EU – is totally one-sided. Promises made by our Government to secure an equal partnership with the EU have not materialised. While the EU has secured everything it wants with firm legal guarantees, the UK has nothing but platitudes.

Not only is the proposed deal undemocratic because it does not respect the Referendum result, it allows the EU to continue to make laws and rules that impact on our country which we will have no say in. It also threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom by treating Northern Ireland differently, allows the EU Court to impose judgements on us for many years to come and prevents us from making new trade deals with the rest of the world. Instead of being a global power in our own right, the deal lets the EU pull our strings for many more years and perhaps indefinitely.

I have issued a statement on the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration and have commented on the damage they would cause to our country. I have also challenged the Government over the impact on our fisheries and questioned the Prime Minister over the future control that the EU Court will exert on our country.

Whether you voted to leave the EU or remain in the EU in the 2016 Referendum, this is a bad deal which I hope you will join with me in opposing.

There is a local campaign running to raise awareness of the danger this deal poses to our country. If you are interested in supporting this campaign and taking part, an action day is being held on Saturday 8 December. For more details please contact Mr Stuart Gulleford, by email to: [email protected] or telephone on: 07734 457 390.

As well as campaigning for the future of our country, I have been working hard on a number of local campaigns and issues.

At the moment Essex County Council are running a consultation on the future of our local libraries. This includes proposals to close a number of libraries unless community groups can come forward with plans to manage them. Under these plans, it is possible that seven of the eight libraries within the Witham constituency could close. Those libraries at risk are Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel, Silver End, Wickham Bishops, Coggeshall, Stanway and Tiptree. I am paying very close attention to these proposals and have written to the Leader of Essex County Council as I know that the loss of library provision in rural villages can be particularly worrying to residents. I am also keen to hear views from local residents and community groups about the plans and work with those interested in looking at community management as a way to maintain libraries in these areas. Anyone with a question or concern about these proposals or an interest in setting up a group to manage their library should get in touch.

With Christmas approaching later this month, I am pleased to announce that the winner of my Christmas Card competition is eight-year-old Jasmine Fenwick from St Andrew’s Junior School in Hatfield Peverel. Her winning design will be featuring on the front of my Christmas card this year.

I was also delighted to get into the festive spirit when I visited Howbridge Junior School’s Christmas Fair.

In advance of Christmas, it is good to support our fantastic local businesses. Over 80% of local jobs are in small and medium-sized enterprises and I have been visiting some of those shops in Coggeshall and Witham to celebrate Small Business Saturday.

This is also the time of the year when the rail companies announce their fare increases for next year. Commuters travelling from one of the five stations within the Witham constituency are set to see fares raise by 3.1%, with annual season tickets for some now set to exceed £6,000. In view of the poor services commuters experience, I am appalled by this fare increases which is not acceptable while so many journeys face disruption and delay. As well as opposing these rail fare increases, I am continuing to press the Government to support new investment in rail infrastructure and held a meeting of the Great Eastern Main Line Rail Taskforce, which I Chair.

Since being elected in 2010, I have been working to secure a new multipurpose healthcare centre in Witham town. This would help reduce pressures on our hospitals, provide more treatments locally and provide more GP capacity. The delivery of this healthcare facility is now in the hands of local GPs and the Clinical Commissioning Group and I have been concerned that the process has slowed down and not enough progress is being made. I raised this matter in the House of Commons during a debate I held on health services and expect the GPs and NHS to take action to get this health centre back on track. I will be meeting with them shortly as well. In addition to commenting on the Witham healthcare centre, I also drew the Government’s attention to concerns about GP services in Silver End and other local health issues.

Following the outcome of a police investigation into the deaths of patients at an NHS trust providing support for patients with mental health problems I have been supporting a constituent who has been affected and will continue to help families get to the truth of this matter.

In recent weeks I have been continuing to support residents who are concerned about a number of worrying planning applications and development proposals across the Witham constituency and beyond it too. Residents of Witham will have seen the latest attempt to over-develop the Gimsons site at River View, with Bellway seeking to develop 78 properties on the site. I am in contact with a number of local residents and Witham Town Council about this application and have been making Braintree District Council, who will be deciding the application, aware of local concerns and objections.

I also submitted objections to the latest proposals for development off of Western Way in Silver End; I am working with residents and Tiptree Parish Council to oppose the planning application for 200 dwellings off of Barbrook Lane; and have been pressing Chelmsford City Council to refuse a planning application for a Traveller site next to an industrial estate on Drakes Lane, about half a mile to the west of Terling Parish.

Last month I had the honour of joining Remembrance Services in Tollesbury and Witham to lay wreaths to remember the courage and bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and our freedoms. The services this year were particularly poignant as it was also the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War. We should always remember their sacrifice and honour their memory.

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham
twitter facebook email website