Latest News from Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP Newsletter - Reporting Back
September normally represents the start of the new school term, with students across the constituency returning after their summer holidays for the next academic year.

This year has been different, and I appreciate that the news in late August regarding revised guidance on RAAC which resulted in a number of schools altering their opening plans was understandably very concerning for parents and pupils.

In Witham, this saw the partial closure of two schools, Honywood and Thurstable School, and the full close of one school, St Andrews Junior School in Hatfield Peverel.

Throughout this month and since the initial announcement, I have been engaging directly with Essex County Council, the Education Secretary and headteachers of the affected schools and I will continue to follow this issue closely to ensure a swift return to in person learning as soon as possible.

This month I have also raised a number of issues in Parliament, including the forthcoming Victims Bill and the need to ensure that this new legislation works for victims, resettlement of Afghan families and R&D tax credits.

Locally, I have been out and about across the constituency visiting local businesses and meeting constituents, with further details of these visits below.

RAAC Update

A number of schools across the country have been impacted by the change in guidance on RAAC from the Department for Education in August, which led to either partial or full closure of a number of schools across Essex, including St Andrews Junior School in Hatfield Peverel. Two other schools, Thurstable School and Honywood School, have had to partially close with a number of classrooms now not in use.

Since being notified of this issue, I have been in direct contact with all locally affected schools, Essex County Council and the Department for Education. I have been working with them to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimal, and I have secured funding from the Government for both capital works to rectify identified structural issues as well as revenue support to enable hybrid learning arrangements to be in place for pupils.

Through direct dialogue with the Department for Education, I have successfully secured revenue and capital funding for the affected schools that has gone directly to Essex County Council.

I have visited the three schools affected, met with the headteachers, and welcomed the Education Secretary to Essex County Hall to discuss these issues in more details. I have also spoken at Prime Ministers Questions, and urged the Prime Minister to do everything possible to address the RAAC concerns affecting schools in the Witham constituency and in Essex.

I am continuing to work closely with Essex County Council on every aspect of this issue, including the ongoing work taking place to ensure disruption is kept to as minimal a level as possible so that students are able to return to normal soon.

St Andrews Junior School has settled into Hatfield Place and Essex County Council is working closely with the school. Temporary accommodation will be on site within the next month. Hatfield Place is available to the school until the half term and further discussions about when the pupils will move back to the school will take place nearer that time.

Honywood school sourced temporary accommodation from a marquee company and both the school and Essex County Council have briefed me on the delivery timeframe to provide these essential temporary class spaces. There is also an operational plan for the long term repair works to be undertaken which has been signed off by the Department for Education.

The responsible body for Thurstable school is sourcing portacabins and the temporary accommodation should be on site and be completed by half term. Remote learning is in place for many pupils at this time and the school is prioritising face-to-face learning for priority year groups and vulnerable pupils.

I know that this is a very worrying time for those affected and I will continue to press the Government and hold it to account over this matter. I would encourage any concerned parents to please contact me if they are dealing with any specific issues that I may be able to help with during this time.

National's Grid Consultation on Pylons

I am continuing to campaign with local communities and colleagues across the East of England against National Grid’s plans for new overhead powerlines and pylons to be built across our countryside.

In the House of Commons, I raised this matter with the new Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, the Rt Hon Claire Coutinho MP and highlighted the benefits of an offshore grid being developed as an alternative.

In response, the Secretary of State agreed to meet with MPs from the region and we will carry on pressing the Government and National Grid to scrap the plans for new pylons.

Priti in Parliament

Priti calls on justice ministers to improve compensation for victims

I called on justice ministers to use the forthcoming Victims' Bill to introduce new measures to improve compensation for victims of crime in the House of Commons. Victims of crime keep getting let down by the criminal justice system and the level of compensation awarded is often paltry and does not reflect the severity of impact crime has on an individual.

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Priti calls on justice ministers to improve compensation for victims

Organ Donation Week

I was thrilled to join the Kidney Care UK team in Parliament for their event marking Organ Donation Week.

I am proud that the opt-out law passed by Parliament is helping more people have access to life saving organ donations, and it was great to support this event and join the fantastic team to raise awareness of this important issue.

Priti praises Colchester City Council and Essex County Council for Afghan support

During questions in the House of Commons to Defence Ministers, I praised Colchester City Council and Essex County Council for their work supporting the resettlement of dozens of Afghan families who had been evacuated from Afghanistan. Over 200 Afghan nationals have been hosted in a local bridging hotel and it is important that these families have long term housing available to them.

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Macmillan Cancer Support

This month I had the pleasure of visiting the Macmillan Cancer Support event in Parliament and meeting my constituent Shirley, a remarkable lady who has recovered from breast cancer and is supporting cancer patients and survivors.

The Macmillan team is doing a fantastic job supporting patients who have cancer and as always, it was fantastic to catch up with them.

Priti calls on Treasury to help businesses claim R&D Tax Credits

Businesses throughout the country invest in research and development including in Essex. The Treasury must review these processes as cutting red tape will help more businesses claim R&D tax credits to secure more investment and innovation. I have called on the Treasury to address the complexities that businesses face when claiming R&D tax credits during questions to Treasury Ministers.

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Priti calls on Treasury to help businesses claim R&D Tax Credits


This month I joined TheCityUk in Parliament to learn more about the contribution financial and related professional services make in Witham constituency. These sectors have over 2,700 high-quality jobs in my constituency, and nearly 2.5 million jobs across the country.

This is an industry that drives growth in every region of the UK, supporting the economy, creating high-skilled and well-paid jobs, generating investment and growing prosperity.

Priti calls for reforms to support investment in jobs

During questions to Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions I have called on the Government to develop a labour market strategy and cut taxes to empower businesses to invest in jobs in Essex. Lower taxes and regulatory reforms can boost the already high levels of employment in Essex.

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Priti calls for reforms to support investment in jobs

Kidney Research UK

I have joined Kidney Research UK for the launch of their new report on the health economics of kidney disease - Kidney disease: a UK public health emergency. The report reveals statistics, including that kidney disease affects an estimated 7.2 million in the UK, which continues to rise.

Out and About Across the Witham Constituency

Priti visits First Bus Essex to discuss constituent concerns

I visited First Bus Essex at their depot in Chelmsford to meet with the Managing Director, Mr Piers Marlow, to discuss bus services in Witham. I raised concerns from constituents with regards to the X20 bus route, which no longer serves the housing estate in Marks Tey and instead stopping directly on the A120. Local bus services are vital for communities, and it’s important that we continue to see investment and support to maintain local transport links.

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Priti with MD Piers Marlow and other staff during the tour of the First Bus depot

Priti delighted to support local travel management firm Inntel Travel Ltd

I was delighted to visit the team at local travel management company Inntel Travel Ltd, based in Feering, and to meet with company Chief Executive Douglas O’Neill. During the meeting, we discussed how the business has adapted over recent years given the effect of the pandemic and restrictions on travel, and their plans for the future as things now return to normal.

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Priti with Inntel Chief Executive Douglas O'Neill and staff outside their headquarters in Feering.

Priti visits Chatten Free School with SPS Dental

I had a very special visit to Chatten Free School with staff from local dental equipment firm SPS Dental. The team at SPS Dental have kindly donated specialist dental equipment to the school, after being contacted by a concerned parent whose autistic child struggles with attending the dentist. The generosity of SPS will make an enormous difference to the students of the school.

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Priti with staff from SPS Dental and Chatten Free School

9 Church Road Planning Proposal Rejected

Maldon District Council’s planning committee rejected the plans to build 50 new homes on an unsuitable site off of Church Road, Wickham Bishops. I had met with local residents and the Parish Council and supported them in making robust representations to the Council to oppose this outrageous development plan.
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Priti speaking with Kevin Walter of the Wickham Bishops Action Group

Local initiatives to maintain sea walls

I visited and inspected the sea wall in Tollesbury with representatives from the Environment Agency (EA) and the Essex Coast Organisation Ltd (ECO). Maintaining the environment and protecting the area from flooding is important and I commend the work of local landowners who have taken a strong interest over many years in maintaining the sea wall.

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Priti with Environment Agency director Graham Verrier and ECO chair Andrew St Joseph

Priti visits Elm Hall Primary School

It was a pleasure to be invited back to Elm Hall Primary School, this time to speak to year 3 pupils about my role as a Member of Parliament and how Parliament works. The children’s interest in Parliament and the democratic process was really refreshing to see, and I hope to see them on a visit to Parliament itself in the future.

Planning concerns in Goldhanger and Tollesbury

I have been contacted by residents in Goldhanger concerned about a proposal for 25 new dwellings on land off of Head Street, which has just been submitted. The application will be considered by Maldon District Council and I am making representations to the Council highlighting the local concerns and objections. More details on the application can be found on the Council’s website. In Tollesbury, the Council is still considering a planning application for 200 dwellings, and I have been raising local concerns with this application as well.

RAF Wethersfield Update

I know that residents in this part of Essex have serious concerns about the ongoing impact that the large-scale asylum accommodation site at RAF Wethersfield is having.

There are currently around 150 asylum seekers staying there with the Home Office planning to increase the number to 1,700 towards the end of the year. Individuals accommodated to RAF Wethersfield are not detained, meaning that they are free to come and go and I am aware that some have left the site and have not returned. The Home Office have also imposed this site on the District by bypassing the regular planning process so they can use the site for 12 months.

In the House of Commons this month I asked the Immigration Minister to give an update on how long the Home Office plans to use this site and how it will go about securing planning permission. I am also continuing to raise local questions and concerns with the presence of the site in this part of Essex with relevant authorities.

Transport Update


Now that the public consultation into proposed ticket office changes has closed, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are reviewing all the comments and feedback received during the consultation period and will provide recommendations to Greater Anglia, and all other train operators about the proposals in coming weeks. Their advise will inform updated proposals and decisions on the plans to be taken forward, which are expected before the end of the year.

Many constituents have shared their concerns with me and I am aware of the unease caused by these proposed changes. I have raised these concerns with both Transport Secretary and the Managing Director of Greater Anglia to ensure that they are aware of the concerns and the strength of feeling on this issue.

I have also participated in a Westminster Hall debate this month to discuss ticket office closures and state my own opposition to the proposals. Our part of Essex has a growing population and Greater Anglia and the Government need to listen carefully to the concerns and objections raised and respond to them. I will continue to follow these developments closely.

In some very positive news, following my campaigning Greater Anglia has returned its all day, four trains per hour Stansted Express service. The service will be restored to its pre pandemic standard which is welcome news to holiday makers and commuters.

Rail users will however be disappointed that ASLEF union have announced further strike action for the 30th September, 4th October and action short of a strike on 29th September and 2-6th October.

This will of course have a huge impact on train services which will operate on hourly basis only on four routes - Norwich to London, Colchester to London, Southend Victoria to London and Stansted Airport to London on Saturday 30th September and Wednesday 4th October.

On 29th September, 2nd October, 3rd October, 5th October and 6th October, when action short of strike is taking place, the normal timetable will be in place, with most services operating on all Greater Anglia routes, but with some planned cancelations.


Priti speaks with NRA headteacher Simon Gibbs by the existing Conrad Road crossing
I visited New Rickstones Academy and met with headteacher, Mr Simon Gibbs, to see first hand the situation outside of the school gates at 3pm where students need to cross Conrad Road to start their journey home.

Mr Gibbs showed me how busy the road gets with traffic and how unsafe the sole existing pedestrian crossing is for students, pedestrians and staff. With a number of schools in close proximity to each other on Conrad Road, at 3pm almost 2,000 pupils are starting their journeys home, with a significant number needing to cross Conrad Road.

Due to the sheer number of students exiting the school grounds, teachers from New Rickstones are having to act as traffic marshals to hold oncoming cars so that pupils can safely use the pedestrian crossing, a situation that is not sustainable and raises significant safety concerns.

This is an extremely serious issue and I have made urgent representations to Essex County Council on this matter, and hope to see the Cabinet Member for Highways and his officials onsite very soon so that they can see for themselves this situation, which needs addressing.
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My team and I are always available to support constituents with any issues they may be having. Please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail ([email protected]), with your full address and postcode and a summary of the issue that you require assistance with.

As ever with best wishes,

The Rt Hon Priti Patel
Member of Parliament for Witham
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