Latest News from Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP Newsletter - Reporting Back
The horrifying and tragic news from the Middle East in recent weeks has sadly dominated our return to Parliament. My thoughts and prayers are with the affected victims and all those with family and loved ones in the region. If any constituents have been impacted by these awful events, please don't hesitate to contact me.

I continued to engage with local schools on RAAC, and this month I have spent time working with and visiting the three schools that have experienced disruption - Honywood Community School, Thurstable School and St Andrews' School in Hatifield Peverel. Staff and the leadership of all three schools have worked relentlessly to find solutions which involves returning all pupils back on site and into school after the half term period.

This has been a challenging time and I would like to thank parents, carers, schools and my colleagues at Essex County Council for their support and understanding throughout this period. I continue to press the Government and local authorities on all relevant issues.

Across the constituency, I have also made a number of other visits to health providers, businesses and local development sites, alongside other constituency meetings and engagements.

In Parliament, I have spoken on a range of issues, including pressing the Government to build upon my previous work in Government to deport foreign criminals from our country. I have contributed to debates on the planning system, the reduced amount of prison capacity and raised the issue of National Grid's proposals to build 100 miles of pylons across Essex and the East of England. As ever, please do see below for a more substantial update on my work this month.

RAAC Update

Priti speaking with Honywood headteacher James Saunders whilst touring the temporary classrooms that have been erected
Following the change in guidance on RAAC from the Department for Education in August, which led to the partial closure of Honywood and Thurstable School, and the full closure of St Andrews Junior School in Hatfield Peverel, I continue to work with all three schools to find solutions to return all pupils back on site and into school past the half term period again.

During my visit to Honywood Community School, Headteacher, Mr James Saunders and I observed the newly erected classrooms for pupils which have been built in a record amount of time and will be ready for students to use upon their return after half term. I have been pleased to see the amount of support Honywood Community School has received from Essex County Council and the Department for Education to get these structures in place.

I also visited Thurstable School in Tiptree this month to discuss with Headteacher, Mr James Ketley their plans to renew the school site to get pupils back into school, and the Education Minister responsible for the RAAC policy issue, Baroness Barran, who also visited the school to discuss the progress in arranging and deploying new accommodation buildings onto the school site for pupils.

St Andrews Junior School has been the most severely impacted school in the constituency, with the school site being completely closed for the past six weeks. The school temporarily relocated to Hatfield Place whilst alternative accommodation was arranged on the school site, and this month I had the opportunity to see how pupils and staff had settled in to lessons at Hatfield Place. I am pleased that the students have now returned to studying on the school site which is much safer, and more appropriate for the pupils.

It is testament to the hard work of our local headteachers, in conjunction with Essex County Council, that only a few weeks after the start of term we are already seeing the infrastructure in place to allow students to return back to lessons onsite.

I fully recognise the disruption these closures have caused, and will continue to work closely with our local schools to ensure they have the funding and support they require.

Priti in Parliament

Brownfield development should be prioritised

This month I called on the Government to ensure that planning policies from the Government prioritise brownfield development sites over unsuitable speculative developer plans on countryside sites. The Government needs to review planning policies to ensure important sites are protected and a brownfield first approach is taken for new developments.

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Brownfield development should be prioritised, says Priti Patel MP

Priti calls on Chancellor to scrap immoral VAT on life saving defibrillators

I met with representatives from the Scrap the Heart Restart Tax campaign in Parliament in support of the campaign to scrap VAT on defibrillators. Witham has just 0.6 defibrillators per square mile – slashing the tax will help to increase affordability and save lives. I hope that in his upcoming Autumn Statement, the Chancellor moves to abolish the immoral tax on this vitally important life saving equipment so that more communities in Witham and across the country have access to defibrillators.

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Priti with campaigner Jack Hurley from Scrap the Heart Restart Tax campaign

More deportations for foreign national offenders

During a debate on reforms to the rules on deporting foreign national offenders directly from prisons, I called on the Government to take robust action to deport more foreign national offenders directly from prisons.

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Priti calls for more deportations for foreign national offenders

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I joined Estee Lauder in Parliament as part of their campaign to help end breast cancer.

Since 1992, the Estee Lauder Companies and its charitable foundation have provided more than $118 million to support research, education and access to medical services globally. I would like to thank Estee Lauder and their United Kingdom & Ireland Ambassadors, who are working hard to encourage regular self check-ups and raise awareness of breast cancer.

Opposition to National Grid’s pylons plans raised by Priti in Parliament

I highlighted the local and regional opposition to the National Grid's plans for over 100 miles of new pylons and overhead powerlines in the East of England in a recent Parliamentary debate. I criticised the lack of transparency and the secretive way new infrastructure is planned to connect to the grid the new renewable energy generated by offshore wind farms.

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Opposition to National Grid’s pylons plans raised by Priti in Parliament

Israel and Gaza

We have all been shocked and appalled by the terrorism inflicted on Israel with Hamas terrorists killing, torturing and kidnapping men, women and children. The brutality is abhorrent. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected in the region by the ongoing conflict affecting civilians in Israel and in Gaza, who are suffering as a result of the terrorist acts committed by Hamas.

In the House of Commons, I raised with the Prime Minister the need for care to be taken to support humanitarian aid going into Gaza and to prevent further acts of terrorism and the escalation of the conflict in the region.

I know that this is also a very worrying time for those living in the UK with family and friends in the Middle East, and share concerns that some are using these events to cause tensions in this country and perpetrate acts of Antisemitism and Islamophobia here. We must all stay vigilant at this time and respectful of each other and the tolerant society we live in.

Out and About Across the Witham Constituency

Visiting local GP surgeries

I recently visited both Coggeshall Surgery and Douglas Grove Surgery in Witham where I met with practice managers, GP partners and staff to discuss the current provision of healthcare services locally in the community, and some of the current challenges that are being faced.

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Priti speaking with staff at Coggeshall surgery

Supporting World Mental Health Day

This month I also visited The Lakes mental health unit at Colchester Hospital to meet with staff and leadership of the Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust (EPUT). The visit coincided with World Mental Health Day, and it was wonderful to speak to staff about the important work that they do.

During my visit, I met with EPUT Chief Executive, Mr Paul Scott, to discuss the findings of the recent CQC inspection, which delivered a rating of ‘requires improvement’ and raised particular concerns with the acute wards for adults as well as psychiatric intensive care units.

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Visiting Wiltshire Farm Foods site in Witham

It was a pleasure to visit Wiltshire Farm Foods at their Witham depot, and learn more about their business. During the visit, we discussed their concerns about the Governments plans for an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme.

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Priti with Charlotte Percy, Sustainability Executive at Wiltshire Farm Foods, with an example of the plastic trays used in their closed loop recycling system.

Priti visits award winning local specialist school

Recently, I visited Reach Essex, a specialist school based in Witham, and it was great to meet some of the staff and pupils. This inspirational organisation supports vulnerable children and young people whose behaviour, anxieties or other factors impact upon their wellbeing and achievement.

It was a real pleasure to visit Reach Essex. It is vitally important that children with SEN and other disabilities get the support they need to flourish and enjoy the opportunities that a full education provides.

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Priti with School Director of Operations Gemma Quantrill and Viv Trask-Hall, Head of Education and Innovation at Thrive.

The Government needs to make the apprenticeship levy more flexible

During my visit to South East Galvanizers, I had the opportunity to discuss their concerns about the apprenticeship levy with their leadership team. I've held long-standing concerns about the apprenticeship levy, and I have called on the Government to ensure that the apprenticeship levy is more flexible, and supporting businesses to employ apprentices.

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Meeting the Cancer Stewards at Broomfield Hospital

It was a pleasure to meet with the Mid & South Essex Cancer Stewards at Broomfield Hospital. We spoke about what more can be done to advance early detection and diagnosis, as well as hearing first hand experiences of staff and what improvements they feel need to be made across all health care settings to see better quality care for patients.
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Priti joins Goldhanger residents in opposing countryside loss

I met representatives from Goldhanger Parish Council and local residents in the village to discuss their opposition to plans to destroy parts of our countryside with a large new housing development of 23 new dwellings off of Head Street.

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Priti joins Goldhanger residents in opposing countryside loss

RAF Wethersfield Update

I continue to raise with the Government concerns about the RAF Wethersfield asylum centre accommodation that has been imposed on this part of Essex by the Home Office. The number of asylum seekers on the site has increased to over 200, with further accommodation facilities due to open as the Home Office works to get the numbers up to 1,700 capacity.

This week a court hearing is taking place where judges will consider the judicial review application that Braintree District Council submitted to challenge the planning processes used to develop the site. The current planning process the Home Office is relying on (Class Q exemption) enables the site to be used for up to 12 months. To secure use for a longer period they have to use a different planning process.

Therefore, regardless of the outcome of the current legal challenge, it is likely that the Government will shortly submit what is called a Special Development Order to grant permission for the continued use of the site for a set time period. I have been pressing the Government to explain what it will do and to engage with local stakeholders on its proposals.

I will be questioning ministers closely over these plans and am also continuing to challenge the Government over a range of issues associated with the site being used for asylum accommodation. This includes the costs that local service providers are facing, the inappropriate nature of this site on this location, and the risks of asylum seekers absconding and disappearing.

Transport Update


I am pleased that Transport for London (TfL) has taken the decision to continue the usage of Day Travelcards as part of TfL services following the announcement from the Mayor of London that that this service would be withdrawn.

These changes would have put at disadvantage 1.2 million British citizens who don't have contactless bank card or oyster cards. I have been contacted by constituents who would have been impacted by these plans and made representations to the Mayor of London.

In his response, the Mayor of London insisted that this decision is part of the funding deal with the Department for Transport, however the power to make decisions over transport issues in London, including the withdrawal of Day Travelcards rests solely with the devolved London authorities.

Colleagues in the Department for Transport, the Rail Delivery Group and TfL found a solution to secure the future of the tickets.


Recently, I visited Tiptree Heath Primary School to see the dangers posed to pupils, parents and staff at the school entrance due to the current lack of road safety measures around the school entrance.

I witnessed first-hand a number of issues, including speeding vehicles, drivers ignoring the school crossing patrol officer and vehicles driving on the edge of the narrow pathway as children were walking past.

Following the most recent incident at the start of October, where a parent was hit by a lorry outside of the school, I have written to Essex County Council calling on them to conduct an urgent review of this issue and the potential for further road safety measures to be implemented around the school. Whilst £5000 was allocated to the school by Essex Highways following a previous incident in June 2021 where a child was hit by a car, this money has not yet been provided, and I am following up with the Council to find out where the money has gone.

I am very concerned by the current lack of road safety measures around Tiptree Heath Primary School and the implications this is having on the safety of pedestrians and pupils.

A12/A120 and Ely Junction Rail Investment

I welcome the recent Government announcement that it will be committing to investing in upgrading Ely Junction. The upgrade of Ely Junction has been one of the key investment projects to improve rail services that the Great Eastern Main Line Rail Taskforce has pressed the Government to commit to.

The improvement this will bring to capacity and reliability will be beneficial to the rail network across the East of England, and will support economic growth by boosting rail freight. We have campaigned with businesses for the last decade and it is great that the Government has listened to the robust case we have put forward and is now committing the investment needed.

There are other important projects and schemes, such as the A12 widening scheme and A120 dualling scheme, which are important and much-needed investments to improve infrastructure, road safety and economic growth in this part of Essex.

An independent planning inspector is currently considering the A12 proposals and will prepare a report for the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, to consider. I have also pressed the Secretary of State in the House of Commons to bring forward the A120 proposals as soon as possible. They have been pushed back to 2030, but with much of the planning work already completed I believe there is an opportunity to undertake this work sooner and sequence the works alongside the A12 scheme to minimise the impacts and maximise the benefits.
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Here to Help

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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