Latest News from Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP Newsletter - Reporting Back


Concerns over quarrying plans

Priti meets with local residents in Copford to discuss their concerns about proposed sites in the minerals plan.
Essex County Council has recently consulted on 52 potential candidate sites across the County for new quarrying activities as part of their review of their 2014 Mineral Local Plan. 20 of those sites fall within the Witham constituency and the proposals may affect you.

This part of Essex already has a high number of quarrying sites, especially along the A12 and the A120 corridors. I have been working with local residents and community groups to raise their concerns with the new sites being put forward. This month, alongside Cllr Kevin Bentley I met with with local residents at Copford Village Hall to hear their concerns about proposals for new quarrying sites in the Colchester area.

The concerns I have heard include the impact on the environment, countryside and agricultural land; risks to human health through dust from the sites; and increased traffic and heavy goods vehicles on our roads.

Although the consultation has now closed, the details are available below. Responses to the consultation will be considered by the Council as part of the Local Plan Review process any sites deemed suitable for future quarrying will then need to be considered by an independent inspector who may examine the whole of the Local Plan. In any case, no new quarrying activities can commence without a planning application for that site being approved. However, the fact that so many sites have come forwarded for consideration is causing widespread concerns and I am continuing to raise these and make representations to the Council.

National Grid's Pylons Consultation

The National Grid are currently consulting on plans to impose around 100 miles of new overhead power lines and more than 500 large steel framed pylons in East Anglia between Norwich and Tilbury, including through this part of Essex. This consultation runs until 18th June 2024 and I would encourage all residents to take part.

Within the Witham constituency the line of routes runs between Coggeshall and Fairstead. This may affect your community with around 50 new pylons proposed and a small section of tunnelling around Fuller Street. These plans will harm our communities and blight our landscapes and environment, and although new reforms are supposed to ensure that community benefits are provided when new energy infrastructure is built, there are no plans or guarantees that these will apply to this scheme. We could end up with all the adverse consequences and damage caused by new pylons and the construction works to build them, but no direct benefits.

While we all want to see greater energy security and welcome the expansion of offshore wind generation, the lack of clear long-term and holistic planning combined with secretive contracts agreed between the National Grid and developers means we now face the consequences of these proposals for new pylons.

Since these proposals first emerged, I have been working with local campaigners and colleagues in Parliament to oppose these plans and press National Grid to put forward alternatives, including an offshore grid and more tunnelling. These alternatives could be more effective in the long-term at supporting the new infrastructure needed to bring electricity generated from offshore wind turbines to the grid. However, the National Grid have not changed their approach.

For further details and to respond to the consultation, please click the button below. If you are responding to the consultation, please do feel free to copy your submission to me by email. I will be collating the comments sent to me and raising them with both the National Grid and with the Government.

St Peter's Hospital Update

Local MP's team up with Save Maldon Medical Services group
This month, Sir John Whittingdale, the Member of Parliament for Maldon and I met with Save Maldon Medical Services Group who are opposing the proposals relating to St Peter's Hospital.

We have been working hard in making the case to retain local medical services in the Maldon District. This week, we made further representations in Parliament, calling on the Government to enable Maldon District Council to use the £5m of Levelling Up funds provided in the Spring Budget to support improved health facilities and services in Maldon town. Both Sir John and I are making the case to the government that this funding should be used to support the development of a new health hub off of Wycke Hill, as health and well being is a key levelling up principle.

The development of a new health hub has stalled, and if levelling up funding can be used flexibly to remove those barriers, then this will help bring forward much-needed new healthcare provision for the Maldon District.

In the House of Commons, I have also raised the need to safeguard and invest in health services in Maldon Town and concerns over the consultation process undertaken by the NHS on the proposals to close St Peter's Hospital. In response, the Health Secretary committed to take an interest in the consultation and expressed support for Levelling Up funds to be used to support health outcomes. I have also questioned the Levelling Up Ministers on Monday over this matter. You can view both contributions by pressing on the buttons below.

The consultation into St Peter's Hospital has now closed and the responses to the consultation will be reviewed by Mid and South Integrated Care System.

Rwanda and RAF Wethersfield

This month I welcomed the passage of the Safety of Rwanda Bill through Parliament and the signing of the associated Treaty with Rwanda, which follows on from the world-leading Economic and Migration Partnership I agreed with the Government of Rwanda in 2022. As a result, the government should get on and start to remove to Rwanda those who have entered the UK through dangerous and illegal methods, such as small boats crossing the Channel, to have their claims processed there. These arrangements are part of a wider package I introduced to protect our borders, tackle illegal immigration and deter illegal and dangerous crossings. Those measures included tougher prison sentences for those involved in facilitating small boat crossings, a one-stop shop to process applications for asylum and appeals more quickly and greater investment in our law enforcement agencies and security services.

I also put plans in place to increase the number of detained facilities to help enable removals from our country. Disappointingly, last year the Home Office Ministers in place at the time decided to invest in non-detained sites, including RAF Wethersfield, instead of continuing with my plans for detained sites. This not only means that there is less detained capacity than there should be, but it has meant that in the Braintree District we have had a large-scale asylum accommodation site imposed on us. I have consistently voiced concerns and opposition to this site being used for this purpose and there have been reports showing that costs are spiralling out of control and problems with the planning process and the Special Development Order (SDO) the Government has introduced to enable the site to be used for another three years. I have therefore lodged a formal objection in Parliament to the Government's SDO and am pressing for a debate and vote to take place. I have also met with Immigration Minister Tom Pursglove MP and Braintree District Council to discuss the site and future options for its use.

Local schools to receive improvement funding

Three schools in the Witham constituency, Thurstable School, Powers Hall Academy and Tiptree Heath Primary School will all be receiving a portion of the £57,654,975 which the East of England is receiving as part of the School Condition Improvement Fund.

This funding will be used to improve school buildings and will be vital in ensuring that pupils and staff have access to modern and accessible buildings. I welcome this funding and I look forward to continue supporting all the schools in my constituency.

Out and About Across the Witham Constituency

Visiting Maltings Academy with Baroness Barran

I was pleased to welcome the Education Minister, Baroness Barran to Maltings Academy to formally meet with the leadership team, parent representatives, pupils and the Chief Executive of Academies Enterprise Trust. This meeting took place following complaints I have received from parents about the state of their children's education at the school and serious concerns about pupils safeguarding. I will continue engaging with Ofsted and the Department for Education to ensure that pupils at Maltings Academy receive a good level of education.

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Priti welcomes Education Minister to local school

Witham Carnival

As a longstanding supporter of Witham Carnival, I made a personal donation to this year's carnival whilst meeting with the Witham Carnival Association and Carnival Queens. I am very much looking forward to the Carnival which will take place on the 13th July.

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Carnival Queens celebrate donation from MP

Claire's Cabin Café

Recently, I visited Claire's Cabin Café, a new family run and owned business which opened in February 2024. It was lovely to speak with Claire and her team of staff about the Café and their plans for the business. I would encourage all local residents to visit and support this wonderful local business.

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Priti visits new business venture

Supporting Community Groups

This month, I met with Brad Wendes, Director of Kinetix, and saw the youth intervention project that they are currently running. They set up the Kinetix Academy CIC in 2022 to deliver sports intervention, mentorship, access to qualifications, and food education to young people from low-income families and those at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice.

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Local MP offers support to community groups

New health centre in Kelvedon

Residents in Kelvedon quite rightly want access to a new health centre for the village, and this month I met with doctors and health practitioners from Kelvedon and Feering Health Centre to discuss plans for a brand-new health facility to serve the Kelvedon and Feering area. During my visit, I spoke with the GP partners and practice managers to discuss the issues which are causing delays to these plans.

I am hugely supportive of these plans and I have been clear with all the parties involved that plans should not be held up by red tape and regulation. This project needs to progress so that the practice can retain their new GP and residents of Kelvedon and Feering have access to high quality health facilities within their locality.

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Priti backs call for new health centre in Kelvedon

Meeting Farleigh Hospice's new CEO

I was delighted to meet Sarah Green, the new CEO of Farleigh Hospice. Sarah has been in post for just under a year, having joined in June 2023 from the Katie Piper Foundation, where she had been CEO from October 2018. I am a long standing supporting of this fantastic charity and it was a pleasure to visit the local branch in Witham.

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Priti meets Farleigh Hospice's new CEO

Transport Update

Meeting Go Ahead Chief Executive, Matt Carney

Matt Carney, the CEO of Go Ahead and Gavin Smith, the Managing Director of Hedingham Omnibuses met with me this month to discuss local bus provision. Following my meeting in February with Transport Minister Guy Opperman, substantial progress has been made on the issues I raised on behalf of constituents which impacted their travel. This particularly impacted school travel for some young people in my constituency, who were disadvantaged due to inconsistent, delayed and cancelled bus services.

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Go Ahead CEO meets local MP to discuss bus services

New Bus Route from Marks Tey

Priti launches new local bus route
I was delighted to join Hedingham & Chambers for the launch of the City70 route, which will operate from Marks Tey and go past the railway station before heading into Colchester City Centre via London Road, calling into the Stane Retail Park and stopping at new bus stops that are currently un-served.

Parts of Marks Tey were left with only a minimal services following the introduction of an amended First Bus timetable between Colchester and Stanstead Airport, which raised understandable concerns among local residents impacted, and this new route will provide a service into Colchester city centre every 30 minutes between 08:40 and 14:40 Monday to Friday.

The route will be operated in the main by drivers from the Hedingham Omnibus depot in Kelvedon. Since Hedingham registered this new route, Essex County Council have also requested that they look to expand it through a new bus gate and serve a new housing development, something Hedingham will also look to introduce in the near future as well.

It is extremely welcome news that local residents will now be served by a brand-new bus route. This will be a much-needed addition to Hedingham and Chambers existing routes. Local residents and I have expressed our concerns about the lack of accessible routes in parts of Marks Tey, which have been left with only a minimal service following the introduction of the amended First Bus timetable. I am pleased that Hedingham have listened to the concerns raised by me on behalf of residents, and stepped in to deliver this new route.

Rail Update

Unfortunately, further strikes triggered by members of the ASLEF trade union are expected on the 7th May. Greater Anglia services will therefore be impacted. Please ensure you check before travelling on this date.

In addition, due to action short of a strike on 6th, 8th, 9th 10th and 11th May there will be cancellations and alterations on all Greater Anglia routes on these dates. That being said, it is expected that most Greater Anglia services will run as normal.

Other train operators will also be impacted by strikes or overtime bans on the 6th and 11th May.
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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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