Latest News from Priti Patel MP

Priti Patel MP Newsletter - Reporting Back


St Peter's Hospital consultation

I am pleased to announce that following representations by Sir John Whittingdale MP and myself, the consultation into the future of the St Peter's Hospital site has been extended until 4th April 2024. I would encourage all local residents to share their views, which you can do by pressing the button below.

On Monday 11th March, I attended a public meeting in Witham on St Peter's Hospital Consultation and spoke with constituents about the local concerns they have about the closure of the hospital. Following this meeting, I published a survey for constituents to share their views about the site and the consultation with me, which you can access below. This information will be sent to the ICB in response to their consultation.

Both Sir John Whittingdale and I have raised this issue in debates in Parliament and we continue to press the views of our constituents about this important issue.

Sir John and I also met with the Minister for Social Care, Helen Whatley MP and Minister for Health and Secondary Care, Andrew Stephenson MP to discuss the future of St Peter's hospital. During the meeting, both Sir John and I had the opportunity to raise pledges made over 25 years ago to provide a new hospital in Maldon. Cutting the provision to local services without maintaining and improving existing services is going to be extremely impactful on residents.

We made clear our lack of confidence in Mid and South Essex ICB conducting the consultation process properly, and we called on the Ministers to take this decision away from the ICB by appointing an independent examiner to consider how best to deliver a new community hospital to provide the range of services needed.

The Ministers agreed to look at the conclusion reached by the ICB and to make sure that before the final decision is reached, the Department is satisfied that the future health needs of residents of Maldon District will be properly provided for.

I will continue to work on this issue and ensure the views of my constituents are heard.

Opposing RAF Wethersfield Asylum Accommodation Application

I have made a formal objection to the Government's proposal to grant itself a three-year planning permission to continue to use the former RAF Wethersfield site for asylum accommodation through a process known as Special Development Order (SDO).

The Home Office had already relied on using a rare planning exemption known as a Class Q exemption for use in emergencies to use the site for one-year and with that measure expiring, the Government has chosen to once again bypass the usual local planning process to secure permission for the continued use of the site.

This process was instigated last year when the former Home Secretary and former Immigration Minister disregarded the views of local residents and the council and went ahead to impose this inappropriate asylum accommodation sites in Braintree District. As I stated at the time, the Home Office were not transparent about the costs of the site which have over the last year which spiralled out of control with a recent National Audit Office report highlighting that the set-up costs are now nearly 10 times higher than planned at £49m compared to the £5m initial estimate and millions of pounds worth of contracts have been awarded without a competitive tendering process. Asylum seekers on the site have left with their movements not know, have been involved in fights on site and some have caused damage to the property.

I have spoken in the House of Commons to express my ongoing concerns with how this site has been handled and have 'prayed against' the SDO, which is the formal way an MP can object and seek a debate and vote on the plans. This site is unsuitable for asylum accommodation and I will continue to raise their concerns that communities across this part of Essex have. I maintain this site still constitutes a waste of taxpayers money and no one has been held to account over the Home Office's excessive overspend on this asylum site.

Backing Lower Taxes and Fuel Duty Freeze Success

In advance of the Budget earlier this month, I made representations to call upon the Chancellor to cut the tax burden, lower taxes on incomes and keep fuel duty frozen. I am pleased that in the Budget the Chancellor responded by keeping fuel duty down, which saves motorists money every time they fill up.

I also welcome the decision to give working people a further 2p cut in the rate of National Insurance following the 2p reduction announced in the Autumn Statement. Combined, these reductions will be worth around £900 a year to a worker on an average salary. Plans were also announced by the Government to deliver greater efficiencies in the public sector, and I will keep on pressing and challenging ministers further to make savings, use new technologies and AI to reduce costs, and look to make further targeted tax cuts in the future.

Our economy grows faster and provides more income and security when taxes are lower and I will keep on making the case for lower taxes and greater economic freedoms.

Priti in Parliament

Meeting with Ofsted

Earlier in the month, I had the opportunity to meet with the new Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Sir Martyn Oliver and Mike Sheridan, the Regional Director for East of England to discuss educational outcomes and standards for children in Witham. I was thrilled to welcome Sir Martyn to his new role, and I look forward to working with him on much needed reforms to improve school standards.

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Priti meets with new Ofsted Chief Inspector

Meeting Tri Service Safety Officers

As Home Secretary, I had the privilege of working with our emergency services and saw first-hand the professional dedication required for these roles and the impact these integrated services can bring to communities across our country. In Parliament, I took the opportunity to meet with the Tri Service Safety Officers from Devon and Cornwall and thank them for their service.

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Priti thanks Tri Service Safety Officers for their service and innovation

World Book Day

I am delighted to support World Book Day, a fantastic organisation who have supported many of the local schools in my constituency with brand new books over the years. As I am preparing to host my 13th 'Get Witham Reading' landmark literacy programme across schools in the constituency, I look forward to continue working with World Book Day in this important venture.

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‘Get Witham Reading’ returns for its 13th year!

Support for Communities

Men's Sheds UK held an interesting drop in event in Parliament this month, and I was delighted to pop by and meet the team. Men's Sheds encourages people to come together to make, repair and repurpose, supporting projects in their communities. It was wonderful to meet the team, and hear more from them on how this important initiative is supporting wellbeing, reducing loneliness and improving health for men.

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Health and Wellbeing in Essex Westminster Hall Debate

I was successful in securing a Westminster Hall Debate on Health and Wellbeing in Essex. This is an issue I am passionate about and I had the opportunity to raise a number of important local topics such as the future of St Peter's Hospital, The Lampard Inquiry and my longstanding campaign for a new health centre in the heart of Witham.

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Health and Wellbeing in Essex Westminster Hall Debate

Out and About Across the Witham Constituency

Tiptree and Stanway Police Patrol

I was delighted to join Colchester District Commander Colin and Inspector Jenna Mirrington-French out on patrol as part of their series of local inspector tours in the North East Essex policing district. We also had the opportunity to discuss local policing issues in Tiptree and Stanway. It's important to have a visible policing presence in our communities, and I am grateful to officers who day in and day out keep our communities safe.

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Tiptree and Stanway get a Priti Police Patrol

Meeting developers to raise local concerns

I had the opportunity to meet with Barrat David Wilson Homes to discuss housing developments and plans both in and around the Witham constituency. It's important to engage with developers to ensure that when new housing is built, it needs to bring in new investment in infrastructure and public services to ensure the needs of the local communities are met.

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Priti meets with developers to raise constituents concerns and view their plans for the locality

Joining Oakwood Meadows to hold management companies and developers to account

At the start of this month, I joined the Leader of Essex County Council, Cllr Kevin Bentley, to meet residents of the Oakwood Meadows estate. We discussed the ongoing issues with FirstPort, Persimmon and Bellway on estate management and service charges. I will continue to make representations on behalf of residents who are being let down by estate managers.

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MP joins residents of Oakwood Meadows to hold management companies and developers to account

Visiting Tarmac's Colchester Quarry

Tarmac is the UK’s leading business providing aggregates for use in road construction and maintenance as well as building products. I visited the site to discuss their plans for minerals and aggregates extraction and the work they are doing to support the construction industry and to decarbonise their operations.

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Local MP visits quarry in Stanway

Visting Medequip

Medequip provides services in the Health and Social Care sector, and manages over 30 CES contracts operating out of 26 specially adapted depots across the country, covering a population of more than 18 million people. It was a pleasure to visit the depot and discuss how to discuss waste in the health and social care sector.

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Local MP visits Medequip

Visting Anglia Ruskin Medical School

I had the pleasure of visiting Anglia Ruskin University Medical School this month. During my visit, I met with the new Dean of Faculty, Professor Jacqueline Kelley to discuss the expansion of the medical school. I was involved with supporting the initial work to develop ARU’s school of medicine, which in 2018 received investment from the Government to support 100 new places. ARU was the first university to host a medical school in Essex, and the previous expansion in March of 2018 was the first time publicly funded places had been allocated to a new medical school in more than a decade.

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Priti backs further expansion of ARU medical school

Progress on the dangerous road outside New Rickstones Academy

This month I returned to New Rickstones Academy, alongside Cllr Mark Platt, Deputy Cabinet Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Sustainable Transport to see first hand the busy Conrad Road outside the school gates at 3pm and the dangers it poses for pupils. I was pleased that Cllr Platt understood the scale of the issue and has confirmed that this issue will be a priority for Essex County Council. I look forward to engaging further on this issue until we receive a positive resolution for children.

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Priti shows ECC dangerous road outside school

Vandalism of lifesaving defibrillator

Following the appalling vandalism of the community provided defibrillator, I met with representatives from Templars Community Association and Essex Police. The vandalism of the defib follows recent reports of higher levels of anti-social behaviour on the Templar’s Estate. In our meeting, we discussed how we can better protect the defibrillator & CCTV equipment and reassure residents. I am calling on Essex Police to step up patrols in the area in conjunction with the relevant local authorities. I will continue to work with Louise and Steve from the Community Association to ensure that residents feel safe, lifesaving medical equipment is protected and that criminals who perpetuate these crimes are sought out and prosecuted.

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Priti appalled at vandalism of lifesaving defibrillator

Book Donation for Reach Essex

Reach Essex is an inspirational organisation that supports vulnerable children and young people whose behaviour, anxieties and other factors impact their wellbeing and achievements. On my recent visit to the school, I have been able to donate over 200 books in partnership with World Book Day. I hope the children have enjoyed the books and I look forward to visiting them again.

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Priti’s book donation for local specialist school

Electricity Grid Options Report

I am continuing to campaign against the plans put forward by National Grid to cover our countryside in 112 miles of pylons and overhead powerlines. After working with local campaigners and colleagues in Westminster, a report has now been produced that shows some indicative costs of different pylons being imposed on our local communities. I am studying the report and working with colleagues to push forward alternative plans.

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Priti comments on electricity grid options report

Public Meeting in Witham on the future of St Peter's Hospital

This month I joined Witham Town Councillors, the Mid and South Essex ICB alongside constituents at a public meeting held in Witham on the St Peter's Hospitals consultation. Constituents had the opportunity to raise their concerns about the proposed closure and the way in which the consultation was conducted. It was great to hear these concerns and be able to talk to constituents first hand.

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MP, Town Council and ICB meet residents to discuss Hospital's future

Witham Industrial Watch

Witham Industrial Watch (WIW) launched its 2024 bid to renew the Business Improvement District for another five years and I was delighted to join the team and encourage local businesses within the group to vote in favour and secure the future of the Business Improvement District.

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Priti urges local businesses to vote yes!

Transport Update

Local Engagement Needed on the A12 Widening Scheme

This month, I questioned the Transport Secretary in the House of Commons over the A12 Widening Scheme. The scheme was approved earlier this year but it could be delayed following a legal challenge that one person has mounted.

The scheme has broad support, however, there are some localities where communities have ongoing specific concerns about the scheme, its design and impact. I have been clear to the Government and National Highways that they need to continue engaging with local communities to see what further steps can be done to address concerns. I look forward to meeting the Transport Secretary to discuss this issue further.

Rail Update

Regretfully, further strike dates have been announced by ASLEF trade unions and as a result, Greater Anglia services will be affected by industrial action on Monday 8th April. Further details about which services will operate will be made available closer to the date and passengers are advised to check before travelling.

In addition, due to action short of a strike on 4,5,6 and 9th April, there will be some cancellations and alternations to services on those dates on Greater Anglia. Although broadly, the service is expected to not be disrupted.

Please note, other train operators are likely to be impacted by strikes between the 4th and 9th April inclusive.
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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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