Westminster Report by Southend West MP Anna Firth.
PEOPLE often ask me: “What are you doing for your constituency, and what are your priorities?” As the House of Commons enters the summer recess period, I wanted to update you on my priorities, and the progress we have been making.
Making Southend West safer has been my number one priority this year.
I am delighted to say that we now have 83 more police officers, 3 sets of knife-detection poles, new CCTV cameras in Old Leigh, and that the Police’s pioneering Operation Union is being repeated this summer and beyond.
Thanks to the inspirational Julie Taylor, bleed kits are being handed out to ever more pubs and clubs across Leigh.
I am also absolutely delighted that the Home Office has listened to my campaign to get nitrous oxide and zombie knives off our streets once and for all.
I can testify to the incredible work of Southend’s Police Force – I joined them at the coal face on a drugs bust earlier this month – they are doing a brilliant job.
Making Southend West healthier has also been a top priority.
Working with Sir James Duddridge and Mark Francois, we have secured over £8 million for a reconfigured A&E Department at Southend Hospital, over a million pounds for a new Active Discharge Lounge, eleven new ambulances, 111 new ambulance staff and this winter we had a new ambulance handover unit.
My South Essex colleagues and I have also secured a commitment from the Government that the remaining £110 million pledged to improve our hospitals is secure.
I have also been working hard to improve cancer prevention and care. I am a big supporter of the brilliant Lady McAdden Trust, and will be hosting an event in Parliament this Breast Cancer Awareness Week, to showcase their work. Working with Sam Batstone, I have also been instrumental in getting free suncream dispensers along our seafront, helping to prevent skin cancer.
We have so many NHS and healthcare heroes in Southend West, and I am campaigning for a dedicated NHS Medal to recognise their work, similar to those that already exist for the police and fire service.
My third priority is to make Southend West wealthier.
No city can prosper without a thriving local economy, which is why I am proud to have supported so many of our local businesses and charities, and have particularly been ensuring that our local fishermen such as Osbournes and Paul Gilson get their new licences.
We have lost all of our bank branches locally, so I am especially proud to have spearheaded a new Banking Hub at Leigh Broadway Post Office, which I recently opened.
A new city must have the best possible transport system, and I am pleased to say that under this Conservative Government that is exactly what we are getting!
We now have a new bus route, 12 state-of-the-art new trains on the c2c line, contactless ticketing and upgrades to the A13.
I fully appreciate the concerns that some residents have about the closure of ticket offices. I have shared these with the minister, but I understand that under the current proposals, staffing hours at stations will be increased and there will be dedicated officers to help with ticket purchases.
Southend is already home to incredible music, theatre and arts. I have been to at least 50 productions over the past year alone, including by the brilliant Love2Sign, SODS, Leigh Orpheus, and Cantare, as well as the brilliant Leigh Folk Festival.
We have incredible seaside and underwater heritage, including the London Shipwreck, and we have five Blue Flag beaches, the most of anywhere in the East of England, plus eight seaside awards, and a growing number of octopuses, dolphins, porpoises and seals.
Protecting and improving our water quality has been one of my biggest campaigns this year. We are already seeing tough new legislation to reduce the use of storm overflows, and to fine companies like Anglian, if they do pollute our waterways.
I will continue to work hard at all these priorities throughout the summer and over the years to come.
One of the real privileges of being your MP is supporting the wonderful charities and communities across Southend West and Leigh. There are heroes everywhere in the area we are lucky enough to call home, which is why I launched my ‘Community Champions’ scheme. If you know someone who deserves to be celebrated, do email me at [email protected] with their name and what they have done to improve our local community.
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