March 26 2020
This week our daily lives have changed immeasurably. We are all currently grappling with what the virus means to us, and how we should interpret the advice to Stay at Home.
We have seen how bad the situation on the continent has become and the advice the Government is giving is to try and limit the impact of the coronavirus, Covid-19, to us here in the UK. The announcement this week of the new 2000 bed Nightingale Hospital in London makes clear just how many people are likely to need hospital treatment if infected with the virus. This virus is already circulating in our society and it is important we all take steps to limit that as far as possible.
As your MP I am working to address concerns residents raise, and I am sorry if I do not have all the answers, or if the answer is not what you were expecting. To date these have included tackling the very significant concern about the influx of tourists and last weekend I spoke with Ministers directly, as well as owners of many of our local hotels, holiday parks and campsites as they took the difficult decision to close their doors.
I am now in daily conference calls with Ministers at the Cabinet Office and able to feed in concerns as these changes unfold, and to get clarity on the issues that many of you and our public services are raising with me.
I am in regular contact with the police about the evolving situation and have already asked that they patrol our beaches to ensure that there are not large gatherings. I have also asked them to see what can be done to ensure that people are not living in campervans on the streets and in car parks as local holiday parks close.
I raise the concerns in my inbox from you with public affairs departments of major supermarkets and pharmacies to ensure that our supplies are reaching us.
This week I have also been part of the Select Committees for the Department for Work and Pensions addressing their response to the coronavirus, as well as the Petitions Committee evidence session on the coronavirus. Details of all of this can be found on my website which is kept regularly updated: selainesaxby.org.uk.
And during this uncertain time, we are reminded just how much we rely on others and how much they deserve our gratitude. Our great NHS, pharmacists and all the people that keep our hospitals running; our supermarkets and everyone ensuring our food supplies keep working; and also our Council workers who are quietly still emptying our bins.
Thank you also to everyone who has volunteered to help in their communities, ensuring that food and medical supplies are reaching the most vulnerable and those self-isolating. Thank you to local businesses who have come forward to help manufacture ventilators and source personal protection equipment. Please volunteer if you are able to; the NHS is particularly keen to recruit an army of volunteers to help in the coming weeks.
These are unprecedented times and as you grapple with what that means for you consider this – every social interaction is an increased chance of passing on a potentially fatal virus. Use this to guide you when taking decisions at this very difficult time.
There is uncertainty, and that is always difficult to manage, but please do as asked and Stay Home to Protect our NHS and Save Lives.
More information is being constantly updated online at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
February 27 2020
Last week was Parliamentary recess, which meant I was able to spend the whole week back home in the constituency. I met with numerous businesses and individuals and talked about a range of issues. A particular highlight was my visit to North Devon District Hospital.
I had the pleasure of touring the hospital with Chief Executive of the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, Suzanne Tracey. It was great to hear of the innovative work the Trust have undertaken to ensure that patients are at the heart of everything the hospital, and all its excellent staff do.
I was particularly impressed with the Emergency Department and seeing how improved triage enables patients to be seen more rapidly and by the most appropriate healthcare professional. I also visited the The Seamoor Unit, the chemotherapy day treatment unit which has been designed in conjunction with patients as well as some of the new facilities about to open to enable families to stay together during treatment in environments that feel less clinical.
I also enjoyed meeting Care for Kids - North Devon who provide financial support to families who have a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. They work in conjunction with the hospital through the Caroline Thorpe children’s ward, and I am donating the second month of my council allowance to them
It was fantastic to see the integrated approach to healthcare we benefit from in North Devon and how teams of volunteers work alongside our professionals with extensive patient liaison to deliver the best for all of us as patients.
The Government has committed to funding the building of 40 new hospitals across the country, and making sure the NHS has the resources it needs so that it can provide everyone with the best possible care. I will continue to work closely with Suzanne and the Northern Devon Health Trust, to make sure the funding available is best channelled to where it is needed. This will include ensuring North Devon can attract the staff we need, which I also discussed with the Save Our Hospital Services group who I also met with last week.
I am very proud of the hard work our emergency services deliver to keep us healthy and safe – thank you. I was delighted to meet with the Chief Fire Officer for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service last week. We discussed the results of their recent consultation and the plans the service has for North Devon. It was good to hear the plans for more flexible working and the desire to attract more women into the service, something which I wholeheartedly support.
Our police are led in Devon and Cornwall by our excellent Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez. I met with her and our Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse MP, as over £11m has been invested in the national Modern Slavery Transformation Programme which has facilitated an increase in live operations from 157 in 2018 to 1821 in 2020. They are working alongside our local unit in Exmouth to increase awareness, training and support to tackle modern slavery in North Devon. I spoke in the House of Commons debate about police funding, to ensure the unique circumstances our police force operate in is reflected in our funding. The combination of tourism, isolation and rurality are demanding our police to deliver some of the most innovative police solutions in the country.
If you ever have any questions you would like to raise with me about our emergency services, or any other issues, please feel free to contact me any time at Selaine.email@example.com.
February 13 2020
North Devon is 620th out of the 650 constituencies in the UK for broadband speed. This is not good enough and is why I made this issue central to my maiden speech, which I delivered in the House of Commons last Monday, 3rd February.
In my speech I highlighted what is great about North Devon, why I am proud to call it home, and some of the challenges we face being a rural constituency. The key issues being broadband speeds and connectivity, and these need to improve to keep North Devon growing and thriving.
This was reiterated to me during my meeting with the Barnstaple Federation of Small Business last Friday. For businesses across many sectors, ensuring we have sustainable, guaranteed speeds is vital for transactions and communications to work efficiently. This is why I have met with Openreach this week to press the issue and improve our connectivity. North Devon should not get left behind when it comes to infrastructure development, and I will fight to ensure we get the investment we deserve.
I gave my speech during the debate on the Agriculture Bill to highlight the importance this legislation will have for many people in our constituency. With farming being at the heart of the rural economy, it is vital we get this Bill right so that it supports farmers and their families, provides food security for our country and protects our environment for future generations.
I met with local famers and representatives of the NFU last Friday at a farm in Kings Heanton. I learnt about the challenges facing farming communities. I listened to the concerns they have surrounding payments and the agricultural transition we are entering now we have left the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. They welcomed much of what the Bill had to offer and I am looking forward to working closely with them and using their expertise to make sure North Devon farming has a sustainable future.
I will always champion our farmers. For generations they have acted as stewards of our countryside and they understand how best to manage it. I also support their call for further innovation in farming technology and rural capital infrastructure, making farming more efficient and a sustainable career choice for young farmers.
If you would like to see my maiden speech in full, I have posted it to my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SelaineSaxbyMP), and if you want to keep up with what I am doing as your MP, each month I send out an e-newsletter straight to your inbox with updates from both Westminster and North Devon. I encourage you to sign up for it at www.selainesaxby.org.uk, where you can also read news articles and fill in a survey, telling me about what matters most to you.
January 30 2020
Tomorrow, January 31st 2020, at 11.01pm the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will have left the European Union and this country will be on a new path of independence.
The road to get to this point has been rocky, but with perseverance and a willingness to deliver on what the majority of this country voted for, democracy has prevailed. I am pleased that by finally getting here, we can now focus on the other issues that affect us all.
Climate change and how we go about tackling the climate emergency is one these key issues.
Last week, I met with 3 students from Fridays For Future Barnstaple, and Green Party District Councillor, Robbie Mack, to discuss the Government’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and what schools, the council and individuals can do to play their part too. It was inspiring to see the passion the students have for keeping the pressure on government to stand by its commitment and to bringing the date forward and getting there sooner if possible. I want to reach net-zero as soon as possible and I will do all I can through working with government, and the local authorities in achieving that.
On a local level, one way of reducing our carbon footprint is through robust and smart local planning, improving public transport and building energy efficient homes. North Devon District Council is looking for your opinions on its master plans for both Barnstaple and Ilfracombe Harbour with a public consultation.
You can have a say on the future of our town’s high streets and seafronts, just head to www.northdevon.gov.uk/council/consultation to find out more.
This level of public engagement is vital for the council to provide residents with the town they want and encouraging people back into the town centres, while also supporting local businesses and securing jobs.
This future planning goes hand-in-hand with the announcement the government made this week on business rates for pubs. Pubs are due to get a £1000 discount on business rates which will hopefully be welcomed. For many villages in North Devon, the pub is the heart of the community, playing a number of roles: from being a community centre or village shop, to even a polling station, as well as somewhere you can get a pint.
During my street surgery in Barnstaple last weekend, issues like business rates and improving local infrastructure came up again and again, and so I am glad the Government is already tackling the issues that people care about the most.
I love hearing what matters most to you, it tells me where I can focus my attention in Parliament. I try my best to get to see as many people as I can, however, I will never get to everyone, so this week I have published a short survey on my website www.selainesaxby.org.uk, where you can tell me what matters most to you. By taking a few minutes to fill it in I get to hear more of your voices, which allows me the ability to better represent you.
You can also sign up to my monthly e-newsletters where I update subscribers with the key stories of the last month from Westminster and North Devon. I am here to serve you and be your representative, so please get in touch if there is ever anything I can do to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 16 2020
As North Devon’s new Member of Parliament, I would like to start by saying thank you to all of you who put your faith in me in last month’s general election and voted for me to be your representative in Westminster. It has been a privilege to come to London, sit on the famous green benches and make sure this government delivers for the people of North Devon, which I am pleased to say it already has.
During the election campaign, my number one priority was to Get Brexit Done and we have already passed the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which means we will be leaving the European Union at 11pm on the 31st January.
I am delighted that we have finally been able to give the people of North Devon what they voted for back in 2016. This majority government and I are committed getting the best deal for Britain going forward and we can now look to a bright future outside of the EU.
It also means we are able to focus more attention back on to the day-to-day issues that we all face, which I have already started working hard on. This week I have met with ministers to discuss the future development of RMB Chivenor; the challenges facing farmers regarding direct payments as we transition out of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy; and improving broadband across North Devon, which was a concern again raised with me several times whilst I was enjoying the Brayford Farmers Market last weekend.
I want to make sure I raise with ministers the things that matter most to you, so please get in touch. I am still in the process of setting up the offices in Barnstaple and Westminster but if you have any concerns please email me: email@example.com, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.