Author Archives: John

Wantage Newbury/Church Street Practice Patient Participation Group Newsletter

Read the Church Street and Newbury Street Practice Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

Parish Council Meeting Wednesday 13th September 2023

The next meeting of the Parish Council will be held on Wednesday 13th September 2023 in the Village Hall and will start at 7.30 pm.

Here is the agenda and supporting documents.

Residents are very welcome to attend. Contributions to debates should be through the Chair.

Planned speeches should be no more than 3 minutes and made at the start of an item.

From your local MP – David Johnston

After breakthroughs for the local AEAT Pensioners in recent weeks, I’m delighted to have just had another campaign success – this time with benefits that are national rather than local.

Part of my campaigning on the environment includes being chair of the Community Energy APPG and the lead sponsor of the Local Electricity Bill. In simple terms, this means I have been campaigning for some time to see more support for community energy – by which I mean clean, renewable energy that local people generate themselves in their local areas. At the moment the setup costs are just too high.

I’ve spent the past few months working with my Government colleagues to try and get the principles of the Local Electricity Bill into law and get some money behind community energy.

This has resulted in a new Community Energy Fund of £10 million being created, which the Government has just announced, and which will be open for applications in the Autumn. I’m really delighted with this as it has the potential to benefit many community energy groups in England and – I hope – Oxfordshire. There’ll be further good news when the Energy Bill comes back to the House of Commons next month too – so watch this space!

On the 27th September, I will be holding a Pensioners’ Fair for local pensioners – whether they live in Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford, Faringdon or any of our villages – at the Beacon in Wantage. I am doing this as a significant proportion of my casework involves trying to help pensioners access support or advice – whether about benefits they’re entitled to, support with hearing and sight loss, or how to protect themselves against online scams. I’m therefore bringing together a lot of the key organisations that can provide guidance – together with some of the clubs that can keep people active and help guard against loneliness – in one place so that pensioners can drop in and talk to a range of organisations at the same time. Further details will be put on my website www.david-johnston.org.uk and do please spread the word.

I’m pleased that after my crime summits in Wantage and Wallingford, Thames Valley Police have taken a number of actions in this area – including following up with each individual who raised a case at the events and broader work to increase contact with local schools/community groups and make visits to places identified as problems – in response to what local people told them.

Far from being a holiday – though I will go away for a week or so – parliamentary recess is a good time to get all over the constituency on days other Friday-Sunday, given MPs have to be in Westminster Monday-Thursday most weeks. I’ve very much enjoyed being out and about, whether in Uffington, Wallingford, Didcot or Grove and it’s been great to visit places I haven’t been to before like Serica Smooth in Wantage and Harwell Bowls Club.

As ever, if I can help with anything then do please let me know via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk

Wantage Church St. and Newbury St. PPG Newsletter

Here is the latest newsletter for the Wantage Church Street and Newbury Street Practice Patient Participation Groups

From your local MP – David Johnston

As I mentioned in my last article, access to childcare is something that is regularly raised with me on the doorstep, and I launched a Childcare Survey last month to give parents and guardians across the constituency the chance to tell me about their experiences. Thank you to everyone who took part.

I will be sharing the findings with Ministers at the Department for Education, but the headline results included 95% of people saying we need more childcare infrastructure (much like most other infrastructure!) and 95% of people supporting the Government’s plan to expand free childcare to 30 hours every week for children from 9 months old until they start school. This is the largest ever investment in childcare and will hopefully make a huge difference to the 75% who said that cost has been an issue in accessing childcare.

This month I was pleased to host my third annual Wantage and Didcot Climate Summit featuring a keynote speech by Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, who took questions on everything from renewables to transport. We also welcomed local and national experts including Mike Blanch from the Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust, Jack Richardson from Onward and Professor Adrian Bull from The University of Manchester to talk and take questions about wind, hydrogen and nuclear energy. This was followed by the chance to question Thames Water’s Director of Sustainability on water quality and tackling storm overflows. It was a very interesting event, and you can watch the recording on my website.

I also hosted a Crime Summit with Thames Valley Police in Wallingford this month after a local resident wrote to me with concerns about crime. It was a productive discussion about lots of issues and there were several things that TVP committed to go away and look at – including the time it takes to report an incident of anti-social behaviour online.

In addition, I hosted a Farmers’ Forum for local farmers with the Farming Minister, Mark Spencer. We had a wide-ranging discussion about food production, farming incentives, the challenges for beef/pig/dairy/arable farmers, the environment and much more.

It is always a pleasure to welcome constituents to Parliament, and it was great to meet with Sarah and a group of young people from SOFEA when they visited again for a tour. I helped organise this after a visit I made to them recently – they do great work for the local community.

As one of the patrons of Play2Give I try to get to as many of Andy Baker’s events as I can and this month he was running a great football tournament in Wallingford, which raised over £4,000. Well done, Andy!

In other news, my campaign for the local AEAT Pensioners hit another milestone as Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee finished their inquiry that I helped secure and made recommendations to Government. This is a campaign I will continue to support.

As ever, if I can help with anything please email me via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk.

Parish Council Meeting Wednesday 12th July 2023

The next meeting of the Parish Council will be held on Wednesday 12th July 2023 in the Village Hall and will start at 7.30 pm.

Here is the agenda and supporting documents.

From your local MP – David Johnston

Thank you to everyone who completed my health services survey. In total, 2,838 people did so, 77% of whom said they had had difficulty getting a GP appointment in the last year (44% said they had had difficulty accessing an appointment with a dentist). Unsurprisingly, 97% of people felt we do not have enough GPs for the number of people we have locally and 98% felt we do not have enough dentists. I completely agree and have been banging the drum on our health services since I was elected. Not long after the survey closed, I secured a debate in parliament about our health services and intend to keep banging heads together until we get the services we need.
I was pleased to take the Children’s Minister, Claire Coutinho, to a local nursery recently to meet staff and children. The Government is making the largest single investment in childcare in history, which will give parents 30 free hours of childcare per week from when their child is 9 months old until they start school, which will be very welcome to the parents who raise childcare with me when I knock on their doors. I have launched a childcare survey on my website which is designed to let parents (and grandparents) talk about their experience of accessing childcare and say what they’d like to see. It is open until the 12th July www.david-johnston.org.uk/childcare
Sticking with education and children for a minute, I was drawn to ask a question at Prime Minister’s Questions and used it to highlight the great news that English primary school children have just been ranked the best readers in the Western World – better than all other countries in Europe as well as America and Canada – and the fourth best globally. This is in large part testament to teachers and the Government’s focus on phonics, which was resisted by some at the time but is clearing bearing fruit.
Depending on when you read this, you’ll either just still have time to attend my 3rd Annual Climate Summit for constituents on Zoom on 4 July or it will have happened and you’ll be able to watch a recording of it on my website or Facebook page. I was pleased that Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, agreed to give the keynote speech – and, as ever, local and national experts agreed to take part.
This year, I have been hosting at least one local young person for work experience every month including Anastasiia, who is originally from Ukraine. I first met her with the family she is kindly hosted by in North Moreton. It was good to have her with us in Parliament.
I’ve enjoyed getting into the swing of the summer events happening across the constituency, including the Hagbourne Church Fete and Uffington Fun Day. Do get in touch if you’re involved in organising something you’d like me to come to, or indeed if I can help with anything else via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk

From your local MP – David Johnston

I hope you all enjoyed the Coronation weekend. Whether I was in Wantage, Didcot, Grove or Wallingford, the mood was upbeat, people were having a good time and there was plenty of food, music and activities. The Coronation itself passed off perfectly, despite the weather – and the concert was great too. It was another reminder of how this country can do events like this better than anywhere else.
While we’re still crunching the data, I wanted to thank everyone who completed my health services survey for doing so. I’ve had responses from nearly 3,000 people, which is a really great number to give a picture of what people are feeling across the constituency.
It’s clear that, as I expected and as my inbox reflects, many people feel we do not have the health services we need. Nor do I. People particularly struggle to get an appointment with a doctor or with a dentist, but this is not the only thing that people would like to see more of when it comes to health. I will continue to campaign hard on this – watch this space.
After I held a successful crime summit with Thames Valley Police in Wantage, I was asked by local residents to hold one in Wallingford. I can confirm this will take place on 15th June, 6.30pm – 8pm and Waitrose have offered their café. Sign up on my website: http://www.david-johnston.org.uk
Wherever you live, you can also sign up there for my third annual climate summit, which will be via Zoom and will have Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, giving the keynote speech.
Sticking with the environment and climate change, I continue to lobby for the Local Electricity Bill, which I am the lead sponsor of and which is now backed by 318 MPs. This would make it easier for small, community organisations that generate renewable energy to be able to sell it to the community. I am hopeful that with the Government’s Energy Bill making its way through parliament at the moment, we might be able to finally make something happen that enables community energy to flourish.

Thanks to everyone who took part in my Apprenticeship Fair in Didcot – nearly 400 people attended and had great conversations with a range of public and private employers about the range of apprenticeships they offer. I was asked if I will be doing it again and I will be doing so.

A couple of other things in brief. I met with the Chair of Water Resource South East to again convey the objections local people have about the reservoir proposal. And I continue to encourage people to see if they are eligible for Pension Credit, which can provide an average £3,500 a year to pensioners. The figures show the uptake locally is increasing, but there are more people who could be getting it. See if you or someone else you know is eligible here: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/eligibility

As ever, if I can help with anything please email me via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk

Parish Assembly and Annual Parish Council Meeting Wednesday 10th May 2023

The Annual Parish Council Meeting will be held on Wednesday 10th May 2023 in the Village Hall starting at 7.00 pm.

There will be break after item 3 for the Annual Parish Assembly (separate agenda).

An officer from the Vale Council’s Waste Team will speak at the beginning on recycling and answer questions.

Should be interesting: please come along, observe and contribute to the workings and deliberations of your Parish Council.

From your local MP – David Johnston

Depending on when you read this, you may still have time to complete my Health Services Survey. It’s 8 short questions about your experience of accessing services like GP and Dentist appointments and should take 5-10 minutes. You can complete it here: https://www.david-johnston.org.uk/health

Although I live in Didcot, I saw it and many other places in the constituency in a different light last month: from the back of a police car! No, I hadn’t done anything wrong, I’d asked to go on a ‘Ride Along’ with the local force to get a better insight into the demands on the police as they respond to the calls they receive at the station.

It turned out to be a relatively quiet 4 or so hours, but it was nonetheless fascinating to talk to PCs David and Alex about their experience in the force, the things they’ve had to respond to, how they’re treated by the public and the things they’d like to see change. They perform a very difficult and vital role and I’m very grateful to them for letting me accompany them.

I continue to be on the case regarding the experience of parents and schools with Oxfordshire’s service for children with Special Educational Needs. I spoke in a debate in parliament about some of the problems and then met the Government minister responsible for SEND nationally. Oxfordshire has just been given a further £1 million by the Government to deliver outreach services from SEND specialists to support children with a variety of conditions including autism and moderate learning difficulties. But this won’t solve the problems people complain to me about regarding calls and emails not being answered and so I will continue to work on this.

On the subject of government funding, the extension to the Energy Price Guarantee for a further 3 months is welcome and will have saved the average household £1100 since it began, while Oxfordshire County Council has just been given a further £3 million to fix the potholes so many of you rightly complain to me about!

The Public Accounts Committee have held their hearing into the local AEAT Pension case I’ve been campaigning on behalf of and now we have to wait for their report in the coming weeks. I must give credit to OX10 Community Centre, Wild About Wallingford, the Town Council and Incredible Edible for keeping their Public Living Room going at the Bull Croft through a miserable afternoon of rain. It was designed to bring the community together and it did – at least some of them, and a great ukulele band. I had a good catch up with GWR about where next to take my campaign for reopening Grove Station – watch this space. Straight after my Apprenticeship Fair on 24th April at 12pm at Didcot Civic Hall, I will start planning this year’s Wantage and Didcot Climate Summit – the date will be the 13th June.

As ever, if I can help with anything then please email me via david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk