Ed Vaizey MP Parish News March 2014
As your MP, I am often asked to help communities with challenges they face. Usually, these will just affect one town or village, but there is now one issue which will affect most of the Didcot and Wantage Constituency: the electrification of the railway in Oxfordshire, and the resulting plans to close 18 railway bridges across the area. Even if you don’t live near a bridge which may be closed for, we hear, up to 6 months, the chances are you will travel through an area which will be affected.
I am very much aware of the problems that the temporary closure of railway bridges and subsequent traffic diversions would cause and share the concerns of so many Constituents on that score. I have been directly in touch with Network Rail about the issue for some weeks and a member of my staff attended a briefing about the matter at County Hall. I have also visited a business owner to hear about the impact on his and other local businesses, which will be dreadful. To begin to try to sort things out, I have called a meeting with Network Rail senior executives specifically about this matter. I believe Network Rail have proved to be both insensitive and incompetent so far, as sadly has been demonstrated in the very, very poor process and communications about Fulscot Bridge which is to remain closed for months to come even though it should, by now, have reopened.
I am also arranging the meet the Minister responsible, Stephen Hammond MP, to make it clear that while I support the electrification of the railway line, which will lead to cleaner, more efficient railway services, it cannot be introduced at the expense of grotesque inconvenience to my Constituents.
I have quite a large list of Constituents to whom I send occasional updates on progress in dealing with Network Rail on the general issues about electrification and particularly the impact on bridges and road closures. If you would like to be added to that list, please email me at email@example.com and I will ensure you are kept up to date – but will try not to swamp you with communications.
Another issue, of course, that has affected many people across the Constituency is the recent flooding. I was very pleased that work done my communities since our last major floods in 2007 meant that things never got quite as bad as they did then. As the waters subside, I have been working with others both locally and nationally to try to help with the immediate recovery, but also to look to the longer term and to make sure that we take the most effective possible measures to protect against such extreme weather in the future.
My mailbag this month continues to include a diverse mix of issues, ranging from pupils taking holidays during school term time to the use of wild animals in circuses. With the Chancellor of the Exchequer set to deliver his Budget in March, I have received a particularly high number of letters and emails calling for beer duty to be frozen for this year. I am pleased that the Government decided to make a targeted reduction in beer duty and abolished the beer duty escalator at Budget 2013. I’m assured that the Chancellor is fully aware of many of the arguments made in favour of a freeze in beer duty for 2014, and is also sympathetic to the case of responsible drinkers.
As ever please feel free to contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, 020 7219 6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. Surgery details can be found at www.vaizey.com.
Ed Vaizey MP