Dr Dan Poulter has called on developers to pay their fair share to help improve parking provision in Framlingham.
All too often, there are parking problems in the town due to a lack of available parking spaces – something that it vitally important for local businesses, residents and visitors. Dr Dan has now written to Cllr Tony Fryatt, Suffolk Coastal District Council's cabinet member for planning, stating the time has come for this to be addressed.
In 2014, in response to growing concerns which he shared with local residents about increased development and new homes in Framlingham, Dr Dan carried out a survey of people living in and around the town. The aim was to shape the town's future infrastructure needs.
There was an overwhelming response highlighting the need for greater medical provision within the town, including the expansion of the GP surgery, expansion of the local primary school and improvements to local roads and availability of parking within the town.
Since then, Dr Dan has been working with Suffolk Coastal District Council to address a number of these concerns, and he is delighted that work began in July on the expansion of Framlingham's GP Surgery. This work is thanks to a joint funding boost from NHS England's Estates and Technical Transformation Fund and Suffolk Coastal District Council's Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund. In fact, Framlingham Medical Practice is the first to receive a CIL payment from the council - this funding injection will enable an additional 3 consulting rooms, and an additional doctor and nurse, enabling the practice to offer a further 164 appointments each week.
Although this is welcome news, the lack of parking is an issue that still needs to be tackled, and quickly.
Speaking with local retailers, Dr Dan said "Like many residents, I had initial concerns about the number of homes being built in Framlingham. As always, it is vitally important that, alongside this, the town continues to receive the additional infrastructure that it needs and deserves. Developers making large profits from building large numbers of homes must pay their fair share."
"I am pleased to be working with Suffolk Coastal District Council to help improve services within the town and am delighted that work is now underway to expand the GP surgery, thanks to a grant of £420,000. However, it is essential that Framlingham, which already has traffic and parking issues, is properly supported to expand the number of parking spaces available to residents and workers, and, of course, the visitors who bring additional revenue into the town."
Local business owner, Bill Bulstrode, added: "I've been retailing in Framlingham since the early 1970s. Parking was a problem then and it's only got worse since. Although small improvements have been made over the decades, much more needs to be done to keep up with the growth and development in and around the town.
"With shoppers facing restricted options over where to park, they often drive around the town two or three times and, if unable to find a spot, they simply leave the town and go elsewhere. This is of great concern to us as business owners, who want to welcome shoppers and visitors to the town.
"Unless the issue of parking in Framingham is addressed urgently, I fear that some retailers will be forced to close due to lack of footfall. We cannot stand by and let this happen."
Continuing his drive to secure better mental health services for patients and their families across Norfolk and Suffolk, Dr Dan Poulter has raised his concerns about the lack of hospital beds for people with acute mental health conditions, as part of an article in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday 20th July
A long-standing supporter of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), Dr Dan recently held a debate in Parliament to highlight the challenges currently faced by the NSFT and the patients that it cares for. Mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk have been under-funded for decades and despite its best efforts, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has also been hampered by worsening recruitment problems. Capacity to recruit trained professionals in the East of England is particularly challenging, compared to the rest of the country. The East of England has the lowest number of Consultant Psychiatrists per head of population, compared to anywhere else in England. It is incredibly difficult to transform and improve quality of care without a qualified workforce to deliver it.
In response to recent Parliamentary questions, Dr Dan remains concerned that mental health provision is still a "Cinderella" service and he fears that child and adolescent mental health is falling behind the furthest.
The number of hospital beds for people with acute mental health conditions, where a consultant psychiatrist is on hand to oversee treatment, has fallen by almost 30% since 2009, and new official figures show that the number of beds for those with some of the most serious conditions – including psychosis, serious depression leading to suicidal feelings and eating disorders – has fallen from 26,448 in 2009 to 18,082 in the first quarter of this year.
Over the same period, the data also shows significant falls in the number of mental health nurses working in the NHS, from 46,155 to 39,358 and also in the number of doctors who are in specialist psychiatry training, from 3187 in 2009 to 2588 in the first quarter of this year.
As someone who works in the NHS as a mental health doctor, Dr Dan has first-hand experience of the challenges faced by staff and patients on a daily basis and that's why he's urging for more to be done by Government to ensure true parity of esteem between physical and mental health.
Speaking about these latest figures, Dr Dan said "The reality on the ground is that there are ever fewer beds available for the patients who need them. This means that people who are very unwell, for example with psychosis or depression with suicidal ideation, are unable to access timely inpatient care. Eating disorders is another service where there is often a long wait for patients who need beds for urgent inpatient care. This is not safe for the patients.
"Mental health professionals work incredibly hard but we are under-resourced. Despite the need to expand services to meet the needs of patients, and to provide more support for people with mental illness in the community, there are simply not the resources available to do it."
Only last week, in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister admitted that more needed to be done, and that the service had been "overlooked for too long". Dr Dan welcomes the announcement that there will be an increase of more than 5000 extra nurse-training places from September this year, including mental health training places and he will continue to push for greater funding to improve for mental health services here in Suffolk and Norfolk.
On Sunday 15th July, Dr Dan joined BBC's John Pienaar and fellow guests, for a special edition of Radio 5's Pienaar's Politics live from Latitude.
Dr Dan was pleased to visit the Swilland and Witnesham Village Produce Show on Saturday 14th July, where he very much enjoyed browsing the locally grown and homemade produce and meeting a number of visitors.
Although a fun event, it was clear to see that the competition was hotly contested amongst local entrants, but all in all the event was the perfect showcase for locally grown, seasonal produce and home baking.
Community events such as these play a vital role in our rural communities, bringing together residents and visitors.
On Friday 13th July, Dr Dan was delighted to visit The Walk, an affordable housing scheme in Kesgrave, where he was welcomed with tea and homemade cakes as he joined residents in celebrating a much needed refurbishment of their communal lounge. Dr Dan was joined by Cllr Debbie McCallum and Cllr Stuart Lawson both local ward members for Kesgrave West, who together donated £2,000 from their Enabling Communities Budget to The Walk, an affordable housing scheme.
In total, £6,000 was raised, with £2,000 donated by SPARK (Sport, Amenities, and Recreation in Kesgrave) and £2,000 coming from Flagship Homes.
Residents were clearly thrilled with their new facilities, which have been made possible by positive partnership working between Suffolk Coastal District Council, SPARK and Flagship Homes. The newly refurbished lounge has brought residents together, with many gathering recently to watch the Royal wedding and the World Cup.
A regular visitor to Whitehouse Community Primary School, Dr Dan particularly enjoyed his visit on Friday 13th July, where he enjoyed a tour of the school to see for himself the recent improvements and changes to enhance classroom provision at the school.
Following the tour, a group of pupils from Year 5 were waiting to enthusiastically put their questions to their local MP. The group were very keen to learn more about Dr Dan's work as an MP, both here in Suffolk and in Westminster.
The group of students were all too keen to discuss matters of democracy with Dr Dan, having recently held their own elections for school House Captains. They very much enjoyed telling Dr Dan about the process, and it was clear that this group of students took their new roles very seriously indeed, wanting to use their new positions to bring about positive change for the school and their fellow students.
Speaking about the visit, Dr Dan said "It's always encouraging to see younger students so engaged with politics, especially coming up with their own ideas and putting forward their own views. It's especially heartening to hear the students' talk about how they want to use their new roles to bring about positive change."
Visits such as these are important in strengthening the link between what Dr Dan does as an MP locally and how he can make sure that the voice of our communities here in Suffolk are heard in Parliament.
Basking in the glorious Suffolk sunshine, Dr Dan was delighted to visit Rendham, to enjoy their annual Summer Fete.
Crowds came out in their droves to enjoy the summer sunshine and a host of activities on the village green, including traditional tombolas and games, all raising vital funds for the local community. Aside from the activities, there were also a number of stands offering cakes, a range of refreshments and much more and it was great to see so many enjoying the traditional fun offered by a village fete.
During a visit to local Kesgrave organisation, OFTEC, Dr Dan was pleased to meet with Chief Executive, Paul Rose, to learn more about the important work going on here in Suffolk, working to decarbonise off-grid heating systems and develop systems to address fuel poverty.
OFTEC, the Oil-Firing Technical Assoication is the trade association representing the interests of oil-fired boiler, oil storage tank and associated manufacturers. OFTEC work with over 80 training centres nationwide to provide education and competency assessment for heating technicians in the oil-fired sector.
Dr Dan was delighted to visit Otley College, to see for himself the exciting developments under the leadership team. Following a meeting to hear more about the College's ambitious plans for growth and new opportunities for its students, Dr Dan very much enjoyed a tour of the campus.
During the tour, Dr Dan spent some time in the vehicle mechanics area, the construction hub and the animal welfare centre, before learning more about the new care farm currently being developed on site. Visiting the care farm, Dr Dan was pleased to meet some of the newest residents – a group of newly rehomed chickens who were settling in very happily to their new free range surroundings.
We are incredibly lucky to have a dedicated centre of excellence for land-based studies right here on our doorstep and Dr Dan looks forward to visiting Otley again very soon.
Dr Dan Poulter, has called on Policing Minister, the Rt. Hon. Nick Hurd, MP to visit Ipswich urgently and meet with local Leaders and Suffolk Police to tackle the issue of rising knife crime in our county town, and to see for himself the challenges faced by the Ipswich communities.
Ipswich has seen an alarming increase in knife crimes together with other violent crimes, over the course of the last few years. While many towns and cities have experienced increasing knife crime, there are increasing concerns specifically about knife-related violence in Ipswich. Sadly, in recent weeks, Tavis Spencer-Aitkens – aged just 17, was tragically killed in a knife attack in the town.
Over the 13 months to March 31st this year, some 404 separate incidents, involving weapons such as knives and other blades, were recorded in Suffolk - a third more than in the previous year.
In a letter to the Minister, Dr Poulter said "Ipswich remains a wonderful town – it is a great place to live and do business, and a safe place to visit, but we do need, urgently, to work together to tackle the growing concerns about violent crime in the town."
"There are deep-seated problems behind this recent growth in violent crime and I know that there are a great many dedicated people working tirelessly in our public services and in our communities to help discourage our young people from a life of violence and crime. But they can't do this alone. Our Police, Councils and communities in Suffolk share a collective responsibility to stop this dreadful violence and that's why I have asked the Government to fulfil its share of this collective responsibility, and to help us to tackle the scourge of knife crime head on."
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Written Answers — Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Alternative Fuels: Heating (1 Aug 2018)
Daniel Poulter: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government has taken to support the oil heating industry in their work to develop a low carbon liquid fuel alternative to kerosene.
Written Answers — Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Alternative Fuels: Heating (27 Jul 2018)
Daniel Poulter: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Public Accounts Committee report on renewable heat incentive in Great Britain published on 16 May 2018, what steps his Department is taking to identify low cost heat alternatives for off-grid homes.