A QUICK recap of some of my local work this year. This article touches on just a handful of issues – a lot more can be found here.
Information can also be found there about my work as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, such as representing UK interests at the G7 in Japan and G20 in India and increasing the new state pension to above £10,000 for the first time.
I have visited Bow, Hatherleigh, Ilsington, Chudleigh Knighton and Morchard Bishop Primary Schools and South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton. Each was a great opportunity to catch up with staff, listen to concerns and gain valuable feedback (such as from recent Ofsted visits).
In most cases I joined pupils for a class or an assembly to speak about parliament and democracy, aiming to inspire an interest in politics at an early age.
I met in Okehampton with our Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez over the re-opening of the front desk at Okehampton Police Station (which should happen before the year).
I have strongly argued the case for this, citing the distance to other Public Enquiry Offices and given Okehampton’s growing population. During our meeting we also discussed tackling domestic violence and county lines drug trafficking. On a separate occasion I joined Inspector Chris Conway out on the beat in North Tawton.
► Health & Care
I have spent time with a number of charities that help to look after some of the most vulnerable members of society. These include Okehampton Memory Café, Crediton Age Concern, The Turning Tides Project (which supports people with autism and learning difficulties), and Okehampton Men in Sheds (to discuss men’s mental health).
I have spent time with housemates at Easterbrook Farm in Exbourne (a residential care home for people with learning disabilities), visited Mulberry House Residential Home in Bovey Tracey, and met with the Devon County Council cabinet member for Adult and Social Care James McInnes in Chudleigh to discuss social care provision in the county. I have also held discussions on cancer support services returning to Okehampton Hospital next month.
► Local Funding
I have supported many local organisations with funding bids, but two particularly successful projects stand out. Early in the year the government committed £13.4 million for a second rail station in Okehampton, which will build on the huge success of The Dartmoor Line.
It will boost the local economy and reduce carbon emissions by taking more cars off the road. More recently I helped Bovey Paradiso (a local arts hub) secure a £200,000 grant towards a cinema and theatre.
As ever, I continue to spend a great deal of time on individual casework (I can receive several hundred emails, letters and phone calls a week from constituents) and always work hard to make a difference wherever I can.