I am very pleased that Essex County Council has reached agreement with Ormiston Rivers Academy and William de Ferrers Academy that they will expand their intakes so that there are places available this year for all children in the Dengie Peninsula who have applied. Confirmation of places will be given on 17th March.

This will come as a huge relief to parents who were understandably distressed at the suggestion that their children would have to travel considerable distances each day to get to school. I am grateful to Essex County Council for moving quickly to resolve the problem.

 

Below is the Statement by Essex County Council:

 

Secondary School Places across Ormiston Rivers and William de Ferrers secondary schools

 

Essex County Council is aware that a number of pupils who live the Dengie peninsula and surrounding areas were allocated a school place some distance from their home.    The reason for this was due to a number of factors, but we are pleased to announce that both Ormiston Rivers Academy and William de Ferrers have agreed to offer additional places. We will be in touch shortly with the parents of those pupils that are affected and absolutely appreciate the importance of this issue.

 

Comments have been raised about ECC’s forecasting to ensure sufficient school places across the area for September 2021.   In response to those comments we would like to explain the methodology we use for school place planning.    Every Year we publish the ’10 Year Plan – Meeting the need for school places’.   This document outlines how school place planning works and what expansion projects are in the pipeline.   

 

Schools are grouped into geographical planning groups.  In respect of this part of Essex, Ormiston Rivers Academy and William de Ferrers schools are allocated into one single planning group.

 

Pupil forecasts are produced for each planning group and the forecast data for this planning group did indicate a potential deficit of places for September 2021. Where the forecasts indicate a shortage of places ECC complete further, detailed, analysis of the situation once all school applications for the year have been received to determine if further action is required. This data is the most up to date information available as it is based on actual applications as opposed to forecasts which are based on a number of factors, including predictions regarding timing of new housing and parental preferences both of which can change over time.

 

The analysis of the application data, for September 2021, indicated that the total number of places available in year 7, 405 across the two schools, would be sufficient to meet the number of applications received. This view was based on a very similar number of applications being received for the two schools for September 2020 and there being more than sufficient places available for that year. So, whilst the forecast data indicated a shortage of places, the application data suggested no increase in places was required.

 

We will be undertaking further analysis on the data to establish why the situation is substantially different this year compared to last year, which has created the current issue.

 

We are fully aware of the level of new housing development in the area and the impact this will have on school places. Plans are already underway to increase school capacity in the area for future years.

I have been contacted by a number of parents living in the Dengie Peninsula who have been told that their children have been allocated places at Secondary Schools outside the District, including as far as Brightlingsea. I fully understand their concern and agree that it is wholly unrealistic to expect children to travel such distances on a daily basis.
 
I have today met with Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education, and Clare Kershaw, Director for Education, at Essex County Council. This was a productive meeting and I am pleased that they agree that these allocations are impractical as well as costly. The Dengie is served by two secondary schools, Ormiston Rivers and William de Ferrers. While both are full, officials are urgently exploring with the schools ways of increasing capacity to allow a bigger intake this year. I am confident that on this basis parents will not be expected to send their children out of area. The County Council has promised to be in contact early next week with further information for all those parents affected and I am grateful to them for acting so swiftly to correct what is clearly a mistake.

If you are 70 or over and have yet to be contacted by the NHS to book your vaccine appointment, the Government has announced that you can now contact the NHS directly to book your appointment. 

On 8 February, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, announced that all eligible people over 70 who have yet to be contacted by the NHS to book their vaccine appointment, can now sign up online or over the phone to arrange their vaccine.
 
This change has been made to ensure that absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine.
 
The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is online through the national booking service that can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
 
If you cannot find a suitable and convenient slot, please call your GP practice for further assistance.

As the national effort to provide Covid vaccinations continues to expand, John was very pleased to learn that new vaccination sites have recently opened in the constituency.

On 18 January, the first COVID-19 NHS large vaccination centre in Essex opened at The Lodge in Runwell, Wickford. In South Woodham Ferrers, the Crouch Vale Medical Centre has also begun providing Covid vaccinations.

The NHS has confirmed that letters have been sent out in the last few days to people aged 80 who live up to a 45 minute drive from the new centre in Runwell, inviting them to book an appointment through the national booking service online or over the phone.

The NHS have assured John that they will be in touch with all those eligible for the vaccine as soon as possible and have asked that constituents not contact them beforehand.

Nationally, on 18 January, the Prime Minister announced that people in England in their 70s, and those listed as clinically extremely vulnerable, will begin receiving offers of a coronavirus vaccine this week.

As of 17 January, 4,062,501 people across the UK had received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, 3,520,056 of those in England, of which 370,989 were in the East of England region.

John thanks those currently eligible for but yet to have received the Covid vaccine for their continued patience and would like to remind all constituents to please continue to follow all national guidance to control the virus and help save lives.

For more information about the local Covid vaccine rollout, please check the NHS Essex Partnership University Trust's website here and the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust's website here.

 

After receiving a number of emails this week regarding the impact of flooding along Holloway Road, Heybridge, John has been in close contact with Maldon District Council and Essex County Council to discuss the matter and to find out more about the progress of flood alleviation schemes in the area.

Essex Flood Team are submitting a bid to the Innovation Fund for a nature-based solution to flooding in the area, which could include introducing leaky dams to create extra storage using natural processes to regulate water supplies downstream.

Mr Whittingdale encourages any residents that have experienced internal flooding to apply for the Property Flood Resilience Grant. Successful applicants will be given up to £8,000 to help make their properties more flood resilient. Details on how to apply can be found online using the following link:

https://flood.essex.gov.uk/get-a-flood-grant/property-flood-resilience-grant-for-homes/

John welcomes the Government's plan to double spending on flood defences to £5.2billion and hopes that local areas such as Heybridge will be able to benefit from this extra funding. In the meantime, John will continue to engage with residents and Councils to discuss options to reduce the risk of flooding locally.

Should you require help or if you have had problems contacting the district or county councils regarding flooding, please do get in touch. 

A new fast testing centre is now open in Chelmsford for those who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who wish to take a test. The centre is part of an effort to try and find asymptomatic Covid cases in the Chelmsford area and help stop the spread of the virus in the city.

The new Chelmsford Testing Centre is situated at Central Baptist Church, Victoria Road South, Chelmsford, CM1 1LN.

The tests are only available to those who are not experiencing Covid symptoms and the results of the test are usually provided within 30 minutes.

Tests are by appointment only and bookings should be made online. Anyone booking should live in the Chelmsford district. You can book a test here.

If you're not able to book using the online form, you can call 0333 772 6144 to arrange an appointment. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm, every day including Saturday and Sunday.

You can find more information about the new centre here: https://www.essex.gov.uk/news/new-fast-covid-19-testing-centre-opens-in-chelmsford

Constituents who live in Maldon District and who may not be showing Covid symptoms are now able to take a Covid test as part of a joint programme with Essex County Council and the Department for Health and Social Care.

Constituents can collect Covid test kits from Maldon Town Hall and carry out the swabbing to nose and mouth at home. The completed tests are then to be placed in a collection box at the Town Hall for it to be couriered to a lab for the results to be determined.

The District Council are requesting that only 1 person attends to collect the testing kit, rather than a group or a household.

You do not need to book an appointment and tests can be collected at the following times:

Monday 9.30am – 3.30pm

Tuesday 9.30am – 3.30pm

Wednesday 9.30am – 3.30pm

Those collecting test kits are reminded to wear facemasks and to not attend the site if they are experiencing Covid symptoms.

The Council ask that for test kits collected after 12 noon on a Wednesday, that residents do not take the test until the following Monday and then return the test kit on that day.

Please be aware that the test cannot be carried out on site and must be taken away to ensure that the Council can manage the process safely and support as many residents as possible.

You can find more information about community testing in Maldon here: www.maldon.gov.uk/communitytesting

There was good news for the constituency's commuters with the announcement that Greater Anglia has begun to operate their new rolling stock along the Southminster line.

The state-of-the-art Class 720 AVENTRA Bombardier trains will have more seats, air conditioning, fast free Wi-Fi, plug and USB points, much improved accessibility and dedicated cycle storage places. The new trains also have better acceleration and braking, which will help improve performance, consistency and resilience.

For more information about the new trains and how and where they are being rolled out, please click through here.

I have been recently contacted by constituents who are understandably eager to receive the Covid vaccine. As of writing this newsletter, there are 15 live sites across the Mid and South Essex area proving the vaccine to front line heathcare staff, care home staff and residents, and constituents aged over 80. Due to the complexities caused by the logistics and scale of the rollout, however, it is not a blanket roll out and I am aware that there are some eligible constituents who have yet to receive their first jab.
 
I have been in close contact with both the NHS and Essex County Council and receive regular updates as to the progress of the vaccination rollout locally. I would like to reassure those who have yet to be contacted that they will receive their vaccine as soon as possible and that everything is being done by the organisations involved in this incredible effort to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible.
 
I am very proud that the UK has been at the forefront of both the vaccination development and roll out. So far, over 2 million vaccinations have been carried out across the United Kingdom, with the Prime Minister recently confirming that the programme – the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history - is to be rapidly accelerated so that the capacity will exist to deliver hundreds of thousands of vaccines per day by 15 January.

For more information about the local Covid vaccine rollout, please check the NHS Essex Partnership University Trust's website here and the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust's website here.

In the meantime, as the roll out expands to include new areas, please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives until you are contacted by the NHS to book an appointment to receive your vaccine.

John was delighted to learn this week that the Department for Health and Social Care are to open an NHS Regional Test Site in December at Sandon Park and Ride as part of its Test and Trace service. The site is a drive-through site and will offer both assisted and self-administered tests.

Welcoming the news, John commented “NHS Test and Trace is playing a vital part in our efforts to combat the virus. I am delighted that a Regional Test Site is being opened at the Sandon Park and Ride Centre. This will enable anyone who is suffering from symptoms or is advised that they have been close to someone who has tested positive to get quickly tested and will help to stop the spread of the disease.
 
The Park and Ride is a convenient and accessible location for people in Maldon and Chelmsford and it will be easy to book a free test which should allow them to establish far more quickly if they can see their families or return to work”.
 
If you are experiencing symptoms, please find more information on how you can book a Covid test here : https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

John Whittingdale visited P & S Automation Ltd in West Station Industrial Estate, Maldon.

P & S Automation supply instrumentation, control and automation systems specialising in marine vessels. John saw two working systems for HMS Scott which will shortly be fitted in Falmouth.  John’s visit was at the start of Maritime UK Week which  highlights the importance of the Maritime Sector to the UK economy. He is pictured with Managing Director, Paul Edwards.

https://www.pandsautomation.com/index 

John Whittingdale MP was presented in Parliament with a piece of artwork of the Hythe Quay in Maldon as a celebration of the local area. The piece, by Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year finalist Brian Ramsey, was donated by Sky to mark the launch of Sky Arts as a free-to-air channel.

John said: “It was a pleasure to meet Brian and I am delighted that the Hythe Quay was chosen as one of just 40 sites across the UK to mark the launch. The project celebrates the diversity of landscapes and buildings across the country and the power of art to offer new perspectives.

There has never been a more critical time to support the UK’s vibrant arts sector. I am hopeful that in launching Sky Arts as available to everyone, Sky can inspire greater participation in the arts from new and diverse audiences and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this cultural programming which is now available to watch free of charge.”

John Whittngdale visited the Plume Academy in Maldon.

In the last few years under strong leadership from the Head iPlume Academy has transformed. With 1700 pupils it is already the third biggest school in Essex and is likely soon to become the biggest. It is rated Good by Ofsted and in the first week back attendance was 96 per cent. They have manged to continue to provide every pupil with a full curriculum and are also recognised as being exceptionally good in the area of SEN, especially cerebral palsy.

John Whittingdale was honoured to join Chief Constable and officers of Essex Police to pay tribute to PC Andrew Harper

On 15 August 2019, 28-year-old police constable Andrew Harper was killed near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, England, whilst in the line of duty. Harper and a fellow officer were responding to a report of burglary, after which Harper was dragged behind a car causing his death.

 

Like many other residents, I have been working from home in Maldon during lockdown and have relied on a fast broadband connection. It is excellent news that homes in Maldon are now to be upgraded to Full Fibre to the Premises which will result in even faster and more reliable speeds.

Openreach is announcing plans to make ultra-reliable and gigabit-capable ‘Full Fibre’ (FTTP) broadband available to more than three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s hardest to serve communities. This includes Maldon.

Work is expected to get under way in many of the announced locations within the next 12-18 months although, due to the size of the build, some places will see work continue into 2024.

These locations will be upgraded by Openreach, without taxpayer subsidy, and it’s hoped having access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe will boost their post-Covid economic recovery. The announcement follows a new consultation from industry regulator Ofcom, published today, where it proposes that such a build commitment from Openreach is sufficient for them to extend the fibre enablers previously set out in their WFTMR consultation for Area 2 to Area 3.  This will contribute to the right investment conditions for Area 3 being in place. Ofcom has estimated that there are 9.6 million homes and businesses situated in this final third of the country.

The build to 3.2m UK premises forms part of a massive £12 billion investment which will support Openreach’s ambition to build ‘Full Fibre’ infrastructure to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s – delivering significant economic, social and environmental benefits for rural and urban communities, assuming the right regulatory and political fibre enablers are in place.

Great initiative by new Mayor of Maldon distributing masks in High Street to shoppers   

I agree that it is vital to balance the need to restrict the spread of the virus without infringing on civil liberties, while allowing the restoration of economic and social life. My colleagues in Government have made a judgement that the best way to balance these things is to enable people to go out and about, and to see and socialise with friends and family, but to require that, if they choose to do so, they take additional measures to restrict the spread of this virus.

The guidelines and rules are kept under constant review to ensure that restrictions are not in place any longer than necessary. I understand your concerns regarding the restrictions, indeed I would argue that such restrictions are difficult to accept in a democratic and free society. However, this is an extraordinary time and I have concluded that the current action to stop the spread of the disease is necessary, however uncomfortable it is for us all.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.

In February, the Government announced the establishment of a £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund. MPs were invited to submit applications for the restoration of services which were axed as a result of the Beeching Report in 1963. Following this, John Whittingdale, Member of Parliament for Maldon, submitted an application in conjunction with Maldon District Council for the restoration of the Maldon to Witham railway line which was also supported by Priti Patel MP and by Essex County Council.

Since the line from Maldon to Witham was lost in the 1960s, the town has grown considerably with increasing levels of traffic congestion and pollution. A restoration of the line connecting Maldon with the Greater Anglia rail Network would save travellers time and money, reduce congestion on the roads and improve the environment. I am most grateful to Maldon District Council for the work that they have put in to developing this plan and am delighted that it has moved to the next stage. I very much hope that it may eventually lead to Maldon being back on the rails.

Following an initial assessment, this proposal has now progressed to the second stage and a more detailed case is being submitted.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/re-opening-beeching-era-lines-and-stations/re-opening-beeching-era-lines-and-stations#:~:text=Through%20the%20Ideas%20Fund%20we,Ebbw%20Vale%20in%20South%20Wales 

 

On Friday 6th March, John Whittingdale visited the new Crouch Vale Medical Centre in South Woodham Ferrers to meet members of Provide, which supplies community health and social care across Essex. These services include Essex Sexual Health Service, Physiotherapy, Children’s Speech and Language Therapy, Audiology, Mid Essex ENT (ear, nose and throat) Service  as well as the District Nursing / Integrated Care Team (ICT).

https://www.provide.org.uk/ 

John was given a tour of the new centre which also houses the three GP practices serving South Woodham Ferrers: Brickfield Surgery, Kingsway Surgery and Greenwood Surgery. 

John was briefed on the preparations for dealing with suspected cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) as Provide will be offering the Home Swabbing service for Mid Essex. John said: "I urge everyone to take precautions particularly by regular hand-washing for at least 20 seconds. If you are concerned that you may be suffering from Coronavirus or displaying symptoms, you should remain in your own home and call the NHS Helpline 111. Provide will visit you in your home to take swabs which will be sent to Broomfield or Cambridge laboratories for analysis. "

https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 

John is pictured with Derrick Louis, Chairman of Provide and Sarah, Director of Operations.

 

John Whittingdale visited Margaretting Church of England Primary School.

https://margaretting.essex.sch.uk/ 

John talked to pupils in Years 5 and 6 about his work in Parliament and how democracy works. He also met Headteacher, Maire O’Regan, and congratulated her on the school’s achievement this year of coming top in Essex for reading in KS2, second for writing and fourth for maths.

 

John Whittingdale visited Maldon Salt to see the packing and distribution operation at Wycke Hill, Maldon, and to discuss their plans to expand the business. John previously took Margaret Thatcher to visit Maldon Salt in his first election campaign in 1992.

https://www.maldonsalt.co.uk/ 

Maldon Salt was founded in 1882 and is a family-run business. It still makes salt using the same traditional artisan methods taking water from the Blackwater Estuary. Originally, there were three salt pans at the Downs Road site but in recent years this has increased substantially. The Company now has 37 salt pans, 30 of which are at their production facility in Goldhanger. It is now intended to create another 36 pans at Goldhanger in an investment of around £4 million. Maldon Salt has been endorsed by many famous chefs and is now exported to 55 countries.

John is pictured with steve Osborne, Managing Director who follows in the footsteps of his father Clive, grandfather Cyril and great grandfather James.

John Whittingdale visited the Memory Lane event at West Hanningfield Village Hall as part of Village Halls Week.

John met Derek Paxman and other Trustees of the Hall as well as Cllr Sue Dobson and Sue Gibson of Rural Council for Communities in Essex. John looked at the exhibition on the history of the Hall and also discussed plans for a brand new Hall which are currently under development.

John Whittingdale MP has today pledged their support for the Long Live the Local Campaign to help pubs in Maldon keep their doors open. John Whittingdale joins the more than 240,000 people who have signed the petition so far, including 379 in Maldon alone.

John Whittingdale MP is calling on the Government to cut beer tax at the Budget. With £1 in every £3 pounds spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers now pay 40% of all beer tax across the EU, but drink only 12% of the beer. Seven in ten alcoholic drinks served in pubs are beer, underlining how directly a cut in beer duty will help pubs. Brewing and pubs in Maldon supports 1381 jobs and contributes £35.7m to the local economy. 

Commenting on the campaign, John Whittingdale MP said: 

“Pubs are at the heart of communities across Maldon, but with three British pubs closing their doors for good every day the Government should consider a cut to beer tax. I’m supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax at this year’s Budget to support pubs in our local communities.” 

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“Beer duty has increased by 60% over the last 17 years and now the UK has one of the highest rates of tax in Europe. When over two thirds of all alcoholic drinks purchased in the pub are beers, a cut in beer tax would go a long way to protecting pubs across Maldon. We are very grateful to John Whittingdale for their support for the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling for a cut in beer tax to protect our pubs.”

Notes to Editors:

LONG LIVE THE LOCAL CAMPAIGN BACKGROUND

Long Live the Local is a campaign backed by Britain’s Beer Alliance. The campaign celebrates pubs whilst educating the British public about the challenges they face, specifically a tax burden which is set to grow year on year. The Alliance consists of over 120 members, and members range from individual publicans and microbreweries to the UK's largest pub chains and international breweries. 

Further information about the Long Live the Local campaign can be found via www.longlivethelocal.pub  

 

John Whittingdale was delighted to welcome the 1st North Fambridge Sea Scouts Group on a visit to Westminster on a momentous day in Parliament. The Scouts were able to tour the Houses of Parliament and then visit Downing Street where they were able to see inside the famous black door.

John is pictured with Adrian Clements, Group Scout Leader, and members of the Group.

https://www.northfambridgescouts.org.uk/ 

 

John Whittingdale visited the Dengie Pumping Stations with the Environment Agency. The three Pumping Stations remove surface water through a network of man-made channels which is then discharged through 6 gravity out falls into the sea. This protects an area of around 55 square kilometres which is mainly high grade arable land with 46 residential properties within the flood cell. This lies behind an earthen embankment of about 24km stretching from St Peters Chapel to Burnham Wick Farm.

John discussed the future strategy for the protection of the Dengie Peninsula with Environment Agency Area Director, Simon Hawkins. John said “The risk of flooding, both from flooding and from the sea is particularly severe in the Dengie Peninsula. I am pleased that the Environment Agency have recently invested in new pumps and flooring at the Bridgewick Pumping Station and that the current flood defence strategy is working well. Although the priority is bound to be the protection of property, the land in the Dengie is of huge agricultural value and I welcome the Agency’s commitment to protect it as well”.

John is pictured with Environment Agency Area Director, Simon Hawkins, at Landwick Pumping Station in Dengie Marshes.

John Whittingdale presented Exceptional Service Awards on behalf of The Berkeley Leisure Group to Raymond and Gloria Bradford, the management team of Temple Grove Park in West Hanningfield. Raymond and Gloria have worked for the company for many years and have done a huge amount to improve the environment and facilities of Temple Grove Park:

https://www.berkeleyparks.co.uk/parks/temple-grove/ 

John Whittingdale said “I am delighted to present these awards to Raymond and Gloria in recognition of their hard work and commitment to ensure that Temple Grove remains a great place to live. The Park is well run and maintained and is a credit to the Park Homes sector. A large part of the credit is due to them and these awards are richly deserved.”

John is pictured with Raymond and Gloria Bradford, and David Curson, Managing Director of The Berkeley Leisure Group.

John Whittingdale attended events to mark the 50th Anniversary of Maldon’s Twinning with Cuijk in the Netherlands. The town of Cuijk is situated on the river Maas in the province of Noord-Brabant, near the German border. There have been regular exchanges between the two towns and strong links established:

https://www.twinninglink.org/

Around 40 visitors from Cuijk spent the weekend in Maldon. John is pictured in front of the Twinning Symbol in Promenade Park with: Burgemeister Wim Hillenaar and his wife, Mieke Dengerink of the Cuijk Twinning Committee, Jill Hipsey of Maldon Twinning Association and Mayor of Maldon, Flo Shaughnessy with her husband, Terry.

John Whittingdale chaired and spoke at a public meeting at the Plume Academy on the subject of Climate Change. The meeting was organised by Jill Bruce, a WI Climate Ambassador, and Hattie Phillips, a Year 8 pupil at Plume Academy. The other speakers were Gareth Redmond-King of WWF-UK, Darren Tansley of Essex Wildlife Trust and Prof Sam Fankhauser of Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE.  John said:

“I warmly congratulate Hattie on helping to organise the meeting and speaking with such passion. Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges we face and it is Hattie’s generation who are in the lead in calling for more to be done. I am proud that the UK has one of the best records of any country in the world in cutting carbon emissions and is now going to legislate that we must achieve a net zero carbon emission target by 2050. However, we need to do more and every person has a responsibility to think about their own lifestyle and what more they can do to reduce carbon emissions. It was good to see so many people come to the meeting and to commit to doing so.”

John Whittingdale helped launch the perpetuation of Sailing Boat “Pudge” by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust at Hythe Quay, Maldon. The project aims to restore “Pudge” by replacing her decking and hatches, improving her facilities and accommodation, researching and interpreting her heritage and addressing the skills shortage in the Thames Sailing Barge community. It is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a grant of £3328,000 and will take approximately two years.

http://www.bargetrust.org/

John said: “I am delighted to learn that the Thames Sailing Barge Trust has, with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, raised enough money to proceed with the restoration of SB Pudge. For may people, the Thames barge is the symbol of Maldon and the Trust does great work in maintaining the two it owns and at the same time keeping alive traditional shipbuilding skills”. 

John is pictured with Mayor of Maldon, Cllr Jeanette Stilts, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Henry Bass, Chairman of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, Brian Dawson and other Trust supporters.

 

John Whittingdale visited the newly refurbished Maldon Mosque in Church Street run by the Maldon District Islamic Cultural Association. Founded in January 1988, the Association purchased the old Labour Hall in 2005 and converted it into a mosque. Following a crowd-funding appeal to the Muslim Community across the country, a new floor was added to provide an extra area for worship, an Imam’s room and a children’s study room. John was given a tour of the new building and also spoke to worshippers attending Friday prayers with the Imam. 

http://www.mdica.org.uk/AboutUs.aspx

John is pictured with the President of the Islamic Cultural Association, Jhual Abdul Hafiz, who is also proprietor of the Maldon Tandoori.

John Whittingdale visited Down Hall Residential Home in Bradwell on Sea to lunch with staff and residents. A lively conversation ensued covering the changes to the Maldon District over the last 30 years to the current political debate around Brexit!

John said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Down Hall and had a delicious lunch. It was a real pleasure to talk to the residents and staff as well as our local Priest, Steven Poss. I will certainly drop in again soon”.

John is pictured with Karen Johnson (Manager), Reverend Steven Poss and Louise together with two of the residents.

John Whittingdale opened the new Chelmer Housing Partnership development at Grangewood Park, Southminster Road, Burnham on Crouch. This is a new development of 72 affordable dwellings representing the first rented and shared ownership homes provided by CHP in Burnham. All of the rental properties will be owned by CHP with Maldon District Council nominating people to live in them – a quarter of which will go to people with a local connection.

John Whittingdale said: “I am delighted to launch this scheme which will provide badly  needed affordable homes in Burnham. We face a severe housing shortage in the District and I hope that those who are fortunate enough to obtain a property in this development will be very happy in their new homes”.

John is pictured with:

Cover picture:      Cllr Brenda Harker, Cllr Bryan Harker, Cllr Bob Boyce, Mayor of Burnham Wendy Stamp, Cllr Ron Pratt, Mary Gibbons (Chief Exec CHP, Cllr Penny Channer, Emma Foy (Maldon District Council)

Main article picture: Mary Gibbons (Chief Executive, CHP), Glen Alger and Melissa Banes (purchasers of Plot 39: 1 Harbour Road)

John Whittingdale joined other Essex MPs at a meeting with Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, and Chief Constable BJ Harrington.

The meeting was held to discuss policing in the County. John raised concerns about response rates, particularly in rural areas, as well as drug abuse and the need for more visible policing in High Streets.

John Whittingdale opened the new Coffee Room at Bradwell Community Shop and Post Office:

https://www.bradwellcommunityshop.co.uk/ 

The new Coffee Room has been built to provide a meeting place for members of the village with the help of Essex Community Foundation and Bradwell Windfarm Community Fund. John met residents of the village including a number of those from Down Hall Residential Home.

John is pictured with Chairman, Brian Main,  with joint Shop Managers, Rachael Smith and  Carol Fennell, and Eric behind the Counter.  

John Whittingdale joined over 500 other MPs to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation initiatives to mark Her Majesty's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.

The trees were planted in Riverside Park, Burnham-on-Crouch on Friday 9 November by John Whittingdale, Cllr Henry Bass, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Bob Boyce, Chairman of Community Services and Cllr Ron Pratt and Nick Sandford, Regional External Affairs Officer, the Woodland Trust

They were donated to John Whittingdale thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s and ITV, which in April screened a landmark documentary, The Queen's Green Planet, following Her Majesty the Queen and this ambitious legacy project which brings together her deeply held commitment to the Commonwealth and her little-known love of trees. At the heart of the film was a conversation between the Queen and Sir David Attenborough filmed in the gardens of Buckingham Palace last summer.  In a rare opportunity to see the Queen talking informally to Sir David, the conversation ranged from climate change, to conkers and of course trees, and was watched by 6.4 million viewers, making it ITV’s most watched factual programme of the year.

In support of the programme the Woodland Trust provided 50,000 trees for ITV viewers, and via the Rt. Hon Frank Field MP, who conceived the QCC initiative, also offered a special commemorative pack to every MP in the UK. 

John Whittingdale said:

“I am delighted that the Maldon District will be helping to provide the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy through these trees which I shall look forward to seeing grow in Riverside Park. This is an excellent project and I am grateful to Her Majesty, the Woodland Trust, and to Maldon District Council for their help”

Woodland Trust Chief Executive Beccy Speight said:

“We are delighted so many MPs have decided to join us in our bid to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.  We all need trees. They are a cornerstone of our landscape and countryside, forming an essential and cherished part of our cultural identity. They are crucial in improving soil health and water quality, reducing carbon, trapping pollutants, slowing the flow of flood water, sheltering livestock, providing a home for wildlife or a space for us to breathe. I hope the residents of the Maldon District will enjoy watching them flourish as part of this wonderful legacy initiative.”

John Whittingdale visited Trinity St Mary’s Primary School in South Woodham Ferrers to present the newly elected School Council members with their badges and to talk to the children about his work as a Member of Parliament. John said:

 

“I was delighted to meet the new School Council members and to congratulate them on their election. School Council elections provide a great introduction to the principles of democracy and I also enjoyed answering questions from all the pupils. These were wide-ranging and challenging covering topics like Brexit and the working of the economy as well as my role in representing the Maldon constituency in Parliament”.

 

John is pictured with Headteacher, Mike Williams, and members of the School Council.

John Whittingdale had a meeting with Chief Inspector Gerry Parker, the new Police Divisional Commander for Chelmsford and Maldon.

 

John said:

 

“I was very pleased to meet Chief Inspector Parker, the new Divisional commander and was encouraged to hear of his determination to step up pro-active policing across the Division. We are fortunate that the overall crime rate in the district is still the lowest in Essex and it remains a safe place to live. However, I am concerned that there is a perception that crime is rising and that there are not enough police available. This has been increased by recent break-ins that have occurred in Maldon High Street and the increasing incidence of drug-related crime, often fuelled by gangs. It is good news that an additional 6 front-line police officers are being deployed in the District to strengthen coverage of the rural areas.  I also welcome Chief Inspector Parker’s intention to work more closely with local schools, as well as publicans and community groups, and to make more information available through facebook and social media:

 

https://www.facebook.com/EPChelmsfordandMaldon/

 

 

John Whittingdale met Ella Pennycott from Burnham on Crouch who had come to Westminster to talk to MPs as part of the Stolen Futures Campaign of the National Deaf Children’s Society:

 

http://www.ndcs.org.uk/

 

Ella, who is a Year 8 student at Southend High School for Girls, is a member of the Youth Advisory Board of the NCDS.

 

John said: “I was delighted to meet Ella during her visit to Westminster. She spoke powerfully about the difficulties faced by deaf children and how schools, universities and employers need to do more to help meet their needs. I will certainly be taking this up with Essex County Council and warmly congratulate Ella on her participation in this important campaign”.

 

John is pictured with Ella Pennycott by the NCDS bus in Old Palace Yard opposite the Palace of Westminster.

 

John Whittingdale visited Burnham on Crouch Rugby Club to see the volunteers in action as part of the NatWest RugbyForce weekend. Natwest Rugby Force is a nationwide programme designed to make rugby clubs stronger by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community over a summer weekend. In its ninth year, NatWest RugbyForce has helped over 650 clubs.

John saw volunteers clearing ditches, repairing fences and helping to prepare the grounds for the beginning of the new season.

John is pictured with Club President, Niall Hornett, Burnham Councillor Peter Elliott and Mayor of Burnham, Wendy Stamp.

John Whittingdale presented Kam, Proprietor of Chillies Indian Fusion in Oaklands House, South Woodham Ferrers, and his chef a certificate and apron for being Highly Commended in the 2018 Tiffin Cup competition.

The Tiffin Cup winner is chosen from a list of restaurants that have been nominated by local MPs. This year, 60 restaurants were nominated by their MPs. The competition aims to raise the profile of the quality and diversity of South Asian food in Britain while raising money for the charity World Vision.

 

John Whittingdale joined Maldon district Councillors and others to mark the opening of the Maldon Saltmarsh Coast Hub. This is supported by the Dengie Gateway Project which has been supported by the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

The Dengie Gateway Project has delivered a number of elements, including, a 5 year District Tourism Marketing Strategy, the new Visit Maldon District website, eshop and improved social media presence. The Project has also sought to promote the District’s wonderful Saltmarsh Coast through the installation of new signage and way-marking, dedicated webpages and the creation of a network of inspiring and bespoke Saltmarsh Coast Visitor Information Hubs, with the Maldon Saltmarsh Coast Hub in the centre.

 

John Whittingdale attended the Royal Yachting Association “Push the Boat Out” event at the Blackwater Sailing Club’s Open Day at Heybridge Basin.

RYA Push the Boat Out is intended to give people the opportunity to get out on the water and to find out how easy it is to get involved in sailing and windsurfing. Hundreds of Sailing Clubs and training centres take part throughout the month of March, including Blackwater sailing Club, Royal Corinthian Yachting Club, South Woodham Ferrers Yacht Club and Marconi Sailing Club in the Maldon constituency.

Blackwater Sailing Club was established in 1899 and is one of the leading sailing clubs on the East Coast with more than 1,000 members. It has an active Cadet section and it offers both cruiser and dinghy sailing. The Open Day was the most successful ever with 295 visitors and over 30 new members signed up on the day. Over 500 tasters provided for our visitors including John who went out for a sail in a Quest on the large freshwater lake owned by the Club. 

Blackwater Sailing Club website

Picture 1: John is pictured with Rob Haigh, Deputy Cadet Skipper

Picture 2: John is pictured with Rear Commodore, Nigel Butler

 

John Whittingdale attended the service at St Lawrence Heritage Church to bless the new telescope and display boards which have been installed in the churchyard looking over the Blackwater estuary.

The blessing was conducted by the Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall. John is a co-Patron of the Friends of St Lawrence Church, along with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP whose family still own a house locally.

John is pictured with Cllr Penny Channer, Nicholas Henshall and his wife, Christine, and Chairman of Essex County Council John Aldridge and his wife, Christine.

John Whittingdale visited Lookers Ford in South Woodham Ferrers. Lookers is a member of the National Franchised Dealers Association which is represents the 5,100 franchise vehicle retail network. Lookers Ford has dealerships across the UK. In Essex, there are showrooms in Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, and South Woodham Ferrers.

John discussed concerns of the automotive industry about the arrangements after Britain has left the European Union as well as possible plans for the expansion of the South Woodham Ferrers showroom.

John is pictured with lookers Regional Director, Rob Dier.

John Whittingdale visited Woodville Primary School in South Woodham Ferrers.

John spoke to the School Assembly about his work in Parliament and the importance of democracy. He then met the School Council and answered questions on Brexit, Windrush and Migration, Syria, and a number of other topics raised by pupils.

Following his visit, the Head Boy, Ed, and Head Girl, Holly, wrote this report:

On the 27th of March, our local MP John Whittingdale (MP of Maldon) came and visited our school. He produced an interesting and political assembly about his job, and what democracy means. After the assembly, he visited the school council in Mrs Turner’s room and we discussed about the law and Brexit. Brexit means Brittan Exiting the EU.  Most of Britain and the members of parliament have voted and have decided to leave Europe. The main reason to leave was because of other bigger parliaments have been sending their rules ,but now our MPs can decide our rules. 

John Whittingdale visited Sandon School to talk to Sixth Formers on a range of political issues.

As well as having a tour, John discussed with students  a number of subjects which they wanted to raise including pollution and climate change, funding of the NHS, university admissions, global security and Brexit. John said: “it was a real pleasure to hear the views of a number of my younger constituents and to engage with them. I was greatly impressed by their knowledge and interest and was also very encouraged that a number said that they would like to get involved in politics in future”.

John Whittingdale welcomed Phil and Abby Wilcox, proprietors of Wibblers Brewery in Southminster to the House of Commons to celebrate their best-selling  Apprentice ale, being guest beer in the Strangers Bar of the House of Commons for the week beginning 4th December.

Wibblers was established on a commercial basis in 2007 in a converted barn in Mayland by Phil Wilcox, following 20 years of home brewing experience. Its beers have won numerous awards and John also recently attended the opening of their new premises and tap room in Goldsands Road, Southminster.

http://www.wibblers.co.uk/

John said: “This week is a particularly busy one in Parliament and the House of Commons sat until 1.00am on Monday. The bar is always full with Members and guests and I am delighted that my colleagues will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy Wibblers Apprentice throughout the week.”

John Whittingdale attended the Digging and Delving exhibition at the Burnham on Crouch Museum on the history of the allotments in Burnham and launch of the associated publication. The concept and implementation of this project was carried out by Create and Flourish CIC, a Community Interest Company based in Burnham which helps local people to build resilience and maintain or improve mental and physical well-being through gardening and arts & crafts activities. The project was funded by the Heritage  Lottery Fund. 

 

20 acres of land were first leased to Burnham Parish Council for allotments in 1895 and Digging and Delving is a fascinating history based on many personal recollections of locals and allotment holders.

 

John is pictured with Triss Norman and Sharon Chan of Create and Flourish CIC as well as Carl Wilson, Angela Stearn and Zoe Bridges.

John Whittingdale visited Wentworth School in Viking Road, Maldon, as part of their British Values Week. John met the members of the School Council and then addressed a School Assembly to talk about Democracy and to answer Questions.

John said: “I very much enjoyed my visit to Wentworth and was most impressed by the perceptive questions from the children there. I am always happy to visit schools in my constituency to talk to pupils and am also pleased to welcome any local school which wishes to visit the Palace of Westminster”.

John Whittingdale visited the refurbished Victoria Passenger Boat at Paper Mill Lock, Little Baddow, which is owned and operated by Essex Waterways. The boat was purchased and restored by Essex Waterways with the help of a grant of £32,838 from the Essex Rivers LEADER programme, administered by the Rural Community Council of Essex. 

John is pictured with Roy Chandler, Chairman of Essex Waterways. Since November 2005, Essex Waterways has managed the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation which runs from Springfield Basin in Chelmsford to Heybridge Basin with moorings at Springfield Basin, Sandford, Paper Mill, Howe Mill and Heybridge Basin.

John Whittingdale performed the opening ceremony for the Bradwell Community Shop which has been completely fitted out with new shelving, counters and chiller cabinets. The Community Shop is run by volunteers from the village on a not-for-profit basis and has benefitted from grants from Magnox as well as the Essex Community Fund. 

John is pictured with Bob Nichols, Bradwell Site Closure Director, Cllr Adrian Fluker, Deputy Leader of Maldon District Council, Brian Main, and Jill Curd of Essex Community Foundation. 

John Whittingdale attended a briefing for Essex MPs  from the Essex Fire and Rescue Service at Fire HQ at Kelvedon Park.

In particular, John was briefed on the work being done to check the safety of all high rise blocks in the County following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. As well as watching a training exercise in which officers released a victim trapped in a car in a simulated road traffic collision, John was briefed on  the work of the Specialist Animal rescue unit, the team dealing with chemical spillages and the dog rescue team.

John was briefed by Adam Eckley, Chief Fire Officer, and other senior officers. John is pictured with Chelmsford Fire Station officer, James Hall and also with Essex Rescue Dogs,  Kirby and Jarvis.

 

 

 

 

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