Following concerns expressed by constituents John meets with company bosses.

John Whittingdale has met Tim Clarke, Managing Director of One railway, and Theo Steel, Projects Director to discuss the standard of service on the Crouch Valley line serving North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham and Southminster.

John Whittingdale raised the problems caused to many commuters by the new timetable changes affecting the morning and evening service, as well as the cost of tickets and performance in comparison to the Southend service. In response, Mr Clarke assured him that the line was a key strategic railway and that there were no plans to close it. He said that the new timetable would be reviewed at the end of January and revisions introduced in June. He promised to take account of the concerns when the review takes place. Pictured here, John Whittingdale discusses the service with local Councillors, Peter Elliott, John Smith and Bob Boyce.

Following the meeting, John Whittingdale said: "I am pleased that Tim Clarke made clear that One regards the Crouch Valley line as a key strategic service and has absolutely no plans to close it. Mr Clarke explained that the recent changes to the timetable had had to be submitted to the Strategic Rail Authority quickly and so there was less time for consultation beyond the local authorities and rail user groups. However, he did say that the changes would be reviewed at the end of January with any revisions introduced in June. I have passed on to him the large number of complaints that I have had from constituents, particularly about the loss of the 0711 service from Southminster. Many people find the new 0735 service too late and so have to use the 0652 service, adding considerably to the length of their working day. Mr Clarke has promised to try to take account of these concerns in the review.

I welcome Mr Clarke's recognition that the cost of tickets is higher than on the Southend service and his agreement that this may need to be addressed, although I am disappointed if unsurprised that there appears no likelihood of any reduction in fares. I am also disappointed that there seems little immediate likelihood of obtaining a later train after the 2215 from Liverpool Street owing to the requirements of Network Rail
and the low number of users.

Finally, I also emphasised to Mr Clarke the concern felt by many that the Southminster service is treated as a poor relation and suffers disproportionately from cancellations or delays. I welcome Mr Clarke's assurance that this is not the case and that One will continue to make a special effort to protect the service on smaller lines like the Southminster branch."

John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford, visited Curves of Maldon, a ladies fitness club based at the Riverside Industrial estate at Mill Lane, Maldon.
Curves is part of the world's largest fitness franchise with nearly 10,000 locations worldwide. Franchise holders, Wendy Baker and Sarah Neal, now own three local clubs in Wickford, Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers. The clubs offer thirty minute workout programmes for ladies of all ages.

Each year, Curves organises a Food Drive to benefit local food banks. The joining fee was waived for any new member who brought in a bag of non-perishable groceries during March. These together with donations from existing members are to be distributed to the local community. Collectively, over the past 5 years, nearly 50 million pounds of food has been distributed worldwide. In Maldon, Curves is working with the Dengie Project Trust to distribute the food to local women's refuges, elderly persons homes and to servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John Whittingdale said: "I was delighted to support Curves Annual Food Drive. Sarah and her colleagues are doing a great job helping ladies in Maldon to keep fit and healthy and at the same time benefitting local voluntary groups supplying food to those who need it most".

John Whittingdale is pictured with Hilda Haslam, Coordinator of the Dengie Project Trust, Peter Newton, Trustee and Sarah Neal, owner of Curves.

10,000 pasengers in Danbury.

John Whittingdale congratulated local resident, Simon Claxton, who was the 10,000th passenger to use the Danbury Flyer.

The Flyer was set up as Danbury Parish Council's Millennium Project and in November 2005, the running was taken over by Danbury Community Transport. The Chairman is Colin Budgey and all committee members and drivers are volunteers.

The Flyer runs four mornings a week around Danbury and Little Baddow and is supported by Danbury Parish Council as well as advertisers and donors.Recently a new bus has been obtained with the help of Bill Davey of Hopping Jacks Hall.

 

  

On Friday, 29th June, John Whittingdale attended the inauguration of the new Maldon and District Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society at Maldon Football Club. Previously the Maldon and District Parkinson's Support Group, the new Branch is now affiliated to the National Society. The meeting was well attended and the Guest Speaker was Dr Kieran Bream, Director of Research at the Society.

John Whittingdale, who was elected President of the Branch, said:" I am delighted to become President of the Maldon Branch of the Parkinsons Disease Society.

Parkinson's is an immensely debilitating disease which affects about one in every 500 people. I am therefore very conscious that within my constituency there will be many living with, or helping to care for someone with the Disease. The Maldon Group does a marvellous job in providing support to
those people and I have no doubt that by becoming a Branch of the national society, it will be able to achieve even more."

 

Picture attached shows: Cllr Sheila Young, Deputy Chairman of Maldon DC
John Whittingdale
John Alderman, Mayor of Maldon
Derek Martin, Chairman of the Maldon Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society
Carole Noble, Mayor of Burnham on Crouch


 

John's views on the Government’s proposal to merge the Essex Police with the forces covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

I attended the launch of the referendum campaign on the Government’s proposal to merge the Essex Police with the forces covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This has been organised by the Police Authority and County Council and is supported by MPs from all parties in the County.

There is no doubt that a merger would be expensive and wasteful as well as making our police force less accountable and more remote. Essex already has one of the largest forces in England with 3230 officers serving a population of 1,600,000. The Government has claimed that a force needs to have 4,000 officers to be effective. Yet Kent and Hampshire, which are similar in size and face similar challenges, are being allowed to remain as stand alone forces. Of course, there is a case for greater co-operation between forces on strategic issues. Essex has taken the lead in seeking to establish a legally binding Federation of East Anglian Forces. This would allow the Force to join with others to collectively provide protective services, such as combating major crime, terrorism and civil emergencies. However, it would preserve the local identity of Essex Police which has the capacity and capability to become a strategic force on its own.

A forced merger will not only mean that Essex will no longer have its own Chief Constable and police identity, it is also likely to end up costing a lot more. Of the three forces proposed to merge, Essex has the lowest Council Tax precept for policing. The total cost of police mergers across the country has been estimated to be around £500 million, money which would be far better spent on front-line policing.

6 months ago, I asked the Prime Minister why he was not even willing to allow the Essex Police Authority even to consult on the option of maintaining a stand-alone force. In a letter to me, he said that the Home Office remained open to all options for which a compelling case can be made and that Essex Police Authority was therefore free to develop further a stand-alone proposal. Last week, in a welcome development, the Home Secretary announced that he would delay the implementation of mergers in order to allow time for further consultation.

The referendum being organised by the Police Authority and County Council provides an opportunity for the people of Essex to have their say. Over 700,000 questionnaires are being delivered to every household in the county and a survey form is also available on-line. I hope that everybody will use this opportunity to deliver a resounding message to the Government to leave our Police Force alone.


 

John Whittingdale met members of the new Essex Youth Assembly at County Hall, Chelmsford.

The Assembly has been set up by Essex County Council and is intended to give young people a voice in matters affecting the County.

John is pictured with members from Maldon and Chelmsford.

 

John Whittingdale was a guest at Great Leighs which will be the first new horse racecourse in nearly a century.

It is also vying to be chosen as the site for equestrian events of the London Olympic bid is successful. During his visit Mr Whittingdale met John Holmes, the owner of the site to discuss the £40 million pound investment which incorporates a state of the art stadium, landscaping, all-weather racecourse and stabling at Essex County showground.

Commenting on his tour, Mr Whittingdale admitted, “I have the occasional flutter myself. In fact I was at Newmarket recently and lost £50! I am very impressed with the plans for Great Leighs and what it will do to put the county on the sporting map.”

John Whittingdale helped to raise money for Farleigh Hospice

John Whittingdale helped to raise money for Farleigh Hospice by pouring custard on Cllr Miriam Lewis, Chairman of Heybridge Parish Council, and Emily, a pupil at the Plume School.

The initiative was organised by John Warner, Managing Director of Boddingtons, as part of Tea at 3 day, a national fund-raising campaign for Macmillan.

After having filled the custard bath in which the two girls were sitting, John helped to push it up Maldon High Street while employers of Boddingtons and SGB collected money from passers-by.

 

Happy birthday to Home Start Maldon.

John Whittingdale joined staff, volunteers and families at a party to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Home-Start Maldon at the West Maldon Community Centre.

John is patron of Home-Start Maldon and presented long service certificates to a number of the volunteers who are pictured.

 

John Whittingdale visited Hospital Radio Chelmsford as part of the Broomfield Weekend on 10th June.

HRC broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the patients at St John's, St Peter's and Broomfield Hospitals.

Seen here with Programme Controller, Dave Abrey, on the mobile unit outside Broomfield Hospital, John visited Wards B2 and B3 to talk to patients and to collect requests before introducing the records on air.

John Whittingdale MP opens the Military Show, Langford.


On Sunday, 1st July, John Whittingdale MP performed the official opening of the Military Show organised at the Museum of Power, Langford, by the Combined Military Services Museumin Maldon. The Show included performances by the Essex Yeomanry Band, a display by the Essex Militia and demonstartions of a large number of military vehicles. The highlight of the Show was the presentation of Veterans' Badges to 20 former members of the Armed Forces, many of whom fought in the Second World War.


John Whittingdale is pictured with a number of Veterans who received their badges.

John Whittingdale helped launch the competition to design the new Eco-friendly reusable bag for Maldon. Already some 5,000 jute and cotton bags featuring the first design have been distributed and they are on sale in over 30 retailers in Maldon High Street. A competition has now been launched to design a new smaller bag also made from jute. The competition is open until 30th May and the winner will have a day's sailing on a Thames Barge courtesy of Topsail Charters Ltd.

The initiative to promote eco-friendly bags is being taken by the Maldon Retail Promotions Group and local firm, Portabrands. The aim is that by 2009, Maldon will be the first plastic bag-free town in Essex. More information can be found at www.visitmaldon.co.uk and www.portabrands.com

Pictured with John Whittingdale are Liz Murphychairan of the Maldon Retail Promotions Group, Tom Russell, designer of the first bag, Hazel Bates of Portabrands, Den Phillips, Helen Craggs of the Maldon Tourist Information Centre and Ian Bates of Portabrands.


By 2009 Maldon plans to be the first plastic bag-free town in Essex because it wants to see less waste, less pollution and a healthier environment for us all to enjoy. The Maldon Retail Promotions Group ran a competition recently to find a new design to replace the current bag (designed by Tom Russell). This design has been very successful with now over 8,000 jute and cotton bags in circulation and available to purchase from over 40 retailers in and around Maldon.

The panel judges for the design competition were John Whittingdale MP, Tom Russell, Den Phillips, Liz Murphy, Jan Smith and Ian Bates. Mr Whittingdale said ‘it is good to see the people of Maldon take a proactive role to both promote the town positively and encourage everyone to do their bit to help the local environment. The new design is eye-catching and clearly puts Maldon on the global map’.

The new bags are made from PortaNaturale™, a new (patent pending) natural jute fibre and
rubber laminate, sourced from Kolkata in India by PortaBrands Ltd. The factory that manufactures the bags has passed a comprehensive ethical and quality audit and operates to the demanding standards of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The new reusable shopping bags will retail for £3.

About 13 billion plastic bags are used in the UK every year, which is the equivalent to 30 million bags every day. Most of these end up in landfill and take hundreds if not thousands of years to breakdown. There is another way, but it requires your support and a change of habits by us all.

Please do your bit for Maldon and the environment, say ‘no thanks’ to plastic bags.

Anyone wishing to stock and retail these bags should contact Ian Bates This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 07764 151014.

John Whittingdale helped launch the 2006 Maldon Beer Festival which was held from 19th to 22nd April in Maldon Town Hall.

This year's festival helped to raise money for the East Coast Sail Trust which organises sailing trips for youngsters on Thalatta, a Thamas Barge.

John Whittingdale is pictured with Mike Woods of Maldon and Dengie CAMRA and Joe Brannigan from the East Coast Sail Trust.


 

John Whittingdale MP welcomed Martin Le Jeune, Director of Corporate Affairs at BSkyB to Maldon Cricket Club on Friday, 28th June.

John Whittingdale, who is a Vice President of Maldon Cricket Club, approached Sky to ask if they would support the Club's appeal for funds to provide nets and equipment for coaching local youngsters in the game. Unfortunately, the annual Kwik-Cricket competition scheduled for that evening had to be cancelled due to the rain. However, Martin LeJeune was happy to present the Club with a cheque for £3,000.

Pictured are:
Martin LeJeune, Director of Corporate Affairs, BSkyB
John Whittingdale MP, Vice President Maldon Cricket Club
Sarah Dignasse, Head Teacher, The Plume School
Colin Philpott, President Maldon Cricket Club
Alan Coker, Chairman Maldon Cricket Club


 

John looks at the problem of housing locally.

John Whittingdale spoke at a seminar to discuss the impact of housing and development proposals on local communities organised by Mayor of Maldon, Rev Tony Shrimsley.

The seminar was attended by leading figures from the Methodist Church, of which Rev Shrimsley is a Minister, together with local Councillors and others.

Pictured are Rev Ermal Kirby of North East London District, John Whittingdale, Tony Shrimsley and Rev Tom Stuckey, President of the Methodist Conference.

John Whittingdale has been working with Maldon District Council and the Friends of the Prom to try to find identify the best option for the future of the Marine Lake in Maldon's Promenade Park.


John recently arranged a meeting between the Regional Director of the Health and Safety Executive and Maldon District Council to discuss the HSE's requirements in relation to each of the options that have been put forward. John is seen here discussing the District Council's proposal with Cllr Mrs Julia Peel, Chairman of Leisure Services.

 

John Whittingdale visited Maldon Rugby Club at Drapers Farm in Heybridge to meet children, players and coaches in training.

On Sunday 27 September, John Whittingdale visited Maldon Rugby Club at Drapers Farm in Heybridge to meet children, players and coaches in training. The Club has teams for each year group starting with the under 5s and as they get older they gradually incorporate more elements of the game. John also met Chairman of Youth, David Scott, Senior Club Chairman Jerry Wood and Club President, Peter Binder. John has recently become a Vice President of the Club and said:

"It is marvellous to see so many of all ages getting such obvious enjoyment from playing rugby. In particular, the enthusiasm of both boys and girls, some of whom were only just turned 4, was striking. The Club is doing a fantastic job both in introducing young people to the game as well as competing very successfully at the senior levels"

 

John Whittingdale, Member of Parliament for Maldon and East Chelmsford, had a meeting yesterday with Don Touhig MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, to press for further action to reduce the disturbance and distress caused to thousands of people living in the Maldon District and beyond caused by noise and vibration resulting from explosions at the Shoeburyness Ranges.


John Whittingdale joined five other MPs from Kent and Essex to demand that this problem be addressed. The Minister stated that Qinetiq, the company administering the site, were already establishing a new Community Liaison Officer to act as a point of contact for local residents wishing to complain. However, he went on to promise that a full scale review would be undertaken which would include a total evaluation of all operations at the Ranges and consideration of possible alternative sites.


John Whittingdale said: “I recognise the importance of the work done at Shoeburyness to test and evaluate munitions. However, much of the disturbance is caused by the disposal of obsolete stock and military waste. This is often highly unstable and has to be transported through populated areas of East London to Shoeburyness. There are a number of alternative sites away from centres of population where this could be done which would be far more appropriate.


I have been raising this issue with successive Ministers for over ten years but the problem has, if anything, got worse not better. These explosions cause damage to property, result in distress to pets and livestock and severely affect the quality of life of my constituents. Measures to set up phone lines for complaints, to monitor noise and vibration and to restrict activity when the wind is in the wrong direction have all proved largely ineffectual. I am delighted that at last we have got the agreement of the Minister to carry out a wholesale review to see if this work cannot be carried out in a more remote area. I hope that this means that my constituents can at last look forward to a quiet life.

John attends the Bradwell Business Breakfast.

Pictured with John Whittingdale are: Peter Wright Station Manager of Bradwell and a representative of the Department of Trade and Industry, Richard Griffin.


 

John Whittingdale received a briefing on local policing issues from District Commander, Chief Inspector Craig Robertson.

John said: "I congratulate the local police on their success in keeping the levels of crime in the District among the lowest in the country. However, more needs to be done to tackle the problems of vandalism and youth nuisance by a small minority in order to ensure that the Maldon District remains a wonderful place to live".

 

John Whittingdale held a meeting with the new Chief Constable of Essex, Roger Bacon, to discuss policing issues.

In particular, John raised with Mr Baker the concern felt in Burnham on Crouch about the lack of police presence and the problems caused by young hooligans. The Chief Constable explained his priorities which were to release more police officers for front-line work on the streets, to keep police stations open and to have a quick response to all those attempting to contact the police. In particular, he promised that a police officer would attend every reported crime and that a neighbourhood policing plan would be established for every community in the County.

 


 

 

 

 

 

John Whittingdale recently had a meeting with Julie Martyn, Highways Area Manager for Mid Essex, to discuss road transport issues.

In particular, they discussed the roadworks on the A414 through Danbury which will necessitate the closure of the road for 12 weeks from 11th April. John was keen to ensure that those wanting to get to local schools or businesses would be able to do so and that work would be carried out as quickly as possible. Ms Martyn assured John that the works would be carried out throughout daylight hours from Monday to Saturday and that diversions would be well signposted. In addition, Ms Martyn briefed John on the work to be carried out at the top of Maldon High Street which will lead to a ten week closure from 5th January. Here too, work will go on over 6 days a week leaving Saturday to minimise the disruption for shoppers.

 

John Whittingdale holds regular meetings with local health providers to discuss the performance of the NHS as well as individual constituency concerns.

John is pictured here with Chairman of the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust, David Barron and Chief Executive, Sheila Bremner, together with fellow Essex MPs, Simon Burns and Sir Alan Haselhurst.

 

John Whittingdale opened the new Changing Rooms in the Promenade Park, Maldon.

Shown here with Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Brian Mead, and Chairman of the Community Services Committee, Cllr Penny Channer, John formally opened the new facilities consisting of four main changing rooms, two referee rooms and two further changing rooms for people with disabilities. The new facilities were made possible by a grant of £187,000 from the Football Foundation together with additional support from Maldon District Council and the Liveability Fund. Following the opening, a demonstration football match took place between Heybridge Swifts Under 9s team and Maldon Saints Under 9s.

 

 

 

 

 

John Whittingdale recently helped to start work on the new play area in Oak Tree Meadow, Heybridge.

Pictured with John Whittingdale are Cllr John Archer, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Mike Wilson, Chairman of Heybridge Parish Council, Mrs Kay Ryder, project organiser and Cllr Mrs Julia Peel.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme, John said: “This is a fantastic scheme which will provide much needed play facilities for children in Heybridge. I warmly congratulate Kay Ryder and the other local mothers who have worked so hard to make it happen. This has been a community based initiative which, with the help of Maldon District Council and Heybridge Parish Council, will be a real asset to Heybridge.”

 

John Whittingdale opened the new "One Place", a multi-agency information, advice and support centre in the High Street Burnham-on-Crouch.
In order to avoid the problem of individuals being passed from agency to agency, One Place offers a single centre bringing together the voluntary, statutory and private sectors to provide a diverse range of services under one roof. This includes Tourist and Community Information, Policing, social and health care themes, training and volunteering opportunities and access to specialist advice. The key partners are The Dengie Project Trust, Essex Police, Maldon District Council, Mid Essex Primary Care Trust and Burnham Town Council.

John Whittingdale said: "A huge amount of work has gone in to make Burnham's One Place a reality. I especially congratulate Jacqueline Sinden of the Dengie Project Trust for her vision and determination. One Place will be a fantastic resource for residents of Burnham and the Dengie Peninsula and provides a model for other communities to follow."

Pictured are: Peter Newton (Dengie Project Trust), Jackie Tosic (Healthy Living Solutions), Jacqueline Sinden (Dengie Project Trust), Cllr Sheila Young (Chairman, Maldon DC), Cllr Robert Chambers (Chairman, Essex Police Authority), John Whittingdale, Cllr Carole Noble (Mayor of Burnham), Cllr Bob Boyce (Essex County Council) and Vikki Massey.

 

John Whittingdale opened the new extension to the Buddies Children’s Centre at Brickhouse Farm, Maldon.

The extension which was supported by the National Lottery will allow the centre to accommodate some 30 children each day, a number of whom have special needs.

John is pictured with Councillor Rodney Bass, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Lyn Munson, Centre manager, members of staff and children.

On Saturday, 12th November 2005, John Whittingdale opened the new exhibition “Spy Collection” at the Combined Military Services Museum in Station Road, Maldon.

The Collection was donated to the museum by Captain Peter Mason, thought by many to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond and contains probably the best espionage collection in the country.

John Whittingdale opened a new Farmers Market to be held at Danbury Sports and Social Centre on the first Saturday of every month between 9.00am and 1.00pm. The market included stalls from many local producers including Althorne beef, lamb from Gate Farm, Steeple, pork from Wicks Manor Farm and goats's milk and cheese from Mundon Hall.

John is pictured with Adrian Owers, the General Manager of Danbury Community Association, which runs the Centre.

John Whittingdale has recently become Patron of Home Start Maldon, a charity offering support to young families.

Active throughout the Maldon District, Home Start's volunteers provide free support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under five. Families are visited regularly in their own homes by volunteers who have ass had experience of parenting, and knoww how hard it can be. Home Start has recently been successful in obtaining major funding from the Ntional Lottery to enable it to extend its work in the District. Pictured here, John Whittingdale recently met the Chairman and some of the staff at their office in St Cedd's House.

John Whittingdale received a petition of over 400 signatures from Mrs Jacqueline Yaxley, proprietor of Jabberwocky in Maldon High Street. The petition called on the Royal Mail to retain the existing collecting box in the High Street , which was closed when the Post Office was relocated to the rear of Budgens. John Whittingdlae has sent the petition to the Chief Executive of Royal Mail urging him to reopen the Collecting Box and has received a response saying that the Royal Mail are carrying out a feasibility study to see if a Postbox can be placed in the High Street outside Budgens. John Whittingdale said;

"I welcome the fact that Royal Mail are looking again at the possibility of keeping a Collecting Box in the High Street. This is undoubtedly preferable to the existing position of a box at the rear of Budgens where it is only accessible when the store is open. However, I do not see why it is necessary to move it from one side of the street to the other. I will also be seeking assurances that the existing Post Box will be either retained or replaced with one of similar design which is keeping with the historic nature of our High Street."

UPDATE

Since receipt of the petition, the Post Box in the High Street has been reopened and is now functioning again. John Whittingdale said: "I am delighted that the Post Office has listened to the views of local residents and that common sense has prevailed."

John Whittingdale was among the local dignitaries who greeted Princess Anne on her recent visit to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham on Crouch.

HRH Princess Anne was attending the Classic Yacht Regatta which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Royal Corinthian One Design yacht.
Among those also pictured are Mr Martin Makey, Commodore of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, and Mrs Makey, Cllr Mrs Julia Peel, Chairman of the Maldon District Council, Cllr Rodney Bass, Christopher Manning-Press, Chairman of Essex County Council and Mrs Manning-Press, and Mrs Jenny Tolhurst, High Sheriff of Essex and Mr Philip Tolhurst.

John Whittingdale MP awards prizes for a children’s photographic contest at the Burnham Museum.

The children took part in a contest, organized by the Burnham and Dengie Focus Group, to take photos of their favourite places in the Dengie Hundred. The contest formed part of the feedback process for the groups consultation on the area’s future needs. Mr. Whittingdale presented Lewis Norman, eight, with the top prize for his photo of conker trees on Burnham marshes. The winning photo will now be displayed in the museum.

 

John Whittingdale supported a demonstration by local residents outside Budgens in Maldon High Street campaigning to save Maldon's Post Office, Budgens is due to close at the end of March and with it, the Post Office. John Whittingdale is shown with County Councillor Brian Mead, Cllr Steven Savage and protest organiser, Kirsty O'Callaghan, together with local residents. Statement by John Whittingdale OBE MP Member of Parliament for Maldon and East Chelmsford I am horrified to learn of the impending closure of the Budgens store in Maldon High Street at the end of March, and with it, the loss of the Maldon Post Office. At the time of its relocation to Budgens in July 2006, I was given explicit assurances by the Post Office that Budgens were making a significant financial investment into the franchise partnership and that this relocation "will further safeguard main Post Office services in Maldon into the longer-term future". Yet it now appears that Budgens have been seeking to withdraw from Maldon for the past two years. It is wholly unacceptable that Maldon should be left without a main Branch Post Office located in the High Street. If an alternative franchise holder cannot be found in time then the Post Office should reopen their original office. Anything less would be a betrayal of the undertakings given to me and to the people of Maldon less than two years ago. I strongly assured at the time that it would safeguard post office services in Maldon into the longer-term future. I accept that this latest development is not the fault of the Post Office and I note that they are considering legal action against Budgens for breach of contract. However, it does vindicate those of us who originally expressed concern at the loss of the Post Office’s own premises. I therefore convened a meeting at Westminster with Post Office management and representatives of the County Council, District Council, Town Council and Postwatch. This proved constructive and I hope has identified a way forward.

The Post Office make clear that they are committed to a long-term presence in Maldon High Street and they will shortly begin advertising for a new franchise holder. Unfortunately, the option of moving back into the old building is not available as it has been sold and the new owners are not interested. The Post Office also intend to establish a sub-post office in the High Street as a temporary solution until a new location can be found. A sub-postmaster has been found to take this on and it is hoped to find premises shortly. Unfortunately, this will still leave a gap between the closure of the existing Post office on 19 March and the establishment of the temporary solution. I have made clear that I regard any break of service as unacceptable and we are therefore seeking to find a way of providing a basic level to ensure continuity. One possibility is for the District council to take this on and this option is urgently being explored. It may also be possible to provide free transport to the sub-post offices in Heybridge and in Washington Road. I very much regret the disruption and inconvenience which is bound to be caused. However, I and the District Council are working with the Post Office to ensure that this is kept to a minimum and I am hopeful that a satisfactory outcome can be found.'

 

John Whittingdale recently visited Select Window and Door Systems Ltd in Galliford Road, Maldon.

One of the fastest growing companies in Maldon, Select manufactures up to 2,500 frames per week and is now seeking to double production. Seen here with District Council Chairman, Cllr John Archer, and Select Managing Director, Jeff Cole, John discussed the problems the company has had in recruiting employees and finding a second factory site in the District.

 

John Whittingdale visited Southminster Primary School at the invitation of Chairman of Governors, Phil Brewster, and Headteacher, Karen Harden.

Formed in September 2007 through the merger of the original infant and junior schools, Southminster Primary is a Church of England Voluntary Controlled school with around 200 pupils. John was given a tour of the school round by two pupils, Maddison and Billy, and then discussed a number of issues with the Head and Chairman of Governors. In particular, John promised to raise with the County Council concerns about the additional costs facing the school as a result of operating from two separate buildings. John said: "I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and was greatly impressed by the happy atmosphere throughout the school. Since its formation, the school has made huge progress and that is in large part due to the hard work of the headteacher, staff and governors."

John is pictured with Phil Brewster, Graham Martin (former Chairman of Governors), Karen Harden and Maddison and Billy.

On 25 July, John Whittingdale joined in the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of St Barnabas Pre-School in Maylandsea.

John is pictured outside St Luke's Hall with a number of the staff who had dressed up for the occasion.

John Whittingdale visited St Nicholas Church of England Primary School in Tolleshunt D'Arcy.

While there, he was given a tour of the school by members of the School Council and then spent time talking to pupils in The Oaks class who had been learning about how laws are made. The children prepared three Bills - one to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12, another to lower the legal age at which one can buy a pet to 10 and a third to allow children to drive electric cars in cycle lanes. John discussed these ideas with the children and answered questions about his job as a MP.

John is pictured receiving the Bills from members of The Oaks class with Assistant Headteacher, Daniel Woodrow.

 

 

 

 

 

John Whittingdale recently attended the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of St Peter's High School.

John is pictured here with Carole Noble, Mayor of Burnham and David Stevenson, Headteacher of St Peter's.

John Whittingdale visited St Peter’s High School, Burnham on Crouch, to help Sixth Formers with their entry in the National Youth Parliament Competition.

The competition is organised by the Citizenship Foundation and is intended to help students gain a better understanding of the legislative process and the role of the House of Commons. John helped students stage a mock Prime Minister’s Question Time and Second Reading debate which was filmed for submission to the Judges. John is shown with a group of students alongside Cllr Peter Elliott, Chairman of Governors, and David Stephenson, Headteacher of St Peter’s.

The Swan pub in Little Totham held a mini-beer festival to raise funds for projects in the village.

 

 

 

John joined villagers to send up balloons in an attempt to send them across the world to raise funds. The fundraiser was organized by John and Valerie Pascoe who run the pub. The event was a celebration of the Swan’s honour of being named the Rural Pub of the Year by the National Farmers Union magazine, and Mr Pascoe expects that it will raise £1,000 for village projects.

John Whittingdale presented computer equipment to children from Maldon schools who had collected vouchers in Tesco's annual Computers for Schools scheme.

John Whittingdale is pictured with Steve Hinckton, Manager of Tesco Maldon, and children from Plume School, All Saints Primary School and Watership Down Nursery.

John Whittingdale presents computer equipment to local schools.

John Whittingdale MP gathered with children from across Maldon at the local Tesco store. He was on hand to participate in the Computers for Schools program which allows children to collect vouchers and exchange them for computer equipment for their school.

For the more than £14,000 collected by local schools, Mr. Whittingdale handed out printers, digital camcorders, and laptops. Among the schools receiving computer equipment were Cold Norton Primary, Maldon Primary, Maylandsea Primary, and Heybridge Primary.

John Whittingdale attended the Topping Out ceremony for the new £148 million wing at Broomfield Hospital. The new hospital will be complete by Summer 2010 with the first patients due to be treated there in autumn 2010. It will have more than 300 bed, seven new operating theatres, new A & E and out patients departments, a special care baby unit and a roof top helipad. The new hospital wing is being built by contractors, Bouygues UK and is a PFI project.

John is shown alongside Chief Executive of Mid Essex Hospitals Ruth May, Simon Burns, MP for West Chelmsford, and Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex.

John Whittingdale visited Buddies Children's Centre in Poulton Close, Maldon to open the new £60,000 extension. Founded by the Maldon District Handicapped Children's Association, Buddies is a day care centre for pre-school children, many of whom suffer from disabilities. The extension, which was funded with the support of the National Lottery, will allow the centre to accommodate up to 40 children.

 

John joins staff and pupils at Burnham County Primary School.

John Whittingdale recently visited Burnham County Primary School in Dunkirk Road, Burnham on Crouch. John was given a tour of the school and was able to participate in the pupils' art lessons. John is pictured here with Cllr Peter Elliott, Mayor of Burnham, Mrs Pam Longmead, Chairman of Governors and Mrs Helen Elliott.

John visits Endoline Services in Maldon.

John Whittingdale saw first hand how a HIGH-TECH Maldon company is making a valuable contribution to the UK environment. Mr Whittingdale was the guest of the IT equipment recycling company End-O-Line (EOLS) at its Station Road Maldon premises on 20 February. He saw how the company, which is the foremost independent IT asset disposal company in the UK, is giving redundant IT equipment such as computers a new lease on life. EOLS operates a zero landfill policy for the 5,000 pieces of IT equipment it handles each week on behalf of its Blue Chip Clients including global banks and financial institutions. After all data is erased, 50 per cent of the computer equipment is resold, 40 per sent is given a new lease on life as components and the remaining 10 per cent is passed to other recycling companies to use in an environmentally-responsible way. Since it moved to Maldon from Danbury in April 2004, the company has employed 14 more people and increased by 50 per cent. 

 

 

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