Funding an Effective Police Service

The Gloucester City Centre Police team is crucial to public confidence

The national police funding settlement is a good one, with an additional £450m announced yesterday. This recognises increased pressure on the police combating issues like domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery – and above all terrorism.

Police Minister Nick Hurd listened carefully to police and MPs’ concerns, not least by visiting Gloucestershire. I’ve discussed our policing challenges with him, and these are reflected in the sensible funding arrangements. It’s also worth noting that our police reserves are the fifth highest in the country at £25m, almost 50% higher than the average force. We should use part of this.

Locally our Police do a great job (and are rated ‘good’ by the HM Inspectorate). Crime has increased in the last year after five years of consecutive falls, but it’s still down sharply in comparison to 2010. That’s despite new types of crime to report (stalking, for example, wasn’t a criminal offence until 2010).

Our police will get the same core funding from government as last year, but the local precept will rise by 5.6% to cover the police pay increases, inflation and still provide an additional £1.7m for neighbourhood policing and other local plans. So funding in our city and county is going up.

I am very keen that any local plans include the re-opening of the Quedgeley Police Station as the population there, about 15,000 now, definitely deserves its own presence. Local Councillors are supportive too.

The police presence in the city centre is vital too, and I have made it clear there must be no return to trying to police the city centre from Barton Street. Our great centre team under Sgt Matt Puttock (pictured) have good relationships with many local businesses in tackling shoplifting and anti-social behaviour (ASB). ASB makes up nearly 40% of crime reported in the city centre, and so I also pay tribute to the good work done by our PCSOs on this. They’re bolstered now by the City Protection Officers, who report to former Supt Rich Burge and are sponsored by the Business Improvement District (BID).

This is a good example of the community working together, focusing police resources on the most serious crimes, but not ignoring anti social behaviour which is frustrating for every community.

In turn that enables the Gloucestershire Police to focus on the most serious crimes like knife crime and drugs. These twin issues are often linked and we still await the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Knife Crime Strategy Proposals, promised after the Knife Crime Summit, which many of us contributed to last Spring. It’s time for a draft to be circulated so that there is no danger of this going into the long grass.

Do let me know what you think about this at richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk.

Best regards

 

 

 

 

Technology is important to policing too

Deepening the UK-China relationship

Just over four years ago I accompanied then Prime Minister David Cameron to China, and this week I return with Prime Minister Theresa May. Much has changed in both countries in between, and the bilateral relationship has, despite some attempts to suggest otherwise, in fact strengthened considerably. What can we expect from this visit?

In 2013 the Conservative led Coalition government focus was on international engagement and inward investment, mirrored by China’s desire to go global, export capital and access our financial markets and nuclear programme. That in turn led to President Xi Jinping’s 2015 state visit and the ‘golden era’ of UK-China relations.

Since then strong growth of both Chinese students and tourists is a key factor in our strong tourism revenue and why we now export more in education than insurance. We’ve consolidated our leadership in offshore renminbi trading and above all, in a year when total Chinese overseas investment (deliberately) fell by a third, their investment in the UK more than doubled between 2016 and 2017.

While some of this may have been driven by post Referendum currency weakness, now largely reversed, much is strategic. The (Beijing) Zhongguancun Science Park, for example, has an office in London to access London’s “abundant cutting edge technology created from its leading universities”: while the (Shanghai) Pudong Development Bank’s first non-Asia branch reflects their “complete confidence about the importance of London as a financial hub long term”.

This visit by the Prime Minister, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and a large business delegation therefore aims to maintain the positive momentum. Increasing trade, and not just in services, education and tourism, where Chinese demand has grown exponentially, will help drive further jobs and growth across both countries.

What’s new is the increased role of technology driven innovation, a priority for both sides and often referred to by Xi and his Premier Li Keqiang. In 2013 we were delighted with JLR exports. Now there are also talks on driverless and electric cars, life sciences and Artificial Intelligence. Then we were starting to trade renminbi: today there’s fin tech, Ed-tech and cyber. In 2013 we brought the Premier League trophy as a marketing prop: in 2018 Chinese investment funds four Midlands football clubs. And whereas then our new strategic partnership was about investment in China or Britain, today there are a growing number of collaborative projects in third countries, not least from China’s ambitious Belt and Road projects (about which the China Britain Business Council produced the first ‘manual’).

Perhaps most importantly in 2013 China saw us as an ally to try and increase trade with the EU: now we can discuss ambitious options for our future trading relationship, including a potential Free Trade Agreement. An advisor to China’s State Council described this as a potential ‘breakthrough point’ in their foreign trade relations.

At the same time this visit is not just about business. Many millions of Chinese saw and will have been moved by the BBC’s Blue Planet 2, and environmental pollution is an area where both of us want change. China will have noticed how we’ve slashed plastic bag usage, and her contribution to the war on plastic, which affects her long coast line, could make a huge global difference.

On wildlife protection, the All Party Parliamentary China Group this week hosts a WWF and Chinese government reception to celebrate their ban on ivory sales, a remarkable development. Meanwhile our success in reducing coal energy is relevant to China’s journey (60% of all her energy is generated from coal) and increasing green energy is vital to both of us.  Don’t overlook either the important work done by the Great Britain China Centre with Chinese interlocutors on rule of law issues.

Lastly the Prime Minister will discuss regional and global security, as she has done several times with Chinese leaders, during private talks: a key part of the ‘golden era’ relationship between two permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Over the thirty seven years I’ve worked with and in China, the bilateral relationship has strengthened and widened considerably. What was a relationship dominated by government, and later business, is now one where shared people to people exchanges and experiences are increasingly important, and real friendships common. But the relationships at the top still matter greatly, and this visit by our Prime Minister should lead to an even stronger partnership between global Britain and an increasingly global China.

Richard Graham MP is Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary China Group, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the ASEAN EC and a former British Trade Commissioner China.

 

Joint Statement on Gloucestershire 2050 Vision

We welcome the idea of a Big Conversation about the long term challenges for our county, and some possible solutions to them. It’s good to see the University of Gloucestershire, with growing numbers of students in campuses in both our constituencies, at the heart of the discussion. And we look forward to seeing the feedback of a wide range of stakeholders on the ambitious and innovative ideas.

Among the ideas presented are infrastructure developments which could benefit all of us, like an additional proposed bridge over the River Severn or the development of a Cotswold Airport (not at Staverton).

The concept which would most impact our constituents is of course the proposed Gloucester and Cheltenham Super City. Whilst we support house-building, we recognise that there are limits to what can be accommodated without disproportionate impact on our green environment. Our county has collectively agreed to build over 30,000 new homes in the coming thirteen years, changing the face of Gloucestershire. In that context any yet broader house-building vision should proceed with caution and be closely tied to projections of future need, as generated organically in Gloucestershire. We do not instinctively favour a speculative ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach.

We warmly welcome the potential for greater cooperation between Cheltenham and Gloucester and see that close working as crucial to the county’s collective success. The days when former the former Labour and Lib Dem MP could not share meetings with the NHS are long gone. We’ve met together over issues such as GP funding, the Hospitals Trust, NHS England, Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioners, the Chief Constable, the County Council, Highways England, the Glos LEP and the University – to name but a few. We’ve worked closely together on, for example, the Elmbridge Court roundabout development and a proposed cycle route between Cheltenham and Gloucester. We both support a new Gloucestershire Health University Technical College, and we even helped change the law (on maximum sentences for stalkers) together.

So we welcome the idea of a discussion about a further extension of transport links, and would welcome initial thoughts on options. Of course we must bear in mind the government’s existing commitment to the county’s MPs on a vast investment for the A417 Air Balloon link, and so exploring other sources of funding will be key.

Both of us support a future for more jobs in aerospace, engineering and related aviation activity at Staverton Airport, within existing restrictions of the runway and noise controls, not a giant housing development there.

And we believe that there is a great opportunity for closer cultural co-operation: for example we encourage the Cheltenham Science Festival to organise events in Gloucester as well as Cheltenham, and for the Gloucester History Festival to do the same in Cheltenham. There will be many other ways for our constituents to benefit from our two urban centres working more closely together.

The Vision also rightly raises the ambitious Cheltenham Cyber Park, a concept long championed by Alex, which is already in planning stages. Focusing on these skills is vital to the vision of quality jobs for the younger generation raised in the presentation on Gloucestershire 2050 Vision. We think it’s important to note that while this cyber park will rightly be the centre of attention, there has been a considerable growth in cyber related business both in Gloucester itself and in the Gloucester Business Park, just inside Tewkesbury Borough and constituency. So the cyber sector has a county as well as a Cheltenham focus.

So we welcome this injection of long-term thinking into our county’s plans, and look forward to being closely involved in projects that support greater connectivity between Gloucester and Cheltenham. We will be interested to get feedback from our constituents from last Thursday’s launch of the Big Discussion.

From Alex Chalk (MP for Cheltenham) and Richard Graham (MP for Gloucester)

PRESS RELEASE: MP congratulates China success for Quedgeley-based Prima Dental

Richard Graham MP has congratulated Quedgeley-based dental drill business Prima Dental on their success in opening their joint venture in China. The company have joined forces with a company in Ningbo (South China) to help manufacture their products and supply them to the Asian market and beyond.

 Richard Graham MP, who is also the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China said, “this is further proof of Gloucester manufacturing going into major overseas markets exporting successfully and then partly growing the business through a joint venture on the ground to increase distribution and sales, expanding a world beating dental drill business from Quedgeley. As chair of the group of Parliamentarians interested in China and a former British Trade Commissioner in China, I am especially proud of this achievement from Gloucester.”

 Prima Dental’s managing director Richard Muller said, “This joint venture with our colleagues at SBT is an exciting development and will considerably increase our overseas trade. It will be in addition to our continued expansion in UK production which will be boosted by the opening of our new £3m facility here in Quedgeley.”

 With a fast-expanding team of 215 at its Gloucester base, Prima Dental is recognised as a world leader in the manufacture and export of high-quality dental instruments for healthcare and cosmetic markets around the world. Supplying 90 countries, it is the world’s fastest-growing producer of dental burs and has won numerous awards for its growth and success, including a coveted Queen’s Award for Enterprise. 

 END

 

PRESS RELEASE: ‘Fly tippers watch out’ says Gloucester’s MP as new powers announced alongside government consultation

Richard Graham MP has warned fly-tippers that new powers announced by the government will help to tackle illegal dumping. Waste crime costs the English economy more than £600 million in 2015 including clean-up costs. The Environment Agency (EA) will have new powers from the Spring to block access to problem waste sites to prevent waste from illegally building up after more than 850 illegal waste sites were found by the EA in 2016-17.


The government has also launched a new consultation on tackling crime in the waste sector. The consultation covers the option of introducing fines rather than needing court proceedings for fly tippers, raising awareness among householders about what counts as illegal waste and reviewing waste permits. The consultation also aims to tackle household waste which makes up nearly two thirds of fly tipped waste by proposing Fixed Penalty Notices for households caught fly tipping.

Richard said, “these new powers should help us to tackle fly tipping which costs taxpayers money to sort out but also is horrible for anyone living or working nearby. I urge anyone who’s been affected by fly tipping and believes that fines should be introduced to respond to the consultation. I want us to send a strong message – sort out your own waste, and if you dump it illegally in our city you will be caught.”

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said, “Waste crime and fly-tipping blight our communities and spoil our countryside, and we need determined action to tackle it. These new powers for the Environment Agency will curb the rise of waste sites that continue to operate outside the law. But we must all take responsibility for our waste to make sure it does not end up in the hands of criminals who will wilfully dump it. Our new consultation looks more widely at the waste sector and we are keen to hear from industry and the public how we can improve performance, tackle illegality and protect our precious environment.”

The consultation is open until the 26 March 2018: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste/crime-and-poor-performance-in-the-waste-sector/

 END

 

PRESS RELEASE: Government takes up Gloucester MP’s calls for tax support for small businesses to hire staff with disabilities

The government has confirmed it will look into tax incentives for employers of small and medium sized businesses who offer jobs to people with disabilities.

 Responding to Gloucester MP Richard Graham’s latest call to emulate the same policy of National Insurance (NI) exemptions that has proved so successful for SMEs to hire apprentices, Minister for Disabled People Sarah Newton said in Parliament last week that the government was looking at that option.

 She said “we have committed to look at what incentives would work for employers. I am very engaged with large, small and medium-sized businesses…[and] we have committed to looking at whether a national insurance holiday would be an incentive to help businesses employ more people with disabilities.”

 Richard said “it’s crucial to understand that this is not about saying a business needs an incentive to hire someone with a disability because their contribution will be lower. The issue is that SMEs which have not yet hired someone with a disability are worried it will take up a lot of management time, and maybe need physical change for company set up.”

 The City MP compared the situation with apprenticeships: “We went through very similar worries about apprenticeships a few years ago. And many SMEs are now amongst the strongest advocates for apprentices now after seeing how quickly they added value. I believe offering an NI exemption or reduction to SMEs would give able people with a disability a better chance of a good job.”

 The MP also noted that this would help the government achieve its objective of getting a million more people with disabilities into work, and provide real opportunities for them.

 Richard Graham said, “I hope that a genuine consultation will follow for employers to give their views. It could be a break through moment.”

 END

 

Rail and Regeneration

Gloucester Train Station

It’s now over ten years since I moved to the city centre, and as a huge fan of travel by rail and a weekly commuter to London I’ve worked on trains, the station and the land around it throughout the last decade.

So I thought it was time to give a quick summary of what’s happened and is happening or about to happen: and the current developments that are work in progress – which will determine what the experience of rail travel is like for the decade ahead.

Railway Triangle & a University Technical College
The story of change had to start here. The Railway Triangle, as it was, highlighted all that was negative about our city. It competed for the most depressing entrance to any cathedral city in the country. A stream of well intentioned initiatives by the former Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company (GHURC) had led nowhere. We were left with almost two miles of wasteland, collapsed buildings and brambles visible to all passengers as trains slowed down to come into the station, and to bus and car passengers from Metz Way. What a symbol of decay and despair on arrival.

So my first ever YouTube video in 2009 was filmed there to say this was a 20 year disgrace and that I would sort it if elected. Most people said I was mad.

But in the autumn of 2010 a developer came up with a regeneration plan that would create a mini industrial park with over 500 jobs and not a penny of taxpayer money to do this, including decontaminating the land and building the road access. I supported the lxb plan, the city council approved it, the site was sorted by local companies and, after a Jobs Fair I organised in Barton, Morrisons hired 59 long term unemployed to work at their new store on the site.

Today the RT is thriving, and the next stage is building more homes – including social housing – on Network Rail land on the Kingsholm side of the RT, and I hope too a new Gloucestershire Health and Care University Technical College (UTC) close to the station. This is strongly backed by all the NHS Trusts and the University of Gloucestershire and will provide both GCSEs and A levels like a secondary school, but also BTECs in Health or Care, and guaranteed work experience with the NHS and private sector. So the UTC will provide great pathways into Health and Care, our biggest employers in the county. Our UTC, if we get the go ahead to apply early in the New Year, as we hope, would only be the second health UTC in the country. The first (in West Bromwich) is thriving.

We already have light industry (Rygor/Mercedes Benz) and retail jobs in the RT: soon we should have homes and I hope a unique educational establishment – all created from brown field wasteland.

So although contaminated or damaged brown field sites aren’t easy, my experience of the last ten years is that they can be regenerated, and we’ve shown how. We’re also doing that on the old Contract Chemicals site on the Bristol Road, and on the ex Norvilles site in Tredworth.

Gloucester Station itself
Moving now from Network Rail land around the station to the station itself, the real contrast at our station is between the warmth of the station (GWR) staff, with years of customer focused service, and the unloveliness of the buildings and infrastructure.

So the first thing I did was to try to involve the community through my 2010 Station Art Exhibition. Glos Col co-ordinated and PJ Crook advised eight primary schools to create a series of panels showing rail transport through the ages. They’re still there, towards St Peters church on platform 4 (the longest or second longest platform in Britain): and I hope all involved will always remember as I do the happy day the paintings went up, bringing children and their ideas into the station and making it permanently more human.

Next were the Waiting Rooms & the Station Bridge from Platform 2 to 4. During the negotiations for a new GWR franchise in 2012 GWR agreed to build two waiting rooms and proper bike stands as well as lifts by the new bridge to improve disabled access. But the bridge didn’t have (had never had) a canopy and I badgered GWR for so long that they kindly agreed to add that soon after – and passengers can now use the bridge without getting wet.

But my big ambition is the £4.2 million bid I worked on with the City Council to our Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The LEP is funded by government to deliver growth and our bid is all about improvements to the Railway Station – and the benefits to travellers and their productivity from this. This will involve a revamp of the underpass to Great Western Road and the GRH, which will be welcomed by all who walk that route (like our nurses and other NHS staff). The bid also includes a new entry and exit off Metz Way, to speed up traffic getting out of the station. Lastly the bid would transform the main entrance, appearance of and areas outside the station, and (half hidden) pedestrian and cycle path. We will hear about the outcome in the New Year – and anyone who loves Gloucester, rail transport, regeneration and not waiting in a queue of cars to get out of the station – then please let me know.

Meanwhile we’ve moving ahead on a new (additional) station car park and the first ever access to the station from Great Western Road. I could never understand the logic of an empty unused car park there. It was once intended for new courts, an idea of (and then abandoned by) the last Labour government. So it’s remained unused for a long time, and for those travelling from e.g. Hucclecote, Barnwood, Elmbridge, Longlevens and Tewkesbury or the Forest the new car park will offer real alternatives to current parking arrangements.

Transferring an obscure Ministry of Justice real estate asset is an admin nightmare, but with the help of Ministers, our city council and GWR eventually everyone agreed and the asset is now with GWR.

Action since then has been disappointingly slower than I was led to expect, but after the New Year things will happen and I hope the 220 space car park will open at Easter.

Train Services – Cross Country & GWR
Demand for rail travel from Gloucester has grown sharply (up 50% since 2006/7, well above the national average). The main causes are more commuting (especially to Bristol, not least as public services regionalise their offices), more visitors and Gloucester being the seventh fastest growing city in the country. That will continue as e.g. the University of Gloucestershire is in the process of delivering 500 new student rooms in Blackfriars for their new Business School in Oxstalls. So getting the trains right is critical.

We’re well served in some ways (e.g. the Welsh line) but only 2 Cross Country InterCity trains a day running between Birmingham and Bristol currently stop at Gloucester. That was a result of  a bad re-negotiation of the franchise in 2006, but when it came up for renewal in 2016 I persuaded the DfT to increase the Cross Country Interservice stops at Gloucester by at least 2 more a day, or 728 extra trains a year, once the track work at Filton Bank (outside Bristol) is complete (expected end 2018). I’ll be pushing ahead to make sure the extra services are timetabled in advance.

Meanwhile, by the end of 2018 we’ll also see a new direct hourly GWR train service to London. This follows the re-dualling of the Swindon-Kemble line that our government did in the last parliament. Brand new faster Made in Britain Hitachi trains coming into service will cut journey time to London by around 15 minutes. At the same time we’ll also benefit from a new half hourly service to Swindon.

Lastly and most importantly I’m working on a much better regular (including commuter) service to Bristol. As electrification work is completed in different parts of the country, particularly in the Thames Valley, turbo trains should be available for routes in the South West and many will be based in Bristol, allowing more and better services, with increased capacity, to and from the city.

So I am making the case to GWR, the Department for Transport and the West of England Partnership for a half hourly service to Bristol by 2019 as part of the first phase of the MetroWest project (to improve services to and from Bristol). A new half hourly service (instead of the current hourly offering) on bigger and better trains would make a huge difference. This is a very important campaign, and if you agree do support this by replying to The Department for Transport consultation on the GWR network via: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/great-western-rail-franchise

In short: homes and a University Technical College on parts of the Network Rail land not included in the Railway Triangle mini business park: more InterCity trains, double the number of London services, and the possibility of a new Bristol service; together with the potential of transforming the look of the station and the land around it, with a definite extra car park and new entrance – we have lots to work on over the next year.

At the end of all this we should have the services we deserve, and a train station to be as proud of as our new bus station – which will open in the summer of 2018.

Let me know what you think of our plans on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk

Gloucester overtakes 100 constituencies: our remarkable jobs story

The latest employment figures show 325,000 more people now in work than a year ago.

Businesses have created more than 3 million net new jobs nationally since 2010 or 1,000 jobs every day since the Conservatives were elected.

During this time Gloucester has created the second highest number of private sector jobs of any city in the UK and now has the third highest employment rate (ie % of population working) in the country (source: Centre for Cities and House of Commons Library).

The chart above shows on the left hand scale that our actual figure for unemployment (number of claimants) has come steadily down from 2,470 to 1,195 over the last three years, or 1.9% against 2.5% nationally.

The blue line (using the right hand scale) shows the impact on our relative unemployment – with Gloucester improving from ranking 262nd out of 650 (where 1 is worst) to 383rd ie moving us from the bottom of the third quartile to above average in the second quartile (or over half way to the table).

It’s not quite as dramatic as Gloucester Rugby’s rise from 9th to 2nd in the Premier League table, but there’s a bit more competition…

What we don’t show on this chart is the most spectacular bit of all – the drop in youth unemployment from 990 in 2012 to 250 today, a drop of 75%. This in turn mirrors the rise in our apprenticeships. I’ll show those charts another day.

These stats won’t always continue to go on getting better, but show where we have come.

Our key strength is a variety of employers big and small, combined with a strong entrepreneurial appetite. We benefit from growth in cyber, health and care, nuclear energy, retail and f&b (Gloucester Quays) and all manufacturers, solid insurance and banking giants, growth in regeneration, construction and fitting out, and a huge number of start-ups. Diversity and exporting are key to our success. If Gloucester can continue on this track – and 2018 is our Year of Infrastructure – then we can carry on, like Gloucester Rugby, surprising on the upside…

All this success is down to creative Glosterpreneurs (supported by sensible government policies) and I am grateful to you all. What recent growth success story in business, public sector, charity or social enterprise in Gloucester would you like to highlight?

Do let me know what you think about this at richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk.

Best regards

Richard with Poeton apprentices

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP welcomes government draft Bill on animal sentience

Richard Graham MP has welcomed a government drafted Bill on animal sentience published this week. The Bill follows government commitments to enshrine animal sentience in law and to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years. The draft bill sets out that the government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”.

 Richard said, “This Bill continues the government’s positive record in committing to ban microbeads, ivory and bee-killing pesticides, which I entirely support. It should also bring to an end a disgraceful campaign of fake news on animal sentience against Conservative MPs, for which two national newspapers have now apologised. It was particularly unpleasant for those of us who have been long term dog and cat owners, and I’m sorry some constituents joined in: but everyone will now be better informed.”

 RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said:  “This is potentially great news for animals post-Brexit. To include the recognition of animal sentience as well as increasing animal cruelty sentencing to 5 years into the new 2018 Animal Welfare Bill is a very bold and welcome move by the Government. Even better, the legislation explicitly rejects the kind of exemptions for activities that the European Union deemed acceptable – such as bull-fighting and producing foie gras – which will offer even stronger protection than Article 13 of the EU Treaty could ever do. We warmly welcome measures to evaluate government policy against animal sentience and we await further detail.”

 Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “As we leave the EU we will deliver a Green Brexit, not only maintaining but enhancing animal welfare standards. Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, so we are writing that principle into law and ensuring that we protect their welfare. Our plans will also increase sentences for those who commit the most heinous acts of animal cruelty to five years in jail. We are a nation of animal lovers so we will make Brexit work not just for citizens but for the animals we love and cherish too.”

 The Bill is currently open to consultation, the public can contribute via the gov.uk website: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/consultation-on-the-animal-welfare-bill/

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PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP urges residents: have your say on the boundary review now!

Gloucester MP Richard Graham has urged residents to have their say on the latest Boundary Commission proposal before the consultation closes on 11 December. The latest proposal is to move Elmbridge ward to the Tewkesbury Constituency.

 Richard said, “the Boundaries Commission is trying to bring down the cost of politics by reducing the numbers of MPs and equalising the size of each constituency. Some are much smaller than others. The trouble with our constituency in this exercise is that Gloucester has grown quickly, and under this plan would have to lose voters.

 Their first suggestion was to propose Westgate residents vote in the Forest of Dean. We saw that one off. Then they proposed Quedgeley residents vote in Stroud: and their latest proposal is for Elmbridge residents to vote in Tewkesbury. I don’t want any of this to happen: in fact I would rather Longlevens also voted in my constituency rather than Tewkesbury. But the maths means something has to give – if any changes at all go through Parliament.

 My constituents have the greatest sway in explaining to the Commission in which constituency your links are strongest and why. Where you live travel, shop, go to school, work and have a job are all relevant. I’ve delivered leaflets in Elmbridge to encourage residents to reply to the Commission’s consultation via https://www.bce2018.org.uk/ and hope lots of you do get involved now!”

 The Commission will submit the last proposal to the Secretary of State in September 2018 when it will be put before Parliament.

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