- Annual Report 2014
- My journey through Gloucester – past, present and future
- The Railway underpass
- Community Surgeries
- About Richard
- Photo Gallery
- Campaigns & Issues
- Time for a GP surgery in Kingsway
- Gloucester Football & Meadow Park
- A417 ‘Triumph for county infrastructure’ says Gloucester MP
- Royal Mail parcel collection
- C&G Roundabout
- Fair funding for Gloucestershire Schools
- Beer Champion and Gloucester Beer + Cider Festival
- Dangerous Driving Laws
- 444/6 Education Act
- Improving Our Schools – Gloucester Academy
- Holly House
- Waste to Energy Plant at Javelin Park
- Gloucestershire Credit Union
- Work Assessments and Atos
- Access to BBC Points West and ITV West Country
- The Railway Triangle
- “Opt-in” model for Internet Porn
- E-news/press releases
- In Parliament
- Job Hunting
- Useful Information
- Visit Parliament
- Gloucester History Festival
Some constituents have asked me about my and our position on defence and defence issues.
So here is a short summary – do e mail me on email@example.com if you have further queries.
There is more global uncertainty at the moment than at any time in my 35 years working life. We face both man made and natural threats alike. These include ghastly civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the military brinkmanship of Putin along European borders, domestic terrorism threats, an increasing likelihood of a Greek exit from the euro, an earthquake in Nepal and a volcano in Chile.
This calls for a calm and proven approach. This is not the time to ditch the ultimate insurance policy – our nuclear submarines. Nor is it the time to prevent GCHQ from nailing terrorists because of concerns about ‘snooping’. After working in William Hague’s team for 4 years I know how many near misses there have been.
We plugged the £38 billion black hole inherited in the defence budget and now need the best hi tech equipment for our Armed Forces. That means a strong and growing economy to pay for our £163 billion ten year programme. This includes the two aircraft carriers, new Type 26 frigates and A400Ms from Filton.
It is right that we have the biggest defence budget in Europe and the second largest in NATO, for defence of the realm is any nation’s top priority. Over the next five years dealing with terrorism will continue to be one of our country’s most difficult challenges, and my experience as a diplomat and in Parliament and government on these issues will be very relevant.
There are three changes made by the government this week which I think could make a difference to you or your family life: here they are –
1. Lost or stolen mobile
First, mobile users will no longer risk receiving 5 figure bills if their devices are stolen. The 5 major network providers: EE, 02, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone have signed up to a measure of a £100 “liability cap” on bills that will be activated if the phone is reported lost or stolen within 24 hours of it going missing. If the providers breach this new laws they will face fines of up to £5000.
For more information please see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32005851
2. Protecting fans from ticket fraud
Secondly, the government has backed new legislation to protect fans from fraud in the secondary ticketing market. The proposal will still allow fans to resell unwanted eg gig or sports tickets but to ensure that those buying the tickets from reselling companies such as Viagogo and Seatwave will know the precise details of the ticket they are purchasing (row, seat, face value, age restrictions, its original seller), which are currently not legally required. They will also help to stamp out the sale of both counterfeit tickets and speculative tickets being sold on the secondary market.
For more information please see: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/feb/25/touts-suffer-blow-government-backs-regulation-secondary-ticketing
3. Parking in council owned parking places
And third, drivers in England will now get a 10 minute grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parking spaces. Other changes, expected to take effect later this month, include:
- guidance for councils reminding them they are banned from “using parking to generate profit”
- a right for residents and businesses to demand – by a petition – that a council “reviews parking in their area”
- new powers for parking adjudicators so they can “hold councils to account”
- protection to stop drivers being fined after parking at out-of-order meters
- a ban on the use of CCTV “spy cars” except in no-parking areas such as bus lanes and near schools
Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): Today’s debate focuses on work and pensions—the two issues that are at the heart of this Government’s mission to ensure that everyone is better off working and everyone is better off saving. Neither of those things was remotely true in 2010 and both are much closer to being true today. It is vital that Britain allows this Government to finish the job of making both those crucial philosophies true.
The first part is about ensuring that universal credit is rolled out and implemented effectively everywhere. That means that, finally, the tax credits that have prevented so many people from working for longer than 15 hours will no longer prevent people from doing so and that many of my constituents will have the chance to benefit from having full-time jobs.
At the same time, we need to get the spirit of the triple lock, which has brought security so effectively to those on the basic state pension by giving everyone £950 more than they were getting in 2010, into the world of annuities, which have been liberated, so that those who need and want them can have them, but those who do not want them do not have them. The small income that many of my constituents generate from their savings should not be taxed, so that there is an incentive to save. The means-tested pension prevented many people from saving, because they could see that their neighbour was better off not saving. We must not allow that world to continue.
That is our mission. It is what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) called free market economics with a social conscience. In my words, it is getting the economy right in order to improve lives. That is the mission that this Government have been on for the past five years and it must continue.
How does it feel on the ground in my Gloucester constituency? Youth unemployment went up by 40% under the previous Government and it has gone down by almost 60% under this Government, from 760 to 345. There were too many families with two generations, if not three, in which no one was working, meaning that there was no role model. Some 2 million children across the country were growing up in those households.
Today, we have 5,900 new apprenticeships in Gloucester, which is more than double the pace under the previous Government. That is not about statistics, but about opportunities for individuals. People who come from backgrounds that meant that they never imagined they would be able to get a job and that they faced a future on benefits are getting the skills that they need for a lifetime of opportunities. In terms of social justice, there is no better individual story than that of Beauty—a Nigerian woman who was trafficked to this country and who, with help from a number of us, was given the chance to stay in this country and is now training to be a nurse in a hospital in Gloucestershire. That is the mission.
It said that there were good prospects for jobs. However, there was a but: the prospect of a new Government makes many business leaders nervous about their long-term prospects. It is no surprise that businesses are nervous.
They should be, and so should parents because the shadow Business Secretary announced recently that the Labour party would axe the level 2 national vocational qualification from being considered an apprenticeship. That would be a disastrous blow for the many people who leave school at 16 or 17, start with a level 2 and go on to improve the level of their apprenticeship.
We need a Government who are fiscally responsible—as the Budget was—and who produce specific instances of improving the lives of our constituents. I was delighted with the encouragement for tidal lagoon power and its first historic opportunity to develop marine energy from Swansea bay. The company is headquartered in Gloucester and is a £1 billion project. Opportunities in the future with three or four further tidal lagoons will offer thousands of jobs in south Wales and around Gloucestershire. There was also encouragement for my plan for the redevelopment of Gloucester railway station. That was confirmed by the announcement this morning by the Department for Transport that we will be getting a new station car park with up to 240 new places and a new entrance to our station on Great Western road, linking our hospital and the station directly for the first time. That will come in 2016.
I also welcome the announcement by the Chancellor—we await the full details—that the campaign that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine) have been running for justice for police widows has been accepted by the Government. That is a good example of where a stronger economy allows for social justice and for the Government to make decisions that improve the lives of those who, through no fault of their own, were victims of an historical injustice.
Some things remain to be done, and we await the details of the retirement guidance on savings. That is critical and we must work to ensure that it is good. We must continue with auto-enrolment and to reverse the decline of those with pensions and savings. We might consider a new ISA for care. Yes to 3 million apprenticeships —deeper, broader and perhaps more for the over 50s. The hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves) said there have been five wasted years, but they were not wasted. We must now build on those years to ensure that we go forward with an even better, stronger economy, helping those who have less.
Everyone knows about a road which needs improvement: few of us know what the plans are for repairs.
So here they are… If you think there are other roads near you which should be a priority please flag them up to your county councillor and copy me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Year||District||Scheme name||Parish||Treatment||2014/15 approx scheme length (metres)|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||A38 Cole Avenue (Bristol Road to Podsmead Road), Gloucester||Grange and Kingsway / Hempsted and Westgate||Inlay surface course (with binder course in running lanes)||970.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||A38 Cole Avenue (Podsmead Road to St Barnabus rbt), Gloucester||Tuffley||Patch binder course & inlay surface course (110mm)||1,000.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||A38 Finlay Road, Gloucester||Tuffley / Coney Hill and Matson||Patch binder course & inlay surface course (110mm)||1,270.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||A430 Kingsholm Road, Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton||Inlay surface course 55/14||800.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||A417 C & G Roundabout, Gloucester||Barnwood and Hucclecote||Inlay surface course (SMA, 65PSV)||500.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||B4072 Stroud Road (between Park End Road & Carlton Road), Gloucester||Hempsted and Westgate / Barton and Tredworth||Inlau surface course 55/14||298.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||B4063 Cheltenham Road (Estcourt Road to Oxtalls Lane), Gloucester||Longlevens / Kingsholm and Wotton||Inlay surface course||230.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Field Court Drive (between School Lane rbt and Overbrook Road), Quedgeley||Quedgeley||Inlay surface course (reinstate speed cushions)||920.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/8010 Grange Road, Tuffley, Gloucester (Phase 2)||Grange and Kingsway / Tuffley||Patch binder course||1,710.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/8010 Grange Road, Tuffley, Gloucester (Phase 3)||Grange and Kingsway / Tuffley||Micro dressing||1,710.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/8011 Tuffley Avenue, Gloucester||Tuffley||Inlay surface course 55/14||1,230.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/215 Sneedhams Green, Matson, Gloucester||Coney Hill and Matson||Inlay / overlay surface course||1,173.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/78 Sandhurst Lane (Rivermead Close to A40 bridge), Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton||Micro dressing||400.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Horton Road (Royal Lane to Mayhill Way), Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton||Reconstruction (sections only, 600mm depth)||150.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Eastgate Street (Bruton Way to Clarence Street), Gloucester (Phase 1)||Hempsted and Westgate||Patching and repair channel kerbs||370.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/215 Winnycroft Lane, Matson, Gloucester (Phase 1)||Coney Hill and Matson||Patch binder course||970.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/215 Winnycroft Lane, Matson, Gloucester (Phase 2)||Coney Hill and Matson||Micro Dressing||970.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/8009 The Wheatway, Abbeydale – Patching sections only||Abbey||Patch surface course||580.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||3/8008 Abbeymead Avenue (Church Lane rbt to Heron Way rbt), Gloucester (Phase 1)||Abbey||Patch surface course||2,310.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Tuffley Crescent, Podsmead, Gloucester||Tuffley||Inlay surface course|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/80503 Highbank Park, Gloucester – Patching||Kingsholm and Wotton||Patch surface course||77.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Sweetbriar Street, Union Street & Worcester Parade, Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton||Micro Dressing||450.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||483050 Awebridge Way, 483027 Drayton Way and Cul-de-sacs, Gloucester (Phase 1)||Coney Hill and Matson||Micro Dressing||500.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Nine Elms Road / Little Elmbridge (between junctions with Elmleaze and Lavington Drive), Longlevens, Gloucester||Longlevens||Patch binder course & inlay surface course||520.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Arthur Street and Belgrave Road, Gloucester||Hempsted and Westgate||Inlay binder course & surface course||300|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Coney Hill Road (Eastern Avenue to Hawthorne Avenue), Gloucester||Coney Hill and Matson||Inlay surface course||810.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Estcourt Road service roads (incl Estcourt Close), Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton / Longlevens||Inlay surface course (concrete road)||2,290.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Ennerdale Avenue / Paddock Gardens / Richmond Gardens / Lea Crescent / Cotswold Gardens & Paygrove Lane cul-de-sac, Longlevens, Gloucester||Longlevens||Micro dressing||1,090.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Baneberry Road / Prescott Avenue, (Norbury Avenue to Reservoir) Matson (Phase 1)||Tuffley / Coney Hill and Matson||Patch binder course||782.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Baneberry Road / Prescott Avenue, (Norbury Avenue to Reservoir) Matson (Phase 2)||Tuffley / Coney Hill and Matson||Micro dressing||782.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Red Well Road, Matson, Gloucester (Phase 1)||Coney Hill and Matson||Patch binder course||702.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Red Well Road, Matson, Gloucester (Phase 2)||Coney Hill and Matson||Micro dressing||702.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Winsley Road, Matson, Gloucester (Phase 1)||Coney Hill and Matson||Patch binder course||336.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||480537 Alvin Street, Gloucester (Phase 1)||Kingsholm and Wotton||Patch binder course||300.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||480537 Alvin Street, Gloucester (Phase 2)||Kingsholm and Wotton||Micro dressing||300.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Linden Road, Gloucester (Phase 1)||Tuffley||Patch binder course||330.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/80543 Edwy Parade, Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton||Reconstruction (base, binder & surface course). Consider ‘Retread’.||200.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/80504 Westfield Terrace junction with A38, Longford, Gloucester||Kingsholm and Wotton||Inlay surface course (junction only) 55/14||15.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/81063 Farm Street, Gloucester||Barton and Tredworth||Patch binder course & inlay / overlay surface course||60.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/8263 The Wheatridge East, Abbeydale (Phase 1)||Abbey||Patch binder course||640.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/82043 Trevor Road, Hucclecote – Patching sections only||Barnwood and Hucclecote||Patch surface course||35.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/85501 Oakbank , Tuffley – Patching sections only||Tuffley||Patch surface course||161.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/82040 Carisbrooke Road, Hucclecote – Patching sections only||Barnwood and Hucclecote||Patch surface course||45.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/82037 Green Lane, Hucclecote – Patching sections only||Barnwood and Hucclecote||Patch surface course||33.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/84076 Armscroft Place & 4/84705 Armscroft Crescent, Gloucester – Patching||Kingsholm and Wotton||Patch surface course||195.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/85075 Ashcroft Close, Matson, Gloucester||Coney Hill and Matson||Inlay surface course||100.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/85032 George Whitefield Close, Matson, Gloucester||Coney Hill and Matson||Inlay surface course||50.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/82015 Insley Gardens, Hucclecote, Gloucester||Barnwood and Hucclecote||Inlay surface course||110.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||4/80016 Longsmith Street, Gloucester||Hempsted and Westgate||Inlay surface course||193.0|
|14 / 15||Gloucester||Daventry Terrace, Barton||Barton and Tredworth||Inlay surface course||50.0|
I have received several emails from constituents wary of new technology (I’m close to that stage too) about Smart Meters. So I just wanted to share a few points about this which draw on a briefing my researcher had Smart Energy GB.
Britain needs a smarter energy grid both to cope with our increasing use for energy and also to enable lower carbon emissions. Smart meters help achieve this. They are new generation gas and electricity meters which will replace existing meters and are offered to everyone in Great Britain at no extra cost between now and 2020.
At the moment we have a situation where most of us will not know how much our energy bills will be until the bill arrives. Smart meters help us to manage our bills by letting us see the gas and electricity you are buying, in real-time and in pounds and pence. Meter readings will also be sent automatically to your energy supplier so your bills will be accurate and not estimates.
This information will make it easier for us all to compare gas and electricity tariffs and find the best deal – and we’ve all seen the adverts which suggest the average saving from changing supplier is £200 p.a by visiting websites such as http://www.moneysupermarket.com/gas-and-electricity/. But you can only do this with confidence if you know what your actual bill is. So there are real savings to be had from using the info from Smart Meters to help get the right energy deal.
For anyone who pays for energy by a pre-payment meter, new ways to top up will be introduced such as over the phone or online so you won’t need to charge the key or pay higher prices anymore.
Some energy suppliers are already installing smart meters, so my general advice is to get in touch with your energy supplier using the phone number on your bill to see when they will be available to you.
For my older constituents this probably all still sounds confusing, so I encourage you to call in your children or grandchildren, or a friendly neighbour, for help. Alongside council tax energy bills are one of most families’ biggest bills, so it’s worth thinking about.
Last week I joined Headteacher Amanda Chong from Ribston Hall and over 100 other teachers from across the UK to celebrate and promote the National Citizenship Scheme.
Established in 2011 by the Prime Minister to create a more responsible, cohesive and engaged society, NCS brings young people from a range of backgrounds together to face outdoor challenges, learn skills for life and work and make their mark on their community.
This scheme offers an opportunity for young people to see the world and themselves through different – and the 16 year olds that I’ve met after going on the NCS course have left with much greater self-confidence and greater belief in what they can achieve. I’d encourage every teenager of the right age to apply via the Gloucestershire College website (gloscol.ac.uk).
Former Home Secretary and NCS Board Member David Blunkett MP, said: “Teachers can have a transformational effect on the lives of their students. By encouraging participation in programmes like NCS, students not only benefit on a personal level but will also play a part as an active citizen in a functioning society – hopefully that will continue throughout their life.”
Ribston Head Amanda Chong reiterated these words by saying “I strongly believe in the value of an NCS course and promote it to all our students”.
So to all teachers and parents of 16 year olds in Gloucester, this is my simple message: there is a great opportunity for your son or daughter this summer, free of charge. It may change their life: it will certainly give a wider sense of the world than they previously had. Either way it’s an opportunity not to miss. Do encourage them to apply now!
There are many illnesses and diseases out there: we will all suffer from something sooner or later. I’ve had a few exotic illnesses – hepatitis, glandular fever, malaria and amoebic dysentery for starters – but nothing that’s prevented my body from doing roughly what it wanted to for long. But there are those who will never know that freedom.
The good news is that there are local, national or international charities researching every aspect of health. Many of these charities come to Parliament: to lobby for their cause, to raise awareness, to find champions, to highlight findings and to try and improve the lot of those who suffer. No MP can see or champion all – and our own and our constituents’ experiences shape what we champion.
A few years ago some friends in Gloucester invited Anthea and I to join a fund raising expedition for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. We were to head for the west of Ireland to climb Pat’s Peak. They had strong Irish links and their son is called Patrick: both of us have strong Irish links too and off we went. Our friends arranged for the finest weather yet seen in Ireland on a May weekend. We all sweated up the slippery gravel slope to a peak of great historical, religious and mythical importance with stunning views over a bay of islands out to the Atlantic. Someone had determined this would be an experience you never forget.
As we walked and talked – with Patrick, his girlfriend, his parents and the rep from the CF – gradually I learnt more about CF and what it means for Patrick and his life: and through him for others. In layman’s terms CF is a genetic condition caused by a faulty gene. There’s a lot of frustration and pain and bravery involved, and a sense of living on borrowed time. All of which makes me, and I suspect many others, feel unusually lucky in NOT suffering from CF, and glad to have the chance of doing a tiny bit for those who do.
So that’s why I supported the drive of the Trust to introduce defibrillators in many public places over the last few years (we have one now for example in the Cathedral), and the efforts of e.g. Rotary Clubs to fund these. It’s why I’ll go to the CF Trust reception today, listen to an update on what the charity is doing and what else government, or just us as individuals, can do.
As I do so, precisely because we’re all human and relate to people we know, I’ll be thinking of Patrick and his family, who’ve been climbing mountains that most of us will never know for many years.
For more information see: http://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk/
The Feb 2015 Asda Income Tracker reports that families now have £16 more in their pockets each week to spend on things that they want, rather than items that they need – concluding that British families are better off now than they were 5 years ago.
The Income Tracker has seen a steady grow in family spending power over the past few years and have reported that families across the UK now have an average of £185 per week to spend on small luxuries – almost 10% more than this time last year.
On top of this:
- The cost of filing up the tank has fallen year-on-year by over 16%
- The cost of stocking up on groceries has fallen by 2.5% – leading to the lowest levels of consumer price inflation seen since the 1960s.
- Household energy prices have fallen in January by 2% compared to a year ago.
- Gross household income is growing by 2.6% each year
- Britain’s unemployment is at its lowest level since July 2008
The report concludes that families are therefore not only earning more but their money is going further.
My own belief is that the situation varies from family to family but that the cost of living equation HAS changed significantly with fuel, energy and food prices dropping and inflation at its lowest levels for a long time – while wages are gradually moving up.
To read the full report by the Asda Income Tracker, please visit: http://your.asda.com/system/dragonfly/production/2015/02/25/09_53_45_28_Income_tracker_February_2015_final.pdf?platform=twitter
Like every MP I’ve been lobbied by my local Police Federation on many things since 2010. I haven’t agreed with them often. But this week I have a debate on an issue where I do agree with a campaign led by police widow Cathryn Hall and supported by the Fed.
Her campaign is primarily an issue of fairness. Before 2006, police widows, widowers or surviving civil partners would automatically lose their pension if they remarried or lived with a new partner. This effectively compelled them and their dependents to choose between future financial security, but loneliness at home, or the opportunity for happiness if they wish to marry or cohabit, but with the financial loss and security that the pension provides. But society and our perception of fairness moved on and the new scheme in 2006 recognised this.
All new recruits since 2006 and anyone who transferred to the new scheme now knows that should the worst happen their loved ones will receive their pension for life, irrespective of whether the survivor remarries or forms a new partnership and it applies to unmarried but cohabiting partners too.
But the new regulations did not apply retrospectively to those who had either left the service before 2006 or had died before that date. All those not able to benefit from the regulation change were effectively prevented from re-marrying or obtaining a real family life. The idea of not doing so because of financial incentives must be wrong. The commitment of marriage has enough obstacles without adding a financial penalty to them. For those, like Cathryn Hall, who have remarried the financial disadvantage relative to later widows and widowers must be frustrating.
Last November a very similar rule was amended so that from April this year all widows and widowers of our Armed Forces could remarry or live with a new partner without losing their pension. A precedent has (in my view rightly) been set for further change.
For what is true for soldiers, sailors and airmen and women is also true for our Police. Having to deal with the consequences of a husband or wife killed in the course of duty is no less ghastly because it was on the streets of one of our cities rather than a dusty path in Helmand Province.
So my debate Wednesday calls for the Police Minister to consider the case: to acknowledge the case of fairness for this small group who didn’t benefit from the 2006 change and the precedent of our Armed Forces widows and widowers. The opportunity for the government is to allow this relatively small group to keep their pension regardless of whether they re-marry or not, is a good one. Treating the widows and widowers of ALL those who are killed in uniformed service generously, without caveats, is surely the right thing to do – and this government has a good track record of supporting good causes.
In the run up to an election everyone gets asked are you in favour of this yes or no. But life is rarely as simple as yes or no. Let me give a recent example.
The Let Britain Fly Campaign recently emailed me asking if I was in favour of expanding our airport capacity. That is code for letting Heathrow or Gatwick (or both) having another runway. There are other demands from regional airports as well.
The argument for is based on Britain’s long expertise, strong demand and current constraints on expansion. It’s predominantly economic and jobs led, and a powerful one. Visit Britain argues that 22 more Chinese tourists create one new job. The argument against is about environment and quality of life: noise and air pollution above all. It’s also powerful, and particularly if you live close to a big airport and don’t work in a related job. But the two arguments needn’t be mutually exclusive.
As a former airline manager, I want to see the UK continue to lead on aviation, air traffic control and aerospace development. As a passionate believer in sustainable transport (ie do more on our feet, bikes, buses and trains) I don’t want fragile eco systems destroyed by aircraft. And as an optimist about the power of science to find new solutions, I see a great role for more eco friendly R&D.
What might seem apparently contradictory positions can work together. I believe we can have more visitors, tourism – especially from the Far East – and growth in general – as well as more green research led solutions that cause less pollution and noise; and more bus and train connections from airports that reduce car traffic.
So my reply was:
“Yes I support the general expansion of airports – so long as the airports and aviation sectors continue to develop much more fuel efficient aircraft, start running aircraft on biofuel and do more through ATC and other means within the control of airports to reduce carbon and noise emissions. Including train links currently too often lacking. The case is persuasive when it is at least net neutral on carbon emissions/air pollution.”
Encouragingly the reply from Let Britain Fly was:
“Thanks very much for your considered and thoughtful response. I broadly agree with the sentiments you have expressed in regards to sustainable aviation.”
As we get into election season there will be lots of e mails flying around saying: are you for or against immigration, Europe, austerity, the NHS, cycling, cancer research, Palestine, nuclear weapons and a bundle of other things. The truthful answer from ANY candidate should often be ‘Yes but..’ or ‘Yes – so long as..’ or ‘No, however..’ Our world is too often too impatient for this. We want yes/no answers without the rationale.
That’s fine for ‘Do you like spinach/fried mars bars/porridge/mankinis? But the yes/no approach doesn’t reveal much about the candidate and the clarity or confusion of our thinking on bigger issues. So this is the case for voters to want candidates who can do more than just chant ‘Europe good’ or ‘immigration bad’ (or vice versa). Because democracy is only as good as the candidates we choose. Yes or no?