What did Richard do in the Parliamentary Recess?
PM’s Trade Envoy Work
I spent ten days in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Indonesia to meet leaders of governments, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chambers of Commerce and businesses. We discussed their interest in future trade deals with the UK, promoted specific UK interests and discussed ways of partnering together.
I saw UK work at the first Philippines airport financed by a public private partnership, and nudged forward Airbus orders, where the Glos supply chain is considerable, and RR engines. In Manila I handed over JCBs ordered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and model Augusta-Westland helicopters: real ones will follow in due course.
In Indonesia I opened a new UK-sourced emergency power depot and the UK has been awarded the design of the velodrome being built for the Asian Games 2018, which follows the visit by President Jokowi with me to the London Olympics velodrome earlier this year.
Next year is the 50th anniversary of ASEAN: we can do so much more business with these growth markets – and that anniversary gives us a great opportunity to provide a platform for ASEAN in London.
For the last five years I’ve spent a week volunteering with the Glos NHS. It’s partly because they’ve looked after four generations of my family so well, partly because it’s a great way of knowing what goes on in this huge operation (12,000 people work in our Hospitals Trust), and partly because I enjoy it.
This summer I also spent a day at both the 2gether Trust and Glos Care Services learning more with them, as well as time in a red shirt with the volunteers at the GRH.
I meet ordinary people doing extraordinary things all the time. One example is Dave in the GRH Waste Management team, who showed me how to work the machines that recycle materials and save the NHS money – the day before his 74th birthday. And one of the photos here shows some of the GRH Ward 2B team, doing an important job with great enthusiasm.
New CEO Deborah Lee is there too, with some of the Atrium Reception volunteers who’ve mentored me over the years. She has a key task of improving A&E waiting times and financial management, but let no one underestimate how much vital and successful work is done in the GRH. Meeting patients and reading their feedback forms is a strong reminder of this.
Public Service and Community Activity
This year I focused especially on homelessness, rough sleeping, begging and how tough love works in our city.
My earlier e-news dealt with this in more detail (link), but in a nutshell I felt that the Police were wrong to relocate their entire city centre presence to Barton St and right to bring back a strong team under Sgt Matt Puttock. I also felt that the City Council were right to see this as a multi-agency issue, not just something for the Police. Traders, faith groups and members of the public were in touch with me and I spent time with both St Mungo’s and the Independence Trust seeing what their work achieves. We’ve made real progress on the numbers of rough sleepers, several of whom were not Gloucester people.
I’m also pleased that the NHS Glos Care Services has a Homeless Health Centre and we now have a good mix of e.g. debt, Foodbank and City Mission services under one roof (in the George Whitfield Centre) close to the city centre. So that’s why the photos at the Centre and with the Police are there.
I wanted to see the preventative work done by Glos Fire through a home visit, and thought that what Red Watch’s Ange and Michael explained to Ellie on Wellington St was useful to every household.
It was also good to have seen our Glos Army Cadets in action and then abseil after Becky from Kingsholm on her first abseil. She gained real confidence from doing something she didn’t think she could do.
Then on the community side I was impressed by the internationally renowned Three Choirs Festival, our fantastical Carnival, and of course, the Summer of Music, Art and Culture, another Alan Myatt/Marketing Gloucester special, which the City Council and Marketing Gloucester did very well to put together – with pianos all over the city centre and Beatrix Potter’s anniversary celebrated with trails for children.
At a grassroots level I enjoyed what my own cricket club (Gloucester City Winget CC: I hope one day just Gloucester CC) did to fund raise for Rugby for Heroes.
I missed the Retro Weekend and the Plock Court Music Festival SportBeat, but was there for the less well known Glos Malayalee Association’s Onam Festival. It includes their annual Gloucester and Cheltenham tug of war contest, and I cheered our team on to the right result.
Lastly on community happenings, I’m delighted to have been re-appointed as a trustee of the Gloucester Community Foundation, which gives roughly £250,000 a year to charities that improve the social well-being of the county. I’ve been with them for nine years and am convinced that the GCF has made a huge difference across the county.
Gloucester History Festival
When I launched this, around the existing Heritage Open Weekend and Gloucester Day events in 2011, few of us would have dreamt that a leading historian would say, five years on, that ‘we can be the best history festival in Britain’.
So a big thank you to everyone involved in the 50 odd talks, 30 odd musical events, 20+ walks, 120 open buildings and much more. Especially Donna Renney who can take us to the next stage, the Civic Trust, the Guildhall team, the City Council, Marketing Gloucester and all commercial sponsors. We won’t have a royal re-coronation every year, but there is always lots to celebrate and students are now involved.
We just need more good hotels so that visitors stay and spend in Gloucester: and the Robert Limbrick revised plan for Kings Square envisages just that.
Activity is good, alongside all of the casework that takes up a lot of time every day, including on holiday, but I’ve learnt to focus our efforts on projects, so that infrastructure plans don’t slip.
This summer I was very pleased that government money was secured for Elmbridge Court roundabout, and that work started. The care home on Southgate Street is finished, the new Rygor Mercedes-Benz van and lorry dealership in the Railway Triangle is open, the paperwork is complete for a new extra train station car park, nursing degrees at the University of Gloucestershire were approved, and the consultation on a Local Development Order for Blackfriars’ redevelopment is under way.
I now await announcements on Cross Country’s Inter City train services and the Uni of Glos bid for a Nursing Associate Pilot Project. If we get good results in these then the years of work, especially on the former, will have been worthwhile. Meanwhile our bid for Glos University Technical College for Health may have to wait a while, but it’s in good shape already.
Lastly, we all need some time to think, re-charge and be with our families, so thank you to my office for continuing our work when I’ve been away.
Soon we’ll be back in Parliament. The Prime Minister has made her mark, nationally and internationally, and the important, difficult work of balancing public finances while delivering key services and being seen to be fair to those most in need continues, while negotiating the best deal for Britain with the EU.
I will contribute as best I can – especially on how we improve our balance of trade as a Trade Envoy: and how we protect pensioners and the businesses that support them (not an easy balance), boost savings, and spend wisely on welfare through the Work and Pensions Select Committee. But I will never forget our many Gloucester projects and local issues!
Let me know what one thing locally or nationally matters most to you at email@example.com.