Village Voice – November 2017

My latest column published in the Village Voice newsletter distributed to households in the Belton, Burgh Castle, Fritton and St Olaves areas:

I am writing this month’s column just before a public meeting, organised by Folkes Plant and Aggregates, to discuss plans to extend their operations for a further 15 years. It is welcome that the company has communicated with the local community at an early stage by organising this meeting. With operations like this, I am always determined that residents have several opportunities to ask questions and make sure that their voice is properly heard, as part of the planning process, before any decision is made by the local council. Particularly, as many residents have contacted me with concerns about the traffic movements through Burgh Castle; it is a vital issued that must be addressed.

Over six years ago, as a relatively new Member of Parliament, I gave my public backing to the campaign group who opposed plans to create a quarry in woodland at Fritton. That campaign was successful and this important piece of amenity woodland was saved for us, and future generations, to enjoy. It’s concerning that in response to a request from Norfolk County Council for suitable mineral sites that the Kent-based company, Brett Aggregates, have again proposed this area. Nothing has changed in the intervening years to change the situation, the same reasons as used previously to oppose such a plan are valid today.

Finally, I would like to provide a brief update about Brexit and the current negotiations.

The Prime Minister has again repeated the collective stance of the Government – Britain is leaving the European Union in March 2019. This was reinforced during her recent speech in Florence, which set out the Government’s approach to the negotiations. The Prime Minister has also confirmed that the Government is preparing for every eventuality, so the country is ready from the first day we leave the European Union, even in the event that our European partners do not reach an agreement on the terms of our exit.

Likewise, as the British people voted for control of their borders, their laws and their money, the Government intends to deliver this. As Immigration Minister, I have an important role in preparing our new immigration system required to take control of our borders. As Member of Parliament for Great Yarmouth, I know that this is an issue of great importance for many constituents.  As we have clearly set out what we require from our exit, the ball is now firmly in the court of our European partners. I am optimistic we will receive a positive response, even though progress will not always be smooth. As the Prime Minister has said, “we can prove the doomsayers wrong, and we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.”