I am conscious of how much effort there is across many government departments to help Ukraine in its time of need. I have called in Parliament for more Russian service personnel like General Mikhail Mizintsev, ‘The Butcher of Mariupol’ to be sanctioned. Our support for Ukraine must remain unwavering.
I was pleased to see Central Bedfordshire Council was allocated a second tranche of just under £1.5 million for the household support fund to help with energy and other costs. So far it has helped over 9,000 households with heating and other bills and issued 12,000 supermarket vouchers.
There were three further grants to our area in recent days with Central Bedfordshire Council receiving £3.7 million to support local bus services and I’m very excited to see the work which Arnold White is doing to help electrify our local bus fleets. A big shout out as well to Royal Mail for electrifying their entire fleet of Leighton Buzzard delivery vehicles.
It was also very good to see Bedfordshire Police receive another £1.9m and to learn about the search the Police and Crime Commissioner is conducting for a Leighton Buzzard policing hub. Central Bedfordshire College, which will soon be part of The Bedford College group also received a capital grant to improve their premises which was very welcome.
I’m taking a close interest in the work which Central Bedfordshire Council are doing to improve safety on the A505 after the recent tragic fatality and I am pleased to learn that National Highways are drawing up plans to deal with speeding in Hockliffe after Bedfordshire Police issued 257 fixed penalty tickets there in recent weeks. I was also pleased to accompany the Leader and portfolio holder at Central Bedfordshire Council to examine measures to improve the flow of traffic in the town.
On the local business front I was very pleased to learn that the regional distribution centre Lidl are building to the north of Houghton Regis will be the largest in any Lidl market globally, a real vote of confidence for our area. I also had an excellent visit to Essity, a major Dunstable employer and a very important supplier to the NHS and to social care and a company with extremely high environmental and sustainability standards. They are also leading the way in terms of workplace electric vehicle charging.
I also joined forces with other MPs in a Parliamentary debate I initiated, to highlight the need for faster and more certain increases in general practice capacity for large-scale new housing developments. It was also good to learn more about the additional cash Central Bedfordshire schools will receive to retain good teachers as we are now part of an education investment area.