Transport, infrastructure and local services are vital to communities like ours. Indeed, they are necessary to support our area and stimulate both our villages and town centre high streets. That is why I have been working with a number of stakeholders to ensure we have the transport infrastructure we deserve and why the reduction of bus services locally is so disappointing.
For those living in rural areas, Suffolk County Council is working in partnership with Suffolk Community Transport Operators to provide a transport service to help those who might not have access to regular bus service travel. Connecting Communities is a scheme which collects and connects people to an appropriate bus route or train link for onward travel when there is no public transport available locally. Suffolk InfoLink | Community Transport - Mid Suffolk - Connecting Communities
For over 7 years, I have worked with Greater Anglia to improve rail services, both on the mainline and locally, ensuring we can get more regular services to some of the main cities and centres of employment is work in progress. I welcomed the roll out of new trains, making journeys more comfortable and reliable for passengers, and the recent upgrade of Bury St Edmunds station which was delivered by joint working is a real step forward. There is still more to do but real progress has been made by working together. I was also pleased that our campaigning for Access for All funding for Stowmarket Station was successful, the bridge which will house the lifts is in its design phase and I look forward to the work starting shortly. Improving accessibility for all passengers is vital which is why I am continuing to support the campaign for Access for All funding for Needham Market Station and similarly ensuring facilities at stations like Thurston keep pace as the village grows is vital. I was pleased to attend a recent meeting exploring how improvements can be made, crossing the track should be something we build out of the journeys we take on the grounds of safety and as numbers rise this becomes pressing. Once again, the local voice here is essential to make sure improvements benefit the village. I was pleased MSDC recently awarded funds to move this work forward.
Local roads support a vital part of the trade corridor, carrying goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe. Previously, I have chaired the campaign for investment in the A14 and continue to support the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in their campaign to bring investment to solve the pinch points along the A14 in Suffolk. We all know how an incident on the A14 can quickly mean delays ensuring journeys smoother and facilities like laybys and adequate lorry parks is essential. Locally, I often raise the importance of maintaining our roads with Suffolk County Council as potholes and road maintenance issues are mentioned regularly with me by constituents, I would like to see a more co-ordinated response especially around large-scale development and the impact unfinished roads and footpaths have on communities. The issue of flooding was widespread last year, and I am glad to see much work has been undertaken by the council on the areas most affected that we raised with them. However, recent storms have shown there is much more to do.
I championed broadband when first elected due to its importance in all our lives. Digital platforms are becoming common place for everything from healthcare to commerce, stimulating investment, driving business growth, encouraging innovation and connecting people. The progress made over the last few years is positive and I’m glad government is working with suppliers to roll out full fibre to the hardest to reach areas of my constituency. Whilst I support the high ambitions of 95% of houses being connected, that will still leave several thousand who are not, that is not acceptable, and I will work with constituents until we have 100% coverage delivered. I believe broadband should be treated as the fourth utility.