Constituency tour is a litmus test for local issues

To talk about the wonders of Suffolk or my Bury St Edmunds constituency in broad terms can often lose the potency of just how special a place we know it to be.

However, undertaking my constituency tour again this summer, I am reminded of not only how restorative village life can be but also just how welcoming people are and how community strengths are alive and well.   

Across the constituency, my tour raised similar key themes pertinent to our communities and what often emerged was that the services that are available are not widely known to those who need them most.

For instance, the Connecting Communities Bus service supports residents who may struggle to access local transport to help them get around. Connecting Communities allows residents to book ahead and reach an appropriate bus or train link for their onward journey.

Other such discussions were around thinking strategically about our infrastructure. For instance, managing sewage and waste disposal and ideally building them into the infrastructure of any community, much like broadband or energy supplies.

Yet where this hasn’t been the case, decisive action is required and this is something I have worked upon in areas like Pakenham, and recently spoken with both the Suffolk County Council Leader and the relevant cabinet members about.  

Strategic infrastructure is something I have consistently called for since I was first elected. For a constituency in which there is both large growth of business sites and housing developments, a strategic, organised and inclusive approach to planning is essential.

What was most interesting were the variety of concerns raised. For instance, the unexpected arrival of the traveller’s community in Great Barton brought an understandably lively debate. Having already raised this with the Secretary of State in the interest of residents, I would like to thank the police and the Council for their speedy resolution.

Further frustrations centred on the use of rural lanes by lorry drivers and cars speeding through villages like Great Bricett, Rickinghall and Redgrave at speeds of up to 90mph.

Some villages spoke about their interest for more housing in their locality, as well as the benefits this could also bring in sustaining dwindling communities and saving a village school, shop or post office.  Other communities felt, understandably, overwhelmed by the scale of potential builds.

Conducting a tour is a great gauge in ensuring the everyday interests of my constituents directly inform my work as your Member of Parliament. Yet what I most enjoy is the superb characters and endless generosity I find in every village.

This is what keeps me motivated and to represent that sentiment whether in Westminster or in writing to our fire service to thank them for their outstanding working this scorching summer, remains a privilege.

Published in the Bury Free Press