Retford Times: 18 December 2014

Last week I challenged the Minister of State at the Department of Transport about the Elkesley Bridge on the A1. The previous Government got rid of six roundabouts on the A1 within three years of my taking the then Minister to see the problems they were creating; yet the bridge has only just begun to be built during the past year. I suggested to the current Minister that his dillydallying had caused great frustration locally and he has agreed to meet me to discuss future developments. I will also push him ensure that the bridge across the A1 that will connect Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire is also part of a strategic cycle way.

There is currently a lot of debate around “English votes for English laws.” The real issue here is that communities do not have enough powers over the decisions that affect their local area. The same principles apply to determinations on housing and fracking. I made this clear in Parliament last week - if local Bassetlaw communities say that they do not want fracking or housing on a particular site they should have the right to make that decision, not a Government Minister or Inspector.

Christmas is a traditional time for giving and charities in Bassetlaw work hard to raise money over the festive period to fund their work throughout the year. Almost all collections are genuine but occasionally we come across people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. It’s vital that the public know that their donations are going to the right place. The Charity Commission and Fundraising Standards Board have to come together to issue a few simple tips for donating with confidence this Christmas: Always look for a charity’s name, registration number and landline on fundraising materials. Then ask to see a collector’s ID badge and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Extra information about charities can be found at www.gov.uk/charity-commission. Always make sure that clothing collection bags are clearly branded with a charity’s details and always check email and web links are genuine before donating. If you are still unsure you can always contact your favourite charity directly to donate.

Firefighters from Bassetlaw were in Parliament this week to attend a debate on the Government’s plans to dramatically alter their pensions. They have been put in a terrible position by the Government which has forced them to go on strike this year. The proposals will lead to job losses and seriously affect firefighters’ pensions. We could all be affected as firefighters as old as 60 would be required to carry people out of the window of burning houses. That worries me. The Government can find the money to pay each Lord £300 a day for turning up to Westminster and thousands of extra pounds for every useless Minister that is fired from their job. They should do the right thing for firefighters.

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