Our rural communities need strong transport links to connect residents to employment, education, health and other services. I have consistently campaigned for better bus services to improve connectivity in our villages and am pleased to see that First Bus has held discussions with Tiptree Parish Council and agreed to amend the number 75 bus route’s timetable to accommodate the needs for elderly residents and the times at which they can use their bus passes. A couple of years ago readers will recall that I worked closely with the Parish Council and local residents to secure additional bus services through Tiptree and the positive responses and engagement from First are welcome.
If any local residents feel that bus services need improving in their local communities, please do send through the details and I will look into comments and suggestions.
I am also in close contact with the local councils covering my constituency in relation to their Local Plans and how these can deliver better transport infrastructure and connections. The forthcoming widening of the A12 into a three-lane carriageway throughout my constituency between Chelmsford and Colchester is an unprecedented opportunity to unlock growth. As readers will know, new housing and development will need to take place over the next fifteen years and I am particularly keen to see more local homes built for local people.
It is therefore vital that the A12, along with the A120 and local roads, are upgraded to accommodate the pressures and new demands that additional housing will create. In recent discussions with local councils I have reiterated the importance of joined-up strategic work taking place to ensure that new infrastructure and services are brought in with new housing and that those housing developments are proportionate and located in appropriate places. I trust that these principles feature in their updated Local Plans and I continue to make representations to those councils on behalf of my constituents.
Readers will be aware of the proposed Tollgate Village development for Stanway. Despite the hundreds of jobs that this scheme would deliver, the new businesses that will come to Stanway, and the utilisation of this land for economic investment, Colchester Borough Council’s officers continue to recommend that this application be rejected. It is extremely alarming to see that the Council is opposing this important development. Many local residents have contacted me as they would like to be able to access the facilities and jobs that Tollgate Village will bring and are shocked and disgusted that the Council is taking this retrograde approach. They also suspect that the Council is putting its own corporate interests first by backing developments on land that it has an interest in but objecting to private business investment elsewhere in the Borough.
In December elected members of the Council’s planning committee rejected the recommendation from Council officers. The application is going to the Council’s planning committee again on 18 February 2016. I will be urging the Council to rethink its recommendation and to make a positive decision that enables this important investment in our economy to take place, with appropriate planning conditions and obligations put in place.
If any local residents or businesses need help or assistance from me, they are always welcome to get in touch by email to: WithamMP@parliament.uk by post to: Priti Patel MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or by telephone on: 020 7219 3528.
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham