Henry Smith MP Bulletin - April 2018

Henry Smith MP – Crawley Bulletin – April 2018

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Supporting the National Childbirth Trust

In Parliament I was pleased to support the NCT’s #HiddenHalf campaign to get post-natal mental illness out of hiding.

The event aimed to raise awareness of new mothers’ mental health issues. I am supporting NCT’s excellent #HiddenHalf campaign to improve services in Crawley and across the UK.

I have fond memories of attending NCT Crawley classes in the months before my daughter’s birth, so am pleased to support their #HiddenHalf campaign ensuring that at the six week old baby check new mothers are also assessed for any mental health issue.

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Tackling pavement parking: I am always pleased to meet with and support the charity Guide Dogs so was delighted when they asked me to host a parliamentary reception late last year in Westminster Hall, where I spoke with other MPs about the importance of the organisation’s work, and had the opportunity to meet their staff, volunteers and puppies.

Previously I have taken part in events that Guide Dogs have organised locally, including putting on a blindfold to experience what it is like to be visually impaired and travel by bus, being guided around County Mall and Three Bridges with a cane, and walking with a guide dog. These experiences only went to highlight the issue of pavement parking; where blind or partially-sighted people, as well as those in wheelchairs and pushing prams, find it difficult to walk when faced with a parked car blocking the pedestrian pathway.

In recent weeks I received assurances from the Department for Transport that they are to launch a consultation shortly on the regulations in this area, which will include consideration of alternative methods to tackle pavement parking.

National Democracy Week: The first National Democracy Week will take place this year from 2nd to 8th July. To help mark the 100th anniversary of the first women having the right to vote in this country; National Democracy Week Awards will also take place with a deadline for nominations on 27th May.

In recent days the Prime Minister helped launch a new statue of the suffragist leader Dame Millicent Fawcett; the first ever statue in Parliament Square of a woman.

Vision Aid Overseas: When going for an eye test it is common for many opticians to have information about how to donate an old pair of glasses which while no longer of use to us, could help provide the gift of sight to someone less fortunate.

Indeed, after dropping off spectacles in this way we might not think much about what happens next. Crawley-based Vision Aid Overseas receive glasses we have finished with and recycle them to generate funds to carry out a mission, to ‘enable people living in poverty to access affordable glasses and eye care.’

I was delighted to host Vision Aid Overseas recently in the House of Commons. I often welcome charities to Westminster but it was additionally special to host one which works to help people in the developing world from its base here in Crawley.

Crawley's historic neighbourhood principle: Calling for inclusivity and respect at the Town Hall when considering new electoral boundaries which threaten to tear apart the local neighbourhoods which our town was built on.

The community principle is a long-standing part of Crawley New Town. It means more than words only mentioned on election leaflets; the names are included in postal addresses and are a real part of peoples’ identity, with local community centres, shopping parades and places of worship bearing these titles. This historic principle must literally be kept on the map.

Looking after our local area: Taking pride in our local area and keeping it clean and tidy is something we all have an interest in. From recycling and disposing of our rubbish properly to the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, everyone can make a difference.

However, since taking office in 2014, the current Borough Council administration have not issued a single Fixed Penalty Notice to address the issue of littering in Crawley! This is despite annual increases in the number of warnings for dropping litter, including the annual figure more than doubling from 2015 to 2017.

The future of our town: In the five years to 2015 the number of Crawley businesses increased by more than 600 to over 3,600, meaning more companies paying their taxes to fund our public services, and university applications in our town have increased by 40 per cent over the last decade. Crawley has great untapped potential, and there is much more for us to achieve to improve the state of our local area.

Other news

School funding: This month I joined with West Sussex parliamentary colleagues in meeting the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, on the issue of school funding. While West Sussex schools are to receive an extra £28 million in funding through the National Funding Formula I am calling for additional financial support to recognise increasing costs borne by schools and, in particular, special educational needs.

Banning ivory sales: Received confirmation from the Environment Secretary that Britain will introduce a ban on ivory sales. This ban will be the toughest in Europe and amongst the most stringent globally and will help to protect elephants for future generations.

Around 20,000 elephants are being slaughtered each year due to the global demand for ivory, and the UK will make every effort to halt the decline in Africa’s elephant population in recent years.

We need to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with stronger protections for animal welfare, but also cleaner air, greener spaces and tougher action on plastic waste.

Local health investment: Welcoming proposals worth £19.3 million of investment in local healthcare to serve Crawley, West Sussex and East Surrey patients.

The plans will see the area benefit from a centralised pathology hub serving several hospital sites. The scheme will reduce delays in diagnosis and offer patients in the area more freedom to choose how they access services.

Protecting our oceans: Calling on the Government to continue being a world leader in this area. Through advancements in satellite technology and developments in international law, it is now possible to monitor and protect vast areas of ocean with ever greater effectiveness and lower cost.

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With my best wishes

Henry Smith
Member of Parliament for Crawley