As we near the end of the year and Christmas approaches, I wanted to reflect on 2022 and let you know a few of the matters I have been working on, on your behalf.
This year has not, so far, been without its challenges - whether that is the spiralling energy costs or the war in Ukraine. We have also recently sadly mourned the death of our late Queen Elizabeth, who served us with grace and dignity throughout her reign. I was pleased to attend the proclamation both in Westminster and in Cambridgeshire to welcome King Charles III as our new monarch.
I know constituents across Cambridgeshire are concerned about the war in Ukraine. And I have been humbled by the response of so many families who have supported Ukrainian refugees. Many families across our area have opened their homes to those fleeing conflict, and I was pleased to hold an event in the summer to bring together some of the volunteers, organisations and families who have been involved in supporting those who have come to the UK.
I know that the cost of living is a real concern, and I am committed to helping constituents across South East Cambridgeshire find the support and advice they need. In my previous role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, I was proud to work with ministerial colleagues to introduce a package of measures to help tackle the cost of living crises. These included a £400 discount off energy bills. Since then the Government has gone further with the introduction of the Energy Price Guarantee which caps the price per unit of electricity / gas from 1 October 2022. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor confirmed the price guarantee will continue for households until at least April 2024, saving the average household hundreds of pounds.
Over the last few weeks large numbers of my constituents have been left angry and worried by Stagecoach’s plans to axe or significantly alter 23 bus routes across our region. This includes Stetchworth residents, many of whom rely on the number 12 bus to get to Cambridge or Ely (and the villages in between).
Since Stagecoach’s announcement at the end of September, I have been working hard to protect our local bus services, including meeting the Stagecoach East Managing Director in-person to press him to reverse the company’s decision.
As many of you will know, the Combined Authority is responsible for commissioning bus services across the region and on 17 October I called a meeting with the Mayor, officials from the Combined Authority and other local MPs to get more details about how the Mayor plans to protect our buses.
I am pleased that the Combined Authority has made available up to £1.7 million of funding from the UK Government to maintain many existing services until at least the end of March 2023. However, I understand that the new number 12 bus route, operated by Stephensons and called the number 112, is significantly different from the previous route, and this risks cutting-off many of my constituents who depend on this bus, including those who live in Stetchworth. I am, therefore, making urgent enquiries with the Combined Authority and Stephensons on this matter.
I am focused on ensuring that the new bus operators are providing like-for-like services locally, as well as making sure our local buses are not just safe for the next five months, but protected beyond March 2023 too.
I was pleased to welcome members of the Stetchworth Parish Council on a tour of Parliament recently. If you would like to visit Parliament as part of a group or individually for a tour then please contact me on the details below.
I wish you all the best for the rest of the year. And, as always, if I can be of help or assistance please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.