As I write my first column of 2016, I would like to wish all readers a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. The start of a new year is often the time for plans and resolutions, so this is the perfect opportunity to consider the challenges and priorities for Amber Valley in 2016.
I was very shocked to learn that a large manufacturer based in my constituency, Leaderflush Shapland, fell into administration over the Christmas period, with the terrible result that more than 400 local people have lost their jobs. The company’s main base was in Langley Mill and 309 skilled workers there produced bespoke door sets and specialised in making the fire doors we see in many buildings. This is the biggest loss of jobs in the area since I became an MP in 2010 and Leaderflush’s factory has been an important part of the community, particularly in Langley Mill.
My priority is now to do everything I can to find new employment for these people so they and their families can again have the security of a job and regular pay packet. I will therefore be working with the Job Centres and other local employers to try to arrange a special Jobs Fair in the next few weeks and I would urge any people and employers who are interested in attending to get in touch on the usual details, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01773 744341.
Housing for our area also remains a crucial issue and challenge in 2016. I’m pleased that this Government is committed to regenerating old brownfield sites where possible and protecting our countryside. I understand that we need new homes, but these should be in line with local wishes, and not at the expense of our green fields. In this way, I will be at a Planning Inquiry hearing next week to support many South Wingfield residents in their opposition to a proposed development on Inns Lane. I know that this planning application, for nearly 70 houses, is against the wishes of the local people and councillors, and I support their concerns that this would be a major development of greenfield land which would irreparably alter the character of the area and harm the setting of Wingfield Manor.
To ensure local communities are at the heart of our planning system, I will also continue to push Amber Valley Borough Council to draw up a new local plan, to establish a clear five-year housing supply, and work with local residents on their neighbourhood plans so that new homes are where you want them to be.
Over the next few months I will be holding a number of supermarket surgeries and delivering surveys throughout Amber Valley for you to tell me the issues most important to you this year. You can also get in touch using the details above to let me know your thoughts on my campaigns and how we can make our area even better in 2016!