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Welcome to my July email newsletter. I hope you and your families are staying safe and well during this challenging time, as we start to try to return to normality from the pandemic and enjoy the Summer, whilst still trying to be cautious and sensible with precautions where possible in the face of rising cases.
It is only right that at this critical juncture in our journey out of lockdown, we take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary sacrifices of the wonderful people who make up our NHS, our key workers, and all those involved in the vaccine rollout.
Below you’ll find updates on the latest cases and vaccination restrictions, a link to my new online survey and details of what’s been happening in Parliament and around Amber Valley.
Online Summer Survey – let me know your views:
As we head towards Summer Recess in Parliament, I’m about to start delivering my annual report across Amber Valley – please say hello if you see me out and about.
In the report and online, I’m launching a survey to get your views on local issues and recovering from Covid-19, from health appointments to boosting our economy.
Please take just a couple of minutes to complete my Summer Survey and let me know your views here.
Easing Lockdown Restrictions
On Monday 19th July 2021, the Government lifted all remaining restrictions on social distancing in England. This represents a further step towards normality as we adjust to living with this virus. Although coronavirus cases are continuing to rise nationally, we have not seen the corresponding rise in hospitalisations and deaths that we would expect given the rates of illness we observed last year. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that the link between infections and serious illness is sufficiently broken to enable this further relaxation of restrictions. However, we must remain careful and exercise our own good judgement to keep transmission in our local community to a minimum.
Local Case Rates
The Delta (B.1.617.2) variant continues to spread across the country and Public Health England (PHE) is now confident that it has overtaken the Alpha variant to become the most dominant strain of the virus circulating in the UK. The Delta variant is believed to be around 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which itself is more transmissible than the original strain of coronavirus. Encouragingly however, new analysis by PHE shows that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.
As predicted in light of this, cases continue to rise nationally, and this trend is no different locally in Amber Valley. You can find the latest case data here. We are now ahead of the England average which highlights the need for us to remain careful.
The Country’s vaccine program continues apace with more than 46.2 million people in the UK having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – part of the biggest inoculation programme the country has ever launched.
I was pleased to see the rollout expanded after the Government hit its target of offering a first jab to everyone in the top priority groups – all those over the age of 50, plus those in high-risk categories by mid-April. With every adult in the UK now having been offered their first dose of the vaccine. A terrific effort, nationally and locally.
As of last Saturday 17th July, Amber Valley had successfully given at least one dose of the vaccine to 88% of local adults, with 72.8% having received both jabs. This remains slightly above the average for England which stands at 87.7% of adults having received one jab, and 68% both jabs. These figures are a testament to the exemplary vaccine program here in our constituency.
I will continue to engage with ministers, the public health team, and the local NHS to ensure that this area continues to see the full roll out of vaccines.
Easing of restrictions
As of Monday 19th July, all legal restrictions on social distancing in England have been lifted. This is truly excellent news, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Amber Valley businesses, organisations, and individuals operating at full capacity without legal restrictions.
The following measures are now in place across England:
– No limits on how many people can meet.
– 1m-plus rule removed (except in some places like hospitals).
– Face coverings no longer required by law.
– Nightclubs can open.
– Pubs and restaurants no longer table service only.
– No limits on guests at weddings and funerals.
– No limits on people attending concerts, theatres or sports events.
– No restrictions on communal worship.
It is important to remember, however, that this easing of restrictions is designed to empower ourselves as individuals to use our common sense to slow the spread of the virus, which is still very present in our communities. Therefore, I implore you to enjoy these new freedoms responsibly.
As ever, to find out more information on what restrictions apply in your area please look here.
Supporting our local economy
As we try to re-open, it’s key to support our local economy to bounce back, and provide a boost to local jobs and businesses. Unemployment is Amber Valley is currently at 4.2%, which is below the national average of 5.6% and 150 lower than in May 2021. As the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) starts to wind down, we need to remain cautious, but there are lots of vacancies around and local employers advertising job opportunities, including the Kickstart Scheme to help young people get back into work. I’ll also look to organise a Job Fair, maybe initially virtually, over the next few months – please get in touch if you’d like to be involved in this.
I’ve recently welcomed the Government’s New Plan for Immigration, also known as the Borders Bill, into parliament. This legislation intends to:
- Speed up the removal of failed asylum seekers and dangerous foreign criminals.
- Introduce maximum life sentences for people smugglers.
- Empower the Border Force to do more to stop and seize small boats and search containers for hidden migrants.
- Stop illegal arrivals gaining immediate entry into the asylum system if they have travelled through a safe county (like France).
- Increase the maximum sentence for illegally entering the UK.
- Grant resettled refugees indefinite leave to remain.
- Better integrate refugees who are resettled.
I know constituents want more to be done to reduce illegal immigration. I will, therefore, continue to engage with ministers throughout this Bill’s journey through parliament to ensure the Government delivers on its manifesto commitments of reducing illegal immigration to UK.
In Parliament this month, I’ve been asking questions on travel restrictions, catch-up education and English Votes for English Laws legislation.
During recent questions to the Secretary of State for Transport, I raised the issue on behalf of constituents of families with children under 18 wanting to travel abroad, but who aren’t eligible for the vaccine as yet. I’m pleased the Secretary of State agreed to look into this issue, and you can find out more on his answer here.
I’ve also asked the Secretary of State for Education about catch-up tutoring for school pupils following the pandemic, and you can find the full debate on this here.
And, during Business Questions in the House, I asked about the continuation of English Votes for English Laws legislation, as part of a continued fair settlement of devolution across the UK. You can find more on this here and on my Twitter feed here.
You can also find more on my recent parliamentary appearances and questions here.
Locally, I’ve been working with local residents and councillors to help oppose plans to construct a 310-acre solar farm on a vast swathe of green space between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe. The solar farm has been proposed by Kronos Solar and is subject to several planning applications across Amber Valley Borough Council and North East Derbyshire District Council. I think this would destroy our local landscape due it’s scale and extent, so whilst I’m not against renewable energy or solar panels, I think these applications are inappropriate.
The applications are still awaiting determination by the councils (likely to be in September) so there’s still time to comment or lodge any concerns you may have.
You can find details of the residents’ objection group, and information on the individual applications and how to comment if you haven’t already, here.
Amber Valley Borough Council Local Plan consultation – Have your say!
The new administration at the Borough Council has launched a new consultation on the next stage of preparing Amber Valley’s Local Plan, a development document which will set out and plan future housing growth in the area, and making sure we have the infrastructure improvements to match any new homes. I welcome the planned reduction in the overall number of new homes being proposed, which is part of the consultation. The Council are also consulting on the options for the overall strategy (spatial strategy) of the plan, which include focusing housing growth on the Derby City urban area border, in and around Amber Valley’s four key towns, or in the wider area and villages.
The consultation on the proposals and headline strategy for the plan so far is open from now until the 30th September 2021. Please do take opportunity to feed in your views to the Council – I know how strongly residents rightly feel over housing in our area, and so this is the most important chance to have your say on making sure we protect our Green Belt and shaping the future of planning in our area. You can find the consultation and how to submit your views on the proposals here.
As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
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Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
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Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH.
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