Article for Tiptree Tribune

This week we remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our country and the cause of liberty and freedom. We wear our poppies, visit memorials and pay tribute to our brave Armed Forces for all they have done and all they will continue to do for our country. With this year marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and our troops being brought home from Afghanistan, Remembrance Day is particularly poignant.

In this part of Essex it is a source of great pride that the Colchester Garrison is located on our doorstep. Armed Forces based there have a distinguished history and those troops and their family members are in my thoughts at this time.

One of my responsibilities in Government as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury is to oversee the spending of the Libor fines levied on banks, which are being used to support charities which help service personnel. It is right that those who have committed wrongdoing and have let Britain down are punished and the fines they pay go to support those who have given everything for our country. This Government has also introduced the Armed Forces Covenant, to set out the commitments that the Government makes to the Armed Forces and their families, in recognition of the sacrifices they make. We owe it to our Armed Forces to do all we can to support them and I know all of my constituents will be showing their support for our service personnel on Remembrance Day.

As regular readers will know, I have been campaigning hard for improvements to be made to local rail services. Commuters from my constituency deserve to have high quality, high performing and world class rail services. The Great Eastern Mainline (GEML) is an important economic link which connects Essex to London, Suffolk and Norfolk. It enables my constituency to be popular with commuters and facilitates trade and business connections.

But as anyone who uses the railway will know, services on the GEML are under-performing and passengers experience severe delays and problems as a result of unreliable services. My mailbag and inbox are frequently filled with complaints about delayed and cancelled services and horrific journeys experienced by my constituents. While local commuters are paying thousands of pounds a year and subsidising services elsewhere, these services have fallen behind other services which are faster and more reliable. As well as being immensely frustrating for commuters, this is also acting as a barrier to unlocking billions of pounds of economic growth in Essex and the wider East of England.

The last Labour Government failed to take seriously the economic potential of our County and as a result overlooked this region of rail investment. Labour also ignored our County for any form of major transport, rail, or road infrastructure.

Whereas Labour completely neglected my constituents, the current Government wants Essex to thrive economically and commuters to get access to better rail services. This is why a GEML Rail Taskforce was set up last year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year to develop proposals for the delivery of strategic improvements on these services. I was a member of the Taskforce and it has now reported its findings. The report supports the case for investment to be made in new and upgraded rail infrastructure. Improvements to tracks, a new passing loop north of Chelmsford, and upgrades to signals and overhead line equipment are long overdue.

This will improve reliability, reduce delays and lead to journey times between Essex and London getting quicker. Along with new rolling stock and timetable changes, this package could get journey times down and will benefit commuters using all stations on the line. One of the key parts of the Taskforce's work which I campaigned for was to ensure that faster journey times would also lead to better services for all. It is good news for Essex that this features in the Taskforce's report. Our economy needs these improvements and the plans put forward by the Taskforce are innovative, practical and deliverable.

If any constituent has a question about these proposed rail improvements or if I can assist with any issue, feel free to get in touch by email to: [email protected], by post to: Priti Patel MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or by telephone on: 020 7219 3528.

Priti Patel
Member of Parliament for Witham

A12/A120 Consultations

Strategic Road Network Consultations

There are two important consultations running at the moment on key strategic road infrastructure improvements - the A12 widening scheme and the upgrading of the A120. Priti has been campaigning to secure new investment in these roads and has welcomed the consultations taking place. Members of the public can review the proposals for the A12 and A120 at the weblinks below, attend consultation events, and respond to the consultation. Feel free to also contact Priti by email to: [email protected] with your views too.

Widening the A12

Upgrading the A120

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