Next year, in 2015, Parliament will be celebrating two historic anniversaries that mark the beginning of democracy in the UK; the 800th year since the signing of the Magna Carta and the 750th anniversary of the de Montfort Parliament. To mark the de Montfort anniversary, where elected representatives from around the country came together for the first time, the 2015 Flag Project has invited each Member of Parliament to nominate a school in their constituency to design a flag to represent where they live. The project will culminate in a large scale celebratory event in March 2015 when it is hoped that 150 of the flags (representing each county in the UK) will fly in Parliament Square (pending permission from DCMS) and the surrounding area. The remaining 500 flags will be featured on a digital platform.

John Whittingdale said: “ I have always been impressed by the importance that Maldon Primary School attaches to its School Council and have been delighted regularly to attend an assembly in recent years to present the School Council badges to those who have been elected. The experience of electing representatives to a School Council provides an excellent introduction for pupils to the democratic process and to how elected representatives can influence decisions. I was very pleased to be able to nominate them and wish them every success in the Competition”.

John Whittingdale visited Desch Plantpak, the market leading manufacturer in the UK of packaging and growing systems for the horticulture market, which is based in Burnham Road in Mundon. Founded by Michael Hindmarch in 1968, the firm has since been acquired by Dutch owners and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

John toured the plant and cut the ribbon to unveil the new facilities. These include a high speed thermoforming line and four fully robotised injection moulding centres to produce flowerpots, capable of being run on a “lights out” basis. This represents an investment of over £2 million in the business securing its future.

John said “I warmly congratulate Desch Plantpak in Mundon on its 50th anniversary and am delighted to formally open its new manufacturing facility. This consists of state of the art technology which will ensure that the company remains the market leader. It is great news for all the staff at Mundon and is another example of a world-beating company based in Maldon.”

John is pictured with Chris Clarke, Managing Director, and Jim Binch of Lincoln Management Inc, planting a tree to mark the 50th anniversary and cutting the ribbon to open the new facilities.

John Whittingdale cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the new-look Burnham on Crouch Post Office, which has been fully refurbished with Post Office services now available from four modern counters. The Post Office at 22 Station Road, Burnham, now has three main counters - two open plan and one screened, open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5.30pm. There is also a combi-counter, where customers can access selected Post Office products and services alongside retail transactions. This is open Monday and Thursday: 9am to 8pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 9am – 6pm; Saturday: 9am – 5:30pm. There is improved layout of the store which makes it easier for customers with disabilities and people with pushchairs to get around the pharmacy and Post Office. Opening hours have also been extended - 11 hours a week more than previously offered, including Saturday afternoon and later closing every day.

Ani Patel, who has been a postmaster for more than five years, said: “The branch is now better laid out and more spacious for customers to have more room to get around the whole store. It is

a lot more customer friendly. It is modern and clean and easier to have conversations with the open plan counters. The consultation room allows private conversations – just like a bank.”


Gary Herbert, Post Office Senior Stakeholder Manager, said: “We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents in Burnham on Crouch. I am confident this new modern Post Office will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future. This modernisation is part of a major investment programme, the largest in the history of the Post Office. It marks a commitment to no more branch closure programmes.”

Under the current Parliament the Government has committed £1.34bn for the Post Office network to make sure there is no programme of Post Office closures and to update branches; in November the Government announced a further £640m investment in the Post Office network, from 2015 to 2018. Nationwide the investment programme will see up to 8,000 branches modernised with additional investment in over 3,000 community and outreach branches.


John is pictured with Ani Patel, Postmaster, and with customers and staff.

John Whittingdale visited Burnham on Crouch Primary School to help relaunch the school with its brand new identity. The School has a new logo and uniform and John also performed the official opening ceremony of the School's new reception area.

John Whittingdale presented Badges to the elected members of the School Council at Maldon Primary School in Wantz Chase. John attends each year to meet the new School Councillors and also to talk to the assembly about his work as MP for Maldon.

John is pictured with the School Council Members.