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.

John Whittingdale visited the Essex Air Ambulance Airbase in Earls Colne. The Essex Air Ambulance is a charity which provides a free life-saving Helicopter Emergency Medical Service across the county. It costs in the region of £440,000 per month to run and relies entirely on fund-raising, voluntary subscription and donation. John discussed the work of the Service with Chief Executive, Jane Gurney, and Clinical Manager, Laurie Phillipson, and was given a tour of the airbase. John said: “The Essex Air Ambulance provides an invaluable service and each year saves many lives. It is particularly important in the more remote rural areas of the County, like the Dengie Peninsula, where ambulance response times can be poor and it can then take 40 minutes or more for an ambulance to get a patient to hospital. “

Jane Gurney (CEO) and Laurie Phillipson (Clinical Manager).

John Whittingdale officiated at a train-naming ceremony at Wickford station to mark the 125th anniversary of the Crouch Valley Line.

The train naming ceremony completed a series of events put together by Abellio Greater Anglia and the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership to celebrate the anniversary. Originally called the ‘Dengie Hundred’ section of Essex Railways; The Crouch Valley Line, as it has become known, was opened to passengers in July 1889 by the Great Eastern Railway Company. This 16.5 mile stretch of railway is now operated by Abellio Greater Anglia who run 334 services a week with approximately 1.6 million passenger journeys a year made through the seven stations along the route.

John Whittingdale MP unveiled the newly named Class 321 train ‘Crouch Valley 1889 – 2014’ to honour the occasion and an additional commemorative plaque was presented to John Jolly to be exhibited at the Mangapps railway museum in Burnham on Crouch.

John Whittingdale MP said, “I am delighted to be able to take part in this naming ceremony of the new “Crouch Valley 1889-2014” train, which is the culmination of the events to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Crouch Valley line. Having already attended events at both South Woodham Ferrers and Burnham on Crouch stations marking the anniversary, I am very conscious of the importance of the line to my constituents. I very much welcome the commitment shown by Abellio Greater Anglia to the future of the service which I know will be of great reassurance to passengers and to local residents.”

John Whittingdale is pictured unveiling the new train with Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs for Greater Anglia and later with Una Norman, Cllr Bob Boyce, Ursula Benjafield, County Councillor Ray Howard and Jonathan Denby.