John Whittingdale visited Burnham on Crouch Rugby Club to see the volunteers in action as part of the NatWest RugbyForce weekend. Natwest Rugby Force is a nationwide programme designed to make rugby clubs stronger by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community over a summer weekend. In its ninth year, NatWest RugbyForce has helped over 650 clubs.

John saw volunteers clearing ditches, repairing fences and helping to prepare the grounds for the beginning of the new season.

John is pictured with Club President, Niall Hornett, Burnham Councillor Peter Elliott and Mayor of Burnham, Wendy Stamp.

John Whittingdale presented Kam, Proprietor of Chillies Indian Fusion in Oaklands House, South Woodham Ferrers, and his chef a certificate and apron for being Highly Commended in the 2018 Tiffin Cup competition.

The Tiffin Cup winner is chosen from a list of restaurants that have been nominated by local MPs. This year, 60 restaurants were nominated by their MPs. The competition aims to raise the profile of the quality and diversity of South Asian food in Britain while raising money for the charity World Vision.

 

John Whittingdale MP visited a street scene set up in Parliament by the charity Guide Dogs to learn more about the challenges that people with sight loss face when walking the streets. At the event, the MP for Maldon dodged a pavement parked car, stumbled across a variety of street clutter, and visited a “shared space” area lacking safety features such as kerbs and pedestrian crossings. He also heard from guide dog owners how dealing with these obstacles can leave them scared and reluctant to go out.

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John Whittingdale joined Maldon district Councillors and others to mark the opening of the Maldon Saltmarsh Coast Hub. This is supported by the Dengie Gateway Project which has been supported by the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

The Dengie Gateway Project has delivered a number of elements, including, a 5 year District Tourism Marketing Strategy, the new Visit Maldon District website, eshop and improved social media presence. The Project has also sought to promote the District’s wonderful Saltmarsh Coast through the installation of new signage and way-marking, dedicated webpages and the creation of a network of inspiring and bespoke Saltmarsh Coast Visitor Information Hubs, with the Maldon Saltmarsh Coast Hub in the centre.

 

John Whittingdale attended the Royal Yachting Association “Push the Boat Out” event at the Blackwater Sailing Club’s Open Day at Heybridge Basin.

RYA Push the Boat Out is intended to give people the opportunity to get out on the water and to find out how easy it is to get involved in sailing and windsurfing. Hundreds of Sailing Clubs and training centres take part throughout the month of March, including Blackwater sailing Club, Royal Corinthian Yachting Club, South Woodham Ferrers Yacht Club and Marconi Sailing Club in the Maldon constituency.

Blackwater Sailing Club was established in 1899 and is one of the leading sailing clubs on the East Coast with more than 1,000 members. It has an active Cadet section and it offers both cruiser and dinghy sailing. The Open Day was the most successful ever with 295 visitors and over 30 new members signed up on the day. Over 500 tasters provided for our visitors including John who went out for a sail in a Quest on the large freshwater lake owned by the Club. 

Blackwater Sailing Club website

Picture 1: John is pictured with Rob Haigh, Deputy Cadet Skipper

Picture 2: John is pictured with Rear Commodore, Nigel Butler

 

John Whittingdale attended the service at St Lawrence Heritage Church to bless the new telescope and display boards which have been installed in the churchyard looking over the Blackwater estuary.

The blessing was conducted by the Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall. John is a co-Patron of the Friends of St Lawrence Church, along with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP whose family still own a house locally.

John is pictured with Cllr Penny Channer, Nicholas Henshall and his wife, Christine, and Chairman of Essex County Council John Aldridge and his wife, Christine.

John Whittingdale visited Lookers Ford in South Woodham Ferrers. Lookers is a member of the National Franchised Dealers Association which is represents the 5,100 franchise vehicle retail network. Lookers Ford has dealerships across the UK. In Essex, there are showrooms in Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, and South Woodham Ferrers.

John discussed concerns of the automotive industry about the arrangements after Britain has left the European Union as well as possible plans for the expansion of the South Woodham Ferrers showroom.

John is pictured with lookers Regional Director, Rob Dier.

John Whittingdale visited Woodville Primary School in South Woodham Ferrers.

John spoke to the School Assembly about his work in Parliament and the importance of democracy. He then met the School Council and answered questions on Brexit, Windrush and Migration, Syria, and a number of other topics raised by pupils.

Following his visit, the Head Boy, Ed, and Head Girl, Holly, wrote this report:

On the 27th of March, our local MP John Whittingdale (MP of Maldon) came and visited our school. He produced an interesting and political assembly about his job, and what democracy means. After the assembly, he visited the school council in Mrs Turner’s room and we discussed about the law and Brexit. Brexit means Brittan Exiting the EU.  Most of Britain and the members of parliament have voted and have decided to leave Europe. The main reason to leave was because of other bigger parliaments have been sending their rules ,but now our MPs can decide our rules. 

John Whittingdale visited Sandon School to talk to Sixth Formers on a range of political issues.

As well as having a tour, John discussed with students  a number of subjects which they wanted to raise including pollution and climate change, funding of the NHS, university admissions, global security and Brexit. John said: “it was a real pleasure to hear the views of a number of my younger constituents and to engage with them. I was greatly impressed by their knowledge and interest and was also very encouraged that a number said that they would like to get involved in politics in future”.

John Whittingdale welcomed Phil and Abby Wilcox, proprietors of Wibblers Brewery in Southminster to the House of Commons to celebrate their best-selling  Apprentice ale, being guest beer in the Strangers Bar of the House of Commons for the week beginning 4th December.

Wibblers was established on a commercial basis in 2007 in a converted barn in Mayland by Phil Wilcox, following 20 years of home brewing experience. Its beers have won numerous awards and John also recently attended the opening of their new premises and tap room in Goldsands Road, Southminster.

http://www.wibblers.co.uk/

John said: “This week is a particularly busy one in Parliament and the House of Commons sat until 1.00am on Monday. The bar is always full with Members and guests and I am delighted that my colleagues will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy Wibblers Apprentice throughout the week.”

John Whittingdale attended the Digging and Delving exhibition at the Burnham on Crouch Museum on the history of the allotments in Burnham and launch of the associated publication. The concept and implementation of this project was carried out by Create and Flourish CIC, a Community Interest Company based in Burnham which helps local people to build resilience and maintain or improve mental and physical well-being through gardening and arts & crafts activities. The project was funded by the Heritage  Lottery Fund. 

 

20 acres of land were first leased to Burnham Parish Council for allotments in 1895 and Digging and Delving is a fascinating history based on many personal recollections of locals and allotment holders.

 

John is pictured with Triss Norman and Sharon Chan of Create and Flourish CIC as well as Carl Wilson, Angela Stearn and Zoe Bridges.

John Whittingdale visited Wentworth School in Viking Road, Maldon, as part of their British Values Week. John met the members of the School Council and then addressed a School Assembly to talk about Democracy and to answer Questions.

John said: “I very much enjoyed my visit to Wentworth and was most impressed by the perceptive questions from the children there. I am always happy to visit schools in my constituency to talk to pupils and am also pleased to welcome any local school which wishes to visit the Palace of Westminster”.

John Whittingdale visited the refurbished Victoria Passenger Boat at Paper Mill Lock, Little Baddow, which is owned and operated by Essex Waterways. The boat was purchased and restored by Essex Waterways with the help of a grant of £32,838 from the Essex Rivers LEADER programme, administered by the Rural Community Council of Essex. 

John is pictured with Roy Chandler, Chairman of Essex Waterways. Since November 2005, Essex Waterways has managed the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation which runs from Springfield Basin in Chelmsford to Heybridge Basin with moorings at Springfield Basin, Sandford, Paper Mill, Howe Mill and Heybridge Basin.

John Whittingdale performed the opening ceremony for the Bradwell Community Shop which has been completely fitted out with new shelving, counters and chiller cabinets. The Community Shop is run by volunteers from the village on a not-for-profit basis and has benefitted from grants from Magnox as well as the Essex Community Fund. 

John is pictured with Bob Nichols, Bradwell Site Closure Director, Cllr Adrian Fluker, Deputy Leader of Maldon District Council, Brian Main, and Jill Curd of Essex Community Foundation. 

John Whittingdale attended a briefing for Essex MPs  from the Essex Fire and Rescue Service at Fire HQ at Kelvedon Park.

In particular, John was briefed on the work being done to check the safety of all high rise blocks in the County following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. As well as watching a training exercise in which officers released a victim trapped in a car in a simulated road traffic collision, John was briefed on  the work of the Specialist Animal rescue unit, the team dealing with chemical spillages and the dog rescue team.

John was briefed by Adam Eckley, Chief Fire Officer, and other senior officers. John is pictured with Chelmsford Fire Station officer, James Hall and also with Essex Rescue Dogs,  Kirby and Jarvis.

 

 

 

 

John Whittingdale attended the Burnham on Crouch RNLI Open day at Burnham Lifeboat station.

The day provided opportunities for visitors to learn more about the work of the lifeboat station and included a mock rescue from a life raft in the marina. John said: “it was a thoroughly enjoyable event on a beautiful day. However, it also reminded us of what we owe to the lifeboat crews who risk their lives in all weathers to save those in trouble at sea”

John is pictured with Graham Richardson, Area Life Saving Manager, RNLI< and David Nicholls, Lifeboat Operations Manager, Burnham on Crouch RNLI.

John Whittingdale opened the new wine shop and tea room attached to Clayhill Vineyard on Lower Burnham Road. The business is owned by Dale and Vicky Symons who first planted the vines in 2006. It now produces approx 50 tonnes of grapes per annum and more than 4,000 bottles of wine have so far been produced.

The new building is a converted barn with a new cellar to allow expanded production. It benefited from a grant of £38,000 from the Essex Rivers LEADER programme funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and which is managed by the Rural Community Council of Essex. The £95,000 project will ultimately create an additional 2.2 full time jobs and will create a tourist destination in an area which is becoming a centre of wine-making.

John Whittingdale attended the  annual Armed Forces Day celebration at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome. The event included a short religious service and flag-raising ceremony as well as a march past by local cadet forces.

John Whittingdale said: “Armed Forces Day provides an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the fantastic job which the armed services do on our behalf. It is particularly fitting that this even took place at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome where young men sacrificed their own lives defending our freedom one hundred years ago”.

John is pictured with the Colchester Garrison Sergeant Major,  Commander of the Colchester Garrison, Lieutenant Colonel Ciaran Griffin, Dave Monk of BBC Essex, and Cllr Mark Durham, Leader of Maldon District Council.

John Whittingdale welcomed TV Historian, Dan Snow, to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome before Dan spoke at a fund-raising dinner at Hylands House in aid of the Charitable Trust that runs the Aerodrome, of which John is Patron. John is pictured with Dan Snow, Chairman of the Trust Peter Martin, and Chief Executive, Ian Flint

John Whittingdale welcomed a group of international travel buyers from the United States and Ireland to Maldon.

Having previously visited the RHS Gardens at Hyde Hall, the group were given a presentation by Topsail Charters on board the Thames Barge Kitty on the Hythe Quay.

John said: “Tourism is an increasingly important industry in the Maldon District but it is not yet established on the itinerary of international visitors to the UK. I am delighted that Visit Britain has chosen to bring these representatives of international tour operators to Maldon so that they can see all that we have to offer”.

The group of buyers were visiting the East of England as part of VisitBritain’s flagship travel trade event ExploreGB. Now in its third year ‘ExploreGB’ took place in Brighton. More than 400 international buyers from 40 countries gathered to do business with 430 travel industry suppliers from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Buyers from Britain’s largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets including the USA, Germany, France, Canada and Australia attended. Important growth markets including China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, India, Italy and the Gulf countries were also represented.

 

John recognises the important contribution that pubs make to their local communities and is pleased to show his support for brewing and pubs across the Country by signing the MP pledge card. 

The industry creates hundreds and thousands of jobs in the UK and adds over £20 billion to the economy.   Permitted development rights allow the change of use of public houses to shops and supermarkets without the need for a planning application. Planning regulations enable councils to remove these permitted development rights to protect local assets.

When a pub is listed as an Asset of Community Value, permitted development rights are removed and a planning application is required for its change of use or demolition. This provides an opportunity for local people to comment and enables the local planning authority to determine the application in accordance with its local plan, any neighbourhood plan and national policy. Over 1,280 pubs are now Assets of Community Value.

The local planning authority may also take the listing into account as a material consideration when determining any planning application.

The Government has launched a new £1.5 million Pub Loan Fund to enable local communities to take control of pubs at risk of closure. Local people will be able to apply for small loans to help restore their pub, to help pay for feasibility work or lawyers' fees.

 

John Whittingdale visited Brynleigh Technology Ltd in Heybridge House Industrial estate off The Causeway in Maldon.

Brynleigh Technology is a family owned business which was founded in 1993 and manufactures printed circuit boards using its own advanced software. The firm has expanded steadily and will shortly be moving to new premises in Maldon. John toured the factory and spoke to managers and staff.

John is pictured with founder and Managing Director, Maurice Apthorp, Technical Director, Richard Apthorp, and Commercial Director, Lisa Apthorp.

John attended the opening of the Wibblers Brewery at their new home in Goldsands Road, Southminster, which was performed by John Fisher and his mother, Mrs Maud Fisher.

Wibblers was established on a commercial basis in 2007 in a converted barn in Mayland by Phil Wilcox, following 20 years of home brewing experience. Its beers have won numerous awards including Crafty Stout which won a Gold award in the Stout Class in the CAMRA National Winter Festival in 2015/16.  

John is pictured with Head Brewer, Phil Wilcox. http://www.wibblers.co.uk/

 

 

 

John recently attended NHBC’s Parliamentary event celebrating the Pride in the Job winners across the country and was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate the Site Manager of the recently completed St Luke's Park development, Mick Montgomery, who won Pride in the Job Seal of Excellence Award at the NHBC East Regional Finals.

John Whittingdale met Chief Inspector Ronnie Egan, Divisional Commander of Chelmsford and Maldon Policing Area, to discuss local policing issues including the levels of crime, police cover and the possible relocation of Maldon Police Station to the offices of Maldon District Council.

John Whittingdale said: “The Maldon and Chelmsford area remains one of the safest places to live with low levels of crime. However, it is essential that we keep it that way and I am very much aware of local concern about the level of police cover and response times. I strongly welcome plans to invest more in frontline policing and also the emphasis that Chief Inspector is putting on tackling Rural Crime, particularly in the Dengie Peninsula.”

John Whittingdale opened the 100th new home built by Chelmer Housing Partnership in the Maldon District. The house in Reminder Close off Park Drive is one of a development consisting of 27 affordable homes to rent and 12 homes for shared ownership.

CHP currently has (approximately) 9,000 properties throughout Essex and is working to have 10,000 homes in ownership by 2020. From April 2015 – March 2016 CHP built 286 new homes across Essex; 211 were for affordable or social rent, 67 for shared ownership and eight for market rent.

John Whittingdale said: “I am delighted that CHP is continuing to invest in new affordable homes in the Maldon District. I am very conscious of the acute shortage of social housing locally and these high quality homes, some at affordable rents and others for shared ownership, will  help to meet that demand. I hope that the new tenants will be very happy in their new homes”.

John is pictured with Cllr Peter Elliott, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Ursula Heelis, Chairman of CHP and Cllr Richie Miller, Mayor of Maldon.


 

John was pleased to lend his support to the David Randall Foundation

The David Randall Foundation was conceived by members of Maldon Cricket Club in February 2012 when David Randall, a member of the club since the age of 6, was diagnosed as having terminal cancer.

The Charity aims to encourage dedicated people to pursue their ambitions and give those with life threating illnesses the chance to live life to the full as long as possible. Its Patron is former England Captain and Opening batsman, Alistair Cook.

 

John attended a road safety awareness day in Burnham. The event which was organised outside the Co-op in Burnham saw the Essex Police roads policing team, Burnham speed watch group and the Safer Essex Roads Partnership on hand to answer any questions.

Following a fatal crash in Southminster in April and a serious crash in Bradwell on Sea in May, the event was aimed to raise awareness about speeding issues on the Dengie. Police have also been carrying out a number of speed checks across Burnham in recent months.

John Whittingdale said: “The number of road traffic accidents in the District has long been a matter of concern, particularly as a number have resulted in serious injuries or fatalities.  Overwhelmingly the causes of these have been excessive speed, alcohol or the use of mobile phones. All three are illegal and I welcome this initiative to get across the message that drivers must remain safe”.

 

John Whittingdale was one of the judges for the Young People’s Art Competition in Maldon. John had to judge entries in four age categories: Under 7s, 7-10, 11-13 and 14-16. The winners will be announced on 16th September at Maldon Library.

John said: “The theme for this year’s competition was Maldon events and the standard was remarkably high. Entries covered the Maldon Regatta, the Mud race, the Carnival, the Barge Race, Saltmarsh 75 and Maldon in Bloom. It was very hard to pick the winners and I would like to congratulate all those on taking part”.

John is pictured with fellow judges Lynn Marston, Chair of Maldon Art Trail, Richie Miller, Mayor of Maldon, and the Maldon Tesco Community Champion.

 

 

John visited Dan Hull Foods in Burnham on Crouch. Dan established a farm shop just outside Burnham on Crouch  selling locally sourced meat, local produce, homemade pies and ready meals. He also now supplies East of England Co-op stores, other farm shops and Selfridges and is seeking to expand to new premises. John is pictured with Louise Jones of Dan Hull Foods and Beverly Davies, Programme Manager of the Essex Rivers Local Action Group, which has allocated a LEADER grant to help the firm expand.


http://www.danhullpreparedfoods.co.uk/

 

John Whittingdale met Andrew Gardner, Chief Executive of Essex AgeUK, at their offices in Widford Hall, Chelmsford to discuss the work of the charity in the county.

Age UK offers a number of services to those aged over 50 in Essex including Home Help, Toenail Cutting, Advocacy,  Sitting to provide respite for carers and Dementia Connections to help people living with dementia. Last year, Essex Age UK helped over 60,000 people in the county.

Its Information and Advice service is a free and confidential advice service for anyone aged 50 or over, their family, friends, professionals or carers. Through a team of professional advisers, they can provide up to date information and advice on a range of topics including welfare benefits, social care, bereavement and legal queries.

Essex AgeUK can be contacted on 01245 346106 or through the website: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/essex/how-we-can-help-you/

John Whittingdale visited leading geosynthetics manufacturer, TERRAM, which is based on the Blackwater Trading Estate in Maldon. TERRAM, which is part of the Berry Plastics Group, supplies specialty Geosynthetics and materials for the landscape and construction markets. In particular, it manufactures a range of products which can help protect, manage or prevent flooding. John was given a presentation by Nick Hurt, Senior Director, on three of these core products: TERRAM Geocells, Bodpave 85 paving grids and TUBEX  tree shelters.

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John Whittingdale visited Maldon Primary School to see the presentation at assembly to pupils by the Google Legends Tour. Deputy Head Teacher, Lea Tyler, welcomed Mr Whittingdale and the Google team to the school. 

The tour aims to keep children safe online by giving them the tools they need to make the internet work for them. The Internet Legends assembly introduces pupils to the Legends Code, four simple guidelines for staying safe and having fun online. They are:

1. Think before you share

2. Protect your stuff

3. Check it’s for real

4. Respect each other

John Whittingdale: “The Internet is part of our lives and has brought huge benefits. But it also carries risks and it is vital that young people understand these. I am delighted that Google has set up the Internet Legends Tour to take the message about the importance of Online safety to schools around the country and was most impressed by the fun way in which it was presented. I have no doubt that for the pupils at Maldon Primary, it was a very valuable lesson”.

MPs from across the region have added their support to the South East Business Growth Hub and Creative Prospectus at a joint launch event hosted by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) and sponsored by Jackie Doyle-Price MP at the House of Commons.

The event on Monday afternoon (March 14) saw the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, launch the SE LEP Creative Prospectus.

The prospectus has been drawn up by business leaders from the creative sector, SE LEP and local authorities from across the region. It has established the scope and scale of the creative economy in the LEP area, promotes the local benefits of a thriving creative economy and identifies actions that will help the sector realise its growth potential. 

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John Whittingdale visited St Cedd’s Primary School, Bradwell on Sea, with Vicky Ford MEP.

John met Pauline Ward, Headteacher, to discuss potential opportunities arising from the possible development of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell financed and operated by China General Nuclear. The school is considering employing a Mandarin teacher in conjunction with Ormiston Rivers Academy in Burnham.

John also opened the new Multi Use Games Area sports facility in the playground. This has been funded through the Primary Spaces project run by Sport England.

 

 

 

 

John Whittingdale visited the Bradwell site to see progress in decommissioning the old power station. John was accompanied by Vicky Ford MEP and met Scott Raish, Site Director. (pictured).

The site is following an accelerated decommissioning programme and is now in the Care and Maintenance phase. John went on the roof of one of the old reactors now being clad in aluminium and also saw the Fuel Element Debris treatment plant and the Intermediate Level waste store. John said “remarkable progress has been made since I last visited Bradwell in March with both reactors now almost fully clad. Bradwell is the first commercial reactor to be decommissioned in the UK and the techniques being developed here will be used across the industry. I congratulate all involved on the fantastic job that they are doing”

Following their visit, John and Vicky went with EDF to see the possible site of the new Bradwell B nuclear power station which may be built next to the old power station by the China General Nuclear Corporation.

John Whittingdale visited Elmwood School in South Woodham Ferrers to talk to pupils about his work both as the local Member of Parliament and as a member of the Government. His visit coincided with a themed week at the school on British Values.

 

John Whittingdale visited Downham Primary School to talk to pupils about his work as a member of Parliament and a member of the Cabinet. John spoke at the morning assembly and then presented badges and certificates to the newly elected members of the School Council.

The School said:

All week, the students of Downham had been learning about democracy, writing manifestos and debates which culminated in an exciting election where children voted in a secret ballot for their class reps for the new academic year. The children were extremely excited and felt privileged to have such a prominent figure in Britain’s Government to join them and share his wealth of expertise.

Kayleigh Talbot (PSHE co-ordinator) said “Mr Whittingdale has always been a strong supporter of pupil voice and really brought the idea of one person making a difference come to life for the children. The new council cannot wait to get started in their role and make changes for the school and Ramsden community.”

The new council will assemble in November to raise money for the school’s chosen charity ‘Teddies for Tragedies.’

John Whittingdale raised a pennant on board Sailing Barge Thistle at Hythe Quay, Maldon, to mark her receipt of Eastern Regional Flagship status from National Historic Ships UK.

Thistle is celebrating her 120th Birthday having been built in 1895 by William Hamilton & Co of Port Glasgow, and is the only Thames Sailing Barge to have been built in Scotland. She is one of a fleet of four Thames sailing barges operated by Top Sail Charters of Maldon.

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John Whittingdale attended the Danbury Pre-School 50th Anniversary Village Fayre on Dawson's Playing Fields at Danbury Sports Club.

John is pictured with organiser, Sarah Clarkson-Reid and Manager, Charlotte Jones.

John Whittingdale joined hundreds of people including many Forces Veterans who gathered in the sunshine at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome on Saturday to pay tribute to the nation's Armed Forces at Maldon District Council's Armed Forces Day.

In support of the event many vintage and modern aircraft flew in, including a rare 1930s Aeronca all the way from Whitby, a pair of Hornet Moths, a Tiger Moth, and members of The Tiger Club Turbulent Display team. Throughout the day there were guided tours of the aerodrome, and the Maldon Cadets kept the crowds entertained with demonstrations and drills, and a Missile Run Competition between the Sea, Army and Air Cadets was won by the Maldon Sea Cadets who retained their trophy for the second year. Displays of vintage vehicles added to the atmosphere, and the younger visitors were thrilled to ride in model aircraft and try out a computer flight simulator. The Turbulent Display team provided entertainment in the air with their exuberant flying practice. The Tiger Club flew a missing man formation over the airfield and the crowd fell silent.

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More than 2.5 million homes and businesses can now benefit from superfast broadband as a result of the Government’s nationwide rollout.

Latest official statistics show that as of 31 March 2015 an additional 2,411,395 properties are now able to access superfast speeds thanks to the Government’s £1.7bn investment programme.

This means that with the project now reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week, the 2.5 million mark has been well and truly passed, and is fast approaching the three million premises milestone.

Mr Whittingdale (pictured) met the Superfast Essex team as the rollout in the county reached its halfway point of 32,500 homes and businesses that can now get superfast broadband. The programme is expected to have enabled 65,000 premises by the end of its first phase in summer 2016. Culture secretary Mr Whittingdale, whose portfolio covers the rollout of superfast broadband, joined Essex County Council and BT representatives in Maldon, Essex, on Friday where he heard about the Superfast Essex programme and met officers leading the work. He was also shown one of the 157 fibre broadband cabinets installed by the programme since deployment began in April 2014.

“I am delighted at the tremendous progress Superfast Essex has made with their rollout of superfast broadband,” he said. “Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives. The government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age.”

The Essex programme’s milestone comes as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that more than 2.5m homes and businesses in the country can now access superfast broadband thanks to the government’s £1.7bn investment programme.

Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives. The Government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age.

Superfast broadband is currently available to more than 80 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK – up from zero in 2009, and the Government funded rollout is on track to ensure 95 per cent of the UK has access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

The roll out of fibre broadband in rural areas is getting stronger with every month that passes. Homes and businesses are benefiting across the UK as our engineers work tirelessly to connect them to superfast broadband. This is a critical project that will make a real difference to peoples’ lives and help rural economies thrive across the UK.

Focus is now firmly placed on the hardest to reach areas that make up the “final five per cent” of the UK not covered by existing plans. The Government has already begun work on extending superfast coverage to these communities. A series of pilot projects exploring how alternative technologies could be used to tackle these difficult areas is currently underway and Government will publish the findings from the trials later this year.

 

The new Dengie Enterprise Support service was officially launched on Friday 27 March, with John Whittingdale among those showing their support for the initiative.

Made possible with funding from the Magnox Socio-economic Scheme through the Bradwell Legacy Partnership, Dengie Enterprise Support will bring fully funded business support and training to new and existing businesses on the Dengie Peninsula. The initiative is administered by Maldon District Council and will be delivered by business advisors and trainers from The Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea).

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John Whittingdale attended the coffee and cake morning organised by D-Caf: the Dengie Dementia Cafe and Activity Group in the Town Council offices, Burnham on Crouch. The morning was organised to support the work of Admiral Nurses who are specialist dementia nurses.

John is pictured with Mayor of Burnham, Cllr Ron Pratt, Cllr Mrs Babs Owners, organiser Yvonne McDermott and other volunteers.

John Whittingdale joined pupils taking part in a Football Association Skills session at Purleigh Primary School. John saw year one students practice their football skills under the expert guidance of FA Skills coach, Lauren Phillips. FA Skills, which sees FA coaches running football sessions for 5 to 11 year olds, has been running since 2007 and in that time has delivered more than six million skills places to children across England. The scheme is funded by the FA and Sport England and employs 158 full-time coaches, including six in Essex. The programme is free to primary schools and has been delivered in more than 7,500 schools, supporting more than21,500 teachers.

John said: “The children had a fantastic time They clearly enjoyed the session but at the same time were learning new skills, building their self-confidence and developing team working. Lauren not only did a brilliant job encouraging the children, she also worked with their teacher so that she will be able to carry on the work in the future. I warmly congratulate the FA on the programme and am delighted that Purleigh Primary School has signed up to it”.

John Whittingdale MP, formally marked the commencement of construction at McCarthy & Stone’s forthcoming Retirement Living development on Whitehorse Lane, Maldon. Mr Whittingdale joined the site manager, Andy Chinery, in an official ground breaking ceremony to commemorate the first steps in the construction of the development, which will be designed specifically to help those aged over 60 make the most of later life.

Mr Whittingdale commented: “I was delighted to be able to help break the ground for this new McCarthy & Stone development. There is a real need for more retirement housing of this kind which allows older people to continue to live independently but also have to have security and companionship. With an increasingly older population living longer, with growing care needs, it is great to see a development like this close to the centre of the town and I have no doubt that it will prove very popular.”

Andy Chinery added: “We feel extremely honoured to have been able to welcome Mr Whittingdale to our Maldon site, and were delighted by his positive response to our approach to delivering lifestyles tailored to meet the needs of the over 60s.”

Offering the independence of retaining home ownership while living in an environment specifically designed for those reaching their later years, McCarthy & Stone’s Retirement Living developments make a popular choice for downsizers who want more time in which to embrace the possibilities of later life.

The development is a short walk from an array of shops and services and benefits from good bus routes to such towns as Colchester and Clacton. The development is a stone’s throw from popular Longfield Park and Recreation Ground where you can enjoy a picturesque walk in the peace and quiet of countryside scenery.

Facilities at the development will include a homeowners lounge for socialising, as well as a dedicated House Manager, which will ensure the smooth running of the development, and there is also a security entrance system plus 24-hour emergency call points that provide peace of mind for both homeowners and their families. All properties will be low maintenance and energy efficient. Construction is now underway with apartments available to purchase off-plan in mid 2015.

 

For more information about this, and other McCarthy & Stone developments in the region, call 0800 201 4739, or log on to www.mccarthyandstone.co.uk.

 

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.

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