On Friday, 26th March, John Whittingdale visited The Lodge Care Home in Maldon to open the new extension. The Lodge now has 24 beds and principally caters for clients suffering from dementia. During his visit, john was taken on a tour of the home and met staff and residents, before joining them to listen to singer Ron James provide entertainment.

John said: "The Lodge is a lovely home with great charm. Cheryl and Lisa have done a great job to extend it in order to provide four new bedrooms and other facilities. There is a lovely atmosphere and I was delighted to be able to meet the residents and join in their celebrations"

John is pictured with owners, Lisa Aitken and Cheryl Lume.

On Friday, 26th March, John Whittingdale visited Wentworth School, Maldon to make the presentation to the School Gardening Club of gardening equipment which they had won as a part of the "Let's Grow" scheme run by Morrisons. Wentworth is just one of more than 22,000 primary and secondary schools that have participated over the last two years. In total, over the first two years of Let's Grow, UK schools will have taken delivery of: 7,086 greenhouses, 7,465 pairs of Wellington boots, 68,271 pairs of gardening gloves, 30,517 hand trowels and many more.
Wentworth School has a keen gardening club with each year group having its own allotment. John is pictured with Rebekah Russell of Morrisons in Maldon, Mrs Beverley Halls of Wentworth School and Barry Day, Store Manager of Morrisons, Maldon.

John Whittingdale MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford has been thanked for pledging to do his bit for the British Armed Forces family.  John met with a delegation from The Royal British Legion at Westminster to get behind the charity’s call for general election candidates of all parties to support the whole Armed Forces family. John also discussed the Legion’s manifesto and the changes that it is calling for. The manifesto sets out priorities for the next Government to improve conditions for the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It encourages MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to “do their bit” for Service Personnel and their families, the bereaved, veterans and dependants.


During the meeting, John was photographed with a giant replica of the personalised pledge card, which he has been given by the Legion in recognition of his pledge. Kevin Shinkwin, the Legion’s Head of Public Affairs, said, “We’re delighted to give John his pledge card in recognition of his pledge to do his bit. Our message to every MP and candidate standing at the general election is very simple: “It’s time to do your bit. How you do that is entirely up to you but pledging publicly at www.timetodoyourbit.org.uk is a great way of showing your support for the whole Armed Forces family, both now and beyond the general election.” “Both the serving and ex-Service community need the support of politicians,” he added. “Our manifesto outlines practical ways the next government can help, and we hope all the parties will give it serious consideration”.  John Whittingdale MP said, “I am delighted to support the Royal British Legion’s campaign and did not hesitate to pledge to do my bit. The Royal British Legion does a fantastic job in helping servicemen, veterans and their families and are right to highlight the need for any future Government to give them the help and support they deserve.”

John Whittingdale presented a peitition to the house of Commons on behalf of Ms Katie Hiskett and 26 other residents of my constituency. Ms Hiskett had contaced John as she was extremely concerned about the recommendations of the Badman report and the impact that it will have on them and on others who wish to educate their children at home.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[ The Petition of persons resident in the Maldon and East Chelmsford parliamentary constituency,

Declares that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggests closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people's homes for local authority officials; further declares that the Petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families either not to bring forward, or to withdraw, proposed legislative measures providing for tighter registration and monitoring of children educated at home in the absence of a thorough independent inquiry into the condition and future of elective home education in England; but instead to take the steps necessary to ensure that the existing Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities are properly implemented, learning from current best practice, in all local authorities in England.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. ]

John attends a briefing for Members of Parliament from the Eastern Area by the Commanding Officer and soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment.
The Regiment has a long and distinguished history and is comprised of the former county Regiments from across East Anglia. However, its strong links with individual counties remain and C Company of the 1st Battalion draws its recruits from Essex. Its commander told us proudly that the Anglians are the best recruited regiment in the army and the 1st Battalion the best recruited within it.

Recently the Regiment has seen action in both Iraq and Afghanistan and sadly incurred casualties in both conflicts. However, we also heard of the achievements of the British Army in both countries which often get too little public recognition. In Iraq, the regiment has done two tours in Basra. During the first in 2006, they were subject to constant attack and in three months fired over 32,000 rifle rounds. When they returned for a second tour last year, their role was to support the Iraqi Army which has now taken over security. In three months, they did not fire a single rifle round. It is a success story which deserves to be told and offers some hope that Iraq can now begin a new chapter as a democratic and peaceful country.

The 1st Battalion spent 6 months in Afghanistan in 2007. We were told that the intensity of the conflict took every one by surprise and sadly 9 members of the Battalion lost their lives. I talked to one Private from Braintree who had served there. He told me that conditions were not too bad – that he had at least been able to shower every day. However, he had also lost a friend and seen others injured. His quiet professionalism and courage were enormously impressive and typical of that displayed by all those who we spoke to. We should never forget the fantastic job that our armed forces do. They continue to deserve our total support

John Whittingdale went to look at the results of the trial of new methods to remove Fats, Oils and Grease from the drains and sewers in Baddow Road, Chelmsford.

Anglian Water has been working with the Water Research Council, Chelmsford Borough Council and Environmental Biotech on the national trial to help reverse the tide of a growing nationwide phenomenon, sewers blocked by fat. Since the trial started in Baddow Road, Chelmsford during April last year, there have been no recorded instances of sewage flooding or bad odours and the Borough Council environmental health officers have noticed a significant reduction in vermin in the area.

Keeping this one road free of fat has meant a saving to Anglian water of more than £6,000 a year - the amount it used to cost to keep this road with its 21 restaurants and take-aways - clear of fat and grease.

John Whittingdale said: "Having attended the launch of the trial, I am delighted that it has proved such a success. The lessons learnt if applied across the country could result in the saving of millions of pounds, thus reducing water bills. At the same time, fewer smells and vermin will substantially improve the environment and the quality of life for local communities. Where Chelmsford leads, I hope the rest of the nation will follow".

John Whittingdale is pictured with Aziz Tejpar of Environmental Biotech (kneeling), Paul Gibbs and Gary Collins of Anglian Water ad local residents.

John visits successful local business.

John Whittingdale recently visited the Asheldham Feed Centre and Equestrian Centre as part of his programme of regular visits to successful local businesses. The Feed Centre attracts customers from a wide area and supplies provisions for all kinds of pets.

John is pictured with owner, Jannine Rose.

John Whittingdale, together with Simon Burns MP, accompanied pupils from schools in Mid Essex on a day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp in Poland.

Last Wednesday (21st March) Maldon and East Chelmsford MP, John Whittingdale, together with Simon Burns MP, accompanied pupils from schools in Mid Essex on a day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp in Poland. The visit was arranged by the Holocaust Education Trust which seeks to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and its relevance today and so far some 4,000 students and teachers have paticipated in visits.

John Whittingdale said: "The visit was immensely moving and at some times distressing experience. It is only by seeing it that one can appreciate the sheer enormity of the horror of what happened at Auschwitz. In total, about 1.2 million people died at the camp and during the visit we saw the remains of the gas chambers, the crematoria and the barracks in which they lived. Seeing the piles of personal items, hair shavings and clothing of the victims, particularly of the children was harrowing and upsetting for many of those visiting. However, it is important that we are reminded of it in order to reinforce our determination that nothing like this must ever be allowed to happen again. It is particularly relevant today when some are still trying to deny that the Holocaust happened and when there have been other attempts at genocide in placeslike Rwanda and Darfur. The Holocaust Educational Trust are doing a vital job and I am sure that all those on the visit will never forget what we see that day."

The picture attached shows John Whittingdale with Ruth Hardy, Head of Sixth Form and Emma Smith and Poppy Gibson, sixth form pupils at St Peter's High School, Burnham on Crouch. They are pictured at the entrance to Auschwitz 1 Camp with the famous sign in the background "Arbeit Macht Frei" meaning "Work Makes You Free".

John Whittingdale MP was at St. Peter’s Hospital on Valentine’s Day to officially open the only birthing pool in mid-Essex.

The pool was installed in a delivery room at the hospital months ago, but before now, it has only been used for labour pain relief. Since the hospital now has a trained midwife for water births, the pool can now be fully used. Hospital Midwife Maggie Jarrett will be supervising the birthing pool.

Mothers from across the mid-Essex area expecting a low risk labour may benefit from the pool.

John visits Bradwell Power Station.

John Whittingdale recently met with Ray Jepps, new Station Manager of Bradwell Nuclear Power Station, to discuss progress on decommissioning. Bradwell, which ceased generation in 2002, has recently recommenced the process of removing the fuel rods from the two reactors. These are then sent to Sellafield for disposal. This stage of the decommissioning procedure is likely to take until the end of next year. Disposal of oil through incineration is also likely to begin shortly using a clean oil burner. Before the oil is burnt, it is filtered and all particles removed to ensure that there is no danger of release of any radioactive material. This procedure has been approved by the Environment Agency to ensure that it is entirely safe. John has regular meetings with employees of the power station to keep in touch with progress.


John Whittingdale was recently briefed by the Chairman and Chief Executive of Mid Essex Hospitals Trust on plans for the redevelopment and extension of Broomfield Hospital.

The Trust will shortly be choosing the preferred bidder following widespread consultation on the two alternative schemes. John said: " I am delighted that it looks like plans to build the new Broomfield Hospital are well on track with a forecast opening at the end of 2008. In particular, I strongly support the intention to considerably increase the amount of car parking spaces. Lack of car parking facilities is a constant source of complaint from my constituents, many of whom have to travel long distances to get to Broomfield. I am delighted that this is at last going to be put right.
Pictured above: John with David Bullock, Chairman of Mid Essex Hospitals Trust and Andrew Pike, Chief Executive.

John Whittingdale attended the 100th anniversary Burnham Carnival on 27th September.

The first torchlight carnival took place in Burnham in 1909 and it is now one of the most successful carnivals in the country. This year’s carnival had over 70 entries and had the longest procession in its history.

John is pictured here with the Maldon Carnival Queen, Louise, aged 13 who is a pupil at Sandon School, together with Princesses, Kerry aged 14 and Georgia aged 13, both of whom attend the Plume School.


John Whittingdale attended the formal unveiling of the new Town Sign in Burnham on Crouch.

The sign was made by former Town Mayor, Tony Martin. Pictured with John are Rev Tony Jones, Cllr Sheila Young (Chairman of Maldon District Council), Rev Hugh Beavan, Cllr Carole Noble (Mayor of Burnham) and Tony Martin.

John Whittingdale visited Burnham County Primary School to present members of the 2005/06 School Council with certificates to mark their winning a Diana Princess of Wales memorial award for young people.

The Award was given for the work done by the School Council to prevent bullying in the school through the drawing up of Playground rules and other work to highlight the importance of friendship.

John Whittingdale is pictured with the School Council, together with Cllr Peter Elliott, Mayor of Burnham, and Ms Amanda Champ, head teacher.

John joins other Essex MPs to pledge to do what he can to save Essex Police force. 




Fifteen of the seventeen MPs in Essex including all the Tories, plus Andrew Mackinlay, (Labour) and Bob Russell, (Liberal Democrat) have expressed their opposition to the plans to merge the Essex force. Most of the MPs attended the meeting today and gave their backing to the APA’s alternative strategy, of greater cooperation between existing forces. Speaking following their meeting, John Whittingdale said:
This issue remains a very live one and my colleague Bernard Jenkin MP even pressed Tony Blair on it today at Prime Minister’s Questions. This really matters to our county and we have collectively supported this alternative plan, whereby forces can cooperate, for instance in fighting terrorism but whilst retaining their own county identities and ethos. Importantly, this alternative will also save council tax payers money.

The Government’s plan to scrap Essex Police and to merge it into a Regional Force is very different. This is not an idea that has emerged locally; instead it is a centrally imposed dictat. Essex is already one of the largest forces with 3,230 officers serving a population of 1,600,000. Yet the Government have refused to allow it to continue as a standalone force. Instead they have given three options under which Essex will either join with Norfolk and Suffolk or with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire or with all five plus Cambridgeshire to make a vast six county Eastern region force. This is clearly part of John Prescott’s plan to impose regional Government by stealth which has already seen proposals for the creation of a regional fire service, a regional ambulance service and a regional flood defence body.

A Regional Police force of whatever structure is likely to be far more remote and far less accountable than the existing Essex Police. It would also put at risk the close identity which exists between the police and the community they serve. The Essex Police Authority have therefore continued to include the option of an Essex-wide force in their consultation paper despite the instructions of the Government not to do so. They are entirely right and I shall be urging them to fight for the preservation of our County Police force.

John Whittingdale read a lesson at the Civic Carol Service in St Mary's Church, Burnham on Crouch.

Pictured are Rod Eastham, David McNeill (Town Clerk), David Stevenson (Head Teacher St Peter's School), Rev Tony Jones, Cllr John Smith, Canon Hugh Beavan and Cllr Peter Elliott (Mayor of Burnham).


John Whittingdale visited the Combined Military Services in Station Road, Maldon in order to promote British Tourism Week.

The museum contains a fascinating collection of military firearms and equipment throughout the ages including a spy collection donated by Peter Mason, on whom Ian Fleming based James Bond.

Tourism is worth an estimated £115 million to the economy of the Maldon District, supporting over 2,600 jobs, welcoming 3, 289.000 day visitors and 242,000 staying visitors. John Whittingdale OBE MP said “As Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, I am very much aware of the importance of Tourism, which contributes £74 billion to the UK's economy. That is why my Committee has recently announced an inquiry into the Tourism sector and what more can be done to promote it. Tourism also makes a vital contribution to employment in the District with many businesses dependent on it. I am therefore delighted to show my support for British Tourism Week by visiting the Combined Military Services Museum. The Museum has a world-class collection which offers another major attraction for visitors to the District".

John is pictured with Richard Wooldridge , owner of the Museum, and Marilyn Bullivant, curator.


Following concerns expressed by constituents John meets with company bosses.

John Whittingdale has met Tim Clarke, Managing Director of One railway, and Theo Steel, Projects Director to discuss the standard of service on the Crouch Valley line serving North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham and Southminster.

John Whittingdale raised the problems caused to many commuters by the new timetable changes affecting the morning and evening service, as well as the cost of tickets and performance in comparison to the Southend service. In response, Mr Clarke assured him that the line was a key strategic railway and that there were no plans to close it. He said that the new timetable would be reviewed at the end of January and revisions introduced in June. He promised to take account of the concerns when the review takes place. Pictured here, John Whittingdale discusses the service with local Councillors, Peter Elliott, John Smith and Bob Boyce.

Following the meeting, John Whittingdale said: "I am pleased that Tim Clarke made clear that One regards the Crouch Valley line as a key strategic service and has absolutely no plans to close it. Mr Clarke explained that the recent changes to the timetable had had to be submitted to the Strategic Rail Authority quickly and so there was less time for consultation beyond the local authorities and rail user groups. However, he did say that the changes would be reviewed at the end of January with any revisions introduced in June. I have passed on to him the large number of complaints that I have had from constituents, particularly about the loss of the 0711 service from Southminster. Many people find the new 0735 service too late and so have to use the 0652 service, adding considerably to the length of their working day. Mr Clarke has promised to try to take account of these concerns in the review.

I welcome Mr Clarke's recognition that the cost of tickets is higher than on the Southend service and his agreement that this may need to be addressed, although I am disappointed if unsurprised that there appears no likelihood of any reduction in fares. I am also disappointed that there seems little immediate likelihood of obtaining a later train after the 2215 from Liverpool Street owing to the requirements of Network Rail
and the low number of users.

Finally, I also emphasised to Mr Clarke the concern felt by many that the Southminster service is treated as a poor relation and suffers disproportionately from cancellations or delays. I welcome Mr Clarke's assurance that this is not the case and that One will continue to make a special effort to protect the service on smaller lines like the Southminster branch."

John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford, visited Curves of Maldon, a ladies fitness club based at the Riverside Industrial estate at Mill Lane, Maldon.
Curves is part of the world's largest fitness franchise with nearly 10,000 locations worldwide. Franchise holders, Wendy Baker and Sarah Neal, now own three local clubs in Wickford, Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers. The clubs offer thirty minute workout programmes for ladies of all ages.

Each year, Curves organises a Food Drive to benefit local food banks. The joining fee was waived for any new member who brought in a bag of non-perishable groceries during March. These together with donations from existing members are to be distributed to the local community. Collectively, over the past 5 years, nearly 50 million pounds of food has been distributed worldwide. In Maldon, Curves is working with the Dengie Project Trust to distribute the food to local women's refuges, elderly persons homes and to servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John Whittingdale said: "I was delighted to support Curves Annual Food Drive. Sarah and her colleagues are doing a great job helping ladies in Maldon to keep fit and healthy and at the same time benefitting local voluntary groups supplying food to those who need it most".

John Whittingdale is pictured with Hilda Haslam, Coordinator of the Dengie Project Trust, Peter Newton, Trustee and Sarah Neal, owner of Curves.

10,000 pasengers in Danbury.

John Whittingdale congratulated local resident, Simon Claxton, who was the 10,000th passenger to use the Danbury Flyer.

The Flyer was set up as Danbury Parish Council's Millennium Project and in November 2005, the running was taken over by Danbury Community Transport. The Chairman is Colin Budgey and all committee members and drivers are volunteers.

The Flyer runs four mornings a week around Danbury and Little Baddow and is supported by Danbury Parish Council as well as advertisers and donors.Recently a new bus has been obtained with the help of Bill Davey of Hopping Jacks Hall.



On Friday, 29th June, John Whittingdale attended the inauguration of the new Maldon and District Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society at Maldon Football Club. Previously the Maldon and District Parkinson's Support Group, the new Branch is now affiliated to the National Society. The meeting was well attended and the Guest Speaker was Dr Kieran Bream, Director of Research at the Society.

John Whittingdale, who was elected President of the Branch, said:" I am delighted to become President of the Maldon Branch of the Parkinsons Disease Society.

Parkinson's is an immensely debilitating disease which affects about one in every 500 people. I am therefore very conscious that within my constituency there will be many living with, or helping to care for someone with the Disease. The Maldon Group does a marvellous job in providing support to
those people and I have no doubt that by becoming a Branch of the national society, it will be able to achieve even more."


Picture attached shows: Cllr Sheila Young, Deputy Chairman of Maldon DC
John Whittingdale
John Alderman, Mayor of Maldon
Derek Martin, Chairman of the Maldon Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society
Carole Noble, Mayor of Burnham on Crouch


John's views on the Government’s proposal to merge the Essex Police with the forces covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

I attended the launch of the referendum campaign on the Government’s proposal to merge the Essex Police with the forces covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This has been organised by the Police Authority and County Council and is supported by MPs from all parties in the County.

There is no doubt that a merger would be expensive and wasteful as well as making our police force less accountable and more remote. Essex already has one of the largest forces in England with 3230 officers serving a population of 1,600,000. The Government has claimed that a force needs to have 4,000 officers to be effective. Yet Kent and Hampshire, which are similar in size and face similar challenges, are being allowed to remain as stand alone forces. Of course, there is a case for greater co-operation between forces on strategic issues. Essex has taken the lead in seeking to establish a legally binding Federation of East Anglian Forces. This would allow the Force to join with others to collectively provide protective services, such as combating major crime, terrorism and civil emergencies. However, it would preserve the local identity of Essex Police which has the capacity and capability to become a strategic force on its own.

A forced merger will not only mean that Essex will no longer have its own Chief Constable and police identity, it is also likely to end up costing a lot more. Of the three forces proposed to merge, Essex has the lowest Council Tax precept for policing. The total cost of police mergers across the country has been estimated to be around £500 million, money which would be far better spent on front-line policing.

6 months ago, I asked the Prime Minister why he was not even willing to allow the Essex Police Authority even to consult on the option of maintaining a stand-alone force. In a letter to me, he said that the Home Office remained open to all options for which a compelling case can be made and that Essex Police Authority was therefore free to develop further a stand-alone proposal. Last week, in a welcome development, the Home Secretary announced that he would delay the implementation of mergers in order to allow time for further consultation.

The referendum being organised by the Police Authority and County Council provides an opportunity for the people of Essex to have their say. Over 700,000 questionnaires are being delivered to every household in the county and a survey form is also available on-line. I hope that everybody will use this opportunity to deliver a resounding message to the Government to leave our Police Force alone.


John Whittingdale met members of the new Essex Youth Assembly at County Hall, Chelmsford.

The Assembly has been set up by Essex County Council and is intended to give young people a voice in matters affecting the County.

John is pictured with members from Maldon and Chelmsford.


John Whittingdale was a guest at Great Leighs which will be the first new horse racecourse in nearly a century.

It is also vying to be chosen as the site for equestrian events of the London Olympic bid is successful. During his visit Mr Whittingdale met John Holmes, the owner of the site to discuss the £40 million pound investment which incorporates a state of the art stadium, landscaping, all-weather racecourse and stabling at Essex County showground.

Commenting on his tour, Mr Whittingdale admitted, “I have the occasional flutter myself. In fact I was at Newmarket recently and lost £50! I am very impressed with the plans for Great Leighs and what it will do to put the county on the sporting map.”

John Whittingdale helped to raise money for Farleigh Hospice

John Whittingdale helped to raise money for Farleigh Hospice by pouring custard on Cllr Miriam Lewis, Chairman of Heybridge Parish Council, and Emily, a pupil at the Plume School.

The initiative was organised by John Warner, Managing Director of Boddingtons, as part of Tea at 3 day, a national fund-raising campaign for Macmillan.

After having filled the custard bath in which the two girls were sitting, John helped to push it up Maldon High Street while employers of Boddingtons and SGB collected money from passers-by.


Happy birthday to Home Start Maldon.

John Whittingdale joined staff, volunteers and families at a party to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Home-Start Maldon at the West Maldon Community Centre.

John is patron of Home-Start Maldon and presented long service certificates to a number of the volunteers who are pictured.


John Whittingdale visited Hospital Radio Chelmsford as part of the Broomfield Weekend on 10th June.

HRC broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the patients at St John's, St Peter's and Broomfield Hospitals.

Seen here with Programme Controller, Dave Abrey, on the mobile unit outside Broomfield Hospital, John visited Wards B2 and B3 to talk to patients and to collect requests before introducing the records on air.

John Whittingdale MP opens the Military Show, Langford.

On Sunday, 1st July, John Whittingdale MP performed the official opening of the Military Show organised at the Museum of Power, Langford, by the Combined Military Services Museumin Maldon. The Show included performances by the Essex Yeomanry Band, a display by the Essex Militia and demonstartions of a large number of military vehicles. The highlight of the Show was the presentation of Veterans' Badges to 20 former members of the Armed Forces, many of whom fought in the Second World War.

John Whittingdale is pictured with a number of Veterans who received their badges.

John Whittingdale helped launch the competition to design the new Eco-friendly reusable bag for Maldon. Already some 5,000 jute and cotton bags featuring the first design have been distributed and they are on sale in over 30 retailers in Maldon High Street. A competition has now been launched to design a new smaller bag also made from jute. The competition is open until 30th May and the winner will have a day's sailing on a Thames Barge courtesy of Topsail Charters Ltd.

The initiative to promote eco-friendly bags is being taken by the Maldon Retail Promotions Group and local firm, Portabrands. The aim is that by 2009, Maldon will be the first plastic bag-free town in Essex. More information can be found at www.visitmaldon.co.uk and www.portabrands.com

Pictured with John Whittingdale are Liz Murphychairan of the Maldon Retail Promotions Group, Tom Russell, designer of the first bag, Hazel Bates of Portabrands, Den Phillips, Helen Craggs of the Maldon Tourist Information Centre and Ian Bates of Portabrands.

By 2009 Maldon plans to be the first plastic bag-free town in Essex because it wants to see less waste, less pollution and a healthier environment for us all to enjoy. The Maldon Retail Promotions Group ran a competition recently to find a new design to replace the current bag (designed by Tom Russell). This design has been very successful with now over 8,000 jute and cotton bags in circulation and available to purchase from over 40 retailers in and around Maldon.

The panel judges for the design competition were John Whittingdale MP, Tom Russell, Den Phillips, Liz Murphy, Jan Smith and Ian Bates. Mr Whittingdale said ‘it is good to see the people of Maldon take a proactive role to both promote the town positively and encourage everyone to do their bit to help the local environment. The new design is eye-catching and clearly puts Maldon on the global map’.

The new bags are made from PortaNaturale™, a new (patent pending) natural jute fibre and
rubber laminate, sourced from Kolkata in India by PortaBrands Ltd. The factory that manufactures the bags has passed a comprehensive ethical and quality audit and operates to the demanding standards of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The new reusable shopping bags will retail for £3.

About 13 billion plastic bags are used in the UK every year, which is the equivalent to 30 million bags every day. Most of these end up in landfill and take hundreds if not thousands of years to breakdown. There is another way, but it requires your support and a change of habits by us all.

Please do your bit for Maldon and the environment, say ‘no thanks’ to plastic bags.

Anyone wishing to stock and retail these bags should contact Ian Bates This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 07764 151014.

John Whittingdale helped launch the 2006 Maldon Beer Festival which was held from 19th to 22nd April in Maldon Town Hall.

This year's festival helped to raise money for the East Coast Sail Trust which organises sailing trips for youngsters on Thalatta, a Thamas Barge.

John Whittingdale is pictured with Mike Woods of Maldon and Dengie CAMRA and Joe Brannigan from the East Coast Sail Trust.


John Whittingdale MP welcomed Martin Le Jeune, Director of Corporate Affairs at BSkyB to Maldon Cricket Club on Friday, 28th June.

John Whittingdale, who is a Vice President of Maldon Cricket Club, approached Sky to ask if they would support the Club's appeal for funds to provide nets and equipment for coaching local youngsters in the game. Unfortunately, the annual Kwik-Cricket competition scheduled for that evening had to be cancelled due to the rain. However, Martin LeJeune was happy to present the Club with a cheque for £3,000.

Pictured are:
Martin LeJeune, Director of Corporate Affairs, BSkyB
John Whittingdale MP, Vice President Maldon Cricket Club
Sarah Dignasse, Head Teacher, The Plume School
Colin Philpott, President Maldon Cricket Club
Alan Coker, Chairman Maldon Cricket Club


John looks at the problem of housing locally.

John Whittingdale spoke at a seminar to discuss the impact of housing and development proposals on local communities organised by Mayor of Maldon, Rev Tony Shrimsley.

The seminar was attended by leading figures from the Methodist Church, of which Rev Shrimsley is a Minister, together with local Councillors and others.

Pictured are Rev Ermal Kirby of North East London District, John Whittingdale, Tony Shrimsley and Rev Tom Stuckey, President of the Methodist Conference.

John Whittingdale has been working with Maldon District Council and the Friends of the Prom to try to find identify the best option for the future of the Marine Lake in Maldon's Promenade Park.

John recently arranged a meeting between the Regional Director of the Health and Safety Executive and Maldon District Council to discuss the HSE's requirements in relation to each of the options that have been put forward. John is seen here discussing the District Council's proposal with Cllr Mrs Julia Peel, Chairman of Leisure Services.


John Whittingdale visited Maldon Rugby Club at Drapers Farm in Heybridge to meet children, players and coaches in training.

On Sunday 27 September, John Whittingdale visited Maldon Rugby Club at Drapers Farm in Heybridge to meet children, players and coaches in training. The Club has teams for each year group starting with the under 5s and as they get older they gradually incorporate more elements of the game. John also met Chairman of Youth, David Scott, Senior Club Chairman Jerry Wood and Club President, Peter Binder. John has recently become a Vice President of the Club and said:

"It is marvellous to see so many of all ages getting such obvious enjoyment from playing rugby. In particular, the enthusiasm of both boys and girls, some of whom were only just turned 4, was striking. The Club is doing a fantastic job both in introducing young people to the game as well as competing very successfully at the senior levels"


John Whittingdale, Member of Parliament for Maldon and East Chelmsford, had a meeting yesterday with Don Touhig MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, to press for further action to reduce the disturbance and distress caused to thousands of people living in the Maldon District and beyond caused by noise and vibration resulting from explosions at the Shoeburyness Ranges.

John Whittingdale joined five other MPs from Kent and Essex to demand that this problem be addressed. The Minister stated that Qinetiq, the company administering the site, were already establishing a new Community Liaison Officer to act as a point of contact for local residents wishing to complain. However, he went on to promise that a full scale review would be undertaken which would include a total evaluation of all operations at the Ranges and consideration of possible alternative sites.

John Whittingdale said: “I recognise the importance of the work done at Shoeburyness to test and evaluate munitions. However, much of the disturbance is caused by the disposal of obsolete stock and military waste. This is often highly unstable and has to be transported through populated areas of East London to Shoeburyness. There are a number of alternative sites away from centres of population where this could be done which would be far more appropriate.

I have been raising this issue with successive Ministers for over ten years but the problem has, if anything, got worse not better. These explosions cause damage to property, result in distress to pets and livestock and severely affect the quality of life of my constituents. Measures to set up phone lines for complaints, to monitor noise and vibration and to restrict activity when the wind is in the wrong direction have all proved largely ineffectual. I am delighted that at last we have got the agreement of the Minister to carry out a wholesale review to see if this work cannot be carried out in a more remote area. I hope that this means that my constituents can at last look forward to a quiet life.

John attends the Bradwell Business Breakfast.

Pictured with John Whittingdale are: Peter Wright Station Manager of Bradwell and a representative of the Department of Trade and Industry, Richard Griffin.


John Whittingdale received a briefing on local policing issues from District Commander, Chief Inspector Craig Robertson.

John said: "I congratulate the local police on their success in keeping the levels of crime in the District among the lowest in the country. However, more needs to be done to tackle the problems of vandalism and youth nuisance by a small minority in order to ensure that the Maldon District remains a wonderful place to live".


John Whittingdale held a meeting with the new Chief Constable of Essex, Roger Bacon, to discuss policing issues.

In particular, John raised with Mr Baker the concern felt in Burnham on Crouch about the lack of police presence and the problems caused by young hooligans. The Chief Constable explained his priorities which were to release more police officers for front-line work on the streets, to keep police stations open and to have a quick response to all those attempting to contact the police. In particular, he promised that a police officer would attend every reported crime and that a neighbourhood policing plan would be established for every community in the County.







John Whittingdale recently had a meeting with Julie Martyn, Highways Area Manager for Mid Essex, to discuss road transport issues.

In particular, they discussed the roadworks on the A414 through Danbury which will necessitate the closure of the road for 12 weeks from 11th April. John was keen to ensure that those wanting to get to local schools or businesses would be able to do so and that work would be carried out as quickly as possible. Ms Martyn assured John that the works would be carried out throughout daylight hours from Monday to Saturday and that diversions would be well signposted. In addition, Ms Martyn briefed John on the work to be carried out at the top of Maldon High Street which will lead to a ten week closure from 5th January. Here too, work will go on over 6 days a week leaving Saturday to minimise the disruption for shoppers.


John Whittingdale holds regular meetings with local health providers to discuss the performance of the NHS as well as individual constituency concerns.

John is pictured here with Chairman of the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust, David Barron and Chief Executive, Sheila Bremner, together with fellow Essex MPs, Simon Burns and Sir Alan Haselhurst.


John Whittingdale opened the new Changing Rooms in the Promenade Park, Maldon.

Shown here with Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Brian Mead, and Chairman of the Community Services Committee, Cllr Penny Channer, John formally opened the new facilities consisting of four main changing rooms, two referee rooms and two further changing rooms for people with disabilities. The new facilities were made possible by a grant of £187,000 from the Football Foundation together with additional support from Maldon District Council and the Liveability Fund. Following the opening, a demonstration football match took place between Heybridge Swifts Under 9s team and Maldon Saints Under 9s.






John Whittingdale recently helped to start work on the new play area in Oak Tree Meadow, Heybridge.

Pictured with John Whittingdale are Cllr John Archer, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Mike Wilson, Chairman of Heybridge Parish Council, Mrs Kay Ryder, project organiser and Cllr Mrs Julia Peel.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme, John said: “This is a fantastic scheme which will provide much needed play facilities for children in Heybridge. I warmly congratulate Kay Ryder and the other local mothers who have worked so hard to make it happen. This has been a community based initiative which, with the help of Maldon District Council and Heybridge Parish Council, will be a real asset to Heybridge.”


John Whittingdale opened the new "One Place", a multi-agency information, advice and support centre in the High Street Burnham-on-Crouch.
In order to avoid the problem of individuals being passed from agency to agency, One Place offers a single centre bringing together the voluntary, statutory and private sectors to provide a diverse range of services under one roof. This includes Tourist and Community Information, Policing, social and health care themes, training and volunteering opportunities and access to specialist advice. The key partners are The Dengie Project Trust, Essex Police, Maldon District Council, Mid Essex Primary Care Trust and Burnham Town Council.

John Whittingdale said: "A huge amount of work has gone in to make Burnham's One Place a reality. I especially congratulate Jacqueline Sinden of the Dengie Project Trust for her vision and determination. One Place will be a fantastic resource for residents of Burnham and the Dengie Peninsula and provides a model for other communities to follow."

Pictured are: Peter Newton (Dengie Project Trust), Jackie Tosic (Healthy Living Solutions), Jacqueline Sinden (Dengie Project Trust), Cllr Sheila Young (Chairman, Maldon DC), Cllr Robert Chambers (Chairman, Essex Police Authority), John Whittingdale, Cllr Carole Noble (Mayor of Burnham), Cllr Bob Boyce (Essex County Council) and Vikki Massey.


John Whittingdale opened the new extension to the Buddies Children’s Centre at Brickhouse Farm, Maldon.

The extension which was supported by the National Lottery will allow the centre to accommodate some 30 children each day, a number of whom have special needs.

John is pictured with Councillor Rodney Bass, Chairman of Maldon District Council, Lyn Munson, Centre manager, members of staff and children.

On Saturday, 12th November 2005, John Whittingdale opened the new exhibition “Spy Collection” at the Combined Military Services Museum in Station Road, Maldon.

The Collection was donated to the museum by Captain Peter Mason, thought by many to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond and contains probably the best espionage collection in the country.

John Whittingdale opened a new Farmers Market to be held at Danbury Sports and Social Centre on the first Saturday of every month between 9.00am and 1.00pm. The market included stalls from many local producers including Althorne beef, lamb from Gate Farm, Steeple, pork from Wicks Manor Farm and goats's milk and cheese from Mundon Hall.

John is pictured with Adrian Owers, the General Manager of Danbury Community Association, which runs the Centre.

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