Chesham & Amersham was in the national eye last night as Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP spoke during the debate following yesterday’s Budget.
Welcoming the Budget announcements, Dame Cheryl praised the “good housekeeping” which had brought about “a much more optimistic picture”.
With two market towns and many delightful Chilterns villages in the constituency, the well-being of local high streets is crucial and Dame Cheryl backed measures to support these. But she was cautious about how the measures will help the smaller communities.
“ I am not sure what this measure will do for our small villages that are sometimes losing their only shop. It is too easy to convert a shop in a small village into residential property that will be worth an awful lot of money, “ Dame Cheryl told the Commons. Asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look at this, Dame Cheryl also said that HS2 construction will have an effect on Great Missenden’s shops.
While pleased to hear that there will be further funding to deal with potholes, Dame Cheryl reminded MPs that HS2 construction will affect Chesham & Amersham’s roads.
“HS2 is already failing to comply with some of the undertakings and assurances entered into under the legislative phase, particularly in relation to assessing the impact on the small roads about the Lee, the Missendens and the surrounding villages.”
Having had a recent meeting with the new chair of HS2, Sir Terry Morgan (who also heads the Crossrail project) Dame Cheryl said she hoped “that we will not see the extra costs, delays and governance issues that we have seen emerging on Crossrail”.
Schools in the Chesham & Amersham constituency will benefit under the measures announced in the Budget – by about £10,000 for each primary school and £50,000 for each secondary school to help them with their capital budgets.
Dame Cheryl said that she also hopes that extra funding for mental health will help families and individuals with autism, and for raising awareness to train people working with members of the public about the needs of those who are autistic. Next year will be the tenth anniversary of Dame Cheryl’s ground-breaking Autism Act.
A “small measure which will make a huge difference” is the £15 million which goes to charities and others to distribute surplus food. About 250 million meals every year currently go to waste but these would help people in need.
Funding for tree planting and environmental protection should also be directed to repair the depredation of ancient woodland affected by HS2 construction, said Dame Cheryl.
“If we are going to have the arc of innovation between Oxford and Cambridge, can we also ensure that we protect our countryside and in particular the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?” concluded Dame Cheryl.