How are the government finances standing up to the covid pressure? Will we be in recession for many years?
The Government has put in place a generous set of measures, more than any other country, to help people get through this crisis with £280 billion of direct support. There are obviously going to be some difficult decisions but all economic measures will be reviewed at the upcoming Budget, in the first week of March.
After the vaccinations will money be put in the NHS to catch up on all the other illnesses that have been put back due to covid?
The Government is investing an additional £33.9 billion in frontline NHS services every year by 2023-24, the largest and longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS and also provided a further £3bn of investment into the NHS to prepare hospitals for an increase in Coronavirus cases and other seasonal pressures.
Once again we do need to wait for the Budget but I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am extremely grateful to the NHS staff who have worked, and continue to work, so tirelessly to treat and support patients suffering with Covid-19: their work has saved countless lives.
I would also like to thank the local vaccine rollout team who have been doing such fantastic work. I have regular calls with other local MPs, local authorities and senior healthcare officials and am pleased to learn that the rollout in Staffordshire and indeed in the Moorlands is going really well and they are confident of meeting the target to give all the first 4 cohorts a vaccine by 15 February.
I know that the increase in coronavirus cases is having an impact on hospital capacity to undertake ordinary procedures and run routine screening. Throughout the pandemic, people have been encouraged to continue to seek medical help where they need it. People who have a healthcare condition that is not Covid-related should speak to their GP.
On the subject of the NHS, I was asked during the interview about the Minor Injuries Unit in Leek. I want to be clear that all the MIUs across the county have been closed, not just in Leek. This was a clinical decision to ensure patient safety. I have been reassured that the MIU will open as soon as it is clinically safe to do so along with all the other MIUs. And of course, the beds at the Leek Moorlands Hospital are ready to be used by Covid patients when needed.
Are there any plans to help the shops, pubs get back on their feet following lockdown as the towns in the Moorlands could be hard hit with the streets half empty?
I continue to lobby the Government for support for businesses, especially in the tourism and hospitality sector and have hosted many calls together with local businesses, our local authorities, Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Ministers to discuss these concerns. I have written to Ministers and continue to lobby the Treasury for support.
I really do sympathise with all those businesses who have had to close (hopefully only temporarily) – many of you have contacted me and I continue to do what I can to help and to make ministers aware of your concerns. I am pleased to see how some of our local shops, cafes and restaurants have adapted, making things safe and setting up new initiatives such as takeaways, deliveries and click and collect. I urge everyone in the Moorlands to support our local businesses as much as you can.
Are you still in support of tourism in the Moorlands, especially seeing the train back into Leek?
I am and have always been a great supporter of tourism in the Moorlands. I am vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary group for the Peak District, I support all our fantastic businesses and continue to lobby the Government regarding the opening of the Stoke to Leek line. We are home to one of the UK’s biggest tourist attractions in Alton Towers and as I mentioned in a recent debate, we desperately need alternative forms of transport. Reopening the train line between Stoke-on-Trent and Leek would not only enable us to get visitors in but would make an incredible difference to the lives of so many people. We need money in buses. We need to make sure our villages are connected, and the train line would make an incredible difference.
We have so much to offer here in the Moorlands and once we get through this pandemic, we need to make sure that tourists are back in their thousands.
The government proposals to change the planning rules have shocked many people, as it is feared developers will be in charge of building anywhere. Why does the government keep stressing to build when the infrastructure in many places, like roads, doctors, dentist, school are full to capacity. It also was brought up at one council meeting last week that they are going against their climate change policy as more houses brings more cars which creates more fumes.
I took part in a debate in Parliament on planning and house building and spoke about how I support the fact that planning is the decision of local councillors and that it is a matter for locally elected representatives to make decisions.
I pay tribute to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for the years put into developing and agreeing on a local plan which has local support and will allow us to have the right mix of housing in the right places.
I was elected in 2010 on the promise that we would get rid of central targets and would let local people decide what housing needs there were in their areas so therefore could not support any plans for an algorithm to be used to impose a number of new homes on an area.
I was also asked during the interview about our local authority structure. We are very proud of our local authority structures in Staffordshire, our two-tier system in the county works well meaning that decisions are taken as locally as possible by people who live in the area affected, and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure that it stays that way. Of course we can all work together but we want to ensure that decisions are taken at the right local level.
I would like to conclude by saying just how proud I am of everyone in the Moorlands for your strength and resilience during these difficult times. I know from the many emails and letters I receive just how tragic and devastating this pandemic has been for so many of you, in so many different ways. But we are Moorlanders, we will come through this and with the vaccine now being rolled out, there really is light at the end of the tunnel.
Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP