Parliamentary recess provides MPs with time away from what is often described as the ‘Westminster Village’ and allows the opportunity to spend more time in and around the constituency to catch up on casework and see at first hand those things that matter to constituents.
On Thursday morning last week I had the privilege of visiting the Midlands Air Ambulance team at its base at RAF Cosford. Arriving on site I watched as the helicopter took off, and on its return to base I met the team. The chance to learn of the incredible work they and the support staff do, taking emergency kit with a doctor and a paramedic out to the patient; their professionalism and dedication to duty was clear. ‘Saving Lives by Saving Time’ is their strap line and for me it sums up in a nutshell exactly what they do.
This year the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and has an exciting programme of events. I hope that we may all take part in these activities. It requires £7million each year to ensure the helicopters remain operation – all funded by donations and fundraising. A great achievement.
The Government is keen to support the work of air ambulances and I recently supported the bid from the Midlands Air Ambulance for LIBOR funds – fines which were paid by banks for breaking the law by manipulating interest rates. I really hope our local air ambulance is successful in their bid for a new helicopter. It is an excellent charity worthy of our support.
Another recent and timely visit was to the Weinerberger works in Aldridge. From clay to bricks and even sanitary ware, the ceramic industry is not just a part of our local heritage, it also makes an important contribution to the local economy, and employs around 300 people in the constituency.
Standing on top of the kiln at Weinerberger, watching the red hot bricks as they were fired, I could see for myself the energy intensity of this industry and how access to secure and internationally-competitive priced energy supplies is critical to success. Our manufacturers need to be able to compete on a level playing field on energy and climate costs both with EU and non-EU competitors. It is with this in mind that I stood for, and was elected to be a Vice-Chairman of the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Ceramics, formed to discuss policy issues impacting on the ceramics manufacturing sector, and to raise questions and greater awareness in Parliament.
When Parliament returns from the Easter recess my role as an MP, to scrutinize the work of our government will continue. I will raise these important matters with Government, for the sake of local jobs and industries. We need a manufacturing base here to supply the bricks and ceramics that are needed to meet the growing demand to build new homes.