Click HERE to read my latest column in the Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times, or read below.
All MPs divide their time between their constituency and Parliament, and I use my time in Westminster to push projects and policies that I believe will make the best of local people and our area thrive. So, here is an update on three local issues that I have been working on recently that many constituents regularly ask about.
The cost of parking in our town centres can hurt local businesses, town centres and decrease the quality of life for local people. I believe that the best way to support our towns is to offer, at least some, free parking. However, as the old saying goes, ‘nothing in life is free’, and it is currently impossible to just remove all charges at no cost to the tax payer, but there is a potential solution.
By 2020, local government will be able to retain 100% of the £26 billion of revenue generated from business rates to spend on local government services. I have asked the Chancellor to include car parks in the devolution of business rates as I believe the savings can be directly passed on to motorists and we can deliver cheaper parking. I have written to Wiltshire Council to express my views, to read that letter visit http://michelledonelan.com/parking
Bus services are another important local issue, which is why I recently met the Minister responsible for local transport, to discuss the progress of the Bus Services Bill going through Parliament. I understand the increased pressures on the local government finances and on councils to protect funding for statutory services. Buses are not a statutory service and it is therefore right that they are constantly reviewed. However, a significant number of constituents have raised concerns that certain changes to bus services in Wiltshire could be to damaging, especially to older and disabled resident’s ability to maintain their independence by accessing town centres and shops.
I strongly believe that the future of Wiltshire’s bus service would be enhanced by the ability to adopt an ‘enhanced partnership’ across the county. Under it, all services would be commercially operated, but the contracts would be for services agreed by a Local Transport Board, which would be composed of local councils, resident associations and industry experts. To read my letter to the Transport Secretary visit http://michelledonelan.com/bus
School funding continues to remain unfair for our local schools. The current system is ludicrous. The Government’s ‘fair funding model’, originally due to start in 2017, has been delayed by a year. Therefore, I have written to the Secretary of State for Education to make clear that for each week that goes by, Wiltshire pupils lose compared to children in other areas on the country. This is something that I will continue to push for until it is finally resolved.
As always, if you would like to discuss the above or any other local or national issues, please get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01249 704465