on May 7th.
Speaking after the launch Maria said, “This is the most important General Election for a generation. People in Basingstoke will have the choice to stick with the Conservative Party’s plan that is working for Basingstoke and Britain; or return to the chaos of Labour.
“The economy is recovering so Basingstoke families are around £900 a year better off now compared with 2010; last year 1000 new businesses were set up in the Borough with hundreds of new jobs coming to Basingstoke this year alone; and we have already seen £35million to improve our roads, a new school at Rooksdown and plans for a new critical care hospital too. In the next five years we need thousands more school places and further investment in our roads and rail network to make sure we stay a great place to live. We can’t put all of this at risk by returning to a Labour Government. Labour just handed out the highest house building targets to Basingstoke without the necessary investment so local services could cope. Basingstoke is a great place to live and I want to continue to be Basingstoke’s strong voice in Westminster.”
The team also looked at ways of improving cycle routes to and from the train station.
Maria said: “Traffic congestion is a major opportunity for a shift to cycling, it’s happening in London and elsewhere and it can happen in Basingstoke. “
“If we are developing in a sustainable way, we need to focus on traffic congestion. Cycle routes that are well designed and connect to other forms of public transport need to be a priority.”
“This site visit with Hampshire County Council’s transport team looked at how we can both improve existing cycle routes and ensure that future routes are well designed.”
Maria and The Women in Business group committee met with Enterprise M3 LEP Chair, Geoff French and LEP Executive Director Kathy Slack.
Maria commented “Enterprise M3 is a business-led Local Enterprise Partnership working towards securing economic growth for the area. The aims of the LEP are to create an environment in which business can flourish. The North Hampshire Women in Business group is aimed at supporting women in business and offering advice and support in an informal setting. “
“It seemed to make perfect sense to forge links between NHWIBG and the LEP as the common aim is for businesses to thrive and women have played a significant and successful part in the number of businesses in Basingstoke. It was very encouraging to see how aware the LEP were about the need for more women in the workplace here in the town and surrounding area. “
“The skill set of this committee is very diverse and demonstrates the wide range of talent here in the Basingstoke. More support is needed for women in terms of mentoring and flexible working if we are to see more women both in the workforce and re-entering the work force after a career break. I would encourage more women in business or thinking about starting their own business to contact the North Hampshire Women in Business Group.”
Maria said, “I was shocked to find out that I was the 265th woman ever to be elected to Parliament. There are more men in the House of Commons today than there are women who have ever been elected as MPs.
Whilst all of the major Parties are encouraging more women to stand to make sure we have a more representative democracy I think Parliament needs to become a more women friendly work place too – when I was elected my youngest son was just 3 years old. It was difficult to be a mum to three primary school aged children and sit on the green benches until late into the night. Sitting hours are getting more family friendly but still 40% of female MPs do not have children. Parliament is missing out on the experience and expertise of a huge group of women and this has to change.”
The award is made by the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group (APPCG), whose judging panel has shortlisted ten companies for the national award. The name of the winning company will be announced after the General Election.
Maria said: “It is great news that Fujitsu in Basingstoke has been shortlisted for this National Award. The team at Fujitsu have a fantastic record in corporate responsibility. They are highly visible in Basingstoke, contributing to a wide variety of initiatives in ways that really help the local community. As a supporter of Business in the Community they have seconded two people as Business Connectors, who have helped to create important links between organisations and they have given really strong support to the Armed Forces.”
Maria added: “I am looking forward to presenting a certificate to the Chairman of Fujitsu, Simon Blagden during the coming weeks.”
Maria said: “It was great to help out with planting some seeds at the Kempshott Community Garden. Inspero is a brilliant project, and has gone from strength to strength.”
Inspero is a grass roots community organisation, running two initiatives – Love2Grow, which teaches young people how to grow fruit and vegetables, and Love2Cook, which teaches them how to use the produce to prepare and cook nutritious meals.
Maria said, “The Rail summit I held last year identified that Basingstoke has some of the busiest and most overcrowded railways in the country. Today’s announcement from GWT is an important step forward to ease problems for the service to Reading and has to be the start of a much larger investment in the railways in Basingstoke.
“ It has already been shown that the South West Trains service suffers chronic overcrowding on a daily basis. As well as electrification of the Reading route we also urgently need to see longer, faster trains on the Wessex Route to ease the situation at peak times.
“ The Wessex Route consultation has shown that Basingstoke needs to see a 60% increase in rail capacity by 2049 to cope with growing demand. This increase in capacity has to be part of the investment in our local service.”
Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, said in support of the campaign: “A child in my daughter's school was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning so I find it particularly worrying that the Gas Safe Register found dangerous gas appliances in one in six homes in the South East. These problems could have been prevented by regular checks so it’s vital that every household has annual gas safety checks. Gas Safe Register is also working in local Basingstoke schools to make sure children are aware of the dangers of gas and how they can stay safe. I hope this will encourage all parents to act on, preventing unnecessary gas tragedies happening in the future.”
Despite 31 deaths and over 1,000 serious injuries happening in the UK in the last three years, parents of young children are significantly falling short of keeping themselves and their families safe1. Around 15 per cent of the population – almost 10 million people – are made up of parents of young families who fail to carry out regular checks of their gas appliances and don’t use legal Gas Safe registered engineers2. Gas Safe Register’s own inspections have found that one in six homes in the South East has an unsafe gas appliance3.
As part of the Get Gas Safe campaign, a theatre roadshow is being performed in schools to educate children about where gas comes from and explain how it can be used safely to cook food and heat homes. Children at Charles Kingsley’s Primary School and Merton Junior School enjoyed the production last week.4 Other age-appropriate educational resources, which can be downloaded from www.GetGasSafe.org.uk, include an online interactive virtual house, videos, classroom lesson plans, homework activities and a parent’s booklet which have been created with input from teachers to ensure messages are sent home. Materials also include electricity advice from charity Electrical Safety First.
Russell Krämer, chief executive at Gas Safe Register, said: “If ignored or not treated carefully, gas can lead to tragic consequences. We were surprised to learn that families of young children are not doing everything they can to protect themselves and their homes from gas dangers. This is why we are now using education as a channel to raise awareness of gas safety to children and their families. By increasing awareness among teachers, children and families, we hope to see a rise in the number of people using a Gas Safe registered engineer and getting all of their gas appliances checked annually – reducing the number of preventable deaths and injuries every year.”
Gordon Lishman, chair of Gas Safe Charity, which is funding the educational programme, said: “We are excited to be working with Gas Safe Register to communicate life-saving messages to children through their teachers. The teachers themselves also welcome it, with around eight in 10 primary school teachers saying they recognise the importance of rolling out a gas safe education programme and wanting to have the resources to teach it with confidence. At present, just one in 10 teachers are educating pupils about gas safety5. Hopefully through this new programme and the supporting resources we have created, we can increase the number of teachers covering gas safety in the classroom.”
The top four tips being taught to children through the new campaign are:
Maria said: “I am delighted that these new flow gauges have been installed on the River Loddon, which I have been campaigning for for some time. This enhanced monitoring will help ensure that any future levels of housebuilding do not lead to a deterioration in the water quality.”
“It is great to see the Borough Council and the Environment Agency working together to protect and restore this important River in Basingstoke.”
Maria has been campaigning for a number of years for improved monitoring of the River and was delighted to watch the Environment Agency making final calibrations to one of two flow gauges at Old Basing on Friday 20 March.
The flow gauges have been installed at two locations in Old Basing, with the total cost of £50,000 being funded by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
The gauges will provide accurate information on the level and rate of flow of water in the Loddon, which used with other environmental data will enable better assessment and monitoring of the ecological condition of the river. This will help with projects to enhance water quality and plant and animal species, particularly fish.
Maria met up with Environment Agency experts at the site by Pyotts Bridge. She was joined by Cllr Hayley Eachus, the Borough Councillor with lead responsibility for the Environment, as well as Amanda Ingham from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the Catchment Host for the River Loddon Catchment Partnership. Representatives from the Gresham Angling Society also attended, including Dr Alan Gibberd, an Old Basing resident.
After listening to the Chancellor deliver his final Budget before the General Election Maria said, “This is a great Budget for Basingstoke. The Chancellor’s announcements mean real support for families throughout the Borough, many of whom faced tough times as a result of the recession.
“People on average wages in the Borough will be more than £900 better off in 2015 than they were in 2010: Freezing fuel duty again means Basingstoke residents now save £10 off a tank each time they fill up; and increases in tax free allowances means families will have £900 more to spend every year. Lower taxes puts money back into people’s pockets.”
“There are more jobs in the Borough - with figures published today showing that Basingstoke has one of the lowest levels of unemployment in the country, with a 50% fall in youth unemployment and thousands of new apprenticeships created by local business.
“The Chancellor also specially announced capacity funding for Basingstoke. This means detailed plans can now be made for roads, schools and medical services that will be needed to support the new community proposed to the west of the town. We have to ensure that any future development goes hand in hand with improvements to local services. For too long houses were built in the Borough without the necessary plans in place or funding to ensure services could cope. That was wrong. Today’s announcement means this future house building will be sustainable because funding is now in place to develop detailed plans of the services needed. This new money along with more than £35million already committed to Basingstoke to improve our roads and plans for a new critical care hospital all show the commitment to sustainable development.”
Maria went on to say, “Compared with five years ago Basingstoke is seeing a real boost and we are seeing Britain become a fairer place. Throughout the country youth unemployment is down, there are record numbers of women in work, the pay gap between men and women has never been smaller, inequality is lower and child poverty is down, more children from poorer families are able to get to university and apprenticeships have tripled.”