Rising Prices and Putin On My Mind This Month — A monthly article by MP Andrew Selous


By Andrew Selous, MP

Help With Rising Prices

Rising prices, greatly exacerbated by Putin’s barbarism in Ukraine, are top of the political agenda at the moment. Central Bedfordshire Council has already helped 9,000 vulnerable households including providing over 12,000 food vouchers. A further £1.5 million has been provided by the government to the council to help pensioners and anyone else who is having difficulty paying utility and food bills. A reduction in National insurance for 70% of the population comes in July and I continue to lobby the government to make sure that we do everything necessary to look after people in need.

Ukraine

Talking of Putin, I was one of only 287 MPs and the only Bedfordshire MP to be sanctioned by Putin, for calling out General Mikhail Mizintsev’s brutality in his destruction of Mariupol, something he also did in Aleppo. I view the sanction as a badge of honour, and the UK must continue to support Ukraine.


[ On 18 May 2022, in 'Achieving Economic Growth', Andrew Selous told Parliament, “What is happening in Ukraine is having a consequence on people’s cost of living. One thinks of the storehouses in Odesa, full of grain that could go around the world to feed hungry people and that would help grain prices to come down and help us in the United Kingdom. However, because of the evil action of the Putin regime, that is not allowed to happen. Ukraine is also the world’s fourth largest producer of ammonia and fertiliser, which is having a huge impact on the problems that our farmers are facing.” //Link ]

Pandemic

I also noted the World Health Organisation analysis last week which shows that the UK had less excess deaths per 100,000 population, as a result of the pandemic, than was the case in Spain, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Every death is of course a tragedy and I wish we could have prevented every single one, and I, like many others, lost someone I was extremely close to.

General Practice

I had the pleasure of visiting Leighton Road Surgery last week and learned that with a slightly smaller number of patients they continue to get 1,000 more telephone calls a month than before the pandemic. They do expect this to fall as the backlog of people who stayed away from the surgery during the pandemic starts to decrease. I was also very pleased to learn that they have committed to becoming a training practice which will help them attract more GPs. As a result of my Parliamentary debate on general practice capacity and large-scale housing developments, I’ve been contacted by a health infrastructure planning lawyer who is helping me to try to improve the suboptimal way we currently deal with this issue.

[On 18 May 2022, in 'Achieving Economic Growth', Andrew Selous told Parliament, “ I am focusing in particular on the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill and what it needs to do, and I want to raise the appalling difficulty that many of us on both sides of the House have in getting sufficient additional general practice capacity where there are huge new housing developments. We are a country that generally does public administration and planning well—for example, I rarely come across a child who does not have a school place—because we have brilliant civil servants and brilliant local authority officers. However, I must say that a major exception is general practice, where the system is not working well. I ask my Front-Bench colleagues please to note that and take it back across Government.” 

“There is an alphabet soup of different places to go to try to get a health hub or extra GP surgeries. One could try section 106 or the community infrastructure levy. One might be lucky with the housing infrastructure fund. Perhaps one’s local authority—or even Government capital from the Treasury to the Department of Health and Social Care—will come to the rescue. It is complicated and uncertain, and we are not serving our constituents well in ensuring that general practice capacity is available. I have 14,000 new houses being built, which will help with the housing issues that I mentioned, but that is more than 36,000 new residents coming to my area for which we must have the general practice capacity. I will keep campaigning on that issue until it is resolved.” //Link ]

Police Numbers

It was also good to learn about increased police officer recruitment in Bedfordshire with an increase of 134 more officers since September 2019 now bringing us to force a total of 1,411 the highest ever. However, it’s not just about numbers it is about where they are deployed and this October will mark a decade from the disastrous decision to roster our officers in either Luton or Bedford. A new police hub in Leighton Buzzard will help but I still want a 24/7 first responder presence in Houghton Regis, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard and Linslade.

Royal Mail

I would also like to give a shout out to Royal Mail for switching overall 43 delivery vehicles in their Leighton Buzzard sorting office to electric. It is another example of how doing the right thing for the planet and for local people who will breathe in fewer diesel fumes, is also the right thing for our pockets, as the whole life cost of this investment will save Royal Mail money. It would be nice to think that the cost of a stamp might come down as a result, but I’m not holding my breath!