John Howell MP Writes - February 2018


A look back at recent key issues in Westminster and the Constituency

In a constituency that stretches from the edge of Reading to the south and the edge of Bicester to the north, and from the River Thames to the West and the Buchinghamshire border to the east there are often relatively local issues that do not immediately affect the whole constituency – although there may be implications on a wider scale. One such issue is that of an additional bridge over the River Thames in Reading. There has been a recent round of concern on this as a Strategic Outline Business Case was published by Wokingham Borough Council in the Autumn of last year. This is a hot topic in the south of the constituency. Many people commute south to Reading and beyond and would welcome improved access but others fear that a new bridge will put strain on the road network in South Oxfordshire. I have made it very clear that robust assessment of the implications on the road network to the north of the bridge must be made and appropriate mitigation of any negative impact be included as part of the project. We must be alert to the potential for additional traffic moving north from Reading to the M40 at junctions 6 and 8 and also across to the west to join the A34.

In the middle of the constituency concern has been raised over the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.  as there has been suggestion of a route which cuts through the Green Belt around Oxford. In my view such a route is entirely unnecessary and not the most practical. A key area for growth is the Oxford – Milton Keynes - Cambridge arc and such a road would need to include Milton Keynes in the link. I have made my views known to the Secretary of State for Transport and have also called for full public consultation on this project.

An issue which affects many pockets across the whole constituency is the provision of Broadband. Some communities are still struggling with speeds too slow to access even the most basic websites. With so much dependency on the internet today broadband is fast becoming a basic utility. I am delighted that the Culture Secretary announced a Universal Service Obligation that will give everyone in the UK access to high speed broadband of a minimum of 10 mbps by 2020. For some this is still some way off and in the meantime improvements are continually being made through the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme. Information is readily available on progress by postcode and is updated every two weeks. (

If you would like to know more about my work in Westminster, on behalf of the Government and the Constituency please do look at my website which is regularly updated. The address is I also produce a periodic electronic newsletter and briefings on specific issues as well as writing in these parish magazines. If you would like to subscribe to these please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it