John Howell MP Writes - September 2018


When Parliament is in recess it does not mean that MPs are necessarily on holiday.

I like to use the recess to get out and about in the constituency. I can do so in a more relaxed way than is possible when I only have the weekend to do this. Over the last few weeks I have been selecting a few villages or hamlets to visit at a time and have gone to see what ‘Conversations in the Street’ I can have with constituents. This is effectively a programme of street surgeries where I go out and see who is about and wants to talk. I find it enormously helpful to discover the issues that people raise off the top of their heads. It may be prompted by a recent news item, but often people take the opportunity to raise concerns that they have about many and varied issues. This summer among the issues people have raised are local shops, homelessness, support for carers, volunteer drivers, the RAF and Brexit! If you see me out and about and have something you want to discuss do please stop me and have a chat. Face to face conversations are always so much more productive than the short exchanges possible on social media or the more formal exchanges in writing. It can also be more helpful to people than travelling to a more formal MPs advice surgery.

Government Ministers also continue to work during the recess. For those parishes concerned about the proposed Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge expressway there has been worry at a published letter from the Minister for Housing, calling for ‘ambitious proposals for housing growth’ in the ‘CaMKOx arc’, as it has come to be known. I believe this to be very premature and have written to the Minister to express my concern at the issuing of such an alarming letter, especially during the holiday period.

For those in the catchment of Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley at last we can see the end of the parking fiasco which has haunted patients and visitors alike. Following wider ranging communications on this problem with a number of people over several months I took this to the Minister before recess. I was pleased to receive a letter back this month which confirms that not only is the problem being dealt with at senor levels, but that NHS Property Services (NHSPS) who manage the site are in advanced stages of tendering for a single provider to manage its car parks going forward. I also met with the Chief Operating Officer of NHSPS to talk through the detail. It will bring much relief when this worry it taken away for constituents.

Many of you will be reading this in September when schools are back. I have been lobbying Ministers on issues of school funding for a long time. I was pleased to see some beneficial changes come through but it is still not right. I will be continuing to raise this with Ministers when Parliament returns.

If you would like to know more about my please do look at my website which is regularly updated.