Gainsborough

Sir Edward Leigh: Red Arrows, Trump, Houses, Brexit, Education, Education and Education

As a Member of Parliament for over 30 years I know how varied the issues I get involved in can be. November has been no exception.

At the start of the month I was very pleased to learn that the Red Arrows are to get new aircraft. The Red Arrows fly BAE Systems Hawk T1 jets, from RAF Scampton, in my constituency, where they have been based since 2001. Their current planes can reach a top speed of just over 600mph and the team can fly as low as 100 feet from the ground.

I agree with my colleague Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary; they are here to stay and are a key part of our defence engagement, as it is known, around the globe.

I don’t think the public would let us lose the Red Arrows, who I have fought hard to keep within the constituency.

The following week saw the election of Donald Trump as the next US President. Hopefully this signals Britain moving to the front of the queue for a trade deal following our decision in June to leave the EU. It does nothing for those people who dismiss, criticise and whinge at these democratic shocks to a cosy-liberal-left orthodoxy, which has had its time and is now over.

What is replacing it is a quiet revolution from the centre-right. Values that have been deeply held by the rural communities of Lincolnshire that I represent are coming to the fore.

They had fallen out of favour with metropolitan elites in the cities.

But it is heartening to see that the values I have espoused for over three decades as parliamentarian are once again finding favour with the majority of people.

The following day I met with local entrepreneur Mark Dransfield of Dransfield Properties, they re-developed Marshall’s Yard, in Gainsborough, into the thriving shopping area it is today, to support ambitious plans to bring a much needed hotel to the town.

In Market Rasen I met with members of the Rasen Action Group who are campaigning against plans to build 300 houses in the town. I also met with a number of Lincolnshire MPs and county councillors who, I am pleased to say, have rejected the proposed devolution deal.

The following week I was out delivering leaflets in the by-election in Sleaford and North Hykeham.

It mystifies me quite the reason for Stephen Phillips departure, however I am very pleased to be supporting the excellent Caroline Johnson who like me voted to leave the EU.

Conservatives are going to deliver Brexit, as that is the clear instruction of the British people, other parties seemed more concerned with frustrating that decision, than implementing it.

It was really good news that week to see that unemployment data for the constituency showed that more people were in work. The security of a job, being able to provide for oneself and family, ensures people can live their lives with dignity, not having to rely on state hand-outs.

Back in February last year the figure was nearly 1,500 unemployed claimants, it is now down to 1,100.

Some days later I was particularly pleased to meet a number of delightful constituents from the Lincolnshire branch of the British Federation of Women Graduates who were visiting the House of Lords. Their organisation does tremendous work to promote opportunities for women in education and public life, working locally, nationally and internationally.

I was very pleased to attend the opening of the second phase of development at the Showground Campus of Riseholme College. The University of Lincoln, which owns the land that Riseholme College operates on, has plans to develop the site.

The government has made it clear that the value of the land is protected by an Asset Deed which was affected when the land was originally transferred from the Lincolnshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture in 1994 to De Montfort University, who subsequently transferred to Lincoln University.

The University of Lincoln will be expected to make good its obligation by paying a sum for the value of the assets which they are no longer making available for the original purpose of further education. An asset deed can secure repayment for the value of the assets held or disposed of by the university; it cannot prevent the sale of the land by the university.

The university’s plans have met with severe criticism from the people of Riseholme and I support their concerns.

On another education related matter I was very pleased to receive a letter supporting church and other faith schools from Justine Greening, the Education Secretary.

Many parts of the country face a shortage of school places.

The church has been an education provider in this country for centuries, establishing its oldest universities, and now teaching many of the poorest and most disadvantaged.

So the removal of the faith admission cap means that faith schools can now take advantage of the free schools programme if they so wish, giving parents potentially even greater choice.

I was pleased at news that the Lincoln Eastern Bypass has been given the funding green light by Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary. I have been championing this improvement for many years, I am just disappointed that it is not to be a dual carriageway, which I think shows a lack of foresight.

Finally, I was interested to tour the Art to Care care-home with members from the Social Care Exchange.

Created by patents to make a difference the Art to Care facility provides specialist residential care for adults with complex needs and provides opportunities for people to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

The staff and everyone involved do a tremendous job.