During the broadcast, Richard also set-out his belief that public service funding, in particular health, is being diverted away from areas like West Berkshire to Labour areas in the North. Richard said, “Because the Government’s formula on spending means that West Berkshire falls below the radar on indicators such as unemployment and deprivation, it is infinitely worse to be sick, mentally ill or disabled in West Berkshire than in many areas to the North.”
Richard asked that if the unit was to close any proceeds from the sale of the unit should remain in West Berkshire. Under NHS rules they would normally go into central NHS capital funds.
Today Richard received a letter from Sir Nigel which would appear to concede that the proceeds from the sale will indeed remain in West Berkshire. Richard said, “This is the first bit of good news we have had since this issue was first raised in the summer. Sums received from the sale of the unit can now kick start a fund to provide a new build palliative care unit in the hospital grounds.”
Richard concedes there is a long way to go before this becomes reality but it does give hope to those who value the CCMU for its distinctive independence from the hospital environment and also may provide the basis for greater up-take of palliative care services in the future
With Parliament in recess there is a popular misconception that MPs are on holiday. To counter this Richard Benyon is giving details of some of his activities over the weeks until Parliament returns in October.
"I think 80 days is too long for Parliament to be in recess but it has given me the opportunity to get around the constituency, to visit many organisations and individuals and to attend a great many events"
Activities in July and August include;
An all day visit to the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston.
A meeting to discuss the local economy with Barclays Bank
A meeting with Water Voice - the voice for Thames Water customers
A meeting to address concerns from low flying Police and Army Helicopters in the Downlands area.
Attending the Southby Allotments Open Day
Newbury Farmers Market
Meetings with Council Members and Officials
Attending a performance of the Newbury Young Stars production of "Summer Holiday"
Helping Newbury Show with their traffic management difficulties
Visiting Elm farm Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall
Visiting the Environment Agency to discuss the water shortage in the Thames Valley
- and many more
In addition, Richard's mailbag has not eased up. He has been representing constituents on a variety of issues every day. Frequently recurring issues are (not in order): The Child Support Agency, Tax Credits (particularly overpayment), Thames Water, Housing matters, Planning (unlike his predecessor, Richard does get involved in planning matters), Licensing and Immigration. Richard is continuing to hold surgeries throughout the summer.
As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee he is attending Parliament during the recess as the Committee will be sitting to interview the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke MP, The Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair and the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, among others.
Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has called on the Government to recognise the sacrifice given by so many who fought in Bomber Command in the war. In a letter to Don Touhig MP, the Minister for Veterans at the Ministry of Defence, Richard raised the wish of many surviving veterans for a campaign medal to be issued to recognise the heroism of those who took part in the bombing campaigns in the last war.
Richard said, “Around half of those who took part in the campaign (56,000) died in action and it is shameful that this is the only major branch of Britain’s wartime armed forces not to have received such recognition.” Richard was moved to promote this campaign by a friendship he has struck up with Newbury resident and Bomber Command veteran, Les Weaver