DevComms director Charles Bushe examines what the Thames Valley’s  MPs have been doing over the past month.

Over recent weeks, a number of Thames Valley MPs have been reacting to Robert Jenrick’s announcement that the proposed ‘mutant algorithm’ for calculating housing need (as branded by Conservative MP Philip Hollobone) will be revised.

James Sunderland (Bracknell, Con) has said that he welcomes the decision, as ‘local councils are best-placed to decide housing priorities’, and Greg Smith (Buckingham, Con) said he is ‘pleased’ the Government has listened to concerns because ‘too much countryside’ has been lost in his constituency.

Following the news that the preferred bidder for Reading Gaol pulled out of negotiations with the Ministry of Justice last month, Matt Rodda (Reading East, Lab) has reignited his calls for the gaol to be turned into an arts and heritage hub, claiming there is now a ‘wonderful opportunity for a complete and utter re-think’.

He has been posting regularly on social media to announce the various celebrities that have rallied to the cause, including Natalie Dormer, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench.

He also wrote to the prisons minister at the end of November to suggest that Reading Gaol should be considered as a world heritage site given the links to Oscar Wilde and as the burial place of King Henry I.

Staying in Reading, Conservative MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma (secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy), set out the recently published Energy White Paper in Parliament.

The White Paper has some important implications for developers in the Thames Valley, and for more information on this you can read our earlier article which considered some of the detail…

In Slough, Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said that the Government must ‘fully commit’ to HS2 as the East Midlands and the North are being ‘short changed’ in the efforts to level up the country. He also met with Andy Byford, commissioner of TfL, to discuss Crossrail and said that he is pleased funding has been secured for ‘this vital project’.

Turning again to Buckinghamshire, Rob Butler (Aylesbury, Con) and Greg Smith (Buckingham, Con) asked the minister for regional growth and local government on November 16 what assessment has been made of the devolution proposals put forward by Buckinghamshire Council.

The proposals seek further devolution of powers directly to unitary level, without forming a mayoral combined authority. Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, Cllr Tett, has claimed that these proposals could add £10 billion a year to the local economy by 2050.

In response to the question by Rob Butler and Greg Smith, the minister, Luke Hall (Con), simply stated that ‘we intend to bring forward the devolution and local recovery White Paper in due course’.

And briefly turning to other matters..

  • Laura Farris (Newbury, Con) has said there are a ‘thousand’ reasons why a Western Rail link between Reading and Heathrow is required;
  • Robert Courts (Witney, Con) celebrated construction commencing on Bewley Homes’ scheme in North Leigh; and
  • Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham, Con) published an article on Politics Home, once again setting out the case for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be designated as a National Park.

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