An afternoon of pain, and pride

Yesterday's events around Parliament will never be forgotten by those present.

I, like so many others, was fortunate to be spared any danger by the actions of those who protect us, for which my grateful thanks. On the way to vote I met colleagues and staff being ushered from the incident, just a few yards away, and followed the instructions of the police to the places of safety where we spent the next few hours in lockdown.

We all knew that an attack would happen. This is a world-wide threat to a way of life challenged by fanatics, who cannot win by persuasion and seek only to kill, maim and coerce. After Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul and Nice there was no possibility of London not being targeted. God alone knows how many attempts have been thwarted by those who look after us.

Such attacks will not end soon. But a combination of measures, from undermining their wicked and false philosophy, to the use of legitimate force against them, will eventually overcome them. In the meantime the world will go on, vigilant, but unbowed by the threat.

However, each incident leaves a mark, and moments of reflection for all of us. Two things struck me about yesterday. Firstly, while all that we do in Westminster is of importance, we now have to measure what we do, what we say and how we act against the lives of those prepared to die to allow us to do our job. That puts a renewed obligation on all who participate in democracy, which is you and me, to be worthy of PC Keith Palmer and his colleagues.

Secondly, it will never be the name or actions of the attacker that is remembered, but the reactions of those who rise to an occasion they could never have imagined. Passers-by offered comfort to those on Westminster Bridge, and security staff rushed towards danger. And my friend Tobias Ellwood, whose life has already been scarred by the loss of his brother in the Bali terrorist bombing, in an instant put all his training and life as a soldier into his attempt to save the life of the stricken policeman, while the risk of further danger was still high.

The pain of loss for those who have suffered, and for some the lifelong sentence of their injuries, are beyond the experience and understanding of most of us. But we can all share pride in the selflessness of humanity in a crisis, the values which will ultimately prevail in any contest with evil.

Today, and every day, we think of how in our day to day lives we might live up to such examples of the best of us.

Findings "'harsh' on Bedfordshire, but public require improvement and resources."

NE Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt has demanded an urgent 'clear the air' meeting with those responsible for Bedfordshire's policing and the county's MPs. This follows today's publication of the HMI report rating the local force 'inadequate'- the only such rating in the country. The report also highlights the lack of funding for Bedfordshire's police over many years, on which all Bedfordshire's MPs, Conservative and Labour, have united.

Mr Burt said:

'Today's report will be disappointing for a hard working police force, and for the community that depends upon them. I remain grateful and supportive of officers who do a difficult job in our county. 'Inadequate' seems a harsh judgement, when headline statistics show little difference with a number of national averages and good performance in terms of recorded crime and victim satisfaction.

But there are also very worrying comments in the report including the Inspector’s view that the force has 'little understanding of the communities it serves', and is weak on its response to organised crime.

It is noticeable that many of the weaknesses are linked by HMI to the poor resourcing of a force with unique characteristics of being largely rural, but dealing with significant national issues, not least terror and a major UK airport. MPs will make renewed and urgent efforts to persuade Government that the funding crisis can no longer be pushed aside, as successive Governments have done.

But there is also a sharp difference of view between the Chief Constable and the Inspector about the quality of the force, and I believe it is in the public interest that we seek to resolve this. I am therefore calling for the HMI, the Chief Constable and the PCC to meet together as soon as possible with all Bedfordshire MPs. I need to have them in the same room to hear their positions, and above all what can be done to deliver the sort of performance required by our constituents.

I am sure we will all share a common determination to ensure that Bedfordshire and Luton has justifiable confidence in our local police, as our communities deserve.'

ALISTAIR BURT ENCOURAGES SCHOOLS TO GO SKY HIGH WITH NATIONAL ROCKETRY COMPETITION 

MP for North East Bedfordshire, Alistair Burt, is encouraging local schools to compete in the UK’s largest youth model rocket competition – The UK Youth Rocketry Challenge. 

This week in Parliament Alistair joined the winning UK secondary schools from 2015 and 2016 to find out how schools in North East Bedfordshire can become this year’s champions. 

The UK Youth Rocketry Challenge involves the design, build and launch of a model rocket with the aim of ensuring the passenger - one raw egg - remains intact throughout the launch and landing. The rocket must reach 775 feet with specific target flight duration of 41-43 seconds. Rules governing the competition are altered every year to ensure designs can’t be repeated. 

The national final champions win an all-expenses paid trip to Paris, to represent the UK in a fly off against teams from the USA, Japan and France at the Paris International Airshow in June 2017. The deadline to register is 28th February.

Alistair said:

The UK Youth Rocketry Challenge provides students with a unique opportunity to apply what they have learnt in science, technology, engineering and maths and gain highly valued skills.

The competition is a great chance for students to apply their skills creatively whilst also having a lot of fun. I hope that our region will be represented in the competition and encourage the local schools in NE Bedfordshire to take part.

 

Alistair Burt has welcomed new measures to transform the way we approach and deal with mental health in North East Bedfordshire, and across the country, so that more children and young people receive support and care.

There will be new support for every secondary school in North East Bedfordshire. Each school will be offered mental health first aid training to increase awareness around mental health, along with help to tackle the unacceptable stigma around the issue. To support this initiative, new proposals will outline how mental health services for schools, universities and families can be improved, so that everyone in the community is supported, at every stage of life.

The Government will also be reviewing children and adolescent mental health services. This will help to identify what is already working and what can be improved, so that more children and young people get the mental healthcare they need and deserve.

These proposals are part of a wide range of measures to improve mental health provision and make sure no one is left behind. There will be an expert review into how we can improve mental wellbeing in the workplace so that employees receive more care. There will be more support in the community, ensuring that everyone in need can access the best support for their needs. More online services will be provided and the system will be made fairer for people suffering from mental health problems.

Alistair said:

“As Minister for mental health, I worked with the Department for Education on improving young people’s mental health and I welcome these further steps.

These new proposals will ensure that children and young people in North East Bedfordshire receive the compassion, care and treatment they deserve. Mental healthcare will be improved in schools, workplaces and universities and those suffering from mental illness will be able to access the right care for their needs, whilst we also tackle the injustices people with mental health problems face.

But children and young people’s mental health services will only benefit if the resources given by central government are spent locally, and I will be watching this process very carefully to ensure that this happens”.

Alistair Burt has welcomed the news that more children are being taught in good or outstanding schools. New figures from Ofsted show that another 4 schools in Central Bedfordshire have been judged good or outstanding in their most recent inspection compared to 2015.

Across the East of England, 210 more schools have been rated as good or outstanding.

Across the country the proportion of all schools judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection was 89 per. As a result almost 1.8 million more children are now in good schools compared to 2010.

Alistair said, “It is great news that the latest figures show that 118 schools in Central Bedfordshire are now rated good or outstanding. But we know there is more to do and the Government has set out plans to make more good school places available to more parents. We are making sure every child can access high quality education, so that they have the opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them.”

Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, attended a Parliamentary event to launch the Pathfinder 2016 Study by the charity Target Ovarian Cancer.

Pathfinder 2016 is the most-comprehensive study of its kind into the lives of people living and working with ovarian cancer in the UK. It surveyed women in the general population, women with ovarian cancer, GPs, nurses, friends and family to provide a comprehensive assessment of how lives can be saved and improvements made.

Alistair said, "I'm really pleased to be here to ensure that all women with ovarian cancer get the care, support and new treatments that are needed, so that women's lives are transformed, now and in future."

He met constituent and campaigner Amanda Cawthorn from Biggleswade at the event who said, “Today I'm in Parliament to call on Government and health bodies to invest in ovarian cancer care and support. I have been through the system and received surgery and chemotherapy after my diagnosis. It is so important that the 25,000 women living with ovarian cancer in the UK all feel counted, and receive the best care and access to new treatments."

Alistair Burt, MP for NE Bedfordshire, has signed the When We Will Learn pledge which has been launched by the Ambitious About Autism charity.

The charity believes that children with autism will get a fair deal if:

  • We get it right for children with autism from the start – by making sure their educational needs are assessed after they get a diagnosis.
  • We meet the needs of every child with autism – by having the right mix of services and support available.

  • We support schools to do a great job – by making sure everyone who works in schools receives training to support children with autism.

  • We protect the rights of children with autism – by preventing illegal exclusions and supporting school governors to fulfil their legal responsibilities to children with autism.

Alistair said:

"I am pleased to support those working to improve circumstances for all families affected by autism. The recognition of their need has steadily grown, but more could always be done, and I am grateful for the efforts of Ambitious about Autism which will impact positively on my constituents."