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Bill Wiggin MP

Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire

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B4224 Update

Many people have been concerned that the B4224 may not be reopened in February.  

They contacted me and so earlier, I wrote to the Chief Executive of Herefordshire Council to seek a progress report on the reopening of the B4224 and I have since received the enclosed below updates.

We are all very disappointed to learn that the reopening of the road has been delayed till the end of March.

Although I would like to welcome Cllr Harrington’s apology to the local residents.

In his letter, I noticed that Cllr Harrington tried to blame the Government for what will eventually turn out to be a 13 month closure.

It is true that the Government refused part of Herefordshire Council’s application which sought funding to repair the road damaged in the storm, probably because the road was not flooded.

The project therefore fell outside the Government’s Bellwin Scheme for flood relief support.

You will remember that the Council did not appear to have difficulties securing the finance for the purchase of the Maylord Shopping Centre nor the proposed free electric city bus service, as they seemed to have for the urgently needed repairs of the B4224.

In my last update to Fownhope residents before Christmas, I raised my concerns following reports of further delays to the works and I was assured by the Council that the road was on schedule to reopen in February.

Those who contacted me with their concerns about the delay to reopening were worryingly accurate.

So I hope this recent sad announcement will not set another false deadline.

Trying to stay positive I look forward to the days ahead when we can enjoy a smooth journey along the B4224.

Bill Wiggin MP addresses Phosphates in the River Wye.

On Tuesday I spoke during a debate on the Environment Bill about phosphates in the Rivers Wye and Lugg.

In particular, I drew attention to the damaging housebuilding ban or moratorium currently enforced in North Herefordshire.

Housebuilders are suffering when it comes to phosphate pollution in our watercourses.

This seems unfair as new builds have a negligible impact on overall phosphate levels especially if their sewage emissions are properly processed.

The health of our rivers and surrounding countryside we all care deeply about.

I raised the need to address this issue in a way that satisfies everyone and most importantly, will really work.

Herefordshire Council currently have a plan to spend £3 million to buy up farmland to create wetlands around the river to soak up phosphates.

This will not actually cut the phosphates in the Wye and Lugg but might buy off Natural England. I argue that the situation requires more than just money.

What is needed is better collaboration between the appropriate agencies, Natural England, the Environment Agency and their Welsh counterparts as well as local councils and the water companies.

After all, the river starts in Wales, comes into North Herefordshire, returns to Monmouthshire and borders Gloucestershire yet only Herefordshire has a housing ban.

Herefordshire alone must not take the blame for high phosphate levels in the Wye and Lugg.

I hope that the relevant agencies will band together and devise a proper solution to negate 30-year Phosphate levels.

A solution that works for our environment and our people alike.

I will continue to update with more information as it comes to hand, and I will continue to fight for better Environmental protections that work for all.

To watch the full speech, please click here

UK-EU Trade deal press release

‘I am currently reading through the 1246 pages of the new UK-EU Trade Deal, announced by the Prime Minister on Christmas Eve.

I believe this deal makes good on the promises that were made, by the Prime Minister, myself and many others, during the 2016 EU Referendum campaign, by consolidating security, cooperation and trade, yet also making this country a truly independent nation.

The relationship we will have with the EU will resemble what a majority of British people voted for when we joined the European Economic Area.

We will have thriving economic and commercial ties with our European neighbours, without comprising our independence, or submitting to foreign laws.

Businesses who rely on trade with the EU will be able to continue their operations without tariffs and quotas.

Britain’s fisherman will see in the coming years a 25% increase in the amount they can legally catch, as they are released from the Common Fisheries Policy.

The greatest positive endorsement is that the EU itself agree that this is a fair deal.

It is not about ruling over one another or complaining about each other anymore.

We have acquired a status-quo that is beneficial to the peoples of the UK and the EU.

There will inevitably be issues and challenges as we begin to implement this deal, and there may be those who feel their needs have been overlooked by it.

However, there is a structure in place within the agreement so that these can be ironed out.

The document explains how committees, sub-committees and working groups will be established to consider objections and complaints.

If these complaints are successful, then aspects of the deal could be tweaked, without altering it in its entirety.

This allows our relationship with the EU to be constantly revaluated so as to be as efficient, streamlined and beneficial as possible.

I intend to vote for this deal, as I feel we have achieved everything we hoped we would and maybe more as so many doubted it was possible, remotely.

It is good for us to know that we remain a global power, with global potential.

We should grasp all future opportunities and raise our sights to a world of possibility in 2021.

Amidst all this excitement, however, we should all remember the sombre work required for us to defeat the Coronavirus.

Unfortunately, I believe it would be irresponsible for me to travel to and from a London in Tier 4, whilst Herefordshire has done so well to buck the national trend and move down into Tier 1/2. 

So I shall be using the new proxy system to cast my vote.

I, along with everyone else, have a duty to protect our community from this terrible illness, and to try to reduce its spread.

For this reason, I was unable to visit Colwall surgery as they administered some of the first doses of Covid-19 vaccines to our most vulnerable citizens.

As I was unable to thank them in person, I would like to take this opportunity to express my enormous gratitude to all the teams such as the one at Colwall surgery, and all others across my constituency who have been administering the vaccine and helping us fight this disease.

As I write this, the AstraZeneca Vaccine has been officially approved, which makes another 100 million doses available to the UK without the need for deep freeze storage.

This is a great step forward for the whole world, as well as the UK.

Although this has been a difficult year, I hope all everyone managed to have an enjoyable Christmas.

With optimism, enthusiasm and tremendous excitement for 2021.

I wish you all a better, brighter and healthier happy New Year’.

Bill Wiggin MP pleased but urges caution as Herefordshire moves into Tier 1 restrictions

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, has given his reaction after Herefordshire was named in Tier 1 of the Government’s coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Wiggin said:

“We have been doing very well in Herefordshire because our population is responsible, careful and sadly, quite often, vulnerable. Moving to Tier 1 will be a boost to our hospitality industry and I am sure we can trust our people to continue to use their common sense when protecting themselves.

With the Christmas amnesty fast approaching I would urge people to be vigilant and respectful to others when out and about which will allow us to keep our rates low and ease the pressure on our fantastic emergency services.”

Bill Wiggin MP comment on EU Negotiations

Bill Wiggin MP for North Herefordshire said “Negotiations over our future trading relationship with the EU are continuing with the aim to see an agreement reached even at this very late stage.

The Prime Minister has been clear that we cannot sacrifice what it means to be a sovereign and independent nation in order to secure a deal.

It would be easy to get a deal if we simply roll over but that is not what was promised either by the UK or the EU

It must be remembered that the UK already follows all the EU rules and our ambition was to have the same deal that the EU gave Canada.

The EU has not acted in good faith as they agreed they would and seems to want more control over the UK even though that was one of the reasons people voted for leaving the EU.

Although talks are continuing, it takes two to reach an agreement and it is possible that negotiations will not succeed.

As the Prime Minister who has been tireless in trying to get an agreement previously explained, this means that we will have to prepare to trade with the bloc with arrangements similar to Australia’s from 1 January 2021. 

The Government has been clear throughout the trade negotiations that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will no longer apply, that we will no longer be forced to follow EU rules, that we will have full control over our borders and that we will be an independent coastal state controlling our own waters.

The UK cannot compromise on what it means to be a free and sovereign nation.

I no longer expect a deal before year end but as the EU is our nearest neighbour I still hope for a mutually agreeable and respectful agreement in 2021.

I am confident that we will prosper as an independent nation.

But I am sad that our former partners, the EU, won’t recognise our need to control our borders, laws and fisheries once again.”

Bill Wiggin MP: Public consultation on ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter

“I have received the letter below from The Rt Hon The Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regarding a public consultation on ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter.

The Government is keen to implement this idea, however, many are concerned about this policy in the farming sector, particularly regarding the effect it could have on the price of lamb.

I wanted to ensure you were aware that the consultation is now open and it runs until 28 January 2021.

If you feel strongly about this proposed change in legislation and would like to contribute, please do so through the link I have included below.

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/transforming-farm-animal-health-and-welfare-team/improvements-to-animal-welfare-in-transport/

I have concerns about this policy but at this stage it is open to all of us to feed into the consultation.

I don’t want anybody to feel that they were not included or that they did not have their say.

If you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office.”

Bill Wiggin MP: Why my amendment is designed to raise the problem we are facing with Wye pollution

“This is the Environment Bill and not a housebuilding Bill therefore the amendment I tabled had to be relative to be considered but I have not changed my enthusiasm for the environment.

It is my hope that by tabling this amendment, it will give me the chance to voice the concerns of constituents in the House of Commons and to resolve this issue in a way that is suitable for us all.

The amendment to the Environment Bill relates to phosphates in the River Wye and the moratorium on housebuilding.

There are a number of reasons why I tabled this particular amendment and why it is was drafted by the officials in such a way in order for it to be selected.

Technically it will allow Herefordshire Council to lift its moratorium and resume housebuilding in the County but without regard to phosphates in the river.

This does not take into account the environmental impact that we all care about because the Bill next passes into the Report Stage and only an amendment such as the one I tabled could be added and it was not possible to include purely environmental issues.

The Government wants to build and wants to build in an environmentally responsible way.

As it stands, neither of these things are possible in our County owing to this moratorium.

This amendment gives me is the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons on the state of the River Wye and how blocking house building is proving ineffective.

When doing so, I will of course be making the case for more action to be taken in reducing phosphate pollution in the Wye.

I will not move the amendment and so there will not be a vote – in effect after my speech, I will withdraw it.

It must be remembered that by no means is the Wye the worst performing river in the country however it is still a serious issue that is not moving forward.

Herefordshire Council need to come up with an effective way to reduce residual phosphates and algae blooms in the River Wye as they grant the planning permission.

This also includes a tangible solution to address thirty year phosphate levels in the soil.

Simply blaming farmers is not sufficient.

The ‘polluter pays’ principle appears to have been forgotten by the Environment Agency and I therefore I look forward to raising this in the House.

We must stop blaming farmers and come up with practical solutions that are deliverable and immediate and I intend to keep raising this.”

Covid-19 Vaccine Update – 2nd December 2020

Below is a Dear Colleague letter I received from Ministers following the announcement of the approval for use of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Bill Wiggin comment on Foreign Aid

This year has brought about unprecedented change and hardships for many, including the public purse. 

The Government is committed to buildings hospitals, schools and funding important infrastructure projects in this country. 

Over 1 million Nurses, Doctor’s and those on the lowest wages in the NHS are due a pay rise however, other public sector workers will not receive a pay rise this year. 

While those workers in the private sector have on average had a 1% pay reduction.

Our 0.5% commitment to Foreign Aid will still put us second in the G7 for aid donations.

We cannot give our hardworking teachers, police officers and soldiers a pay-rise so it would be unfair to continue borrowing money to send the same amount of GDP.

Foreign aid is primarily spent on preventing illness and promoting contraception. 

We are still doing this through our pioneering work on the vaccine in the UK.

The Government has committed to projects outside of the aid budget to reduce the effects of Covid-19 on developing nations. 

The vaccine pioneered by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in this country with Government support will soon reach the developing world and this will be the most effective way of preventing deaths. 

This trial which has brought spectacular results in just 10 months. 

The Government has also been one of the key architects in the COVAX facility which aims to deliver 2 billion doses to 160 nations by the end of 2021. 

In total, the UK has committed over £500 million to this programme. 

Importantly, the AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine can be stored at normal fridge temperature for up to 6 months. 

This ensures that in developing nations, where existing infrastructure will not cope with storage requirements of -80 degrees, our vaccine can get to those most in need. 

This vaccine is being developed at cost thanks again to funding from the Government. 

Due to covid-19 the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) projects that developing countries could see income losses in excess of $220 billion.  

The important task to help nations in need is only met when our economies are healthy and trade can resume. 

The roll-out of the vaccine, not only in the UK but worldwide, will be the key to addressing these needs and I am proud of the way the UK has been at the forefront of this innovation. 

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