James Wild: Hospital remains my top priority
The latest column from the North West Norfolk MP, Friday, December 18, 2020
As I let the train take the strain on the first eight-carriage train from Lynn, I reflected on the last year.
I think we can all agree it has been a very challenging time but the strength of our local community has been shown in so many acts of kindness.
While it has not been the first year I expected as an MP I have raised issues of concern for North West Norfolk in Westminster and pressed for support for individuals, businesses, and charities - as well as getting Boris to back Sunny Hunny for staycations.
Top of my list was, and remains, more investment in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The QEH has a compelling case to be one of eight additional hospitals that the government is committed to. Last week, I asked the Prime Minister to Back our Bid and I’ll continue to work with QEH, other MPs, and with local support on this.
An area where I still want to see improvements is dentists. I continue to press NHS East of England to increases in capacity and to commission more sites.
Improving opportunity locally is vital. Through the Towns Fund I was delighted to make the case for a School of Nursing at the College of West Anglia. It will be an exciting moment when it opens in September.
All told, the Towns Fund and Future High Streets bids have the potential to secure tens of millions of pounds of investment in Lynn.
A common complaint I hear is the need for improved connectivity to make West Norfolk an even better place to work, live and visit.
The pandemic has underlined the importance of mobile and broadband coverage. I’m pleased Openreach has plans for Hunstanton and Lynn to get full fibre. But a third of premises in our area are estimated not to be commercially viable for gigabit capable broadband, so I am pressing for West Norfolk to benefit from investment in harder to reach areas.
Better rail services are an issue I have campaigned on. It is great to see completion of the £27 million upgrade to provide longer trains - boosting capacity by 2,000 seats on morning services.
I’ve met the Rail Minister to press for improvements at Ely to enable more frequent services and in July he provided Â£13 million for the programme’s next phase.
Along with MPs across Norfolk, I made the case for more investment in the A47 and in March, six schemes were approved representing the biggest one-time investment in the A47.
No one should have to sleep on the streets and I’ve been pleased to be work with the borough council, Purfleet Trust, and others to give people a safe space to stay.
The £700,000 grant we secured will provide longer-term accommodation to help people off the streets once and for all.
Protecting our countryside and environment are very important. The Agriculture and Environment bills create a new framework outside the EU to support farmers and enhance the countryside.
In the coming year, I will continue to do my best to be a strong voice for North West Norfolk in Parliament.