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MP James Wild discusses getting people back in work, King’s Lynn’s new hospital and investment in Hunstanton’s Smithdon High School

Coming a few weeks after measures to cut taxes for workers and businesses, it is encouraging the latest employment figures show the labour market continues to perform well. Employment is up by over 230,000 on the year and inactivity is down by almost 800,000 since 2010. In North West Norfolk, the unemployment rate is 3.1 per cent for 16-64 year olds – compared to a 3.7 per cent rate across the UK.

But there’s more to do to which is why at the Autumn Statement the government announced additional employment and health support through the £2.5 billion ‘Back to Work’ plan to boost economic growth. Helping more people into work and to progress in work was one of the issues I discussed at the King’s Lynn Foodbank’s strategy session last Friday evening.

Along with the economy, our health service is one of the main issues people raise with me. It is welcome news that plans to temporarily relocate the helipad at QEH are moving forward as part of having a new hospital by 2030. Work is due to start in a few weeks to prepare the new site on farmland on the opposite side of the road with the aim to have it up and running by the summer. This is a key element of enabling a new hospital in Lynn along with construction of the new multi-storey car park.

MP James Wild during a recent visit to Smithdon High School
MP James Wild during a recent visit to Smithdon High School

Since this government committed to a new hospital earlier this year the Inspire Centre has been demolished in readiness for the new car park. As you’d expect with a major project estimated by the National Audit Office to cost potentially £1billion of taxpayers’ money it is important to get the plans right from the start rather than having to make changes later. That’s what QEH and the new hospitals programme team are doing. So I continue working very closely with the Trust and talking to the Health Minister to secure approval for the plans to move forward and so we have a new hospital in place by 2030.

Another building locally that is set to benefit from investment is Smithdon High School. I supported their successful efforts to be selected as part of the Schools Rebuilding Programme. Making changes to a Grade II* listed building brings its own challenges and when I was there a few weeks ago the headteacher updated me on the various surveys under way. I have subsequently spoken to the Department for Education project team to underline the importance of this project continuing to move ahead.

My visit came at the end of the week Ofsted had been inspecting the school and it was very encouraging to see a Good rating subsequently awarded. This is recognition by Ofsted of the improvements Smithdon has made and the progress is testament to the efforts and commitment of teachers, staff, and the pupils to deliver better outcomes.

Investing in buildings whether in the NHS, schools, the Town Deal’s new community hub or elsewhere is important. With improvements to the buildings to come, this is positive news for Hunstanton and the local community.

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