After a busy first half term both up in Parliament and in East Surrey, here are a few highlights from what I have been doing over the last few weeks.
Many of you will have received periodic updates on particular issues you have individually contacted me about, so if you want further details please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest news.
New Universities Minister
Upon my return to Parliament after the Christmas, I was still Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prisons and Probation, but in the January re-shuffle, I was absolutely thrilled to be promoted to the post of Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. It is a huge privilege to be following in the footsteps of David Willetts, Greg Clark and Jo Johnson.
The brief sits across two departments: The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and The Department for Education, having responsibility for the public funding of science and research and I have been so impressed at just how the UK punches well above its weight in the quality and impact of our research. On the DfE side, I have oversight of England’s Higher Education sector I know that going to University is a big moment for students, as well as their parents.
Top - meeting Zeno the robot who helps young people with autism,
2nd - Boaty McBoatface the submarine in Southampton,
3rd - getting hands on with researchers at Cancer Research UK,
bottom - discussing science, research and innovation cooperation with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore)
Sam on Campus Tour
I have always believed that politics matters and that everyone should be involved, particularly young people. For this, I started a tour of universities to speak directly with students about their concerns - I see myself as Minister for Students as much as Universities.
So far, I have been to Brunel University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Birmingham, Manchester Metropolitan University, Canterbury Christ Church and Bournemouth – with more planned for the coming months.
The tour was also covered in the media here by the BBC Sunday Politics programme
And as part of a feature for the award-wining Times Saturday Magazine – copied here to my website to avoid the paywall so you can read it:
Perinatal Mental Health in East Surrey
Mental health matters greatly to be and it has been an issue I have long campaigned for. This is why I was so pleased to team up with Sally Hogg, head of the Caterham chapter of the NCT, to help raise awareness about perinatal mental health – the period during pregnancy and the first two years of a baby’s life.
We have had two meetings in the past few months bringing together representatives from the East Surrey CCG, local charities, children’s centres, midwives and brave mothers who have experience perinatal mental health problems.
I will be writing a letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, about this issue as well as aiding in a poster campaign across East Surrey to help raise awareness of the indicators of mental health problems and where new families can go for help and support.
Potholes – Filling in the Gaps
Potholes is an issue many of you have raised with me via email and in surgeries and I have been liaising with local councillors to try and get your concerns dealt with.
So, I was very pleased to see the Government announcing a further £100million to help repair roads across the country and protect them from future damage from storms and cold weather.
Surrey will receive £1.8million of this fund and I will be writing to the Cabinet member for Transport and Head of SCC, David Hodge, to ask for a breakdown of the spending and to ensure that East Surrey gets its fair share for our roads.
Gatwick and Route 4
After the news that Route 4 has reverted to a temporary status, with planes continuing to legally fly the route, I met with representatives from Gatwick to discuss the recent quashing of the Civil Aviation Authority's decision to make the route permanent.
There will be a process of redesigning the route, but no changes are expected in the short term. I was very pleased to hear Gatwick's commitment to community engagement throughout the process of redesign - this is absolutely vital.
It is clear that this is going to be a long-term process, but I can assure you that I will continue to engage with Gatwick to ensure the voices of our community are heard loud and clear.
NHS 70 Parliamentary Awards – Heroes in the NHS in East Surrey
In July this year, the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday and as part of this, NHS England and NHS Improvement have established the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards.
For this, I have the privilege of nominating individuals and services for their dedication, hard work and commitment in providing healthcare across East Surrey.
My nominations are:
- Michelle Cudjoe from the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in the Person-Centred Champion Category.
- Bonnie Koo, also from SASH, in the Patient and Public Involvement category.
- TIHM for Dementia Project from the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in the “NHS Future” Category.
So, I wish Michelle, Bonnie and all the staff at the TIHM for Dementia Project the best of luck and we’re all rooting for you! Thank you for going above and beyond to help those in our community.
That’s it for this edition. If there are issues that haven’t been covered this time and you would like an update on what I am doing in such areas, please email me for details.
Sam Gyimah MP