I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in North East Cambridgeshire a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. 2017 has seen progress in a number of areas for Fenland and East Cambridgeshire as a whole and we are entering 2018 with a strong foundation to continue to secure further investment for our area, champion our schools and local healthcare services and keep much needed momentum to ensure transport improvements are on track.
Fenland and East Cambridgeshire have been selected as one of just twelve areas in the country to be designated as an “Opportunity Area” bringing the area an extra £6 million of funding. Additionally, our schools will have priority access to other Department of Education funding, which is a game changing opportunity for education in our area and I look forward to sharing how the initiative progresses with you.
As many constituents will know, I am passionate about healthcare in North East Cambridgeshire and was delighted to be able to ensure our healthcare remained local by protecting our Minor Injury Units in Wisbech and Doddington and securing pilot status for them to become rural care hubs. However these pilots are yet to start, and that will clearly be a priority for 2018, with our case strengthened by the success of the pilot now underway at Ely. I also successfully campaigned for the intermediate care beds in Doddington Court to be made available for the use of constituents.
Read to Succeed had another successful year and the campaign has gone from strength to strength. Thanks to the kind donations from our community, over 2500 year 5 and 6 children received a new book to read during the school summer holidays, over 1000 more books than were donated last year. In addition to this, the libraries in our area saw an increase of children participating in The Summer Reading Challenge and “Yellow Token” starters from Read to Succeed were up on last year by a whopping 51%!
Taking part in The Summer Reading Challenge prevents the reading “dip” that often occurs during the school summer holidays, by encouraging children to read six books of their choice for fun. The yearly increase of Summer Reading Challenge participation in our area means more and more children are returning to school in September ready to learn.
Since the General Election I have continued the campaign for more late night trains from Cambridge to March, more frequent stops from Cambridge to Whittlesey, Manea and March and a train line from Wisbech to Cambridge. One of the biggest barriers to achieving this has been the bottleneck at Ely Junction. The Department of Transport commitment to update Ely Junction between 2019-2024 will unlock further growth to our area by better connecting residents to jobs and services in the south of the county.