Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham

First published in News

I try to always be on hand to help local employers having difficulties with various part of government.

This is particularly true of the complicated visa process, so in Parliament last week I presented to Home Office ministers the experiences of two local firms in dealing with the UK Border Agency.

Melksham’s ATI Stellram could secure a multi-million pound investment with the appointment of a specialist from across the Atlantic, yet Chippenham firm Merganser is threatened by the Border Agency’s lack of accreditation for teachers from Turkey, who are applying for their highly- regarded training courses. The Immigration Minister agreed that the UK Border Agency needs to be a partner to businesses, not an obstacle, as it is them we rely on to build a stronger economy.

On Wednesday I joined Salisbury’s MP and campaigners and MPs from across the country to discuss the Local Government Financial Settlement with the Rural Fair Share Campaign. Rural areas receive less than half as much per head for local services from the ‘Formula Grant’ than urban councils, even though many services are more expensive to deliver in rural areas. We’ll be trying to get a debate in Parliament to focus on this long-standing problem, and how it could be put right.

In August, I met the Post Office’s regional senior stakeholder manager, to discuss the return of services to Bradford on Avon, where the town centre post office was closed. They have since proposed moving the office from its current building in The Shambles to Budgens, but local residents have been in touch to argue it should be kept in the immediate area. I’ve spoken to the Post Office since our original meeting, urging them to also consider keeping the Post Office within The Shambles – especially since there is a neighbouring shop which has applied to take on the job – to support independent traders with footfall in that part of the town centre. The consultation is still open, so we have an opportunity to make this point – but it will only happen if enough people make their voice heard. It’s open until February 1, and submissions can be made to Freepost, Your comments, Post Office Ltd; by email to comments@ postoffice.co.uk, calling 08457 22 33 44 or textphone 08457 22 33 55.

You can meet my caseworker on Friday, January 18, noon-1.30pm at my constituency office in Avonbridge House, Bath Road, Chippenham. My next surgery will be on January 25 from 10am to 11.30am at Bradford on Avon library.

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