Last week a group of 40 Commando Marines visited Parliament for a tour. Their mood was buoyant and filled with confidence as a result, they said, of hearing that the cloud of uncertainty regarding their future in Taunton has been lifted.
I too am thrilled that since last writing the momentous decision has been made to keep Norton Manor Camp open and to retain 40 Commando Marines in Taunton. I want to personally thank those who supported my concerted endeavour over many months to get this decision turned around and in particular for the support of the Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council in helping to make the economic case. It was through building relations with the Marines themselves, the highly professional Ltn Col Paul Maynard, the relevant Minister overseeing the important defence review and the Secretary of State, that bit by bit progress was made and the real game changer was getting SoS Gavin Williamson to see the site on the ground for himself. Now that 40 Commando are secure, I look forward to working with them to build even stronger bonds with the local community.
Yet again, at the time of writing, I can’t give a Brexit report as we face a succession of votes with business likely to alter by the day. Rest assured, however, that I am in constant touch with individuals in the constituency (almost all who say please get on with it) and with business to gauge views. The message from Ruth Lambert, Development Manager of the Somerset Federation of Small Business, apart from a plea to ensure all businesses realise the Making Tax Digital programme kicks in from April, was for a Brexit decision soon to give businesses certainty to plan. It’s a similar message from Somerset Chamber of Commerce.
Locally, the Garden Town vision is out for public consultation so do have your say at one of the public viewings. I called for this early on and am pleased to see it come to fruition. This is a great opportunity to really shape our locality making this an even better place to live and work, something that, as your MP, I am constantly striving for.