Last month saw the 70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem. Prior to leaving for the Netherlands for what was then the largest airborne operation in history, members of the Parachute Regiment were stationed in various villages throughout the constituency of Sleaford & North Hykeham. Many of these, like Heckington, have taken the time over the last few months to remember those who made this part of Lincolnshire their home in the build-up to the operation to seize the bridges across the Maas and the Rhine. Local MP, Stephen Phillips, was kindly invited to a number of events to remember those who risked their lives for our freedom. "The role of our part of Lincolnshire in Operation Market Garden is not always remembered," Stephen said, speaking at St. Andrews, Heckington. "But it is an important part of our history and I pay tribute to those who have oragnised these events of remembrance ahead of Armistice Day this year."
Stephen Phillips MP recently met at Westminster with his constituent Stacey Loveday, who came to Parliament to attend a reception held by Ovacome, the ovarian cancer support charity. Stacey had surgery for borderline ovarian cancer at the age of 21, and now has the all clear. She told Stephen about her experience and explained how little awareness there was among young women of this type of cancer. If ovarian cancer is diagnosed early on, the survival rate is high, but if it is not spotted until the later stages the survival rate can be as low as 10%. Stacey wants every young woman, and every GP, to be aware of the importance of early diagnosis. After their meeting, Stephen said: "It was an honour to meet Stacey and hear about her experience of cancer treatment. A lot is being done to make young women more aware of cervical cancer, but it is important that they are aware of the risks of other cancers as well, particularly as cancer is far easier to treat if it is caught early. I have written to the Secretary of State to ask what is being done to improve awareness in the hope that women will be more likely to recognise the symptoms of this type of cancer."
Pupils from the three schools in Ruskington – Chestnut Street Church of England Primary School, Ruskington Winchelsea Primary School and St. George's Academy, Ruskington – welcomed local MP Stephen Phillips to a schools' day on Saturday to celebrate their many successes over the last year and to bid farewell to those leaving St. George's to pursue their education in Sleaford and beyond. Stephen was shown around a number of projects which pupils have pursued over the last year and enjoyed performances by many of the pupils: of music, dance and the performing arts, before having a go on the climbing wall and a bouncy slide, though he prudently declined any pictures on that one. "Ruskington is one of the villages in the constituency with great schools which mean that many local children can enjoy their formative years close to home," Stephen said. "Despite the threat of rain, the weather has stayed fine for everyone who has come out today from the village and I am really grateful to have been given such a fabulous day."
Branston Community Academy, one of the many excellent schools in the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency, recently asked Stephen Phillips MP to perform the formal opening of their newly refurbished concert hall and community nursery. Stephen attended a hustings in the old facilities just before the last election and, following two ribbon cutting ceremonies, commented on the excellence of the new hall before being treated to music and drama performances and having a tour of the nursery, where he enjoyed playing on the sand table! "A lot of hard work goes into projects like this one," Stephen said, "and I have been really proud to come along on behalf of our community and congratulate everyone involved in ensuring fantastic facilities for youngsters in Branston and the surrounding communities. Branston Community Academy is an outstanding school and my thanks to headteacher Peter Beighton and everyone else for giving me such a great day."
Stephen Phillips QC MP celebrated the repair and refurbishment of the spire at St. Vincent's Church in Caythorpe on Sunday, at a service attended by villagers and many others from churches and communities along the cliff. St Vincent's is one of the most beautiful churches in the constituency and like several other parish churches in Lincolnshire, faces an ongoing restoration battle so that it can continue to form a centre of village life. Local rector Alison Healy showed Stephen some of the rusted ironwork removed from the George Gilbert Scott designed spire, which was damaged in the 2008 earthquake, and Stephen praised everyone involved in raising funds for the restoration for all their hard work. "Churches like this one are an essential part of life in the many villages I represent, including my own," Stephen said. "Repair bills are enormous and were not helped in the past by the many thefts of lead which the Bill that I helped to bring into Parliament have now largely stopped. We've had a great service of celebration this morning, but I know that here at St. Vincent's, as elsewhere, the fundraising will go on."
Following the sad death of Jim Cook, who worked tirelessly for many years as a district councillor on behalf of the residents of Osbournby and the surrounding villages, voters last week had the opportunity in a by-election to vote for his successor. Local mum Kate Cook, who works in the family business and also teaches French in pre-schools and at the Prelude Day Nursery in Osbournby, was chosen as the Conservative candidate and has spent much of the last two weeks out and about in the ward with Sleaford & North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips, talking to voters and listening to what they want for their communities. On Thursday, Kate was elected to serve on NKDC until the next election and promised to try to make a real difference for everyone in her first term. Speaking at the count, Kate said, "It's an honour to have been elected as a district councillor today as well as a huge responsibilty. I want to represent everyone as best as I can and to serve the ward and the district to the best of my ability." Stephen added, "We've had fantastic weather for the last couple of weeks and I have enjoyed myself enormously campaigning with Kate and renewing acquaintances in one of the most beautiful parts of my constituency. Kate and I have been friends for a while, and I know she will do a great job for everyone in her new ward."
Local MP, Stephen Phillips, meets regularly with community groups and others representing particular aspects of life in our area, and spent time last week with local farmers and regional representatives of the National Farmers Union to listen to their concerns and take them back to ministers in London. On the agenda for the meeting were a wide range of subjects affecting not just farmers, but all of us living in rural Lincolnshire, including food security, weight and speed limits for agricultural vehicles and crime in rural communities. Stephen has written a number of letters to the Government raising the concerns expressed to him by those attending and said, "Meetings like this with groups representing particular interests in our communities help me to do my job better. We live a way of life of which many civil servants have no experience, something I find incredibly frustrating. It's important that I represent issues affecting rural constituencies like ours effectively and I am grateful to those who give up their time to tell me their concerns for helping all of us get the message across."
Last year, pupils on the school council of South Hykeham Community Primary School tackled local MP, Stephen Phillips, on what it was like to be an MP and how they should handle difficult questions from the constituents in each of their classes. Stephen suggested to head Mr John Richardson that they come down to Westminster, as many primary schools do from the constituency, and have a look at Parliament for themselves. Last week, in between a Committee hearing and a debate in the Chamber, Stephen had the great pleasure of welcoming the youngsters and their teachers to Parliament where he met with them in historic Westminster Hall, the oldest part of what is still a Royal Palace. "It's really important to me," Stephen said, "that MPs try to explain to young people what it is that we do here and why it matters to everyone in Lincolnshire. The children have been absolutely beautifully behaved today, despite their train being 90 minutes late, and it has been a real pleasure to meet with them and to be invited to come and see their school again soon."
A large part of the economic problem faced by the Coalition Government was caused by the last Labour Government borrowing more money during its time in office than all of its predecessors put together since the foundation of the Bank of England, Stephen Phillips QC MP told the House of Commons in a debate this week. Speaking on the new Charter for Budget Responsibilty, which will ensure both fiscal prudence and the independence of economic forecasting used by the British Government, Stephen pointed out that between 2008 and 2010, GDP fell by 7.5% whilst borrowing, in particular to pay for benefits, went through the roof. The Charter introduced by this Government will now have to be published annually and sets out the fiscal policies to which the Government is operating and the amount it intends to spend on benefits. "Unless a future Government repeals the Charter," Stephen said, "it will do much to ensure that we can never again get into the sort of mess for which the shadow chancellor was responsible when he was in Gordon Brown's government."
Local MP Stephen Phillips, this week called a debate in the House of Commons to press ministers to do more to prevent deaths and injuries caused by young drivers. Stephen was inspired by the story of constituent Emily Challen, a 17-year-old killed while a passenger in a car driven by a teenage friend, and he paid tribute to her parents who have called for the introduction of Graduated Driver Licensing to improve safety. Road crashes are one of the biggest unnatural causes of death for young people in the UK and the figures are appalling, Stephen told the Commons. "Young drivers are involved in one in four fatal and serious crashes, despite making up only one in eight holders of driving licences and one in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test." The Government minister responding to the debate, Robert Goodwill MP, commended Stephen for his campaign and said, "We are in the process of undertaking some face-to-face research with parents and young people to get a better understanding of the issues from their perspective. As I hope the House can appreciate, this is a difficult topic, as I have mentioned, and it is important that we get this right. Once we are confident that we have struck the right balance between driver safety and restricting the freedom of our young people, we will come forward with our proposals."
Stephen Phillips QC MP this week met with his constituent Caroline Morrice, Director of GAIN (Guillain-Barre & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies). Ms Morrice, who lives in Ruskington, asked Stephen to attend an event in the Commons to raise the profile of rare diseases, and spoke to him about the importance of the strategies the Government is rolling out to prevent the postcode lottery from which many with low-incidence acute and chronic conditions have previously suffered. "A key issue for us is ensuring that there is equity of care across the NHS," Mrs Morrice said. We often hear that patients in smaller communities are unable to get a quick diagnosis and treatment. Within Lincolnshire we have anecdotal evidence of cases where people may be seen locally but following diagnosis have to move to a larger hospital to receive treatment, because the treatment plan required is not available." Stephen said, "I am always very happy to meet with constituents, particularly when they raise issues with me of such importance. It is vital that we ensure that those with rare diseases get the care they need, and I hope that the Government's new strategy will improve things. I am grateful to Caroline for taking the time to bring this to my attention and for coming all the way to Westminster to see me."
Rauceby Church of England Primary School welcomed Stephen Phillips QC MP last Friday formally to open the new school buildings following the completion of a lengthy but much-needed renovation project to upgrade the school's facilities so that every class now has its own classroom. Stephen was welcomed by pupils from Year 6 before being introduced to head Richard Thomson, as well as Governors and staff who have been instrumental in getting funds from central government to ensure the completion of the project. After a tour of the school, the eldest and youngest pupils in the school rang the school bell before Stephen cut the ribbon. "I last visited the school a couple of years ago, before it converted to an Academy," Stephen said during his visit. "Some of the classrooms were temporary and long past their useful lives and I have done what I can to support the school to get the money it needed to complete this fantastic project. All credit must go to Richard, his Governors, staff and parents for the completion of a project which I know will enrich the school experience of every pupil."
Local MP, Stephen Phillips, recently lent his support to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) when the charity revealed their first ever pop-up shop in the Palace of Westminster. The Sleaford and North Hykeham MP met shop staff and volunteers to hear how BHF shops raise vital funds for life-saving research. During the visit, Stephen added his voice to the BHF's call for people to 'Ramp up the Red', when the public are urged to wear something red, host a red-themed party, or bake some red-coloured treats. Stephen was inspired to join in too and said, "I am delighted to help raise awareness of heart disease by taking part in Ramp up the Red to help to beat a devastating disease which can affect anyone, from babies to grandparents. Coronary heart disease is the UK's single biggest killer, responsible for almost 74,000 deaths in the UK each year, an average of 200 people each day and there are currently 2.3 million people in the UK living with coronary heart disease." Mike Taylor, Retail Director at the BHF, said "We wanted to show MPs like Stephen just how important our shops are – without our shop staff, including 23,000 volunteers across the UK, we simply couldn't continue our life-saving work. It is fantastic to see Stephen showing his support and all the money raised will help us truly fight for every heartbeat."
Our MP, Stephen Phillips, welcomed members of the England Blind Football Team to Westminster this morning and, blindfolded but cheered on by bystanders on Westminster bridge, had the good fortune to score a penalty against England keeper Lewis Skyers (or at least that's what the goal-line technology in the form of Stephen's researcher said). Disability Football is the most played disability team sport in the UK and the seventh most played team sport overall. There are now more than 1,500 clubs across the country and the FA has committed £1.5m to the development of disability football over the next three years. "I can't believe I scored!" said a breathless Stephen on Speaker's Green. "More seriously, our national game is a sport for everyone including the disabled, and I'm thrilled both with the FA's efforts to extend participation and with the publicity that I know today's visit will generate for something that many of us know little about."
Local MP Stephen Phillips has been driving an electric car since 2007 and was recently given the opportunity to visit Soper of Lincoln to have a look at the new BMW i3 which the franchise, a major employer in South Hykeham, is currently showcasing. Soper, founded and owned by well-known racing driver Steve Soper, is one of only a handful of dealerships across the country chosen to sell the new model and has offered Stephen the loan of an i3 for one Friday so that he can get around his engagements in one of the largest constituencies in the country. "Things have moved on an awfully long way since I bought my electric car," Stephen joked on seeing the luxury new model. "It's a thrill to have had Soper chosen as one of the dealerships to sell the i3 and a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of everyone working at the dealership to have its importance to the economy of the County recognised in this way. Apart from getting used to the fact that there is almost no noise in an electric car, I would encourage everyone thinking about a new car to give electric and hybrid vehicles a go."
Emma McClarkin MEP, who represents the East Midlands in the European Parliament, recently paid a visit to local MP Stephen Phillips to speak about various matters which Stephen has raised with her, including the interference by the EU in areas of national life where it has no place. Stephen also wanted to speak to Emma about his desire for a referendum to ask the British people whether or not they actually want to be part of the EU anymore and was pleased to learn that Emma is very happy not only to support a referendum but to find herself out of a job after it! "It's vital that we are properly represented in rolling back the Brussels bureaucrats for as long as we remain part of the EU, but Emma is fully behind me in thinking that she should be redundant as soon as there is a referendum," Stephen joked after their meeting. "It's vital that we get a Conservative Government in 2015 so that we can make sure we get the referendum everyone in Lincolnshire wants: Labour and the Lib Dems have both voted against our Bill and so now we clearly know where we all stand."
Mesolthelioma is a horrible cancer for which there is no cure. Caused only by asbestos, principally in the workplace, a diagnosis is a death sentence for which many have in the past been able to achieve no form of compensation. Stephen Phillips MP has been campaigning for some time for a proper compensation scheme for those diagnosed with this cancer who have no recourse against employers or insurers, and recently moved a large number of amendments to the Mesothelioma Bill in Parliament in an attempt to ensure that as many people as possible suffering from the disease, as well as their families, are not left without means to support themselves. Speaking at one of the sessions of the Bill Committee, Stephen said, "This is a disease carrying a death sentence which people get just because they went to work. For far too long, they have had to suffer knowing that they cannot get compensation for those they will leave behind. This Bill changes that and, with the amendments which I am asking the Government to accept, will ensure that a proper scheme exists to help those who receive this terrible diagnosis."
Conservative MPs, including local MP Stephen Phillips, are again spending a Friday away from their constituencies trying to prevent Labour and the Liberal Democrats from stopping the British people having a say over our membership of the EU. The Bill to permit a referendum on EU membership does not have the backing of the Lib Dems and so has had to be brought forward as a Private Members' Bill. Myriad amendments have been put down by Labour MPs in an attempt to derail Conservative plans to let the British people decide whether or not we should continue to be members of the EU. Speaking from the House of Commons, Stephen said, "No one under the age of 56 has had a proper say on whether we should be part of the EU. It doesn't matter where you stand on the debate, we have to ask the British people what it is they want. There is only one way of ensuring that we do that, and that's to get the Bill through Parliament and ensure that there is a Conservative only Government after 2015. That's why I'm in Westminster today."
The Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, paid a visit to the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency last week to speak to over 200 local people at the annual dinner of the Conservative Association. Focussing on what the Government has achieved at a difficult time for the country, Mrs May stressed the way in which it had been necessary to tackle the deficit which the coalition inherited, notwithstanding which more than 1.4million jobs have been created in the private sector. Dealing with her own brief, the Secretary of State pointed out that she has reduced net migration by a third since taking over and that she is currently bringing forward the toughest Immigration Bill in the nation's history. Local MP, Stephen Phillips, who welcomed Mrs May to Navenby for the dinner, said, "It has been a real honour to have the Home Secretary here in Lincolnshire this evening. She has made clear to everyone that although the Government has had to take difficult decisions, there has been no choice, and that those decisions have always been in the interests of Britain."
Stephen Phillips QC MP today joined other MPs who have served in the Armed Forces to take part in an Act of Remembrance ahead of Sunday's official national commemorations. The group of Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum attended the ceremony at the Guards Chapel, within London's Wellington Barracks, to pay their respects to the fallen of the two world wars and conflicts since. It is believed to be the first time that Armed Forces veterans in the House of Commons have gathered in this way. "This unprecedented event showed just how many MPs have served in our military in a regular or reservist capacity," Stephen said. "I hope that gathering together today sends a message to today's personnel that their democratic representatives, regardless of political colour, are on their side. Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, I am proud to have had the opportunity to pay my respects to those who have fallen in the company of so many colleagues from all sides of the House."
Stephen Phillips QC MP today made a plea to ministers in the House of Commons to require Local Authorities to ensure that the resources made available to them for the education of Deaf Children are properly spent. A former Chair of Governors at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, which he helped to save from closure before entering Parliament, Stephen has been a passionate campaigner for the rights of all disabled children to receive the same opportunities which are open to their mainstream peers. Concentrating on a recent report from the National Deaf Children's Society, Stephen drew attention to the fact that Deaf children in particular are too often left behind because of a lack of focus on communication in their early years. "Every child in this country deserves the best education we can give them," Stephen said. "For those with special needs, we need to make sure that the significant resources which central government makes available to local authorities are properly spent to ensure that they have the same chances in life as every other child."
Teal Park in the north of the constituency of Sleaford & North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips has become the home to the Siemens industrial gas turbine service business, which took occupation of their new 135,000 sq ft facility on the site in October last year. Stephen, who has taken a close interest in Teal Park and the huge economic opportunities which it offers for this part of Lincolnshire, visited the facility, now known as Feilden House, on Friday, and met with Director Neil Corner and those working at the plant to discuss the opportunities for manufacturing industry and the concerns of local manufacturing businesses. "The investment which has been made by Siemens in the constituency is a testament to the economic vibrancy of this part of Lincolnshire," Stephen said. "Neil has been positive about everything that we are doing for business locally and nationally and has given me some pointers as to a few things which I intend to raise with the Treasury team in Westminster."
Kirkby La Thorpe CE Primary School invited Stephen Phillips MP to unveil their new solar panels last week. On a rather cloudy day, Stephen cut a ribbon on a picture of the new panels, which are already in place and which are providing both electricity and an income for the school, of which Stephen was given a tour by proud pupils and headteacher Mrs Bartle. Stephen was also able to attend a special assembly to congratulate the achievements of pupils over the last week and spoke about his work as our MP, locally and at Westminster. "This is obviously a really great school, just like so many other primary schools across the constituency which I go to on Fridays," Stephen said during his visit. "The children have been learning about reducing their carbon footprint and the new solar panels which the school has installed are an excellent way of saving both energy and money."
The Rotary Club of Sleaford Kesteven has been thriving since its formation in 1992 and now meets weekly on Wednesday evenings at the Finch Hatton Arms in Ewerby. Rotarians and the Inner Wheel invited local MP, Stephen Phillips, to their meeting last night to enjoy some great pub food and to listen to Stephen talk to them on the subject of 'The Trials and Tribulations of being a young MP.' Stephen began his remarks by observing that he really wasn't that young anymore, before explaining how he came into politics and what he hopes to achieve as our MP for as long as he continues to be returned to Westminster. He stressed the importance of service – something Rotarians know all about as their motto and charitable activities demonstrate – and asked why it was no longer fashionable in society to talk of service and duty, something which those of us who live in Lincolnshire continue to practice in our daily lives.
Local MP Stephen Phillips this week paid a visit to the new village hall in North Kyme to congratulate villagers and the Hall Committee on the finalisation of the project, which has been several years in the making. The Parish Council also arranged for everyone in the village who wanted to see Stephen to come along and speak to him and ask questions as necessary. Stephen was tackled on the continuing issue of speeding through the village, which he promised to write to the Police Commissioner about, as well as some other rural issues. "This is a fabulous new facility for the village," Stephen said during his visit, "and a real tribute to the hard work of so many people over a number of years to ensure that it was completed after the old hall burned down. I am looking forward to returning to an event which I know local Conservatives are planning next year to test out the kitchen facilities!"
Sarah-Jane Humphreys, who has recently completed a year volunteering overseas, recently came to see Stephen Phillips QC MP in Parliament to talk about the under-representation of women in political life throughout the developing world. Stephen commented, "Frankly, the position in the UK is nothing to write home about, but we are doing rather better than many other countries where women are too often discouraged from seeking political office. Even where there are women in public life, in many countries they do not have the rights or influence of their male colleagues". Sarah-Jane made a compelling case for change and Stephen has already spoken to the Secretary of State for International Development on Sarah-Jane's behalf to make sure that she lobbies the UN and other countries on this important issue. "I am hugely grateful to Sarah-Jane for coming to see me," Stephen said. "It was refreshing to meet someone so passionate about something which they have witnessed firsthand."
Marston Village Green has been a state of legal limbo for some years, which Stephen Phillips MP has been asked to try and sort out by the Parish Council. Part of the green belongs to the parish and the remainder has also been maintained by villagers for as long as anyone can remember. The Highways Department of LCC, which has recently carried out some works in the area, has now taken the position that it is the legal owner, which has come of something of a shock to the village, so Stephen is campaigning to have the matter resolved and for LCC to give up its claim. "Part of my job is trying to resolve issues like this one," Stephen said on a recent visit to discuss the matter with the Parish Council and local residents. "Bureacracy is all too often hard to cut through unless and until an MP gets involved. It shouldn't be like this, but I hope that my intervention will lead to all of the green being restored to the village for everyone to enjoy as they have done for at least the last century."
Lincolnshire charity, Blood Bikes, which transports essential medical supplies between hospitals and other healthcare institutions across the County was recently chosen by Sainsbury's customers as the main charity which will receive funding from the Sleaford store for the next year. Paying a visit to the store, where he also met with managers and staff, Stephen Phillips MP said, "I would like to congratulate Blood Bikes on being announced as Sleaford Sainsbury's new Local Charity Partner. I know what a difference the initiative has made to a number of local charities in my constituency in raising not just vital funds, but raising awareness of their cause too. I look forward to seeing how the partnership progresses over the coming months". Sainsbury's Local Charity Partner is now entering its fifth year and staff at the Sleaford store are planning a series of events and activities over the coming months in the hope of buying a new bike for the charity.
Heckington St. Andrew's Primary School welcomed local MP Stephen Phillips for a visit last Friday, both to have a look round and to be taken to task by the headteacher over some of the changes which the Government is proposing to make to the way in which children's progress is monitored throughout their primary school years. Stephen promised to take this up with ministers on behalf of the school and visibly enjoyed meeting and speaking to those children who were not away on trips for the day. Speaking during his visit, Stephen said, "Visiting primary schools in the constituency, which I try to do most weeks, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Here in Heckington, we have another fabulous school which I last visited nearly three years ago, and it is great to see that the staff and pupils are as happy as they were then and that the great quality of education which we have across the constituency continues."
Sleaford & North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips recently visited the new Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant as it nears completion of the construction phase. During his visit, Stephen was given a presentation about how the plant will operate from the local straw brought to the site, in order to generate electricity and heat. Afterwards, Stephen joined local councillors from the Community Liaison Panel and met with constituents who are employed on the project. Peter Dixon, director of Eco2 Lincs, said, "We were delighted to welcome Stephen to the plant today as it nears the final stages of construction. As well as showing him how it will operate, we outlined how the plant will benefit the local community and local businesses including community funding and free surplus heat to local public buildings." Speaking after his visit, Stephen indicated his support for the large investment made in the constituency and said, "The straw-fired generation capacity which this major investment will provide is something of which I have been hugely supportive. The technology is largely carbon neutral and will ensure security of supply for nearly every home in the constituency, as well as providing local jobs and welcome extra income for our farmers."
Emma McClarkin MEP paid a visit to the constituency last week to meet with local MP Stephen Phillips and residents of North Hykeham to hear their concerns about Europe. Emma confirmed her full support for a referendum to ask the British people whether or not they want to continue to be part of what the EU has become, and confessed herself more than happy to be out of a job when a vote is held. Speaking at a dinner for Emma and North Hykeham residents, Stephen said, "Of all the main parties, it is only the Conservatives who are committed to holding a referendum on our EU membership, an issue close to my own heart as I know it is for many of those I represent. I hope that having Emma here today with her strong support for actually asking the British people what they want will confirm to any remaining sceptics that everyone in the Conservative Party is fully committed to the referendum which the Prime Minister has announced will take place in 2017 provided that we are still in Government."
Local MP Stephen Phillips this week paid a visit to the only surviving eight sailed windmill in the country at Heckington both to lend his support to the Trust which runs the mill and to congratulate them on their hard work in securing lottery funding to continue important restoration work. Volunteers have been running the mill since 1981 and funds were urgently needed to complete the Trust's purchase of the entire site, which attracts thousands of visitors a year and provides a unique attraction within the constituency. Treated to a tour of the mill, and the adjoining cafe and 8 Sail Brewery, which took up residence in 2010, Stephen thanked organisers for showing him around and promised to come back later in the summer when the new sails which the Trust has commissioned are in place. "This is a wonderful resource for our schools and a great attraction for the whole constituency," Stephen said. "The mill is an important part of our Lincolnshire heritage and I'm hugely lucky to have been shown around on such a fine day and to taste some of the bread made from flour milled from grain grown right here in the village."
Stephen Phillips MP upped the ante in his ongoing battle to get speed limits on all roads in towns and villages across the County set at a maximum of 30mph by bringing Roads Minister Stephen Hammond MP up to the constituency to see the position in Lincolnshire for himself. Government guidelines are clear that all roads through villages and towns should have 30mph limits in place and, supported by residents and Parish Councils throughout the constituency, Stephen has been campaigning for two years to have the guidelines followed in Lincolnshire. Speaking during the ministerial visit, Stephen said, "We have many villages in the constituency where there are inappropriate and confusing speed limits. We need a consistent policy across the County so that drivers know when they enter a village they have to reduce their speed to a maximum of 30mph, to ensure the safety of children and the elderly in particular." The minister stressed the importance of the guidelines issued by the Government, adding that "if local councils follow the guidelines, that will help them give their residents, both car users and pedestrians, the safest roads, be they urban or, as they are here, in a rural setting."
The National Centre for Craft and Design is a world class facility, right in the heart of Sleaford, part funded by the Arts Council and the District Council and dedicated to the exhibition, celebration and promotion of international and national craft and design. Cllr Mrs Marion Brighton OBE, civic leaders and local MP, Stephen Phillips, were treated last week to a performance showcase of everything which is going on at NCCD, showing its importance to the arts throughout Lincolnshire, the East Midlands and nationally. Touring the gallery and performance spaces as part of the specially commissioned work before joining staff and performers to congratulate them, Stephen said, "I have been absolutely blown away by the quality of work on display and the performances which I have seen today. NCCD is a huge asset not just to Sleaford and the whole area, but to the whole of Lincolnshire. It attracts huge numbers of visitors every year and just how important this resource is for us all has been really brought home to me today. I will be asking the Secretary of State to come and see for herself just how good NCCD is."
Leading onshore wind opponent and former Conservative MEP for the East Midlands, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, paid a visit to the constituency on Friday to help local MP Stephen Phillips and local residents in and around Stubton and Brandon with their campaign against the proposed Loveden Wind Turbines for which an application is shortly expected to be made. Stephen recently led a debate in Westminster Hall in which he made clear to ministers the objections and concerns of many of his constituents to the further development of Lincolnshire countryside to accommodate turbines which most oppose. Speaking at the well-attended event, Stephen said, "Onshore wind development ought only to go ahead when it has the support of local people which I am repeatedly finding it does not. Our part of the County is not suitable for these projects given wind loadings, and they are only being built because of the ridculous subsidies put in place by the last Government. I have repeatedly made clear to ministers that those subsidies must stop."
Engineering remains a cornerstone of the economy throughout Lincolnshire and Stephen Phillips QC MP recently paid a visit to Destec Engineering near Washingborough to hear more about what the Government can do to help SMEs in this vital sector. Meeting with Chairman Barry Porter, the founder of this highly successful exporter, Stephen heard how reducing red tape further would assist British businesses in accessing key export markets across Europe and beyond. "Barry and his management team are highly skilled and innovative engineers and businessmen employing more than 80 people in this part of my constituency," Stephen said. "It is imperative that I get to listen to businessmen like Barry so that I can represent the concerns of small and medium size companies down at Westminster as best as I can. There are a number of issues which have been raised with me today and I will be passing all of them on to ministers so that we can try and ensure the best possible environment for all our exporters."
"Young people need all the help we can give them to get into the job market", Stephen Phillips MP was told on a visit to Sleaford Jobcentre Plus last week. Stephen asked to visit and meet the staff working to help those out of work get into new jobs following conversations with constituents about the work done by the Sleaford branch, where he met Elaine Hume and her staff. "We are incredibly fortunate in Sleaford and North Hykeham to have very high levels of employment and a highly skilled workforce, " Stephen said during his visit. "I know that for those who are finding it more difficult to get work, Elaine and her colleagues provide support and a resource to enable them to find work and get off benefits, something which is incredibly important for them and for the taxpayer." Through Government initiatives and the work of Jobcentre Plus, employment rates in the constituency are at record highs, with both the number of benefit claimants and those classed as long term unemployed significantly lower than this time last year.
Helpringham Parish Council recently asked local MP Stephen Phillips to take up the case of another Network Rail failure in the constituency, on this occasion the revamped road bridge between Helpringham and Burton Pedwardine. The upgrade of the line has resulted in a number of bridges across the constituency being remodelled, but the roadway on this new bridge, together with the barrier works, has given rise to a considerable hazard for local motorists using the route due to the narrowed carriageway and blind crest. Promising to write immediately to the Secretary of State for Transport to raise and try to resolve the issue, Stephen said, "I have had a number of problems with Network Rail since I was elected in 2010 and they seem to be answerable to no one in riding roughshod over local opinion. The works which have been done here are clearly dangerous and I will be pressing the Secretary of State hard to take action to remedy the position."
North Hykeham Mayor, Cllr Ross Little, and local MP Stephen Phillips, recently joined cadets and directing staff from 1237 Sqn North Hykeham Air Training Corps for their annual presentation evening. Cadets gave presentations to the assembled audience about their expeditions and activities from the last year and awards and promotions were handed out by a number of distinguished guests, including 92-year-old Les Rutherford, a navigator bomb aimer in the 2nd World War who became a prisoner of war and last year gave interviews to enable a number of cadets to complete essays on Bomber Command. In a brief address, Stephen thanked the Squadron for inviting him to celebrate their successes and commended all those who had taken part and received awards, as well as Flight Lieutenant Jo Wood and her staff for ensuring that the Squadron goes from strength to strength. "This has been a fabulous evening demonstrating the success of some of our best young people," Stephen said. "I've been honoured to be here, particularly in the company of Les Rutherford and other heroes who gave so much to ensure our freedom, and I wish the Squadron and all its members every success in the coming year."
Local Conservatives all over the Sleaford and North Hykeham Constituency have been raising money for LIVES -- the Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service. LIVES, which is unique to Lincolnshire, has been serving the people of the County since the 1970s, when it was established by local doctors troubled by the number of unnecessary road deaths as a result of a lack of early treatment. Fully integrated with the Emergency Services, LIVES medics and responders, all of whom are volunteers, ensure that assistance for road traffic accident victims and other trauma cases is provided as soon as possible, as well as treating those suffering from suspected heart attacks. Handing over a cheque for over £500 to LIVES fundraiser Stephen Hyde, local MP Stephen Phillips said, "We are all immensely proud of the network of medics and first responders who do so much to improve survival rates here in Lincolnshire and I am thrilled that the Association has had such a worthwhile charity to support this year. It costs an awful lot to ensure that our unique provision in the County survives in these tough times, and I hope that the money local Conservatives have raised will inspire others to raise money for this important organisation."
Recent flooding in the constituency has demonstrated, again, that many homes remain at risk in and around Sleaford & North Hykeham from our changing climate and pattern of rainfall. Friday, Stephen Phillips MP met in Swaton with representatives of the village and the Parish Council, the Environment Agency, the Internal Drainage Board and Lincolnshire County Council to discuss what can be done for some of the worst affected areas around the Swaton Eau. With the water coincidentally rising during his visit, Stephen attempted to facilitate a long-term solution for affected constituents by persuading the relevant agencies to put forward plans by the end of January to address flooding issues in the area. Speaking afterwards, Stephen said, "An important aspect of my job, even where I have no direct influence, is trying to help people persuade the bodies which do to treat their problems seriously and address issues that they have. That's why I have been here today and I hope that with my involvement, flooding in and around Swaton will now be dealt with properly."
Pregnancy and sexual health is a topic that many parents, teachers and carers find it difficult to discuss with young people which is why it is important that confidential counselling and advice remains available. That's the message local MP, Stephen Phillips, heard on a recent visit to congratulate trustees, organisers and staff at the Alternatives Pregnancy Advice Centre in Sleaford on their work. Trained counsellors work with young people who are thinking about pregnancy, have become pregnant or have suffered the loss of a baby, as well as dealing with issues surrounding decisions to become sexually active. The centre also offers a meeting place for young people in the town. Stephen said, "I have been impressed by the facilities I have seen today and by the work that the volunteers here do. There are many issues surrounding planned and unplanned pregnancies which are too often swept under the carpet and it is good to know that there is always someone independent on hand to talk to."
"The work of the Royal British Legion and our annual remembrance of those who have given their lives for our freedom is of critical importance to me," said local MP, Stephen Phillips, when he and his staff joined sailors from HMS Westminster selling poppies earlier this week. Every year, many MPs take time out from their Westminster offices to persuade those passing through the tube station at Westminster to buy their poppy to help in the ongoing and vital work which the British Legion does on behalf of a grateful nation. "As we move towards Sunday when I know we will all pause for a moment to remember those who paid the ultimate price," Stephen added, "it is important to remember that many have returned from their service to our country with physical and mental wounds which the Legion can help them with. That is why it is so important that we all buy our poppies."
As part of the year-to-go celebrations for the Rugby League World Cup 2013, the world cup trophy visited the house of Commons last week. Sitting in front of newly-named Elizabeth Tower, still affectionately known as Big Ben, our MP, Stephen Phillips, had the opportunity to get his hands on the cup and to discuss the tournament with the organisers. "It's fantastic that in addition to the Olympics this year, we have so many sporting events taking place in Britain over the coming years," Stephen said. "As the first after London 2012, the Rugby League World Cup 2013 has a great opportunity to showcase British sporting talent and put on a fantastic tournament. We all saw the power of sport during the Olympics, and it seems that hasn't left us. I wish the players, coaches, organisers and volunteers the best of luck as they put on what I am sure will be an outstanding spectacle of international sport."
The Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, the Commandant of RAF College Cranwell, the Mayor of Sleaford and Sleaford and North Hykeham MP, Stephen Phillips, joined a packed house on Saturday for a sombering but inspirational start to the Sleaford Branch of the Royal British Legion's annual Poppy Appeal. Several hundred people from across the area heard a first class concert led by the Sleaford Concert Band at St Denys' Church, before the band led the act of remembrance, followed by some communal singing, finishing with The Lincolnshire Poacher. Last year, local members of the Royal British Legion raised nearly £30,000 as part of the Poppy Appeal -- money spent across the County on welfare work with brave armed forces veterans. Speaking at the event, Stephen Phillips MP paid tribute to those who tirelessly raise money for this important cause and stressed its ongoing importance. "The work of the Royal British Legion is perhaps now more important than it has ever been and I know that even in these tough times, we will all continue to look after those who protect our freedoms."
Members of the Cranwell Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association yesterday entertained local MP Stephen Phillips to dinner at one of their regular evenings in the Sergeants Mess at RAF Cranwell, where Stephen also spent time with the Commandant of the College during the day. Asked to speak about his role as an MP and the way in which it differed from his expectations prior to his election, Stephen stressed the too-often forgotten concepts of public service and discipline exemplified by those who have served in the forces which he could only hope to begin to emulate. Stephen also spoke about the oddities of the House of Commons, from the strange hours MPs still work when the House is sitting to the routes which members have to learn to negotiate the Palace of Westminster as quickly as possible when a division is called. "It is a huge honour to be here tonight and to be the MP," Stephen said on being presented with a certificate of thanks. "My best hope is to follow the example of everyone in this room and to try to serve everyone in the constituency for as long as they continue to send me to Westminster to represent us."
"It's the little things that can make a difference in the battle against climate change!" That's the message Stephen Phillips QC MP was given on a recent visit to witness SmartTrash technology brought to the UK by local company Blue Castle. Incredibly, this non-invasive technology fitted to waste compactors at very little cost to their owners – like universities, manufacturing businesses and hospitals – reduces both cost and carbon emissions by more accurately measuring the need for compactors to be emptied with resultant fewer collections by gas-guzzling HGVs. "This is an amazing product to which there is no downside," Stephen said. "It's incredible to see such a simple idea both saving money for businesses and reducing carbon emissions, and I wish Blue Castle every success in persuading more organisations across the UK to fit these products to their waste compactors."
Formed in June 2000 in order to reduce the number of people killed and injured on Lincolnshire's roads, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership was visited last week by local MP Stephen Phillips to see the work that the Partnership does in helping drivers across the County. Shown around LRSP's facilities at North Kyme, Stephen heard how LRSP assists young drivers in particular to understand the dangers of inappropriate behaviour whilst driving, like texting on mobile phones, before himself trying out the Academy's simulator and learning to steer out of a skid in a specially designed vehicle. Speaking after his visit, Stephen said, "We have some of the most dangerous roads in the country and the work that LRSP does is vital in teaching and encouraging us all to drive safely. The success of the scheme is shown by the sheer number of other rural counties beating a path to LRSP's door to learn what the Police and County Council are doing with other agencies to encourage safer driving. It's important work that I believe should be rolled out nationwide."
Wednesday, Stephen Phillips MP delivered the keynote presentation at the annual East Midlands Directors' Briefing held in the constituency at the Belton Woods Hotel and sponsored by successful local chartered accountants Duncan & Toplis. Praising the efforts of entrepreneurs and businesses all across the East Midlands, Stephen outlined the Government's successes in a difficult economic climate and briefed senior executives on further plans to reduce red tape and encourage economic growth. Speaking on his journey back to Westminster to attend Prime Minister's Questions, Stephen said, "We are extremely fortunate in Lincolnshire to have a large number of successful world-beating businesses, often grown from scratch. The economic recovery is being led by the private sector, with over a million jobs created in the last two years. My message today has been to say how much the Government values everything which our SMEs do, whilst setting out our plans to help British business in the future."
Stephen Phillips QC MP formally opened the newly refurbished community swimming pool at Billinghay last weekend. Serving the village and the surrounding district for 40 years and providing a fabulous resource for children and adults, particularly during the summer holidays, the pool continues to be run as a charity by volunteers in the same way that it has for the last four decades. Thanking the volunteers and everyone for their efforts, Stephen said, "It's projects like this across the constituency which highlight the fabulous spirit we have here in Lincolnshire to do the best for our communities. This is a marvellous pool, run by local people for local people, and I am enormously proud to have been asked to re-open it and to wish everyone another 40 years of success." Stephen is pictured with some of the members, volunteers and lifeguards who keep the pool open, including Mrs Mary Bailey whose late husband, Jim, dug the pool out and was the first in it four decades ago!
Ahead of the formal opening next month, Stephen Phillips MP got a sneak preview of the nearly-completed community facilities at The Venue @ Navenby this weekend. Constructed by local firm Beckside Buildings to their own design, the new facility will house the local Contact Point for villages along the cliff, as well as providing a new pre-school, extensive facilities for football clubs, and some of the best function spaces of any community in Lincolnshire, if not the UK. Speaking as he toured the project, Stephen said, "I want to pay a huge tribute to all of those, led by Malcolm Smith and the Parish Council, who have made this fabulous dream a reality for the community in and around Navenby. Calling it a 'Village Hall' or 'Community Centre' just doesn't do justice to what the team have created. It's a real pleasure to see just what everyone's fundraising and hard work has achieved." The Venue already has bookings for the next 18 months. Funding was provided by the village, sporting organisations and local and national government.
Through the generosity of Cargill and parents at the school, children and staff at Bassingham Primary School will now enjoy two new gardens opened on Friday by local MP, Stephen Phillips. Both these beautiful new gardens – one Japanese, the other based on an African theme with a keyhole bed in traditional African style – have been months in preparation, and offer pupils and teachers an oasis in which to learn and relax outside the classroom. Opening the gardens, Stephen Phillips said, "I just want to congratulate everyone who has been involved in the creation of these special spaces which add so much to an already wonderful school. It's been a thrill for me to see how the hard work which everyone has put in has paid off and I know that these wonderful facilities will give pleasure to all of you for years to come."
Friday, Class 3 at Osbournby Primary School got the chance to quiz Stephen Phillips on what it's like to be an MP and the challenges of his job representing our community in Westminster. Stephen told pupils at the school about the unexpected aspects of the job of MP which he had not anticipated, as well as the more mundane aspects of life away from Lincolnshire during the week. Amongst the difficult questions Stephen had to deal with, were some relating to what he thinks he has achieved since 2010 and what his plans are for the future. But asked his favourite part of the job, our MP pointed to coming home on a Friday and visiting schools like this one! "Class 3 were kind enough to write to me to ask me to come and tell them about what I actually do, " Stephen said. "There are clearly some budding politicians here, because they have given me even more difficult questions than I get in the week down in London."
Local MP Stephen Phillips last week called on the Government to give assistance for more solar farms to prevent contentious onshore wind planning applications frequently opposed by the communities they affect. Speaking on a visit to a solar farm in the south of the constituency, Stephen highlighted the need for a more diverse energy mix to prevent over-reliance on foreign imported fossil fuels and to deal with the issue of climate change. "Over the next few years, it is imperative that we ensure our energy security as the cost of fossil fuels increases with greater demand from developing countries," Stephen said. "Solar power and solar farms are surprisingly productive even in this country and are an important part of the solution to our energy needs."
Stephen Phillips MP paid a visit last week to Cranwell Primary School to meet the head teacher, Chris Wilson, together with governors, members of staff and the local RAF liaison officer about the challenges posed by the Government's decision to enshrine the military covenant in law, ensuring that personnel serving in our armed forces are never disadvantaged as a result of their service. "Ensuring that local primary schools always have places available for returning service families is not easy in a county like ours," Stephen said. "But it is vitally important that the men and women of our armed services know that they and their families will not be disadvantaged by the careers they have chosen to pursue." Stephen pledged to do all he can to ensure that the school, graded by OFSTED as outstanding, is given the support it needs to meet the challenges posed by the military covenant, as well as lending his voice to calls for the MOD to provide unwanted land in the vicinity for the school's further development.
Stephen Phillips QC MP and other guests were kindly hosted by the new Commandant of the RAF College at Cranwell in a moving sunset ceremony to celebrate the official birthday of HM the Queen. The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment entertained guests with a medley of tunes well known to all those who have served, before the Royal Air Force Ensign was brought down to mark the end of the day. Speaking after the ceremony, Stephen thanked the Commandant and those who made the evening so special, adding a personal tribute to the work that the College carries out in educating new RAF officers. "The College has been serving our country and the Royal Air Force since 1919, training the young men and women who come here to Lincolnshire to become the leaders our armed forces need," Stephen said. "Neither the pride which we all feel in having such an important national institution in the heart of our community nor the excellence which has been on show tonight, as it always is, can be overstated."
Local MP Stephen Phillips attended the plenary sessions at the 10th Anniversary conference at Hill Holt Wood last Friday at which leading conservationists, social entrepreneurs, community stakeholders, policy makers, academics and representatives from businesses from all over the UK discussed social enterprise and conservation issues. Speaking at the event, Stephen gave a political perspective highlighting cross-party support for the place of social enterprise in delivering rural solutions to long-standing social problems, as well as the value for money such programmes deliver for hard-pressed taxpayers. In his speech, Stephen also stressed the value which local policymakers attribute to the work that Hill Holt Wood does in the community, and the need to ensure long term solutions for management of the countryside unaffected by changes of Government. "Hill Holt Wood has been an inspiration to many of us as to what can be achieved," Stephen said at the celebratory tree planting which followed the event. "It's a joy to celebrate everything that Nigel and Karen have done in the last decade and to show everyone what a difference social enterprise can make in so many areas."
Representatives from all over the County came together Saturday in the Cathedral to give thanks for the service of our Queen during her sixty-year reign and to pray for her continued health and happiness. Joined by the Bishop of Lincoln and the Chapter of the Cathedral, young and old alike heard a magnificent setting of coronation music sung by the Cathedral choir, including Handel's inspiring 'Zadok the Priest'. Preaching to the assembled congregation, the Dean spoke movingly of the Queen's innumerable qualities and unstinting devotion to her public life and duty. Speaking after the service, local MP Stephen Phillips (pictured, with Cllr Marianne Overton) paid his own tribute on behalf of the constituency: "For six decades, the Queen has devoted herself to the service of her people, here and all over the Commonwealth. Today was an opportunity for us all to thank God for our Sovereign and to ask for his blessing upon her. Long may she reign over us!"
The hard work of Officers and Members of Hykeham Sailing Club in North Hykeham recently paid off with a lottery funded grant of £50,000 to pay for additional facilities for those who use the centre, including many local schools, community organisations and families. Founded in 1985, the Club occupies a splendid clubhouse and a lake of 180 acres affording great sailing to both casual & racing sailors, some of whom are preparing for the 2016 Olympics already. Handing over the lottery cheque on behalf of a Sport England initiative, local MP Stephen Phillips said, "Hykeham Sailing Club is a brilliant example of what volunteers all across the constituency do both to enjoy themselves and to help others to get involved in the recreations about which they are passionate. We've seen some sun for the first time today in a number of weeks which shows the Club and its facilities at their best and I want to thank everyone who invited me and ensures the survival of this fantastic facility for the whole community."
Stephen Phillips QC MP met last week with local residents from Billinghay Dales and representatives of one of the constituency's largest businesses, Moy Park, which, apart from its operations at Anwick, also farms at Padley's Farm. The meeting was called to resolve outstanding issues with regard to necessary traffic movements through Billingay Dales. "An important part of my job," Stephen said, "is bringing different parts of the community and businesses together to deal with any concerns which they have. Moy Park is one of our largest employers and hugely important to the local area. The business understands the importance of being a good neighbour and I am pleased that we have been able to work together to allay the concerns which local residents had expressed to me to their satisfaction."
Stephen Phillips MP received a petition at the weekend against the proposed wind farm at East Heckington, one of a number of applications which is currently being made in the constituency. The petition, which Stephen will now pass on to the Secretary of State, was signed by more than a hundred local residents who object to the interference with their quality of life which they believe the development would bring. "The application has already been objected to by North Kesteven District Council," Stephen said, "and I am sorry that the developers have thought it appropriate to press their case to an enquiry. I am clear in my own mind that whether or not onshore wind is part of the solution to our energy needs, it is only acceptable where it has the support of local communities. Whilst the decision is not for me, I hope that both the Secretary of State and the independent inspector will listen to the concerns of those who are opposed to the proposed scheme."
Local MP Stephen Phillips started a campaign Friday against health and safety red tape strangling many local businesses in the area. Meeting with representatives from businesses in North Hykeham, Stephen heard how pre-qualification queries over compliance with Health and Safety and other regulations tie up managers, preventing business development and leading to a loss of revenue. Speaking at the meeting, Stephen said, "Health and Safety legislation is important in ensuring a safe working environment for many, but we cannot sustain a system which actively discourages local businesses from applying for tenders because of the breadth of the information which they have to provide to show matters which are apparent from the accreditations which they already have." Stephen was contacted to act by local contractors Brook and Mayo who highlighted the problems which their company is facing and which businesses across the constituency face. Stephen added, "The Government has already removed reams of red tape tying up British business; I will be telling Ministers that more can be done however."
As part of his regular programme of meetings with communities across the constituency, Stephen Phillips QC MP met, Friday, with villagers from Brant Broughton and Stragglethorpe in the new village hall in Brant Broughton to answer questions and take back to Westminster the concerns of the local community. Speaking at the event, Stephen explained what the Government was doing in relation to various areas of concern, including the nonsense litigation created by the Human Rights Act, the rights of victims of crime, the need for elected Police Commissioners, the localism agenda and the need to stand firm against onshore wind farms which are opposed by local communities. "This is an important aspect of the way in which I try to do the job I was elected to do," Stephen said. "Hearing people's real concerns away from the Westminster Village enables me to tackle Government ministers on the topics which most concern us all."
Residents of Leasingham and Rauceby met Saturday evening at Leasingham village hall for a quiz held under the auspices of the local Conservative branch at the beginning of their Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Joined by Stephen Phillips MP, Cllr Susan Waring and other members of the branch, villagers enjoyed some tough questions with good food, wine and company. Raising money for the church and local charities, the result seemed not much to matter, though keen competition developed between a number of teams with Cllr Waring's team ultimately winning through! Speaking at the event, Stephen said, "Every community in the constituency is celebrating the selfless service which the Queen has shown to us, her people, for the last 60 years, and I am trying to attend as many events as possible to show our support of Her Majesty across the constituency. In Parliament, we were fortunate to be able to show our gratitude when our sovereign came to visit us in person and I am thrilled that Her Majesty will also be coming to the County later in the year so that we can show her just how much she means to everyone in Lincolnshire."
Farming continues to play a major part in the life of our community and farmers across the constituency are responsible for maintaining much of our beautiful countryside. The Government is committed to supporting our farmers, particularly in a time of drought and to ensuring that the interests of British farmers and consumers are properly protected in the current round of CAP reform which is just beginning. Stephen Phillips QC MP met last week with NFU representatives and local farmers to discuss their priorities and to learn of the issues which they wish ministers to progress on their behalf. "Farming is incredibly important to the local area," Stephen said. "It is vital that ministers understand the concerns of those who are responsible for our food security and the natural environment from which we all benefit so much here in Lincolnshire. I have a number of matters to raise with the Secretary of State arising from my meeting this morning and I will be speaking to her next week about these vital matters."
Villagers in Dry Doddington and Westborough have the benefit of the beautiful River Witham on their doorstep, but in recent years the river has come close to flooding on a number of occasions and continues to threaten residents' homes. Local MP, Stephen Phillips, met Friday with the Parish Council and local residents to discuss the Environment Agency's failure to take action over the silt which has been building up in the river for some years and to formulate a plan of action to force the Agency to take steps to rectify the position. Speaking after his meeting, Stephen said, "An important part of my job is trying to force Government Agencies to take action in accordance with their statutory duties. There is no greater pain for any householder than watching flood waters approach their property and I am clear that I will do everything I can to ensure that the Environment Agency takes the necessary steps to ensure that the River Witham is properly maintained."
Friday, local MP Stephen Phillips spent the morning at Carre's Grammar School in Sleaford for a debate on whether grammar schools encourage social mobility, before meetings with the School Council and the Senior Prefect Team. Arguing that grammar schools provide opportunities for everyone irrespective of means and that their presence lifts standards in all schools , the motion for their continued survival proposed by Stephen was easily carried. Stephen then gave a master class on public speaking before meeting with those shortly off to University to hear their concerns and what they would like in our town. Speaking afterwards, Stephen said, "It's always a huge privilege to visit our excellent secondary schools across the constituency. It's a truism that these young people are not only our future, but one which looks bright given their enthusiasm for engaging and changing the world which they see . I'm grateful to everyone who I've met with today for telling me their ideas for our community and the Britain we now live in."
Pupils elected to their school council from all year groups at South Hykeham Primary School recently got to quiz local MP Stephen Phillips on the Government's record and what he gets out of being our MP. Following an assembly at which Stephen presented merit certificates to those with significant achievements over the last term, Stephen had his very own PMQ experience with the school council, who took him to task on what he thought his best and worst moments in politics had been so far, whether he was friends with the Prime Minister and what he was doing for young people in Lincolnshire. Speaking after the session was over, Stephen said, "I was quite flustered by some of the questions I was asked, which were all excellent. There are some budding opposition leaders at South Hykeham Primary School, although I hope that it is some years before I have to face them across a despatch box."
Local MP Stephen Phillips last week paid a visit to Witham St Hughs Primary School, which is currently consulting on whether or not the school should become an Academy. As a supporter of the Government's Academies programme, which has been demonstrated to raise standards and deliver the best outcomes for children, Stephen was keen to see for himself the work that the school has been undertaking in connection with the consultation and its exciting plans for the future if the change goes ahead. Shown around by headteacher Neil Spencelayh, Stephen met with staff and pupils during their lessons and picked up a thing or two which he didn't know along the way. "Like so many schools across the constituency, Witham St Hughs is brilliantly led, delivering excellent results for all the children who come here," Stephen said. "I'm really pleased to see the governors consulting parents and the entire community on the direction that the school should take, and I look forward to hearing the outcome of the consultation exercise in due course."
Many of those who contact Stephen's office will have come across Amy who runs the diary and makes sure that our MP is where he is supposed to be on time – a very difficult job! There was exciting news in the Westminster office this week as Amy announced that she is going to make an honest man out of her long-term boyfriend, Tony Hind, who also works in Parliament. Amy and Tony are planning to share their big day next summer. The rest of the team, Stephen, Emma and Jan, offered hearty congratulations, toasting the happy couple with a glass on the terrace of the House of Commons. Stephen said, "Amy has been with me since I started as an MP doing a fabulous job ensuring that I can do everything which is required of me. Tony is a great chap and I want to wish both of them many years of happiness together."
Stephen Phillips QC MP yesterday raised the case of his late constituent, Mr Martin Pratt, in the House of Commons in order to push for more help for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mr Pratt's wife, Suzan, recently came to see Stephen in a surgery concerned by the lack of communication between the various agencies responsible for his health. Stephen used an oral question to Defence ministers to raise the issue, receiving assurances from Andrew Robathan MP that the Government was working hard to improve treatment of veterans suffering from PTSD. Commenting afterwards, Stephen said, "I was extremely concerned by what Mrs Pratt told me about the gaps in the care that her husband received. Those are particularly hard to accept given the fact that he served our country. She is a very brave woman and although it is sadly too late for her husband, she is determined that no other family should suffer the same fate as hers. I am glad to have played a small part in trying to ensure that happens."
Local MP Stephen Phillips was the guest speaker at the Annual General Meeting of Sleaford Citizens' Advice Bureau last week. Talking about the theme of the 'Big Society', and what it actually means for communities like ours, Stephen stressed that whilst towns and cities may have lost a sense of community cohesion, his experience is that volunteering and looking out for everyone in the community is very much alive and well in Lincolnshire. Stephen drew attention to the fact that even in these difficult times, the British people still give more than £10bn to charitable causes, but also stressed the need for businesses to do more to support local charities and the communities in which they are established. Concluding by expressing his support for the Government's policies to assist charities and community groups, matched by new funding, Stephen thanked all at the CAB for their hard work in helping those in and around Sleaford with a wide variety of issues and indicated just how this vital this work is in the current economic climate.
As part of his regular programme of village meetings across the constituency, Stephen Phillips met Friday evening with local residents from Marston and Hougham in the south of the constituency to explain how Government policy is affecting rural constituencies like ours and to listen to their concerns so that he can lobby ministers and other officials on their behalf. Residents raised with Stephen the effect of cuts in rural services, particularly bus services and problems with LCC's CallConnect Service, as well as a variety of other issues and questions which he did his best to answer. Stephen said, "I try to hold one of these meetings with village communities across the constituency most Friday evenings. There was a real problem in the past with politicians not listening to the concerns of those who sent them to Westminster in the first place. I believe it is important to hear what my constituents think about the direction the Government is taking so that I can do my best to influence policy in our favour."
Stephen Phillips MP last week attended the graduation ceremony for apprentices and those completing training courses run by Lagat in North Hykeham. Lagat is a local business that specialises in helping people achieve their potential through training and apprenticeships, and the ceremony celebrated the achievement of those who have made it through various courses. Stephen congratulated the graduates and presented each of them with their official certificates of achievement. "My congratulations go to all those who have achieved a qualification today", Stephen said. "Apprenticeships and training courses offer a great opportunity to thousands of people across the country to learn useful skills and show that they are dedicated and hardworking, improving their job prospects and their sense of self worth. We now have more apprenticeships on offer than ever before in Britain's history and I wish all of today's graduates who have made the most of this opportunity the very best for their futures."
MPs, including Sleaford & North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips, spent part of Thursday collecting for the Royal British Legion's annual poppy appeal outside Westminster Tube Station. Joined by a piper from the Scottish Division and soldiers from the Welsh Guards, Stephen's old regiment, commuters were tackled as they emerged from the station which was manned for the whole day by teams of ex-servicemen and women, including many parliamentarians. The event, part of London Poppy day, aims to raise £500,000 in a single day, making it the largest contributor to the annual poppy appeal. Speaking to reporters at Westminster Station, Stephen said, "The annual Poppy appeal raises much needed funds for the work of the Royal British Legion, which remains just as important today as it has been since the Legion was founded. Every year, we wear our poppies with pride to remind ourselves of the huge debt we owe to those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and to support all those who have served and are serving in our armed forces. As Remembrance Sunday approaches, I know that the whole country will want to remember the fallen, as well as those who are away from their families serving overseas."
Stephen Phillips QC MP last week met with local speech and language therapist Lisa Harding to discuss how SLT services are making a difference across Lincolnshire and in Sleaford and North Hykeham. Early-years communication is essential to children's later outcomes in education and for the remainder of their lives, and before becoming our MP, Stephen championed the cause of appropriate education for the profoundly Deaf, saving one of the last remaining sign-bilingual schools in the country from closure. After the meeting, Stephen said, "Meeting with Lisa has shown me what a critical role speech and language therapists play in the community. I was surprised to learn of the huge variety of people that Lisa works with, from children with autism to older people recovering from a stroke. It was fascinating to hear how such therapy transforms so many people's lives in our area, and I congratulate Lisa and all those in her profession on the fantastic work they do."
Residents of Billinghay and the French village of Ballon spent Saturday evening celebrating the silver anniversary of the twinning of their two communities with an evening of fine Lincolnshire fare at the Village Hall in Billinghay. The event, part of four days of celebrations, was attended by local people from all over the area who heard speeches (in English and French) as to the importance of the ties between the two villages and what the twinning has achieved in the last 25 years. A fantastic series of 'petites histoires' organised by Billinghay's French Club saw a willing Stephen Phillips MP dragged around the village hall dancing to some familiar French songs to the amusement of all. Speaking at the event, Stephen commended the twinning committees of both villages and said, "Whilst some of us continue to have real doubts as to the institution which the EU has become, none of us doubts that the strong ties which exist between communities such as Billinghay and Ballon have helped to assist us all in understanding our continental neighbours better. Many residents of Billinghay and Ballon have become firm friends across the years as a result of the twinning and I wish the links continued success in the years to come."
The annual Children in Need appeal is fast upon us. Local MP, Stephen Phillips visited staff and customers at Asda in North Hykeham over the weekend to join in fund-raising activities for this worthy cause, more important than ever given current straightened financial circumstances. Stephen and Pudsey Bear collected donations from shoppers and handed out Pudsey-shaped cookie-cutters around the store to the delight of children, some of whose Mums looked less than pleased at a weekend of baking ahead! "The annual Children in Need Appeal is something that I am very pleased to support here in my constituency," Stephen said. "The charity does so much to help some of the most disadvantaged kids in our country, something which is particularly important at the moment." Children in Need day will take place on Friday, 18th November with events on television and across the country to raise money for the charity.
Stephen Phillips QC MP recently met with local resident Mrs Jo Churchill from Breakthrough Breast Cancer's Campaigns & Advocacy Network (CAN) at the 12th annual Westminster Fly-In event to discuss how to improve breast cancer survival rates. Nearly 48,000 women and 300 men are diagnosed with the disease each year, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK. Breakthrough Breast Cancer believes that the Government can tackle this issue by supporting key principles like promoting breast awareness messages to help drive early diagnosis. After the meeting, Stephen said, "My generation of politicians has a real opportunity to make effective change that can save lives. It is clear that by following the principles supported by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, we can give ourselves the best possible chance to match the best breast cancer survival rates in the world and make a real difference. I was delighted to meet with Mrs Churchill to discuss these important issues, and I look forward to doing all I can to help increase survival rates for those suffering from cancer."
Longwood Quarries, in the heart of the Sleaford & North Hykeham Constituency, has been supplying screened lime and crushed aggregates to the farming, building and construction industries for more than 50 years. During that time the company has gained an excellent reputation for providing customers with quality graded products at competitive prices, as well as a prompt and reliable delivery service. This further success story for the constituency produces crushed and graded limestone in a wide variety of sizes and specifications, which have been used all over the country, including on many of our roads in Lincolnshire. Visiting last week, local MP Stephen Phillips commented, "Longwood Quarries is another example of high quality British industry going on right here in Lincolnshire. With my interest in ensuring that local businesses thrive, I've been thrilled to visit today and look forward to seeing the company go from strength to strength in the 21st century."
Made in Britain is an initiative which local MP Stephen Phillips has been encouraging manufacturers and other businesses across the constituency to adopt in order to help consumers identify British goods and increase exports overseas. The scheme, with a stunning new logo, has been up and running for a couple of months and flies the flag for the quality of British industry while making shoppers aware of how they can support the economy. Visiting Sports and Leisure Brands Limited in North Scarle last week, Stephen met with Managing Director Tim Pearce and his colleagues and learned how they hope the Made in Britain marque will assist in the further development of one of the constituency's success stories. "We have top quality manufacturers all across the UK," Stephen said. "Showing consumers here and overseas that goods have been manufactured in Britain influences their buying choices and promotes our industry at a difficult time for the world economy."
Next year's Olympics will see equestrianism back in the sporting headlines, with several British medal hopefuls lining up to bring home the golds we are all hoping for. Here in the constituency, we have a number of fabulous facilities for the Olympics, amongst them Arena UK in Allington where Norman Oley and his team have created a world-renowned facility which already brings in riders from across the globe. Next year, Arena UK will host one of the Olympic teams – the IOC has yet to declare which – during the games. Stephen Phillips MP paid a visit Friday to see how preparations were progressing. Stephen said, "It's great to see the constituency benefiting from the Olympics which, with the news that one of the equestrian teams will be hosted right here, will bring in money to local businesses and make us all feel part of the games. Arena UK is a real asset to Lincolnshire and already hosts the largest equestrian event in Europe in September every year. I've been very pleased to hear that Norman and his team have been working with SKDC to make sure that the business goes from strength to strength."
Stephen Phillips MP celebrated 'World School Milk Day 2011' by visiting pupils and staff at Ancaster Church of England Primary School. The school was one of thousands of schools across more than 40 countries taking part in celebrations dedicated to the importance of milk as part of a healthy diet for children. The day encourages children to drink milk and aims to educate them about the health benefits of this nutritious beverage. Milk is now delivered fresh and chilled to the classroom, distributed by students and consumed as a group, helping teach responsibility, independence, manners and numeracy. Milk is also vital for building healthy bones and teeth and research shows that it improves children's concentration, memory and creativity. Speaking at the school, Stephen said, "I am delighted to join staff and pupils in celebrating the importance of school milk and have really enjoyed being milk monitor today. World School Milk Day is a great way to promote milk as a delicious and nourishing part of the day for all our youngsters."
Marston Agricultural Services is one of the constituency's real success stories. Headed up by Dennis Green and his son Adrian, the company manufactures agricultural machinery vital to farmers all over the UK and overseas, providing employment to many hard-working local people. Visiting Friday, Stephen Phillips QC MP was shown around the business by Dennis and Adrian, who gave some frank views about the state of the economy bequeathed to the current government by the last Labour Government. "Supporting successful local business is an important part of my job," Stephen said. "The example that Dennis and his own father set establishing Marston Trailers and ensuring its continued success despite the decline in British manufacturing is a lesson to all of us in perseverance and entrepreneurial spirit. I'm pleased that Adrian is carrying on his father's good work and look forward to hearing about the continued success of the business in the years to come."
Local MP Stephen Phillips paid a visit last week to Ancaster Pre-School, based at Ancaster Village hall, to celebrate the nursery being rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted. Ofsted praised the staff's 'commitment without compromise' and 'relentless approach to driving improvement' and the pre-school scored Grade 1 which is given for aspects which are of 'exceptionally high quality' in all areas of the agency's report. Stephen met staff and children at the school and helped to make some pictures before everyone enjoyed a jam sandwich for snack time. Speaking after his visit, Stephen said, "I wanted to congratulate the staff at Ancaster Pre-School on the excellent results they've achieved and see firsthand the important work they do with local children. I've been really impressed by everyone's dedication and skill, and had a great time with the kids too. Pre-school playgroups such as this one give children a valuable start in life, particularly when they receive such excellent support, and I hope the playgroup will continue its exceptional record for many years to come."
Local MP Stephen Phillips this week accepted a petition from Puva Mishaharan, owner and manager of Ramper Service Station in South Hykeham, signed by his customers calling for drivers to slow down in built-up areas. Five children are killed or seriously injured every day while walking on UK roads. If a child steps out three car lengths in front of a car at 30mph, the likely collision speed is 27mph, the same force as the child falling from a third-floor window onto concrete. Reducing speeds to 20mph means that most drivers should just have enough time to stop in the same circumstances. After handing over the petition, Mr Mishaharan commented, "We are pleased that our community joined together to support the '20 is Plenty' campaign and want to thank all our customers." Stephen said, "It's brilliant that so many local drivers are backing this campaign. Improving road safety is an important issue for the local community and something I support wholeheartedly."
Hundreds of mourners came to St Swithun's, Leadenham, last Friday to celebrate the life of a wonderful man and to say goodbye. The Revd. Dr. Alan Megahey, rural dean, died peacefully at home on 19th August 2011 after a short illness. Tributes were paid by many whose lives had been touched by Alan in a moving service led by the Bishop of Grantham, who pointed to Alan's great love for young people as evidenced by his time as Rector of Peterhouse, Zimbabwe. Local MP, Stephen Phillips, paid his own tribute after the service, saying, "Alan was a truly inspiring man and was one of the first to welcome me after I came to the constituency. His ministry amongst the parishes he served during his time with us in Lincolnshire was truly inspiring for the many who had the privilege to meet him. His good humour, careful intelligence and lasting kindness will be greatly missed by all of us."
Conservatives from all over the constituency came together in the sunshine on Sunday for a hog roast to celebrate the start of the summer holidays and recent electoral success at the district council elections. Good food, good wine and good company enabled Stephen Phillips and other elected representatives to catch up with and say thank you to all those who have helped the Conservative Party to recent victories in the constituency. Speaking whilst carving at the event, Stephen said, "We have a strong and friendly association in the constituency which helps to support me and all our councillors, both financially and in our day to day work on behalf of the community. Events like today's hog roast and the other events we put on throughout the year are hugely enjoyable, and I hope that anyone who is interested in Conservative values and policies will consider coming to join us. A warm welcome awaits!"
Alistair Campbell famously told Tony Blair when Labour was in power that, "we don't do God." Local MP Stephen Phillips made clear at the recent civic services for North Kesteven District Council and South Kesteven District Council that he disagrees. "Religion is at the heart of our tradition of public service in this country," Stephen said, "and for many of us that remains the case. Whilst you don't have to believe in God to serve your community, a realisation that you must answer for your stewardship of your communities and do the best you can by those you are supposed to be serving is no bad thing." Civic Services for each of the District Councils within the constituency are held annually in the summer to welcome the new Chairmen of each Authority to their new roles and to ask guidance in the coming year on the deliberations of councillors. This year's services were held in Ruskington (NKDC) and Grantham (SKDC). Proof positive that here in Lincolnshire, we do, indeed, do God.
Claypole Church of England Primary School kindly played host to Stephen Phillips QC MP when he visited last week. Stephen was asked to visit the school by those in Year 6 when they came to Parliament earlier in the year after their important exams. Tested on that occasion with some difficult questions, Stephen found himself flummoxed this week when asked by one Year 6 pupil whether he was famous. Answering, "No, not really," Stephen nonetheless found himself asked for autographs which he promised to provide after his return to Westminster. Talking after his visit to head teacher, Heather Burns, Stephen thanked her and her staff for the opportunity to visit the school and said, "I've had a great morning with everyone. The Year 6s were a delight when they came down to London and I've been thrilled to see around their wonderful school today. I wish them all the best as they move on to secondary school."
Friday, local MP Stephen Phillips paid a visit to the Pelican Trust in Lincoln, which serves vulnerable individuals from across the area, enabling them to progress into work experience, employment or education opportunities through training in the Trust's various commercial departments. These include bespoke joinery, litho and digital printing, a business centre, engraving, contract packing and recycling. The Trust also offers those it aids to move on in life extensive training, whatever the nature of the difficulties from which they suffer. Offering an efficient and professional commercial service to customers in Lincolnshire and throughout the UK, the Trust is always looking for more work which it is able to price competitively in order to secure orders. Speaking after his visit, Stephen said, "Stacey Gillott and her staff do incredible work with some of the most disadvantaged people in our society, enabling them to enter the world of work and to re-engage with their communities. I have been enormously impressed by everything I have seen on my visit today and I urge all local businesses and organisations to consider giving some of their printing and other work to the Pelican Trust in order that its valuable work can continue."
From time to time, people across the constituency ask about the two disembodied voices at the end of the telephone who answer queries and help our local MP to deal with his caseload, particularly on Fridays during surgery in the constituency. Today, Stephen offered his congratulations to one of them, Amy Bannister, on turning 21. Amy, pictured here with Emma Salisbury enjoying her cake, organises Stephen's diary and deals with some casework. Emma, who worked for three other MPs before coming to Stephen's office, deals with ministerial correspondence and helps Stephen with parliamentary duties. She also liaises with the press. Stephen said, "I have a happy and efficient office in both Westminster and the constituency which generally turns round correspondence in under 24 hours. I couldn't do my job as well without the help that Amy and Emma provide in London, together with that which Jan and Rosemary offer in the constituency. Congratulations to Amy on her 21st!"
Returning members of the RAF who have served recently in Afghanistan visited Parliament last week to meet with MPs and Peers who thanked them for the work they have done putting their own lives at risk in order to protect us at home. Amongst those greeting the returning airmen was our local MP, Stephen Phillips, who paid tribute to the sacrifice and dedication shown by all our servicemen and women in the work they are doing. "In the past," Stephen said, "we have not done enough to recognise the hardships which those serving their country overseas undergo, along with their families in the defence of our nation. It has been a huge privilege to meet so many heroes recently returned from Afghanistan today and to extend the thanks of everyone in the constituency for their sacrifices on our behalf."
Summer across the constituency continued this weekend with village fêtes at Thorpe-on-the-Hill, Leadenham and Hough-on-the-Hill. Attending each, Stephen Phillips and his family enjoyed the sunshine in which Lincolnshire basked all weekend, taking advantage of numerous cups of tea, cakes and a plethora of fun and games, all of it in aid of good causes. Speaking on Sunday, Stephen said, "We are so lucky to live in a constituency of local communities which represent a Britain I just don't see in London during the week. Coming home on a Friday is even more of a pleasure during the summer when we get to spend our weekends going all over the patch and catching up with so many good friends."
Stephen Phillips MP last week visited Belvoir Gardens in Great Gonerby to discuss Lincolnshire County Council's failure to deal with the poor condition of the road. Joined by local councillor Ray Wootten, Stephen met with local residents and saw firsthand the damage to the road surface and kerbs following the completion of a recent development. Residents are concerned that the condition of the road has been made considerably worse by the heavy lorries that used Belvoir Gardens to access the site, and that remedial work has long been delayed. Stephen said, "I am very concerned that the County Council is dragging its feet in forcing the developer to repair the appalling conditions which have been created in Belvoir Gardens and will using my best efforts to try to get work started this summer. There is no doubt that the kerbstones must be reset and the road resurfaced and I am concerned that this is work for which the developers and not council taxpayers should be paying."
Visiting local businesses and listening to their concerns is an important part of local MP Stephen Phillips's job. Meeting recently with directors and staff of the successful multidisciplinary town planning and landscape architecture practice, Robert Doughty Consultancy Limited, which operates from premises in Helpringham, Stephen heard first hand of the pressures which local business are facing, particularly in terms of the red tape the Government is trying to reduce. Following his visit, Stephen said, "As we try to rebalance the economy to focus on private sector wealth creation, rather than ploughing more and more money into the state, it is important to hear what those who are on the frontline delivering the goods and services we need have to say. It has been a pleasure to be with Robert and his staff this morning and I look forward to telling ministers of the concerns which they have expressed to me."
Stephen Phillips QC MP dropped in to Welbourn Church Fête at the weekend to help raise funds for St. Chad's and the other churches in the deanery. With appalling weather forecast for the event, those present basked in the sunshine whilst rain clouds skirted the village until the fête was over. Villagers enjoyed traditional English games, a surfeit of tea and cakes and even the odd glass of Pimms! Stephen singularly failed to 'splat the rat' but at least avoided the absent stocks and took great pleasure in drawing the raffle for some wonderful prizes generously donated by Welbourn residents. Speaking after the event, he said, 'It's always an enormous pleasure for me to drop in to fêtes across the constituency, particularly when God has been as kind to us as he has with the weather today. I can only assume that Alan Megahey must have had a word with him and promised a good sermon tomorrow!"
Thursday, the Prime Minister, David Cameron paid a visit to RAF College Cranwell to review graduating officer cadets on behalf of the Queen. Mr Cameron and local MP Stephen Phillips were met by College Commandant Air Commodore Paul Oborn, Director of Recruitment and Initial Officer Training. In his speech, the Prime Minister indicated the privilege he enjoyed representing the Queen at the annual review of the College. "To me, this day is about three things: honour, duty and pride," Mr Cameron said, "For the Brits among you – the honour of joining the RAF." Following the visit, Air Commodore Oborn said, "It is a great privilege for the Royal Air Force and for the Royal Air Force College Cranwell to have the Prime Minister with us today for our Royal Review. We are proud of our graduating officers and delighted that the Prime Minister has been able to see at first hand the sharp, bright, robust and operationally-focused young men and women graduating as officers into the Royal Air Force of the 21st Century."
Friday, Stephen Phillips MP visited Mid-UK Recycling Limited near Caythorpe to learn more about the cutting-edge approach to waste management which this innovative company specialises in. Shown round by Managing Director, Chris Mountain, Stephen heard about the company's comprehensive waste collection and recycling service to both the private and public sectors, as well as the efforts devoted by Mid-UK to ensuring good relations with the local community. Speaking after his visit, Stephen said, "Here in North and South Kesteven, our District Councils are at the top of the league tables for domestic waste recycling rates and I have been pleased to see how all that waste is turned into useful products which can be used again by businesses across the country. Chris and his team are running a successful business right here in the middle of the constituency generating jobs whilst enabling us all to do our bit for the environment."
Roger Helmer MEP, Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands Region, visited Sleaford and North Hykeham last week at the invitation of local MP Stephen Phillips to speak to business leaders from across the region about European issues. Mr Helmer (pictured with Mr and Mrs Avison of Beckside Buildings and Installations Limited of Lincoln) reviewed the progress made by the Coalition government in the past year since the 2010 election, especially in terms of managing the deficit, and contrasted this with the damage that EU regulation and Brussels-inspired taxes were doing to the UK economy, sentiments warmly received by his audience. Moving a vote of thanks for Mr Helmer for his visit, Stephen Phillips MP described Mr Helmer as "a principled MEP doing everything he can to ensure that Brussels' intereference with our everyday lives is reduced, even if that means he will eventually put himself out of a job!"
Ewerby Reading Room, a community facility available for hire by the residents of Ewerby, Ewerby Thorpe, Evedon and the surrounding communities, was visited last week by local MP Stephen Phillips to celebrate a recent refurbishment with money from the National Lottery. An impressive new bar and seating area together with new lavatories now adjoin the Reading Room which was originally donated to the village as a facility for farm workers to adjourn to, to read the news of the day. Stephen was able to chat to local residents who had worked so hard on the project and to see for himself the facilities which have been created. Commenting after his visit, Stephen said, "I want to congratulate all those who have been involved in securing funding to refurbish the Reading Room in Ewerby so that it continues to serve as a community asset for the village and the surrounding villages in the 21st Century. This is exactly the sort of project which the Government's localism agenda is concerned with protecting. As with so many other areas, it is clear that everyone here in Lincolnshire is well ahead of the game!"
Stephen Phillips MP took time out of his constituency diary last week to attend a meeting of CANadda, a Lincolnshire support group for adults with an autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. Attendees from all over the county tackled Stephen on the Government's plans for welfare reform, some expressing concern about what this might mean for them and for those they support and care for. Stephen assured those attending that the Government is determined to make sure that welfare benefits go to those who need and deserve assistance, whilst cracking down on fraud and ensuring that benefits are properly targeted. Afterwards, Stephen said, "With change inevitably comes concern, which I appreciate. I have been pleased to meet individuals from CANadda today and to do what I can to allay that concern, and I have promised to take specific points back to ministers in London and to respond further to everyone in due course."
Local residents from all over Lincolnshire, including Sleaford & North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips and his wife Fiona, came together in the Chapter House at Lincoln Cathedral on Saturday evening for a concert to raise funds for the victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and resultant tsunami. The event, organised by Mr and Mrs William Day of Fulbeck, was held by kind permission of the dean and chapter and raised several thousand pounds which will go to help those whose lives have been devasted by the tragedy in Japan. Guests were privileged to hear world-renowned Japanese pianist Motoki Hirai who played several of his own compositions to a capacity audience visibly moved by music dedicated to his homeland. Representatives from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue explained the work that they had done in Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and the way in which this had affected them. Speaking afterwards, Stephen Phillips said, "The tragedy in Japan has affected us all, however far away it may have been. It was important to Fiona and me that we support the event this evening. The funds which have been raised will go to help people whose lives have been wrecked and show the care and concern which people from Lincolnshire have for everyone in our world."
Most of us recall Margaret Thatcher's rallying cry of "No! No! No!" against EU integration. And there are at least three reasons why I say "No! No! No!" to the Lib Dems' bid for AV, a back door route to ensure that Nick Clegg and his successors, rather than you, always get to choose the Prime Minister in the future. Under AV, someone who comes 3rd on 1st preference votes could end up wining. That's simply unfair, as, for that matter, is the suggestion that a BNP supporter gets their vote counted more than yours or mine. Secondly, those who already use it – only 3 countries – don't like AV. The majority of Australians want rid of it; Fiji even had a military coup after the last AV election. Contrast that with the 72 countries with a population of 2.4 billion which use the existing British system. Finally, there's the extra cost of AV – £250 million we are told. We simply cannot afford that. AV would result in elections being decided by, in the words of Winston Churchill, the "most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates". If, like me, you think that is really not on, please vote "No" on 5th May.
Stephen Phillips MP joined the campaign to 'value our natural heritage' this week after meeting local nature conservation organisation Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund at the House of Commons. The event was held to highlight the value of funding nature and its recovery and showcased a number of Wildlife Trust projects around the UK, including locally. Stephen said, "It was great to hear how HLF-funded Wildlife Trust projects have brought benefits to local wildlife and people. This shows what can be done if a body invests in and values the natural environment and I look forward to Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund continuing to work together to protect and restore nature and to help people engage with the natural world." Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We warmly welcome the support that HLF has given to The Wildlife Trusts over 16 years. And we welcome the support shown by parliamentarians. With an uncertain economic future, we look forward to funding streams that protect and restore nature continuing."
The health benefits of school milk are undeniable, as our local MP Stephen Phillips was told last Friday by John Sedgwick, MD of Cool Milk right here in North Hykeham. Cool Milk ensures that schools all over the country have access to fresh milk for their children and employs around 70 people, a number set to grow in the years ahead. Locally-sourced milk ensures that British Dairy farmers continue to benefit from a scheme financed by the Government which Stephen recently received assurances was set to continue in a written parliamentary answer from the Secretary of State. Stephen said, "Cool Milk is a fantastic local business delivering a quality product to schools across the country and I have been very happy to hear first-hand what the company is up to as it continues to expand. Milk is very important to children's development and Cool Milk does exactly what its name says, supplying great British product in our schools in a way which makes kids want to drink it."
A lesser known fact about our County are the many businesses engaged in the motor sport industry and the skilled petrolheads combining their passion with their job. One such business, visited last week by Stephen Phillips MP, is run by Guy Croft and his wife Natalya on Whisby Road in North Hykeham. Guy – previously a UKIP parliamentary candidate – and Natalya specialise in building and refurbishing Fiat and Lancia racing engines, a field in which they are world leaders. With SMEs being asked by the Government to help lead the way out of our economic difficulties, Stephen was happy to learn first-hand the suggestions which those at the sharp end like Guy and Natalya have to encourage economic growth. Commenting after his visit, Stephen said, "Guy and Natalya are precisely the people the business friendly measures announced in last week's budget are designed to help. As the Chancellor said, we need to ensure that we rebalance our economy with manufacturing playing a major role. Guy has given me some pointers as to how the Government can assist further and I am really grateful to him and Natalya for giving me their time."
"Helping those less fortunate than us." That's the answer local MP Stephen Phillips received when he asked what the Big Society was all about on a recent visit to the New Life Community Larder in Sleaford, the Sleaford Standard's Charity of the Year. Meeting with Rod and Annie Munro and other volunteers and staff from the New Life Church Ministry, Stephen toured the premises and saw at first hand the fantastic work which the team is doing to support those who have been hit hardest by the tough economic times. Commenting after his visit, Stephen said, "Many people do not understand what the Big Society is all about. But it's projects exactly like this one which embody the community spirit which the Prime Minister and I wish to promote. I commend everyone at the New Life Community Larder for their hard work and dedication supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community."
Stephen Phillips MP yesterday spoke up in the House of Commons for rural communities across the country, highlighting the problems caused for local people by high fuel prices at the pumps. During a debate on fuel policy, Stephen raised the issue of how higher fuel prices impact people in rural areas for whom a car is a necessity and called on government ministers to help his constituents. "The issue of fuel costs touches ... many rural constituencies across the country," Stephen told MPs. "The reason is that it costs - and has done for a long time - a great deal of money to run a car. However, a car is not a luxury to my constituents and people living ... in rural parts of England." Commenting afterwards, Stephen added, "Fuel costs are a hidden tax on rural communities throughout the country, making it more expensive to go about your everyday life if you do not live somewhere with good public transport. This is a vital matter that simply must be addressed. I know that this government is doing something to help, as evidenced by progress on looking into a fuel duty stabiliser and piloting fuel duty discounts for rural areas. However, I urge the government to extend this to rural areas of Lincolnshire to ensure that my constituents also benefit."
Local MP Stephen Phillips spent an enjoyable afternoon Friday with the staff and pupils of Sir William Robertson High School in Welbourn discussing their recent achievements and their plans for the future. With SWRHS approaching its 50th anniversary and continuing to go from strength to strength under the leadership of Mark Guest, Stephen heard about exciting plans for the establishment of a new sixth form to ensure full 11-18 provision for pupils from all over the area. "This is an important development which has the full support of pupils, parents, teachers and governors," Stephen said. "It is exactly the sort of plan to which I am only too pleased to lend my support as the school prepares its pupils for life in the constituency in the 21st century with more and more of our young people going on to higher education." Stephen is looking forward to working with the school and the County Council over the coming months to see the sixth form plans come to fruition, as well as to participating in the 50th anniversary celebrations.
Following the filing of the recent application for the building of a so-called 'super dairy' at Nocton Fen, local MP Stephen Phillips has now written to North Kesteven District Council on behalf of the very large number of constituents who have contacted him to make sure that their opposition to the plans is listened to. Stephen will also be introducing a 10 minute rule Bill in the House of Commons on 12th January seeking to establish legal provision for minimum separation zones between industrial dairy operations and the nearest settlements whilst guaranteeing milk prices for traditional dairy farmers. Stephen said, "I have been a long term supporter of farming and of the farming community, a community which is at the heart of our constituency. In my view however, what is proposed at Nocton is a backward step and it is clear from my postbag that almost nobody in the constituency wants this development to go ahead. I am not of course responsible for planning matters myself, but I have made clear to the District Council and the Secretary of State how strong local opposition is."
Stephen Phillips MP met last week with The Royal British Legion to discover more about the Legion's welfare work with our armed forces community. At the meeting, Stephen was told about the charity's new strapline, 'Shoulder to shoulder with all who serve', and about the difference the Legion is making across Sleaford & North Hykeham. Richard Foster, the Legion's County Manager said, "It was great to see Stephen; we really appreciated his making the time to drop in and we were delighted to tell Stephen about the range of services we provide." The Legion is currently celebrating its 90th Anniversary Year and campaigning for the Armed Forces family is as important now as it was in 1921. Stephen commented, "I was really pleased to see my local Legion Manager and tell him that just as the Legion stands shoulder to shoulder with all who serve, so do I."
Local MP for Sleaford & North Hykeham, Stephen Phillips, was privileged to visit RAF Cranwell recently to talk about the future of the RAF with serving personnel and to visit the squadrons based at the station. "I have been a huge supporter of the RAF and all of those who have served our country in the service for as long as I can remember," Stephen said. "Here in Lincolnshire, and especially here in the constituency, we have been at the core of RAF life since its foundation. I'm honoured to have spent time with those currently serving our country today and to have witnessed first hand the dedication and bravery of our fighting men and women." As well as front line staff, Stephen spent time on his visit with those responsible for recruiting the next generation of aircrew, before executing a rather poor landing in one of the station's simulators!
Local Conservative MP Stephen Phillips was delighted to be asked to open a new village play area for the children and young people of Marston and Hougham on Saturday. A huge amount of effort from both villages, including a sponsored cycle ride to Paris, raised over £5,000, with the remaining funding coming from the National Lottery and the County Council. With a brilliant winter's day to welcome the new facilities, children from both villages set about christening their new equipment whilst parents, grandparents and villagers looked on. "This is exactly what my party means when we talk about the Big Society," Stephen said. "This is a great example of people who care about their communities getting out and actually doing something to make the lives of their neighbours better. Events like this are by far the best part of my duties as your MP and I am more than delighted to have been asked to open the new playground this morning."
North Hykeham Town Council played host last week at the first of what it is hoped will become regular meetings between local MP Stephen Phillips and councillors in the town. "Whatever our politics, we are all in public life to try and do the best we can for those we represent," Stephen said. "For that reason, it is important that I meet regularly with councillors across the constituency so that I can let them know what is going on in Westminster and they can tell me about the concerns of the communities we were elected by." Following the meeting, at which a number of issues affecting North Hykeham were discussed, Stephen has written a series of letters to government ministers and the County Council raising the concerns of local people. It is hoped that these will assist in formulating policy to ensure that North Hykeham gets the resources the town needs in future years.
Friday, Stephen Phillips MP paid a visit to Central Networks in Sleaford to meet with those responsible for keeping the lights on through the winter and to learn more about the distribution network for electricity across the East Midlands. The work done by E.On and their staff across the local network ensures that the power stays on for everyone in the constituency and Stephen paid tribute to the hard work of these too often unsung heroes. "This is the job my father-in-law used to do across Lincolnshire before he retired," Stephen said. "We never really think about the hard work needed to keep the power lines across the county in a working condition and it has been very useful for me to learn more about what goes on here in Sleaford so that everyone in the constituency has access to something we all take for granted, however bad the winter weather gets."
Stephen Phillips, MP for Sleaford & North Hykeham, today announced his support for the Lighter Later campaign at the Conservative Party Conference. "Lighter evenings would mean safer roads, more jobs and a better quality of life for all my constituents in Sleaford & North Hykeham," Stephen said, "Every year, we waste hundreds of hours of daylight by sleeping through the lighter hours of the morning." Lighter Later is a campaign to shift one hour of light from the morning to the evening where we can actually use it. On 3 December 2010, The Daylight Saving Bill will be considered by the House of Commons where MPs will debate whether or not the UK should make the shift. 10:10's Lighter Later campaign has been backing the move and represents a coalition of bodies from RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) through to the Lawn Tennis Association. As the latest research shows, this low-cost, easily-implemented change has the potential to make us safer, happier and healthier, whilst also reducing our carbon footprint.
Conservative District and County Councillors from the Sleaford & North Hykeham constituency met Saturday morning with Stephen Phillips MP to hear about the government's latest plans affecting the area and to tell Stephen what their own constituents want in the months and years ahead. These meetings, which Stephen holds twice a year in the constituency, enable the local Conservative team to ensure that they have a strong and unified voice across local and national government fighting for the fair deal which Lincolnshire didn't get under the last government. "These meetings are very useful for me in helping me to do my job on behalf of all my constituents," Stephen said. "Joined-up thinking between elected representatives is often lacking in other parts of the country and I'm determined to ensure that here in Sleaford & North Hykeham we listen to local residents and try to ensure that we speak with one voice."
Sleaford and North Hykeham MP, Stephen Phillips today experienced first-hand the results of over £1.4 million in good cause funding from the Big Lottery Fund since 2004. Stephen visited two projects in his constituency: Silk Willoughby Parish Pond and Community Lincs and was able to see in person the positive impact that Lottery grants have made on the voluntary and community sector in the constituency. Silk Willoughby Parish Council received £2,983 from the Awards for All programme in January 2010 to clean up the village pond with the aim of improving the local environment for the community. Community Lincs received £488,047 from the BASIS programme in June 2009 to aid in delivering a rural partnership that will offer outreach facilities, training and marketing advice to organisations in rural communities across Lincolnshire. Stephen said: "I very much enjoyed visiting these two very different projects and seeing firsthand the positive difference they are making in our community. I've no doubt that there must be other voluntary groups in the constituency that would also benefit from applying for Lottery funding and I would encourage them to do so."
Wednesday, Stephen Phillips MP joined pupils from Carre's Grammar School and Kesteven and Sleaford High School for the former's senior school prizegiving at St Denys' Church following another fantastic round of exam results by all of the schools in the constituency. "This is a great example of just how well the young people in our community are doing and how they are making the most of their opportunities," Stephen said. "Even though I have to be at work again tomorrow, I'm very happy to have made the journey from Westminster this evening to present prizes and tell those off to university and college just how proud we are of everything that they have achieved." This year has provided another record breaking year for all local schools, with the best set of A' level results for some years, a sign that there is plenty of hope for the future notwithstanding the economic downturn.
Stephen Phillips and volunteers dragooned into helping with the promise of tea and biscuits spent time over the last month clearing out a new office in the Market Place in Sleaford in which Stephen can hold surgeries and from where he can discharge his duties as our new MP. "So far, I have been holding my surgeries all over the constituency," Stephen said. "It has, however, become clear that I still need a base where people can come and see me on an urgent basis and where I can work on Fridays when I am not otherwise engaged at Westminster." Stephen's new office is housed next to the Conservative offices in Sleaford but has its own entrance to ensure that Stephen's work as our MP is kept entirely separate from his work as a local Conservative. Leased from the local Association, the rent on the office is considerably lower than similar premises elsewhere in the constituency with the cost to the taxpayer held down by fundraising by local Conservatives. A welcome change, perhaps, following last year's expenses scandal.
Late summer sunshine greeted Stephen Phillips and, more importantly, members of 216 Signal Regiment at the annual Caythorpe and Frieston Gala on Saturday. The regiment was based in Caythorpe for its training prior to Operation Market Garden in 1944 and, following the end of the war, members returned to the village annually to remember comrades lost at Arnhem, a tradition which continues to this day. With the regiment due to depart for Afghanistan this week, this was a more sobering annual visit than usual, and in opening the Gala, Stephen Phillips drew attention to the sacrifice our servicemen and servicewomen are making on our behalf overseas. "I have been to many enjoyable fêtes and galas this summer all over the constituency," Stephen said, "but this has been one of the most memorable as Caythorpe and Frieston pay tribute to those who have served our country in the past, and continue to do so today. 216 Signals leaves for Afghanistan with all our thoughts, prayers and good wishes for a successful tour of duty and a safe return."
Monday, the House of Commons resolved by motion to appoint Stephen Phillips MP as a member of the European Scrutiny Committee for this Parliament. The Committee assesses the legal and political importance of over 1,000 EU documents each year and decides which are debated by MPs. It can also prevent Ministers from agreeing to proposals which the Committee has not cleared or which are awaiting debate by the House of Commons. Faced with a mountain of papers delivered to his office, Stephen Phillips said, "The burden of regulation and law coming out of Europe remains huge and was one of the issues which many people raised with me before the general election. I am naturally thrilled with my appointment to the Committee and am looking forward to getting stuck in with my new colleagues so we can ensure proper parliamentary scrutiny of what Brussels is up to."
Grateful voters from all over the constituency turned out Friday to say thank you and to bid farewell to Rosemary Kaberry-Brown, who has acted as the constituency agent for the Member of Parliament for three decades. After seven parliaments in which she has visited and assisted numerous constituents on occasions when the House of Commons has been sitting, Rosemary has decided to scale back her activities and to work only part time as the new constituency secretary to Stephen Phillips. Commenting on her loyal and valued service, Stephen said, "Rosemary has filled in for my predecessor on those occasions when he could not be in the constituency in person for the last 30 years. In an age before email and fax, this was an essential role which she has discharged with diligence and good humour. Hers is a familiar face to many and I know everyone will join me in saying we will miss her. But she is not going far, and I also know that as she takes up her new post, her knowledge and expertise will assist me to do my job for many years to come."
Proof positive that life in Lincolnshire is good for your health, Stephen Phillips spent an evening with local Conservatives in Leasingham, first amongst them Mr Coy, the oldest member of the Association at the grand old age of 101. Setting himself up for another century as life patron of the Leasingham and Rauceby branch, Mr Coy welcomed Stephen to his first annual general meeting in Leasingham, as always presided over by local Conservative Councillor Susan Waring. Stephen offered his thanks to the local team for all they had done in the recent election before meeting other residents of both villages who had turned out on a glorious evening to listen to him speak about the new government and its priorities. "Mr Coy is an inspiration to us all," Stephen said. "He's also told me that the secret to his incredible health and long life is a tipple every day, something I shall now put into practice!"
Friday, Stephen Phillips attended Barrowby Pre-School to hand out a prestigious award from Epilepsy Action celebrating the school's success in putting together a programme enabling children with epilepsy to be properly catered for whilst at the school. "I am delighted to present this award to Barrowby Pre-School," Stephen said, "It's fantastic to see the work the pre-school does to support children with epilepsy being recognised." In a day for school visits and surgery appointments, Stephen then moved on to Heckington St Andrews CE School where Year 6 pupils had written to him after the election to talk to them about their concerns as young people in their village. With further events in the constituency in the evening and over the weekend, Stephen has tried to hit the ground running as he said he would before he became our new MP.
As a pleasurable part of his new duties as our MP, Stephen Phillips paid a visit to Rauceby Church of England Primary School to attend an assembly and hand out well deserved bronze, silver and gold certificates to pupils. Stephen complimented staff and pupils on their beautiful school which has served the village community since 1842 and which is heavily oversubscribed. With building work shortly due to start to enhance the facilities available to pupils, Stephen promised to write to the County Council nonetheless to ensure that the funding which the school needs to ensure the best possible education for reception pupils is found in the near future. "Visiting schools like Rauceby Primary is the best part of my new job," Stephen said. "I'm really pleased to have been here today and to have seen for myself yet another fantastic school in the constituency."
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned out to vote on Thursday, whether you supported me or not. This has been the longest election campaign that I can remember being part of, and certainly the hardest one on Fiona, me and the kids. Free of the count and the media by 5.30 am Friday, I was in the House of Commons by lunchtime, complete with pass, email address and a computer with which to 'hot desk'. Office, phones and staff will follow, but I always said that I wanted to hit the ground running, whatever may be happening nationally to form a government - events well above my pay grade. And so here I am, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Sleaford and North Hykeham. Whether you voted for me or not, I will try to do my best. I can't promise always to agree with you or that I won't from time to time get things wrong. But I hope that I will serve everyone in the constituency in the way in which I have promised during this campaign.
... other candidates simply do not reach. As the only candidate from the main political parties with a home in the constituency - neither the Labour nor Liberal candidates actually live here - it comes as no surprise that Conservative candidate for the general election, Stephen Phillips, has been reaching out to areas where his rivals seem either unable or unwilling to go. This week, Stephen and the team visited over 50 communities in the constituency as well as spending time in both Sleaford and North Hykeham. "You can't be a good MP today unless you actually talk to the people you're asking to send you to Westminster about what they want," Stephen said. With two weeks to go in the election campaign, it's work that shows just how seriously Conservatives are campaigning to get our message across locally as well as nationally. It's also work the other candidates in this election seem intent on avoiding.
From Barrowby in the south of the constituency to Doddington in the north; Swinderby in the west to Ewerby Thorpe in the east, Stephen Phillips and his team are criss-crossing the constituency on a daily basis canvassing and talking to people about the change our great country is crying out for. With lengthier stops in Sleaford and North Hykeham, this is a busy and tiring time for all of the team, but morale is high as everyone works as hard as they possibly can for a Conservative election victory based on the party's exciting plans for the next five years and not on personalities and sound bites delivered over the airwaves. The message is clear: a straight choice between more of Gordon Brown or a fresh Conservative government which will get us out of the mess Labour has created. Only Gordon Brown or David Cameron can be prime minister after 6th May and voting for anyone except the Conservatives is an invitation to more of the same waste, debt and taxes. That's something nobody the team are speaking to seems to want.
Several hundred people from all over the constituency turned out Friday evening for the official launch of Stephen Phillips's campaign to become our next MP at an old-fashioned campaign meeting at Leadenham. Formally dissolving the local Conservative Association for the period of the election, George Clark, Chairman, commented that, "everyone has swung behind Stephen in the last few months and we're looking forward to seeing a new and powerful voice for all of us in the constituency at Westminster just a few short weeks from now." The meeting was also addressed by the President of the Association, Andy Severn, before Stephen delivered a powerful and moving speech formally accepting his adoption as the Conservative candidate for the general election and identifying the positive changes which a fresh Conservative government would offer over five more years of Gordon Brown.
"We can't go on like this." "We can't face another five years of Gordon Brown." Two messages Conservative candidate Stephen Phillips and visiting shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Caroline Spelman MP, heard on doorstep after doorstep on the opening morning of the general election campaign. Determined to help local Conservatives hit the ground running, Caroline came to Lincolnshire to lend her support to activists battling to win as many votes as possible to ensure that the country gets the change we all need so badly. "It's a fantastic morale boost to have had Caroline in the county today, "Stephen said. "We're all working as hard as we possibly can to ensure that there is a Conservative government on 6th May 2010 to stop another five years of the same debt, waste and taxes which have been the hallmark of Gordon Brown's time in office. I just wish we could have a shadow cabinet member here every day!"
Tuesday: Gordon Brown may have been off to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen for a dissolution of Parliament, but for Stephen Phillips it was an ordinary day in the constituency meeting local people in Branston and Potterhanworth and paying a visit to Branston Potatoes to see the company's new anaerobic digestion plant. Work on the plant began late last year and, nearing completion, the project will see one of the constituency's biggest employers cut its carbon footprint by generating cheap electricity from low value potatoes and peelings. "This is a fantastic project from a company which is a good corporate neighbour and a real asset to everyone in the area," Stephen said. "Branston Potatoes are taking product which would essentially go to waste and generating clean carbon free electricity in a way which will also save them money. I have seen the future: and it's right here today."
More money for police services in Lincolnshire. That's the very clear message Stephen Phillips received this week when meeting with the Chairman of the Police Authority, Councillor Barry Young, and Lincolnshire Chief Constable Richard Crompton. Stephen spent the morning at Nettleham discussing policing in the constituency and the need for a greater allocation of resources across Sleaford & North Hykeham before further meetings with the Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Carl Langley, and some of his officers. "Lincolnshire is one of the most underfunded police services in the country," Stephen said before going out on the beat with officers in North Hykeham, "it's critical to the safety of our communities that we receive a fairer allocation of resources than we receive at present. This is a top priority for me if I become the next MP."
Wednesday, Stephen Phillips paid a visit to the Siemens factory in Lincoln with Karl McCartney, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln at the general election. Shown around by managing director Nick Muntz, Stephen and Karl stressed the importance of high-tech manufacturing industry to the area and assured Nick of their support for the future of the business here in Lincolnshire. They also congratulated Nick on the work Siemens has recently done to set up a new engineering degree with the University of Lincoln, the first new engineering degree in the country for two decades. Stephen said, "Although just outside my patch, at least while the move to Teal Park is still on hold, Siemens is a major employer of people living in the constituency. Having such a high profile and successful manufacturer here is also extremely important in order that we can demonstrate to other employers how business friendly this part of Lincolnshire is."
News that pupils from Rauceby Primary School are to start lessons at Leadenham Polo Club led Stephen Phillips to pay a visit last week to see whether the game of kings really has made itself accessible to lesser mortals. Shown round by proprietor and local entrepreneur, James Reeve, Stephen had the opportunity to see some of the facilities on offer to youngsters and the glitterati alike before lending a hand around the yard. "It's great for the local area that James has started this business," Stephen said, "and fantastic that he's giving young people the opportunity to try the sort of things which I never had access to at school." Politics and complaints about the government are never far away for Stephen at the moment however, "I'm just as snowed under by overregulation as every other business at the moment," James noted. "I've made clear to Stephen that if there's a change of government, we're all expecting things to get much better."
A rare day off for Stephen Phillips on Sunday saw him and his family welcomed to the morning's family service at Leadenham by the rector, Dr. Alan Magahey, and other members of the congregation. With the snowdrops (if not the sun) poking through, and perhaps a little touch of spring in the air, Stephen was given no respite from politics however: the sermon was all about how earthly power counts for naught in the great scheme of things. "We have our own church in the village where I live", Stephen said on his way to Sunday lunch, "but it's good to get out occasionally and to see what everyone else is up to in the other churches in the constituency. I wasn't expecting such a warning from the pulpit though! Next time, I shall come better prepared to deal with Alan's arguments and to give him my own fire and brimstone in reply!"
Campaigning in Bassingham, Stephen Phillips and his team paid a call on Adrian & Di Govier at the Five Bells for a pint and bite to eat. With the sleet falling outside, a roaring fire and some great food and real ale came as a welcome relief to everyone who had been pushing leaflets through letterboxes and talking to voters all morning. Stephen said, "Adrian has been here at the Five Bells for a quarter of a century offering genuine Lincolnshire hospitality to everyone who comes through the door. He didn't know it when we popped in today, but I was able to tell him that this was the first pub in the constituency where I enjoyed a pint. It's great to be here for lunch today and to get away from yet more winter weather!"
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for the general election, Stephen Phillips, was asked some difficult questions this week at a sixth form assembly at Carre's Grammar School to which he was invited. Chief among them, "Where are your opponents?" Stumped by that one, Stephen was bailed out by headteacher Mr Law who informed the boys that both the Liberal and Labour party candidates had been invited along with Stephen, but that neither had even bothered to reply. Before moving on to Church Lane Primary for another visit and to chat to parents there, Stephen said, "It's a real shame that neither the Lib-Dem nor Labour candidate could be bothered to turn up today to debate the issues affecting our community. At a time when people have lost trust in politicians, their arrogance in not even bothering to reply to the school's invitation is breathtaking."
Out and about in and around Hykeham Forum, just down the road from his own house, Stephen Phillips spent the weekend doing his shopping and chatting to local voters about their concerns and what they want to see from the government following the next election. "Change is the one thing people really want," Stephen said Sunday evening, "Everyone I've spoken to this weekend has told me how fed up they are with this government and how forgotten all of us in Lincolnshire feel after 12 years of Labour misrule." With weeks of campaigning ahead all over the constituency, it's a message which looks set to continue for Stephen in the run-up to the general election; an election which clearly can't come too soon for local people all over the area keen to ensure that Labour gets its marching orders.
Visiting schools and businesses all over North Hykeham this week, Stephen Phillips was left in no doubt about the need for inward investment in the constituency to try to undo some of the damage which has been created by Labour's failed economic policies. With prospects for graduates and school leavers as poor as they have been for two decades, Stephen called on the government to do more to help Lincolnshire manufacturers create the jobs which our young people so desperately need. "It's hard for everyone at the moment", Stephen said, "but it's particularly hard for those just entering the world of work who can't get jobs no matter how good their qualifications. My generation was very lucky when we left school and college, but it's quite clear to me that youngsters today feel a real sense of despair about the state our economy is in."
Labour's recession has made things very difficult for the construction industry. That's the message Stephen Phillips received Wednesday when he followed up a meeting with local people in Billinghay and Walcott with a visit to local construction company, John Martin-Hoyes Limited. The firm, which proudly bears the name of its founder, has been going since 1978, and has recently been responsible for building a number of excellent new schools locally. Shown round by John Martin-Hoyes (pictured), Stephen Phillips said, "It's marvellous that John has continued employing all his staff throughout the recession, but he's made clear to me that the announcement today that it has technically ended is cold comfort for local businesses. What worries me is how the next generation of successful British entrepreneurs has got on over the last year. John's been in business for 30 years, but for many of those just starting out, Labour's economic policies have signalled an end to their dreams."
Friday, Stephen Phillips, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham paid a morning visit to Lincs FM with colleague Karl McCartney, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln. Stephen & Karl were shown the modern facilities of the station by Director of Programming, Sean Dunderdale, before meeting with Chief Executive Michael Betton. Stephen also spent time with farming correspondent Sally Elkington for a discussion about matters affecting rural communities across the constituency, before being interviewed about his thoughts on politics and the issues affecting us all. Stephen said, "Lincs FM is a big employer in Karl's patch and the coverage it provides of local issues across the county is important for all of us. I'm really pleased to have had this opportunity to visit the station and to be interviewed about the problems which the community is facing, as well as how the Conservatives intend to deal with them if we are elected."
Over the Christmas holidays, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for the General Election, Stephen Phillips, made good on his promise to buy a home in the constituency straight away following his selection. Stephen and his wife Fiona completed on a house for them and their three children (pictured playing a game with their grandparents on the day they moved in) and have since spent part of the last two weeks moving furniture and getting out and about meeting their new neighbours. Chairman of Sleaford and North Hykeham Conservatives, George Clarke said, "When local people chose Stephen to fight the General Election, he made them a promise that he would buy a family home in the constituency from his own money straight away. Given the broken state of our politics and the scandal over MP's expenses, it's fantastic to see that we've selected a candidate who stands by his word and delivers on the promises he's made."
Wintery conditions created travel chaos across Lincolnshire on Friday, including for Parliamentary Candidate for Sleaford & North Hykeham, Stephen Phillips. Scheduled for a day of meetings with police chiefs at the Lincolnshire force's headquarters at Nettleham, Stephen became temporarily stuck on the High Dyke along with a number of other motorists."Conditions were appalling and, frankly, just a little scary," Stephen said. "But the spirit of the blitz kicked in and a number of us helped to get some of the cars which had blocked the road out of difficulties before starting on our way again ourselves. The kids were enormously excited by the snow, but it's played havoc with my campaigning arrangements for the day!" Stephen now hopes to meet the chief constable and senior officers early in the new year to discuss some of the concerns raised with him by local residents about policing across the constituency.
A busy week of campaigning in the constituency culminated for Stephen Phillips last Friday in the annual dinner of the Sleaford Branch of the local Conservative Association, organised by Sleaford town councillor, Cllr. Mark Allan. Members of the Association from all over the constituency heard Stephen address some of the issues facing everyone in the area and what he proposes to do about them if elected as our next MP. With a meeting with Conservative district and county councillors on Saturday morning and further engagements in the constituency on Monday, including addressing a branch meeting of the Sleaford NFU, Stephen and his wife Fiona had an early night while those attending the dinner continued to enjoy the hospitality of the Carre Arms.
Sleaford Christmas market provided the perfect opportunity for Stephen Phillips to introduce himself to voters from all over the constituency busy enjoying the beginning of the festive season. Local Conservatives served mulled wine and mince pies from the Conservative Office in the market place to those visiting the market, while Stephen met some of the traders who had come to make the day so special. Stephen praised the hard work of the organisers in ensuring a successful day, both for the town and for local businesses. And with Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore on hand, the heavy rain of the morning magically disappeared too!
With a background in education policy, this week Stephen Phillips QC spent time in all three of the schools in Ruskington while on a two day visit to the village organised by local Conservatives. "Now more than ever, young people are the key to the future," said Stephen. "Villages like Ruskington need strong local schools to ensure that everyone has the sort of opportunities I did. I've met some really dedicated and enthusiastic teachers and governors this week - and some pupils who can put my knowledge to shame!" Apart from visiting Chestnut Street, Winchelsea and Coteland's School, Stephen and local Councillor Richard Wright also spent time with business leaders hearing their concerns about the recsesssion. "It's great to have Stephen in Ruskington so early in his campaign," Richard said, "He's listened carefully to what people in the village have had to say and filled us all in on some excellent Conservative policies to help businesses and communities."
Busy driving around the Constituency house hunting, Stephen and his wife Fiona took time to drop into a local Christmas Fayre held at Ashby Hall, home of Ruskington & Cranwell County Councillor Eran Bauer. Stephen chatted with locals dropping in to make some Christmas purchases well ahead of time and treated himself to some smoked trout from the Belleau Smokery near Louth. Stephen said, "I know Fiona's really grateful to everyone who kept me talking today. It's enabled her to get lots of pre-Christmas shopping done and to have a decent cup of tea and see lots of new friends. I think she's just a bit worried about all these scones I've been eating though!" With the good news by the end of the day that their offer on a new home had been accepted, Stephen and Fiona are looking forward to attending many more local events in the coming weeks.
Sunday, Stephen Phillips QC joined Douglas Hogg MP, other civic dignitaries and local residents from all over the Constituency to remember the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in the service of their country in the two world wars and the many other conflicts since. Stephen said, "As a former Army officer, and with many of my friends serving in Afghanistan at the moment, it was even more important to me this year than in the past to remember the fallen and to offer my prayers for the safe return of those fighting overseas to their families and friends." After the service in the Market Place, Stephen spent time meeting veterans in the Royal British Legion, introduced by the Chairman of the Sleaford and District Branch, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Graham.
Stephen Phillips QC spent Friday afternoon meeting with Conservative County Councillors and local members of Parliament at the County Offices in Lincoln. A wide-ranging discussion of the issues facing the local community in the Constituency took place and councillors took the opportunity to congratulate Stephen on his recent selection as the Conservative candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham at the next general election. After the meeting, Stephen commented "It's imperative for me to understand not only what's expected if I'm elected but just what the issues are on which I need to fight the corner of everyone in Sleaford & North Hykeham. Talking to local people over the last month, I already had a very good idea of what needs to be done, but it's important that I enjoy good relations with all our councillors and that they understand just where I'm coming from on behalf of local people on issues where we may not see eye to eye."
Hill Holt Wood was the setting for a meeting between Nick Herbert MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Stephen Phillips QC and Nigel and Karen Lowthrop, who started this thriving community project back in 1995. Nick Herbert praised the work done by the charity in maintaining the ancient woodland and giving young people the opportunity to develop their full potential. Stephen Phillips stressed just how important the wood is to local people and how valuable the trailblazing efforts of Nigel, Karen and all their team have been in promoting the values of community and sustainability. After the visit, Stephen and Nick enjoyed lunch with local farmers in Bassingham before Nick moved on to visit our neighbours in Grantham.
Welcome, and thanks for visiting my website. On 6th May 2010, I was elected by an overwhelming majority of more than 50% of voters as the Member of Parliament for the Sleaford and North Hykeham Constituency. It's a great honour to have this responsibility of fighting for this beautiful part of Lincolnshire and I hope that my website will answer any questions you have. You'll find some information about me, about what I and my party stand for and about how to get in touch. Please don't hesitate to do so: what matters to you matters to me. I'm passionately committed to serving the interests of all of our community as best as I can.