16 August 2011
Letter from Westminster

The whole country has been shocked by the rioting triggered by the death of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. In the short-term the Government is doing all it can to help communities and businesses get back on their feet, with offenders being brought to trial as quickly as possible. Police officers have shown incredible bravery confronting rioters and looters, including Suffolk officers who went to London to help. In the wake of this unrest and with Police numbers clearly critical to maintaining order, the onus is now on the Government to ensure that the number of Police on the streets is not cut. In the medium to longer term there is a need to address the culture of irresponsibility where sections of some communities are aware of their rights but fail to recognise they also have responsibilities. Government must also do all it can to support strong, responsible and supportive families and address what seems to have become an alternative for many young people – gang culture.

As many of Waveney’s young people wait in anticipation for their exam results it is appropriate to report on progress in addressing educational under achievement in some parts of Suffolk. as highlighted by a recent report by the University and College Union. The move to a 2 tier system will understandably create some anxiety at the start of the new term, though the new Sixth Form College, the new Pakefield High School and the new Academy at Kirkley are vitally important in the drive to raise aspirations and standards in order to provide young people with the start that they deserve.

Whilst resources are extremely tight, the introduction of the pupil premium means that education funding can be targetted where it is most needed. The scheme will provide schools in deprived parts of Waveney with the extra support they need to help pupils most in need and to help reduce the attainment gap between children from higher and lower income families. In addition, additional funding for Early Years education will come on stream next year which will extend early years provision to disadvantaged two year olds and will maintain a network of children’s centres, accessible to all, to support those families in greatest need.

The Government’s commitment to increase the number of apprenticeships is also good news for our area and I am working to ensure local people can benefit from and have the skills necessary to take up jobs in the growing renewable energy sector. Provisional data shows that across the country 326,700 apprenticeship starts have been delivered in the first nine months of the 2010/11 academic year – 114,000 more than the previous year and more than double the Government’s ambition. The Government will be providing £180 million for up to 75,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next four years. We need to do all that we can to ensure that Lowestoft benefits from this investment, with both employers and apprentices being given the necessary help and support.

Since I was elected in May 2010 other MPs and myself have campaigned for a greater understanding at the heart of Government for the particular needs of seaside communities. I was thus pleased that the Government have responded by setting up the Coastal Communities Fund, which has the objective of supporting the economic development of coastal communities such as Lowestoft. Bids can be made to the Fund from April 2012, with £23.7 million available in the first year. A wide range of projects could benefit, including those that support charities, the environment, education and health. If anyone has a project, which they believe could be eligible please contact me on peter.aldous.mp@parliament.uk.

I am absolutely delighted that after much hard work Suffolk has secured over £11.5 million to improve the County’s broadband connectivity. At the Suffolk Broadband Conference in April, we heard from representatives of communities across the County of the limitations this places on business development. Combined with up to £10 million allocated by Suffolk County Council, this will be a major boost to the economic recovery of our area and will benefit businesses, home workers and families across the County.

Many thanks to Paul Bayfield and his team for putting on another excellent Air Show. The weather came right on the second day and ensured an attendance over the two days of 384,000. The event does so much to showcase Lowestoft, to highlight its unique seafront and to encourage visitors to come back on other days..