Well, I think it is fair to say that Southend has been the place to be recently for Ministerial visits. In the last two weeks we have had three Government Ministers in the town. Firstly, we welcomed Mike Penning MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State from the Department of Transport, to discuss the possibility of Southend having a Driving Test Centre again.
I actively campaigned to prevent the closure of Southend Driving Test Centre in 2008. Unfortunately the campaign was unsuccessful and the centre closed. The closure of the Test Centre has, as expected, caused implications for learner drivers and driving instructors.
I was informed of a pilot scheme, which is in operation at various locations providing driving tests within the community and I wrote to the Minister and also the Driving Standards Agency requesting that Southend is added onto the scheme.
During the visit the Minister was able to see for himself the support that this campaign has received from members of the public, Rochford and Southend Councils, councillors and driving instructors.
I am very hopeful that Southend will once again having a test centre that will provide driving tests to local people, local.
We also welcomed Anne Milton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State from the Department of Health to Southend Hospital. Anne visited the hospital to see the implementation of hourly ‘care rounds’ and to meet with Sue Hardy, Director of Nursing. Anne, prior to becoming an MP, was a nurse herself and although I was unable to attend this visit personally, I know she found it very insightful and of huge interest.
Finally, The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government visited to discuss the launch of the Coastal Communities Fund. During his time in Southend Eric met with local councillors, apprentices, employers and business owners to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.
We have a lot to be proud of in Southend, it is always a privilege to welcome other members of the Government to see the good work that is carried out locally.