Wokingham Times

It was a wet end to 2012. I was worried to receive a call from the Environment Agency at lunch time on Boxing Day about flood warnings, but relieved to be told that they thought the most threatened locations would get by without flooding of homes or electricity installations. I am following up with various responsible bodies, as we do need to do more to maintain ditches, drains and water courses to get water away from areas of settlement. We also need to build in more resilience in low lying areas as changes are made to the landscape. I am grateful to those who went out to man pumps and improve ditches to keep installations safe.

I was pleased to learn before Christmas that following the meeting the Council and I held in Whitehall, the Minister for Housing has made available the £500,000 extra that Wokingham Borough requested to help them get the detailed plans right for development in the District, and to offer the £2m the Council say they would need to put an additional bridge over the railway line as part of the plans. I am pursuing the new Planning Minister over the issue of appeals, as Wokingham does not wish to lose on appeal over important development sites, now it has done so much to set out where development can take place in the Borough. The government’s side of the bargain should be to help the Council protect our greenfields where they have identified them in the Local Plan.

I have been working on advice and suggestions for the Prime Minister’s important big speech on the EU later this month. The mood of the country is very clearly wanting the UK to have more control over its own decisions and spending patterns. As the Euro area evolves into a much more centralised administration, with something approaching a United States of Euroland government, it is all the more important that the UK has a different relationship with this body. We cannot possible join it, and have no wish to abolish the pound. We want to be able to trade with them, and work together where both sides think it makes sense. We have no wish to be governed by them. Many of us think the EU has far too much power over our benefits system, our criminal justice policy, our energy and environmental policy and much else besides. We have never been happy with the high price food of the CAP, nor with the open access to our fishing grounds with the overfishing that has resulted. We want a different relationship, and want the opportunity for a vote on the whole question of our EU membership.

The government is highlighting the need for welfare reform. I am all in favour of paying decent benefits to those in need. The issue is how many people should be eligible? I am not in favour of the current system where nationals from other EU countries can come to the UK and rapidly qualify for a whole raft of benefits, which nationals from outside the EU do not receive. The government is right to be looking at ways of helping and encouraging more unemployed people resident here into jobs. The best type of welfare reform is to reduce the numbers who need through the success of policies to promote growth and more jobs which they can take.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2013.


  1. Antisthenes
    January 9, 2013

    I worry that politicians particularly you, who shows so much acumen in so many diverse fields political and otherwise, do not understand the reality of the EU relationship question. I read about how much you and other like minded MPs and even the PM are stating that a renegotiation of powers is possible whilst remaining a member of the EU. That is is so obviously not true the EU will never countenance such and have repeatedly said so. Why should they it would fly in the face of that to which they wish to achieve namely the eventual political and economic union of all member states. Even thought the union is to start with the those in the euro-zone those that currently remain out of it will be being prepared to join them. So loosening of any ties would be counter to achieving that goal and would only result in two separate groupings that would be divergent not convergent. To remain in the EU will only result in some fudge that will give the façade of repatriation of powers at the very best with the path still firmly set on total union with the ever tightening of EU inspired rules and regulation and the continued erosion of sovereignty. Much misleading to the point of being economical with the truth information is being peddled even again by the PM that outside the EU the UK would still be subject to EU rules but without any influence. That is also not entirely accurate as the experiences of other non EU member states demonstrates, the degree to which EU law and influence is greater or lesser is dependent on the will of the politicians who often are odds with the wishes of their people (then is that no so very true of the democratic system we have today) and much is allowed that need not be. The use of article 50 allows for an orderly exit which in turn allows for the setting up of a new relationship between the EU and UK so that that which the UK wishes to adopt of EU rules and trade agreements then and in the future can be agreed. Staying in allows for none of these things. The caveat being that I envisage the EU on being notified of article 50 being invoked will act in a spiteful and disingenuous way and will be obscurant and will demand their pound of flesh. In which case it has to be hoped that the UK Sir Humphrey’s are up to the job or that they give their whole hearted support as there are reason that they may not.

    Reply: We should first ask for a new relationship by renegotiation. This is something the PM may do. They are constantly renegotiating the whole arrangament for the rest of them so they might agree to a new arrangement for us. As I also want a referendum on the outcome, the British people will then decide whether to stay or leave. There is no majority or anything like a majority in the present Commons for use of Article 50.

    January 11, 2013

    Mr Redwood,
    it would be very helpful if you could check that central government is doing all possible to prevent building on flood plains.

    Reply: There has been susbtantial building on flood plains in reent years. I have often raised this with the EA and Ministers, and been told that where this happens they will put in place a water management system.

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