Over the course of a typical week I receive hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls asking for my help with an issue or my view on a subject, writes Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
Even on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day the emails come in – although granted the volume is smaller on those days.
Enquiries are generally of two types – about national policy and about local issues. Some combine elements of both.
One longstanding local problem this week has met with a national response and, as the Minister responsible, I am pleased at what has been delivered for North Yorkshire residents.
Barely a day goes by without someone raising problems with road surfaces somewhere in the constituency. We have all been aware that a combination of cold winters followed by wet springs have greatly damaged our road surfaces.
Year-on-year the Government has provided top-up cash for local authorities to help them cope with the backlog. And just this week, as Transport Minister, I have been able to announce a significant cash boost for local authorities to tackle potholes, not least our own highways authority, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).
The county council’s annual grant for roads maintenance is £26,359,000. Last month I announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) is to provide an additional £2,358,000.
And today I am able to announce a substantially bigger additional sum to enable the county council to repair more roads and fill more potholes. The extra sum going to North Yorkshire County Council is £5,104,000.
I know that NYCC has one of the largest road networks in the country been a large, rural area. But the roads in Harrogate and Knaresborough are among the most used in the county so I am hoping that NYCC will take this into account when deciding where to spend all the additional cash. There are some badly-needed repairs that need doing and I have already been pleased to see a good number of the roads on the Aspin estate in Knaresborough prioritised for resurfacing in the next financial year.
And the news about road resurfacing in Knaresborough is accompanied by more good news concerned with air quality management. Readers of my regular pamphlets and newspapers will know that the Government has given a grant of £2,250,000 for electric buses and a further £237,000 of funding from the Department for Transport’s Clean Bus Technology Fund to reduce the emissions of some of the most polluting buses in our district.
These buses could be used through Bond End in Knaresborough which has been designated as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) as pollution exceeds national guidelines.
Part of the problem is that vehicles at a standstill at the traffic lights are more polluting than vehicles flowing through the junction. Therefore, NYCC has come up with a number of proposals for the junction to improve the situation. I am grateful to the county council for the work they are doing on this issue and encourage as many people to give their views as possible by visiting the dedicated web page at www.northyorks.gov.uk/bondend. On that page you can view all the plans in detail.
The new money for road repairs and the action on Bond End are good examples of national government working hand-in-hand with local government and getting the best results for local people. For me, politics is about community.