DISS HIGH SCHOOL
I was delighted that pupils from Diss High School made the trip down to the Houses of Parliament recently. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to talk to young people about the work of Parliament and why it’s so important. It’s even more fun when I can welcome them to Westminster in person.
As part of their tour, the Diss pupils walked on the floor of the chamber in the House of Lords and then did the same in the House of Commons, the voting lobbies and in Westminster Hall. I then held a Q&A with questions ranging from how Parliament works and the role of an MP to the future of the European Union and the Edward Snowden “government snooping” revelations. It’s a pleasure to see South Norfolk schools visiting Parliament and I hope to see more in future.
I am very glad that the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has responded to my request to ‘recover’ the planning appeal on the Hempnall wind turbines. This means that as the Secretary of State Mr Pickles will take the final decision on the windfarm rather than a planning inspector.
Although a planning inquiry is underway, the inspector will make recommendations to Mr Pickles, who will then take the final decision. I am hopeful that Mr Pickles will be mindful of the polls showing a clear majority of residents are against the turbines.
I have asked ministers to take same step over the proposed windfarm near Rushall and I am waiting to hear the answer. I will let you know what they say.
The Government recently announced a welcome £16 million boost for Norfolk’s schools. This extra funding aims to close the gap that has opened up between urban parts of England and rural areas. This has come about because of a mistaken belief in Whitehall that a rural county is a wealthy county. My rural MP colleagues and I have been pushing against this wrong-headed idea for many years.
The funding package also introduces a minimum level of funding for small schools in rural areas. Although these new measures and the extra money are welcome, there is still more to do if we are to ensure fairness in school funding. The current approach still concentrates too much on urban schools at the expense of rural schools and this needs to be addressed.
RICHARD BACON IS MP FOR SOUTH NORFOLK