Since she was elected as MP for Wells in 2010 Tessa Munt has campaigned forcefully to improve access to advanced stereotactic radiotherapy (SABR) for cancer patients, particularly those in the South West where access is non-existent.
At the beginning of last year she joined forces with former English rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and senior cancer consultant from the Royal Marsden Hospital, Nick van As, to place pressure on the Government to act. Together they lobbied the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt; met with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, and in December 2014 they sat down with the CEO of NHS England, Simon Stevens, to demand he take action.
Last Friday Tessa’s hard work paid off when NHS England announced (details below) that from April this year they will fund a series of new projects that will give access to SABR for patients with a range of cancers.
Lawrence Dallaglio was particularly impressed with Tessa’s work. He said:
“It was a privilege for me to work with Tessa to achieve this important breakthrough in cancer care. She is tenacious and has worked tirelessly to highlight the lack of access to SABR for cancer patients in the South West, and has fought hard to put that right.”
Following my support for the Farmers for Action and National Farmers Union (NFU) campaigns to highlight the reduction in milk prices paid to farmers, I am pushing for a ‘Fairtrade milk scheme’ for UK dairy farmers.
I went along to meet the 1,100 local farmers at blockades of Robert Wiseman’s distribution centre in Bridgwater to show my support for dairy farmers in the area.
I pointed out that The Fairtrade Foundation currently works to support farmers in the developing world to ensure that producers in those countries get a fair price for their products, but there is clearly a need to do exactly the same ‘at home’ in the UK.Read more
I have been approached by many people from Shepton Mallet and the surrounding areas to complain about the proposed cuts to Saturday bus service subsidies to and from the town. I am dismayed that cuts to the four bus services should ever have been suggested. This is another shortsighted and, frankly, unnecessary change being imposed by the County Council.
Shepton has its problems – as everywhere – but in my opinion, Shepton is actually one of the most underrated towns in the area. Councillor John Parham sits on Shepton Town Council, Mendip District Council and he also represents the town on the County Council. Somerset County Council Portfolio Holder for Transport, Harvey Siggs also sits on Mendip District Council, as does the leader of the County Council, John Osman.
Councillors pushing for these cuts all know perfectly well that this cut will be bad for Shepton. This action seems willfully to ignore the difficulties such changes would create for Shepton’s residents, employees, businesspeople, families and visitors. It can only be based on ideology, not on any real need to make savings. The County Council has over £30 million pounds of reserves in the bank, after all.
There is no minimum level that a Local Authority must hold in reserves by law. However, in this document from the National Audit Office: http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/strikingabalance.pdf (page 26) it is suggested that ‘most chief finance officers regard an amount between 3 and 5 per cent of the council’s net spending as a prudent level for risk-based reserves – and the minimum that auditors would consider prudent.’
When I looked through Somerset’s accounts, it would seem that:
Net revenue spending = £352 million (page 49 of the accounts)
Non-earmarked reserves = £32 million (page 46 of the accounts)
So, Somerset County Council actually has double what most chief finance officers in local government consider prudent.
Tessa has received a reply to her Urgent Parliamentary Question to Home Secretary Theresa May.
On the 11th November, Tessa asked the Home Secretary the following:
Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): In the interests of clarity, may I ask the Home Secretary on what date she instructed her permanent secretary to check and order the preservation of each and every file containing documents relating to any allegations of abuse, so that the independent panel has access to them? Destroying any documents would be against section 29 of the Data Protection Act, which should protect them in the interests of justice.
Mrs May: I will, if I may, write to my hon. Friend with details on the work that the Home Office has been doing to ensure that files are preserved and available for those who need to see them.