Harlow MP delivers his New Year message

HARLOW MP, Robert Halfon has marked out his New Year message to Harlow residents.

Mr Halfon said:

“I want to start by wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful new year.

Together, we have gone through the best of times, and the worst of times. The tragic deaths of the Shakoor family, and the recent deaths of the Ducusin family in the Philippines, being examples of real pain in our community. However during both times, Harlow came together, and the outpouring of kindness and generosity from so many in response to such terrible events shows why Harlow is a very special place, and a town that I am proud to represent as MP.

Conservative – led Coalition invests in Harlow

We have some good news too, with the Government announcing a brand new pre-apprentice school (UTC), that will open next September with up to £10 million of Government funding, and is free for all who apply. We have also had an extra £5.7 million given to A&E services at the PAH, a £472,000 grant to St. Clares’ Hospice, and spent £1.5 million on a new kidney unit which will benefit Harlow residents.

It has also been great that Harlow College is still the best college in England according to Government statistics, and we have the highest rate of business growth in the UK.

Helping with the Cost of Living

For many residents, it has also been a tough year, and I do everything possible to represent you in Parliament, especially when it is about the cost of living. We have got fuel duty frozen, energy prices will be cut by £50 next year, and free school meals will be given to all children in their first three years of Primary School.

I led a long battle for low income students eligible for free school meals at Harlow College to get them, and after years of saying no the Government has now agreed to it. Rail fares will be capped at inflation in 2014, and there will be more tax cuts for those on low incomes.

Better Economic News: Growth Up, Jobs Up

There is also good economic news as unemployment is down in Harlow and is now lower than it was when I was elected, and economic growth is up. But we have to do more to help young people who are unemployed – this is why the Government is scrapping employers’ National Insurance contributions on employees who are under 21.

And, for the second year in a row, I organised a jobs fair which had hundreds of jobs on offer, and which two thousand people attended. The number of apprentices is up by 82% in Harlow, and I continue to do all that I can to encourage this number to grow. Although this is positive news, there is still a long way to go, which is why I welcome the Government cutting business rates for small businesses and shops by £1000.

THE MAPLES

As some may have already heard in the local media, the future of The Maples Respite Centre in Harlow, which provides respite breaks for disabled children, is now subject to an Essex County Council consultation. Although I have been assured by ECC that no final decision about the Centre’s future will be taken unless alternative services that meet local needs are in place, I strongly believe that The Maples should be kept open. The Centre acts as a lifeline to many local children and a closure would almost certainly be detrimental to them and their families.

I have launched a petition which has already been signed by 1,600 people (you can sign it here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/essex-county-council-ensure-the-future-of-the-maples-respite-centre) and have tabled a Parliamentary Motion supporting the Maples. I have spoken about my support for The Maples in Parliament.

I will continue to do everything I can to safeguard this fantastic facility. Please get in touch if there is anything else that I can do.

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