Opinion: Showing my support for our local independents

From left, MP Alicia Kearns presents certificates to last year's winners Gates Garden Centre, Melton Sports and Foxy LotsFrom left, MP Alicia Kearns presents certificates to last year's winners Gates Garden Centre, Melton Sports and Foxy Lots
From left, MP Alicia Kearns presents certificates to last year's winners Gates Garden Centre, Melton Sports and Foxy Lots
​The Holidays may be inching closer, but Parliament has been in full swing as we saw the first King’s Speech in over 70 years, and the Prime Minister reshuffle his team in cabinet.

Meanwhile over the past few weeks, I’ve been working as usual to support our communities and our farmers as the New Year approaches.

With everyone starting to think about Christmas shopping, there is an opportunity to support your favourite local shop by nominating them for my Favourite Independent Shop Awards 2023.

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All the information on how to nominate is on my website, and it was an absolute pleasure to announce Foxy Lots as the overall winner of my competition last year, alongside a whole range of winners in other categories, with 19,000 votes cast.

I am immensely proud that there is so much love for independent shops across our community and really enjoyed reading all the submissions. Now more than ever, consider shopping locally and supporting our fantastic shops.

Two weeks ago, I was made aware of concerning developments involving sugar beet pricing which have been affecting our local sugar beet farmers. I’m worried that the unilateral steps taken by British Sugar in offering growers contracts without going through the proper negotiation process are in contravention to regulations and are unfair for growers.

I’ve spoken with the new DEFRA Secretary and written formally to him and held meetings with NFU Sugar to discuss the problem. I will do all I can to get the resolution our sugar beet farmers deserve, and I’ve urged all parties to return to the negotiating table. I’ll continue to support our sugar beet growers on this, and hopefully get British Sugar to change course.

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In exciting news for our area, I am delighted that the Government has announced £2.2 billion for Local Authorities across the Midlands for road repairs and resurfacing. I have been working with our councils to establish how this money is going to be allocated, and hopefully make sure that some funding can be used to improve road safety across the A52 and A607.

I have also worked with Midlands Connect to release a new report on the A1, which has found that delays along the road are costing the UK economy a staggering £1.75m a year. These findings reinforce the strategic case for serious investment in the A1, so that we can improve our economic resilience as well as move forward with new safety upgrades.

As chairman of the A1 working group of MPs, I will continue to push for the right long-term plan to ensure that the A1 unlocks growth across our country including for Leicestershire, Rutland, and Stamford.

In other news, Leicestershire County Council is running a public consultation so that you can have your say on proposed changes to recycling and household waste sites. The proposals will look at closing Somerby recycling site and changing the opening days at the Bottesford recycling site; changing Summer opening hours for recycling sites and closing sites on Christmas Eve.

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If you would like to share your views on this issue, you can do so on Leicester County Council’s ‘have your say’ page on their website.

In important news nationally, the Government has delivered on its pledge and inflation has more than halved to 4.6%, falling to the lowest level in two years, while new ONS Labour Market statistics show that the number of people on company payrolls has risen by 398,000 in the past year – a record high. This is the result of being disciplined in our spending, being committed to helping more people get into work, and resisting calls for additional borrowing. I am hopeful that this will help ease the financial burdens that many of us are currently feeling.

Speaking of the holidays, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who entered my Christmas card competition this year, with this year’s theme having been “Father Christmas’ House”. I’ve received hundreds of wonderful entries, and it is going to be quite the challenge to pick a winner!

Keep an eye on my website and social media channels as I’ll be announcing the winner very soon.