Having earnt your support in May 2015 and been elected as your MP, I will not stop fighting for the things that matter to our city and local residents.
Portsmouth is an incredibly special place where community is valued and nurtured which is why I love living here. I am passionate about education for young people in our city and as a governor in one of our local primary schools, Milton Park Primary, I know that there is still a lot to do to improve standards of education in our city. This is only possible through the leadership and continued professional development of our teachers and they deserve our complete support.
I am also an active trustee at Portsmouth Citizens’ Advice Bureau and know many of the issues which affect our more disadvantaged families particularly with debt, though debt can affect people from all income levels. I used to be board member of Healthwatch which is the consumer''s watchdog on the NHS. I was on a Community Health Council for 9 years and am really pleased that this new organisation has been set up - you can find them at www.healthwatchportsmouth.co.uk.
It is important that a local MP represents the whole constituency, which is why I’m determined to encourage an active debate between all people regardless of politics about how we can make our city better year on year. I am also holding surgeries on Friday afternoons so if you would like to come and see me please book an appointment.
Here are my thoughts on some of the big issues in politics and society:
I have been a governor of Milton Park School for the last 6 years. Having worked as a lay school inspector for Ofsted, I am passionate about education and believe that a good education is key to everybody’s life chances. If we get the education system right, children will be equipped for the career that they chose and good teaching is absolutely crucial. I have invited the University Technical College team to look at setting up a college in Portsmouth and discussions are ongoing at present. This would add to our education for young people who may want to pursue a more practical route into work.
Teaching is a vocation and very hard work. The teachers at Milton Park are in school by 7.30am and rarely leave before 6pm or later often continuing work at home, this is the case in most schools where teachers are engaged with their work. We need to make sure that the right people enter the teaching profession and that they have a continual programme of professional development.
I also recommend being a governor which is a fantastic job if you are interested in education and making a difference to some amazing children
The National Health Service.
I am a past board member of Healthwatch, having been a member of the Community Health Council in its previous role. Everyone uses the National Health Service and everyone has an opinion. I have lived in Australia and the United States and knows how important a free health service is. We are incredibly lucky to live in a society which provides free healthcare at the point of use.
There are definitely improvements that can be made and I know that organisations like Healthwatch will be the public’s watchdog on the NHS and put patients at the heart of the service.
My father and grandfather were both soldiers and my father-in-law was in the Royal Navy. I was in the Intelligence Corps of the Territorial Army in my 20's. Our armed forces deserve the best equipment and training that we can provide for all our commitments both in the UK and abroad.
I am delighted that this government has shown its commitment to Portsmouth as the home of the Royal Navy and I look forward to welcoming the new aircraft carriers to the Dockyard in 2017. I really recommend joining the Reserves, it opens up all sorts of skills and interests that can be used in your civilian career too.
Care for our most vulnerable
I am very pleased that this Government bought in the ‘triple lock’ that means that state pensions go up annually at whichever is higher out of 2.5%, the rate of inflation, or wages. This is very important to ensure that pensioners are not left behind. I also support the government's commitment to keeping winter fuel allowance, free bus passes and free TV licences for the over 75’s. My recent survey of pensioners show that you also overwhelmingly support this policy.
What I am concerned about is that many elderly people (and other age groups) suffer from isolation, particularly as families are more mobile or are working and have less time to support each other. I am doing research to find out how common this is in Portsmouth and Southsea and will be finding ways of helping. If you feel lonely or have any ideas on how to help, please contact me.
Safety in our community
Crime is going down but it doesn’t always feel that way when you read the papers, or are a victim of crime yourself. My family and I were burgled in Southsea while we slept, and we know the consequences of feeling unsafe in your own home. We do need more visible policing, but I support the hard work of the Community Support Officers and Community Wardens who know their areas and trouble spots well. I was really proud to be able to introduce some of our PSCO's and Community Wardens to the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary and they were able to let her know what a valuable job they are doing. We must ensure that residential areas such as Palmerston Road do not become areas of anti-social behaviour in the evenings and people feel safe to go out in the evenings.
I am campaigning for more victim support, sometimes it is not in the immediate aftermath of a crime that you need help but further down the line. Our police force and community workers do an excellent job and we must make sure that it is targeted effectively.
I am also delighted that we now have legislation to tackle so-called "legal highs". These are largely untested drugs and people do not know what substances they contain. They can be extremely dangerous and can lead to death and psychiatric problems. I hope they will soon be out of circulation and off our streets.