I held exciting discussions this week on potential future projects to make the most locally of the Government's planned investment in infrastructure for our area. I am convinced that if we can think "outside the box" on this we have a major opportunity to make our area more dynamic and forward looking, while preserving the environment and the lifestyle that we love about this part of Somerset. We have the strong backing of the Chancellor, George Osborne in taking up this challenge, as part of the Government's long term economic plan for the South West.
One part of this is rail investment. Yeovil's position at the crossing of the Waterloo to Exeter and Bristol to Weymouth lines, and close to the Paddington to Taunton line via Castle Cary, gives an opportunity to participate in better networking of many of our local market towns and connecting them better to the rest of the country. By making our existing towns more convenient, businesses in them should do better and create more jobs, with access to a deeper pool of employees.
Practical steps I have been working towards on this include re-linking Yeovil Pen Mill with passenger services to Yeovil Junction and beyond, and encouraging serious consideration of new Weymouth to Waterloo services via Dorchester, Yeovil and Frome, and Exeter to Oxford services, via Axminster, a re-opened Chard Junction, Yeovil and Swindon.
I have written to Network Rail, South West Trains and Rail Minister Claire Perry to highlight again how this type of thinking could be really transformative in association with the dualling of the A303, and help make our area a significant business hub that can build on its strong local manufacturing and service business traditions.
I will continue to work hard behind the scenes to put together a strong package of associated investment opportunities that can attract inward investment and create opportunities for local people.
One area that we need to build on is our aerospace and defence engineering industry, where we have important firms and deep supply chains, and where I would like to see us step up our skill and technology base and diversify our product range exposure, value addition and global linkages.
I was pleased to visit AGC Composites in Crewkerne last week to hear how they can be part of this and hopefully create more jobs in the future, and I also spoke with GKN to understand their current order book and the implications, as well as opportunities that I see coming forward in the medium term.
It was a sad week as well I'm afraid, to have to say goodbye to Trudi McHugh who passed away after an accident on the Ilminster Bypass. She will be missed by many, especially her lovely family, but remembered for the love, encouragement and sense of humour she showed, and the way she threw herself into her valuable work at Yeovil District Hospital. I particularly wish all at Yeovil Rugby Club well in dealing with their particular sense of loss. They are a fantastic close knit community, and a real example of how to pull together in spirit to get through tough times, and part of that is down to the work Trudi put in for them.
I also want to mention the fantastic work that the Wells-Burr family of Chard do in raising money for Victim Support through the Catherine Wells-Burr Foundation. The ability our local friends and neighbours show in being able to turn negatives into positives never ceases to amaze me, and it was a genuine pleasure to attend the Foundation's charity football match in Winsham last weekend and taste Leanne's fantastic cupcakes.
Please email me at email@example.com or write to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A1AA if you have ideas for how we can make our area better or if I can be of help with anything.