TENDRING TALKS is Giles Watling MP's regular column in the Clacton and Frinton Gazette.
18th January 2024
It may have been very cold recently but that hasn’t stopped me getting out – it was superb to get out and knock on doors ahead of the Bluehouse By-Election and see so many faces. Your views, and feedback on the doorstep, are vital to helping me do my job better, and so it was refreshing to hear from so many of you whilst we were out campaigning.
In case it isn’t already in your diary, I want to remind you that on Friday the 19th of January I’ll be at the ASDA in Clacton, on Burr Hill Road, hosting a surgery between 10am and 12pm. Come and have a chat with me and raise issues that matter to you if you get the chance! I’ll also be at the Tesco on the Brook Retail Park on the 2nd of February between 10am and 12pm.
As I mentioned in my last column, my focus this year is on building on the successes we had last year to continue delivering for our constituency. As such, my focus in the first few months of 2024 is on our bus services. I receive a lot of correspondence from constituents about the quality, frequency, and accessibility of our buses and I want to do what I can to improve them.
Importantly, as the Freeport opens up the road in Harwich, I want to ensure that local residents feel the benefit of this investment into our area. When I was able to successfully help advance the bid for the Freeport, the first thing I did was take the CEO and the Chairman of the Freeport around our constituency to show them how the money invested could be transformative for the towns and villages up and down the Clacton peninsula. Now, it is time for that investment to be felt and for the Freeport to take an active role in our community.
Simply put, build it and they will come. Investment into our public transport will bring jobs, training, and further investment into Clacton as local people are able to affordably and reliably access opportunities on our doorstep. Now that the Chancellor has agreed to freeze single bus tickets at £2 for the remainder of the year, it’s time we ensure that the quality of these services improves to meet the increased accessibility.
However, I can’t do this without you. I am building a business case to put to the Treasury, and the Freeport, about why the investment is necessary and how it can be spent. It should take the time ti does to get from Clacton to Harwich, often via Colchester! We need better connectivity. I am launching a campaign for better buses, and I need data to back it up. If you have a moment, please consider filling in my survey on local bus services so that we can better understand the current local usage and need. You can access it online here: https://www.gileswatling.co.uk/campaigns/better-buses-campaign
On the subject of bus services, this is also your advance notice that my mobile bus surgeries, where Hedingham and I drove around the constituency listening to residents, will be back in Spring. I’ll be travelling to towns and villages across the Clacton constituency to meet you where you live, and hear about the issues that matter to you. Keep your eyes peeled on my website – gileswatling.co.uk – and my social media - @GilesWatling – for more updates on this as it is announced.
I’m not going to stop banging the drum for our community and being your man in Westminster – from the Clacton constituency, and for the Clacton constituency! Together, let’s work to help Clacton achieve its true potential.