From Huw Merriman <[email protected]>
Subject Huw Merriman - Newsletter - 23/04/2021
Date April 23, 2021 3:39 PM
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I hope you find this newsletter a useful summary of local support, initiatives, COVID-19 updates and my work on your behalf.

Dear Resident,

It has been a busy few weeks in Parliament, tainted with a real sense of sadness following the Duke of Edinburgh's passing.

Much of my time has been focused on numerous transport-related developments from Smart Motorways to international travel, which you will find explained in further details in the boxes below. My team and I have also been working hard to support residents with a huge range of personal and policy concerns.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish a huge congratulations to Ninfield's Pizza Leonati, on being grand finalists in the Sussex Street Food of the Year category at the Sussex Food and Drink Awards!

I hope you find this newsletter a useful summary of local support, initiatives, COVID-19 updates and my work on your behalf.

Stay well,


Local Vaccine Update

Our local COVID vaccination programme is continuing at pace, with a total of 1,203,360 jabs already administered in Sussex.

First dose appointments are being arranged for anyone in the initial priority groups who are yet to receive their vaccine, and for those most recently eligible – people aged 45-49. This week, 18,036 first doses were administered in Sussex.

Additionally, second dose appointments have been taking place, with over 70% of those aged 75 and over having now received their second jab, including over half of Sussex’s care home residents. This week, 79,500 second doses were given in Sussex.

Our local NHS is receiving a number of enquires from people who are concerned about their second dose appointment. If you booked your first vaccination through the national booking service, you should have been able to book both appointments at the same time.

If you had your first jab at a GP-led vaccination service, their team will contact you approximately 11 to 12 weeks from the date of your first appointment. They will contact you as soon as vaccines are available in line with deliveries and supply. Please do not contact your GP practice to ask about an appointment before week 12 and please note the vaccination service may contact you in week 12 for an appointment that week.

There is also new guidance on COVID vaccines for pregnant women from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, who have advised that they should be offered the jab at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.

Find out more about Sussex’s vaccination programme here ([link removed] ) .

Finance Bill Committee Stage Debate

This week, the Finance Bill returned to the House of Commons for its Committee Stage. I participated in the debate and spoke of the need to take tough, fiscally responsible decisions now, so that our country’s finances can recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Watch me speak in the debate here ([link removed]) .

Bus Strategy

Residents rely on their bus service to connect them from village to town. Outside of London, services have dwindled. The Transport Select Committee called for a Buses Strategy to provide a better service commitment and partnership between local transport authority and bus companies.

This week the Transport Committee held a one-off session to scrutinise the Government’s Bus Strategy where we were joined by the Bus Minister, Baroness Vere, and a number of industry body representatives.

We asked the Minister how the Government plans to improve bus services over this Parliament and spend the £3 billion it has allocated to transform them.

We also sought views from the bus industry representatives on whether the Bus Strategy is a credible response to the challenges facing the industry and country, both now and in the future, including COVID-19, climate change and the need to level up the country.

Watch the session in full
here ([link removed]) .

European Super League

Along with the vast majority of football fans, I was deeply disappointed and concerned to hear about the proposed European Super League.

This week, I expressed my opposition to the proposal, both on the BBC’s Westminster Hour and during the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s statement. I received assurances from the Government that they would not rule out legislating if the clubs involved did not back down in totality – which they now rightly have.

Watch me speak in the statement here ([link removed]) .

Watch me speak to BBC's Westminster Hour here ([link removed]) .

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

It was with great sadness that we learned of Prince Philip’s passing a fortnight ago. His lifetime of service and loyalty to our country and magnificent Queen has touched many of us.

It was a true honour to pay tribute to his life and reflect on his attributes that we can all learn so much from in the House of Commons, while sending the most sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this sad time on behalf of residents.

Watch my tribute to His Royal Highness here ([link removed]) .

Restarting International Travel

Yesterday, the Transport Committee published our response to the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce report.

Our response held that the report’s vague and costly recommendations are not enough to reboot our aviation and tourism sectors who are facing another summer without international travel.

We called for four clear actions from the Government:

1. Populate the traffic light framework with destination countries by 1 May.
2. Explain the criteria and mechanism by which countries will move between risk categories by 1 May.
3. Offer an affordable testing regime that supports public health and safe travel for everyone by maximising the role of lateral flow tests and ensuring the provision of affordable PCR tests where required.
4. Immediate action to reduce waiting times and queues at the UK border, including: working bilaterally with partner countries to agree mutual recognition of travel and health certification, deploying more staff at the border, processing passenger locator forms before passengers arrive in the UK and establishing an efficient system based on a single digital app to process health certification submitted in a range of languages.

Read our response in full here ([link removed] ) .

Find a short summary video of our response here ([link removed]) .

Smart Motorways

In 2016, the Transport Committee held an inquiry into smart motorways, where we were assured by the Government that Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) technology would be introduced ‘going forward’ for new smart motorways and would be retrofitted for the stretches of smart motorway already in place.

This week, in a written statement to Parliament, the Transport Secretary again said that no new smart motorways will be built without SVD systems, and that all operational all lane running motorways will have this technology fitted by September 2022. Hearing the same commitment from five years ago begs the question as to why these safety enhancements haven’t been made more quickly.

Our Committee is currently in the midst of a further inquiry to determine if Smart Motorways are safe, where we will consider all options based on the evidence. This may well include recommendations for change and whether the roll-out should be paused and hard shoulders reinstated.

I hope that the Government will keep an open mind to the recommendations which come forward from our inquiry to ensure our roads are safe for everyone to drive.

Bexhill Observer Article

In my most recent Observer article, I touched on the European Super League and gave residents an insight into the many recent transport-related developments.

I discussed all things planes, trains and automobiles alongside smart motorways.

READ: here ([link removed]) .

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