The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 2:33 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh 2:33 pm, 26th May 2016

I absolutely agree with what my hon. Friend says. It takes an hour to get between Portsmouth and Southampton, and that situation is untenable. We need it to take an hour into Waterloo from Portsmouth. Such investment will improve travel to Southampton airport, which will also see positive benefits from the Chickenhall Lane link road. That will also deal with the standing traffic coming into the town, where air quality is a real problem. Last Friday, I met the Solent local enterprise partnership, which is keen and ready to finalise its bid and make its business case to the large local major schemes fund. I thank the Chancellor for the support for this project in Eastleigh.

I welcome the commitment to build 200,000 starter homes, and I would like women in refuges to be given higher priority on housing lists. That will achieve more safety for their children and more stability in schools, and it will improve their life chances, which is what we wish to see in this Government’s programme. In Eastleigh, we have recently seen town centre land that would have been ideal for housing given away and designated for a car showroom and two drive-throughs—this in an area where there is a problem with air quality. That is the kind of unhealthy and unwanted town centre regeneration that I am not keen to see in my constituency. I pay tribute to the local campaigners who have sought to point out the perversity of the application.

Hon. Members will not be surprised to see that I intend to discuss the ongoing lack of a local plan in Eastleigh—there are no neighbourhood plans in Eastleigh. Planning to protect green spaces and planning for more affordable homes, and more transparent planning rules are vital in Eastleigh, where there is a strategic vacuum. It is crucial that the pace of the progress that central Government are making is matched by local authorities picking up the pace and dealing with this issue. Sadly, Eastleigh Borough Council continues to fail its residents by ignoring calls for local plans. I sincerely hope that it gets on with it, for the sake of residents and businesses, and that the planning Bill can help and take full effect in our area.

I also want us to protect our green infrastructure, as it is important. We need to protect our chalk streams and areas such as the River Itchen, where one might see my hon. Friend Mr Walker fly fishing or angling alongside local anglers. It is very important to support such infrastructure and stop the pollution of vital rivers. Our Bill will promote green spaces over brownfield land, which is currently not being distributed properly in my constituency. Residents in Bishopstoke see and feel this; there is no localism in Eastleigh and no local plan.