It can never be said that MPs don’t know how to look after their spouses and partners on Valentine’s Day. I treated Mrs M to a couple of days in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire in support of the Conservative candidate at the recent by-election, staying overnight in the beautiful spa town of Buxton where I had cause years ago to spend many enjoyable months when training for professional exams. No particular surprise that the Labour candidate won in a true Labour heartland, but notable that the UKIP leader failed to make any real impact. It has to be asked, with Brexit being delivered by the Conservatives, what the point of UKIP now is given that its ‘raison d’etre’ is being fulfilled. The real news from the by-elections of last week was the historic win by Trudy Harrison for the Conservatives in Copeland, Cumbria. The first by-election win for a party in government since 1982, and even more significant that the seat had not been held by us since 1935.
Conservative MPs had the opportunity for a private meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in advance of the Budget. I could easily have dominated the meeting as a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser explaining what is wrong with our overly complex tax system, but I kept my observations to the need for a Stamp Duty downsizing relief for pensioners to move to more suitable retirement accommodation without paying for the privilege to do so, the inequity of the little known 62% tax band payable by higher earners and the unfairness of new tax rules for landlords, together with a note of caution against unexpected rises to local businesses under the business rates revaluation.
The Brexit select Committee is now meeting twice per week as we examine various aspects to be considered as part of our departure from the EU. The UK’s ex-ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers gave evidence last week. I was struck how, once out of the EU machine, ex-officials become more thoughtful and positive in their analysis of the opportunities that await us.
I’ve had numerous local meetings to advance my plans for Thanet, including ideas for something fundamentally different for Ramsgate’s commercial port. Also with Cliftonville residents as eager as I am to see real regeneration there. I visited Bromstone school in Broadstairs and performed the official re-opening of the revamped Windmill Pub in Newington Road, Ramsgate.
I’ve also taken evidence from investors and architects who are facing excessive delays, frustrations and an over-zealous approach by Thanet District Council planners, particularly regarding Conservation area and listed property applications. My fear is that the flow of private regeneration money will simply dry up when other authorities behave more rationally and speedily with encouragement and enthusiasm to investment on offer. TDC please do take note.