For more than a decade, constituents have attended my open meetings to talk directly with some of the people and organisations affecting their lives.
Last year COP President Alok Sharma came to Winchester for a very popular ‘Ask the Minister’ session and we’ve previously had ‘Ask SWR’ on train issues as well as several ‘Ask the NHS’ meetings with local health leaders.
Next month, the series continues with ‘Ask the Airport’ when the senior team at Southampton International Airport will be coming to Colden Common.
On the evening of Thursday 9th February, Steve Szalay will be among those talking about issues including their current ambition to extend the runway at SIA.
For a number of my constituents, especially those living to the South of Winchester, Southampton Airport is of course a key issue.
Many local families use it - for business or pleasure - and enjoy the convenience of a local airport but will have questions about its future and issues such as flight paths.
The ongoing airspace change programme is a necessary modernisation of our skies but it’s important, as happened in the past, the views of Winchester are not overlooked just because the airport sits across the border in the Eastleigh Borough.
This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from airport bosses.
To ensure a safe event, and if you want to attend, please register your interest at www.stevebrine.com/asktheairport
Secondly, constituents will be very interested in a major new ‘Prevention’ inquiry launched yesterday by the Health & Social Care Select Committee I now lead.
Preventing ill-health offers the biggest opportunity for everyone to enjoy a better quality of life and I think is the only way to keep our NHS sustainable. Plain logic says what will happen if demand continues to out-pace supply at current levels.
But what does prevention look like and how can we promote it? We’re inviting everyone - not just professionals working in the sector - to tell us which areas we should be focusing on. It's a rare offer from a Select Committee.
We’re interested in how health can be impacted by wider factors, such as the impact of poor housing as a determinant of ill health or air quality.
And we want to look at some of the staples - which we still don’t have a grip on as a society - including obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse. All of which drive bad health and cost the NHS billions.
We’ll use our findings to set a challenge for the Government to boost prevention significantly. We intend to set a clear direction on what steps Ministers must take
You can get involved at www.stevebrine.com/priorityNHS
Finally, it’s been a heavy news week in Westminster. On Monday I voted for, and was stunned to see Labour and the Liberal Democrats do the opposite, our promised Minimum Service Levels Bill as it came before the Commons for the first time.
The first job of any government is to keep the public safe and, while we will always protect the right to strike, we are duty-bound to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people as we promised in our 2019 manifesto.
Minimum service levels – which would bring us in line with countries such as France, Spain, and Italy – would guarantee the public’s safety and ensure access to essential services during periods of strikes.
Ministers will absolutely continue to engage in open and fair dialogue with the unions to end the strikes, while ensuring people can continue to use the services they rely on for their everyday lives.
Steve Brine MP