Alicia Kearns – 2022 Speech at the Sir David Amess Summer Adjournment Debate

The speech made by Alicia Kearns, the Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, in the House of Commons on 21 July 2022.

I arise with Sir David Amess’s smile, cheek and kindness very much in my heart, and hoping to drive the reason why all of us come here, which is love of constituency, love of country and love of that sense of duty and what we can achieve in this place.

I love Rutland, Melton, the Vale and Harborough villages. I represent 180 villages and three towns. We are the place where rugby was truly invented. They used to tackle a solid wooden beer barrel over different fields. The priest from Rugby School came over, saw the game being played and took it back to the school, where it was then supposedly invented. We are also where Sir David Attenborough discovered his love of fossils. Members are all very welcome to come fossil searching in my constituency. It is where those involved in the gunpowder plot had some of their meetings, in Stoke Dry. I have taken no inspiration from them myself, of course. It is also the home of Stilton and pork pie and Rutland bitter and so many other great foods and drinks of this country. It is home to Belvoir castle, where “The Crown” was filmed. It is also home to an ichthyosaur—the greatest discovery of what is not a dinosaur but many people believed was a dinosaur over the centuries. It is the home of the Rutland mosaic, which has changed our view and understanding of Roman Britain, and of the Hallaton hoard, which has changed our understanding of iron age Britain. It is also the place where the phrase “paint the town red” comes from.

There is nowhere quite like the Rutland, Melton, The Vale and Harborough villages, and I am truly blessed to be able to live and raise my children there, but we do have some pressing problems. Rurality is at the core of the issues that I am going to raise today and of the pressures that we face. The first is transport. The A1 goes up the east of my constituency and it is one of the worst accident hotspots in the country. We urgently need it to be made into a full motorway, and we need safety improvements up and down the stretch from Peterborough to Blyth to reduce the number of casualties and deaths. Some parents in my constituency are lobbying me on graduated driving licences, because of the deaths of young children. The understanding is that introducing graduated driving licences would give new learners a little bit longer to gain the confidence they need to reduce accidents.

The A52 has an accident hotspot outside the village of Bottesford at the Belvoir junction. This is a real problem, but Highways England says that it cannot put in place the improvements we need at the junction because there are not enough accidents. I would argue—I ask the Deputy Leader of the House to put a letter in to the Transport Secretary about this—that we should take into account the rurality of villages when we calculate these things. If this same dangerous junction were outside Loughborough or a more dangerous area, there would be significantly more accidents. Rurality should be factored into these calculations, because how rural somewhere is can hide just how dangerous a junction is. I have also been meeting constituents recently about the Rutland TT in Thorpe Satchville and Twyford. They are concerned about noise pollution. I am really keen for the Government to do more to tackle this as it is a blight on our rural areas.

Turning to crime, a few years ago I secured the creation of the first ever Rutland rural crime team across Leicestershire and Rutland and they are doing a fantastic job of reassuring residents. I am pleased to be able to meet them so often. I have also managed to secure more than £500,000-worth of CCTV across Melton, Oakham and Uppingham, and we are now looking at where we can put them to support people. When I talk to my police, however, their main concern is vehicles. I have urged our police and crime commissioner to provide more vehicles for Rutland and Melton. It is not acceptable to give us cast-offs from Leicester city that have done many miles and cannot race down the long stretches of road that we have. I have more than 460 square miles in my constituency, and we cannot be getting second-hand vehicles if we are to protect our communities.

When it comes to rural health, my GP surgery in Melton serves over 40,000 people. One surgery for 40,000 people is unacceptable. It is driving down health rates and people are not getting the care and support they need. We urgently need a new GP practice in Melton. Also, there is not one dental practice in the whole of those 460 square miles that is taking on pregnant women or children, which they are legally required to do. The Government must step forward and do something about dentistry. Concerningly, our practice in Oakham was recently found to be inadequate, and we must also look at what we can do about that.

When it comes to the economy, we need more fair funding for Rutland and Leicestershire. Leicestershire is the worst funded county council and Rutland the worst funded unitary authority in the country. We need a social mobility grant to look at those areas that have the worst social mobility in the country. Turning briefly to Mallard Pass, I have spoken a great deal about the attempt to build a 2,100-acre solar plant in my constituency using a company that has been found guilty of being complicit in Uyghur slave labour. We must do something to tackle that.

I do not have time to raise the many other things that I would like to raise, so I will wrap up by saying an enormous thank you to my team: Lisa, Helena, Harry and Alex—I think that is everyone; I am having a moment of stupidity. Lisa, Helena, Harry, Emma and Alex, I love you all very much but I am clearly having a moment and losing my mind. I thank you for all you do and the difference you make for constituents every single day.