The speech made by Anna Firth, the Conservative MP for Southend West, in the House of Commons on 21 July 2022.
It is an honour to speak in this debate, in which Sir David delivered so many legendary performances. I can only do my very best to emulate him, so here goes.
Sir David’s dedication to putting people before politics lives on in Southend West. I have now helped more than 100 constituents at my regular surgeries. My No. 1 priority is to make Southend safer, and I am pleased that three new CCTV cameras have been installed in Old Leigh; but, more important, I campaigned for and secured portable knife detection poles for our police ahead of the summer, and I am delighted to say that they arrived last week.
Our local hospital is vital to our community, and I want to thank everyone who works in our NHS. I abseiled down the hospital tower for charity earlier this year. I am delighted that much-needed enabling capital funding to expand our A&E department is now imminent. We also have 111 new ambulance staff and 11 new ambulances.
May I just congratulate my hon. Friend on her brilliant campaign to help secure about £7 million for Southend Hospital? Well done!
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention, and for his support in the securing of that funding.
Community pharmacies are the unsung heroes of our NHS, and Belfairs Pharmacy is a shining example.
As for transport, C2c’s performance continues be a concern, especially the broken ticket machines: contactless payments are imperative. I am pleased that Chalkwell Station is being upgraded, and that there will soon be new lifts to make it accessible to everyone. I have been battling unjustified cuts in our bus services, and will continue to campaign to see routes reinstated. Speeding is a big issue locally, and with the results of my online survey, I intend to ensure that new safety measures are introduced. However, I will not sleep easy in my bed in Leigh-on-Sea until night flights are eliminated from my constituency.
I have already visited 22 of the 30 schools in Southend West, and was delighted to give certificates to every school and every primary school child to celebrate the platinum jubilee. Tomorrow I will be holding a welcome tea party for Ukrainian refugees in Southend, and I was proud to help Chalkwell Lifeguards to secure funds for a new eco-engine for one of its rescue craft.
Now that we are a city, Southend must become the UK City of Culture in 2029. Leigh Folk Festival moved to a new home this year in Leigh Library Gardens, which was a fabulous event. My charity funding fair in Belfairs enabled several local charities to obtain much-needed grants. Driver Shields UK Ltd has been given the Queen’s award for enterprise and is a fine example of the talent in Southend.
I have hosted six fantastic work experience students this summer. I thank Maddie, Molly, Matilda, Sean, Shannon and Andriy for all their hard work.
I attended countless fantastic jubilee events last month. Southend West really did Her Majesty proud and showed the county how to party.
Following the tradition started by Sir David, there will be a centenarian tea party in Southend West in September.
Volunteers are the backbone of our local community. I thank especially HARP, Havens, the Leigh Lions, the Royal British Legion and the Carli Lansley Foundation, among many others, for the great work that they do. I also thank our local Conservative councillors and the amazing clergy for their hard work for our community.
Our thoughts and prayers are with my constituent Hollie and her son Archie in their brave fight.
I am super excited to attend the first game of the new season at Southend United. I am sure that the Shrimpers will be on top form this year.
The inspirational Music Man Project, which was so beloved of Sir David, will go to Broadway. Who knows what its amazing founder David Stanley will set his sights on next.
Local charity Prost8 is improving the lives of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Southend.
I thank those from the Tamil association for their hard work and for letting me not come last on their sports day.
Having never previously bowled a wood in my life, I am now an expert, having opened the outdoor bowls season at Chalkwell, Belfairs and Essex bowls clubs. I am hoping to improve my wrist action before next season.
Finally, I wish all colleagues, House staff and my wonderful team a very happy, healthy and enjoyable recess. I intend to spend the summer eating my own body weight in our delicious Rossi’s ice cream. My final exhortation must be to the Deputy Leader of the House: make Southend the UK city of culture in 2029!