While the news has been dominated by the damage that has been done by Storm Desmond and our thoughts have been with the people affected, the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme has been getting ready to publish the options they are considering for a flood relief channel for Oxford and the Vale.
The new flood channel will be the solution to the flood risk around the Thames in the years to come. But in the meantime, the Environment Agency in Oxford have also been preparing for this winter by practising putting up their new temporary defences and getting to grips with their two new incident command and welfare vehicles to ensure that we have the best protection possible against flooding.
As the refugee crisis continues to be in the news a number of people have asked me how they can help those in need. There are many ways you can help, log on to www.gov.uk/government/world/syria to find out what you can do. Also Oxford City of Sanctuary is an organisation that matches refugees and asylum seekers to those people with spare rooms. To find out more go to oxford.cityofsanctuary.org.
Christmas is a time of giving and cheer, but for some it is a struggle. Turn2us is a nationwide charity that I have become aware of. The charity helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. They have started a new campaign called ‘No Cold Homes’, and are there to help people experiencing fuel poverty access a range of support. Go to www.turn2us.org to get help or donate.
In my role as a minister, in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, a few things have come across my desk that may be of interest.
The BBC has launched a new weather club for people who want to join in the nation’s favourite conversation. BBC Weather Watchers will help the BBC build a picture of the nation’s weather, people can create their own weather reports, send in their pictures and observations and potentially have them appear in BBC broadcasts. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/weatherwatchers to sign up.
If you suffer with poor mobile signal you can now check if your network is the best in your area. Ofcom has a new online mobile coverage checker to help people get the best coverage wherever they are in the UK. It looks at the four UK mobile phone network providers and gives you the predicted level of voice calls, 3G and 4G data coverage both in doors and outside. Go to www.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage to check your coverage.
My mailbag this week has been dominated by the issue of whether to extend our military campaign against Daesh into Syria. I support this military extension into Syria for a number of reasons: the United Nations has passed a resolution calling for the eradication of Daesh’s safe haven in parts of Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, France, the United States and our regional allies have asked for our support in Syria, because we provide between a quarter and a third of the coalition’s high-end strike capability. Finally, horrific attacks in Paris, Mali, Lebanon, Egypt, Sousse, Turkey, Kuwait, Australia and elsewhere, demonstrate the very real and evolving threat from Daesh. That is why I voted for extending our campaign in order to help keep Britain safe.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with. Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist. You can contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, 020 7219 6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. I also send out occasional general interest emails about developments in the Wantage and Didcot Constituency. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please do email me at email@example.com or sign up at www.vaizey.com.
So finally, as the festive season arrives, may I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Ed Vaizey MP