We've made huge progress in North East Derbyshire since 2017 - but there is always more to do!
North East Derbyshire is being levelled up before our eyes. Just in the last few months alone, the new A&E at the Royal has opened, as has a new banking hub at Clay Cross. And, in the works, we have promises and commitments on a new school for The Avenue, £50 million in regeneration funding for local towns, new railway stations for Killamarsh and Staveley and lots more. You need an MP who will make sure all of these promises are converted into action - and that's exactly what I will in the coming months ahead and beyond.
At the same time, we know there is much, much more to do. These are my next set of priorities which we need to trying winning support, funding and delivery of across North East Derbyshire in the coming months and years ahead ...
And, at the bottom of the page you'll also find the link to sign up to my monthly newsletter where I detail all the work I'm doing for North East Derbyshire as your Member of Parliament. If you're interested in keeping up with my work then sign up to my newsletter at the side of this page.
Focus 1: Completing the Chesterfield Canal
I have long supported extending Chesterfield Canal and the work of the Trust to restore the last nine miles. They are a fantastic team and the canal is such an asset for all of the communities it touches.
Happily, work is now getting going again on the Canal after a number of years of challenge regarding HS2. And, with the money we've won from the Staveley Town Deal and other support, the Trust will be able to extend the Canal beyond the Staveley basin and, also, restore a section in Renishaw. The coming months are vital in making sure all of this gets going, and gets the support it needs to continue.
Then, longer-term, I want to continue to do what I can, as an active MP, to support the re-opening of the Canal in its entirety. There is a huge amount of work in the coming years to get the Canal through Renishaw, up to Killamarsh, beyond the Norwood Tunnel, through Rother Valley and then to connect to the broader canal network beyond. If we want to realise all of the tourist, economic and community benefits, we need to get the Canal all the way up here - and I'm committing to helping to do that!
Focus 2: Championing Improvements at the Royal
In June last year we had big developments in our local healthcare with the opening of the brand new Accident and Emergency department at the Royal. This was a huge boost for our are and another example of Levelling Up in action for North East Derbyshire.
However, the good news doesn't stop there as there is also a second huge investment in our health infrastructure locally. This is the replacement and improvement of the Hartington Unit at the Royal. We all know the role the Hartington Unit plays in looking after some of our most vulnerable people and the staff there have done a fantastic job over the decades the unit has been open. This investment means a new full scale replacement of the building will be built with significant additional facilities available for those who require further support. The work on the new Hartington Unit began last year and should be completed by the end of the year.
The Health Authorities are already going great guns on these projects but I will continue to support as and when needed - and continue to highlight all of the fantastic health infrastructure which we are now gaining.
Focus 3: Better connectivity for North East Derbyshire
Access to quick broadband is vital in today's world but too often it has not been available for some - particularly our rural communities. towns. Since I was elected in 2017 I have worked hard to hold companies like Openreach and Virgin to account, raising the matter in Parliament and pressing for improvements. We have seen real progress on improving access to good quality broadband in North East Derbyshire over the years.
In particular, there have been some major steps forward since then with Spinkhill being connected to broadband in 2019, and in early 2020 that new estates in Wingerworth and Grassmoor, that hadn't been automatically connected, were finally hooked up to broadband after a long fight.
However, the work never stops and I know that coverage needs to be better for more households in North East Derbyshire. I am currently running a survey on broadband coverage to identify more problem areas that I can take back to Openreach and the Council. I'd encourage everyone to fill in this survey and you can do so here.
Focus 4: Supporting Staveley Investment Zone
In a few months' time, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire will get a Mayor. Whilst there are different views about Mayoralties, they also come with significant powers and budgets and it is vital that we ensure our area gets the support it deserves.
One of those new powers will be to designate parts of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as 'investment zones' - areas where the businesses who set up there can receive tax incentives. It's all about stimulating economic activity, bringing jobs, wealth and services to the areas that are successful.
For us in North East Derbyshire, the Staveley Growth Corridor has been earmarked as one of these potential investment zones - which could be absolutely transformative for our area in the coming decades. I will be working with the EMCA, when it is finally set up in May this year, to get Staveley included in this scheme - and to make sure that we benefit from it to the greatest possible extent.
Don't forget, if you want to keep up with my work Levelling Up North East Derbyshire then sign up to my newsletter at the bottom of the page on mobiles and to the left of the page on computers.
Focus 5: Funding for Staveley Bypass
The Staveley Bypass has been in the works for decades - more than ninety years to be precise!
A few years ago, we got the opportunity to try again and, working with Derbyshire County Council, there has been a huge amount of work to prepare the business case for Government funding. A proposal is now in with the Department for Transport at the moment. I recently met with the Roads Minister Guy Opperman to discuss the project and push home just how important the Staveley Bypass is for us.
This £166 million project involves a new 3.7 mile single-carriageway road between the Sainsbury's roundabout in Chesterfield, across Works Road, and through to Hall Lane in Staveley, cutting congestion and enabling significant investment in areas like Barrow Hill and Staveley.
We are expecting a decision to be made early this year and I will keep highlighting with Transport ministers just how vital this is for Levelling Up in North East Derbyshire.
Focus 6: A61 Congestion Relief
Anybody who drives around North East Derbyshire known about the long-standing issues with congestion on the A61. This has been a key area of focus for the last six years for me. When I first was elected, I approached both Councils about what the proposals were to reduce congestion and the message back was that they hadn't done the detailed work to prepare a bid for money. That was hugely disappointing (since these processes often take years, if not decades), but, nonetheless, we got going.
And, over the last six years, that work has built up the case for funding - including a residents survey in 2018, the creation of a full-scale traffic model in 2019-2020, the creation of options in 2021 and further consultation on these options that continued into 2022. All of these milestones have helped to build the case for an improvement project being funded by central government and build the business case.
In early 2023, Derbyshire County Council was also awarded £50,000 from Midlands Connect to undertake detailed work on the various options presented in the previous stages in readiness to bid for money when funding opens (hopefully this year).
We now need to be ready. We have a final community-wide decision to be taken on what residents feel the big intervention should be on the A61. This could be the link road across the Avenue, a bypass elsewhere or a different intervention in a separate location.
This decision should be made early this year with a proposals submitted to the Department for Transport when bids open for projects like this. I will keep working where I can to get improvements to the A61 and when the bid is submitted to the Department for Transport, I will be banging on the doors of ministers and making sure they hear how important these improvements are. Other areas take twenty years to get to where we are - we are almost ready to bid and then we need to make the strongest case for it in Westminster!
Focus 7: Pushing for Dronfield Town Centre Regeneration
After the success of gaining regeneration funds for Clay Cross and Staveley, it is vital that we make sure our other major towns in North East Derbyshire also have opportunities to improve in the coming years, too.
Dronfield is a fantastic place to live and work but, as local residents now, the Civic Centre has seen better days and there is a clear desire for regeneration over the medium- to long-term. Several years ago, the then-Conservative North East Derbyshire District Council put forward a number of ideas in consultation which the town commented on.
The good news is that, several years ago, ownership of the Civic Centre changed (happily) and we now have a much more interested and engaged owner who wants to improve the area. I have met the representatives of the owners several times and will continue to work with them - we hope a clear regeneration proposal will come forward in 2024 and, subject to the views of residents, I want to see the Civic Centre improved for the long-term.
Focus 8: Eckington Town Centre Regeneration
It's also vitally important that we improve Eckington, too. The previous Conservative District Council did a fantastic job putting together a proposal (called "Elevate Eckington") about how we regenerate the town centre for the long-term. We now need to find funding for it - and make sure that the new Labour administration at District actually push hard to make it happen. I will work hard to win funding in the coming years to support Eckington and town centre regeneration.
Focus 9: New Rail Station for Clay Cross
Another key infrastructure projects for North East Derbyshire is a new rail station at Clay Cross. This is a project that again has been talked about for decades but nobody had ever done any of the work needed to get it up and running.
This has meant that we essentially started from scratch with trying to actually get this project off the ground. However, myself and Cllr Charlotte Cupit managed to get Derbyshire County Council to complete the business case blueprint for the station last year. This 150 page report is packed full with detail on how a station can be brought black to Clay Cross and it is ready to go when a funding avenue opens in the coming years.
This project has only been possible because of the £25 million Clay Cross Town Deal that we previously secured, which you can find out more about here. I expect to hear more on this project from government this year and as soon as I do, I will let residents know.
Focus 10: Fighting for Better Bus Services
One of the biggest issues in recent months across North East Derbyshire has been access to, and reliability of, local bus services. In the last twelve months, I have particularly concentrated on retaining existing bus services (as demand looks like it is remaining permanently lower than pre-covid) and getting reliability better, particularly from Hulleys services. We have held multiple meetings with local residents and the bus companies - and will continue to do so until the reliability of services improves.