SINCE being elected as your Member of Parliament in May 2010, I and my team have worked in collaboration with local authorities and members of our community to help secure around £160m of investment for Teignbridge.
Some of this money has been invested in a new bridge at Dawlish, protecting properties from flooding in Teignmouth and Shaldon and building the new University Technical College in Newton Abbot.
Superfast broadband is on its way to even our most remote areas and money to protect and enhance our coastal railway line has been made available.
I am proud to be your voice in Westminster and I will keep fighting to ensure our area gets its fair share.
One battle we have also won saw Members of Parliament across the political spectrum from our region working together to persuade the Government to pledge £40m to the South West so that domestic bill payers would receive a £50 rebate.
We all know that our water bills have long been the highest in the country and the arguments as to why are well rehearsed.
That debate is important, but my focus has been on making the case for the Government intervening to help us out. I held street stalls in both Newton Abbot and Dawlish and it was no surprise that more than 700 of you signed my campaign card calling for a £50 rebate.
It was therefore extremely welcome when the Chancellor confirmed that £40m would be assigned to address this issue.
From April this year, domestic water bill payers should have noticed the £50 rebate on their statement.
This is obviously a welcome Government initiative. However, the key for me moving forward is that we implement the measure correctly and refine it where required.
For example, one area where some discrepancies are observable relates to domestic customers who pay their water bills through an intermediary.
Common examples include those who live in a park home or those who reside in flats. I have been out and about meeting park home owners across Teignbridge and it is clear receipt of the rebate is not commonplace.
South West Water inform me that one reason for the inconsistency is that not all intermediary bill payers (the park home site owner or management agents) have responded to requests to inform the company how many properties they are paying bills for.
Indeed, I know this to be the case from correspondence I have received on this issue myself. South West Water needs this information so it can accurately calculate how many rebates it needs to hand over.
It is important that those requested to discuss this matter with South West Water do so and I will be raising this issue with the Minister.
I strongly believe that all homeowners are entitled to £50 off their bills and making your payments through an intermediary should not be a barrier.
I therefore encourage everyone who believes they should be entitled to the rebate to check they are receiving it.
If they are not, please either contact South West Water directly or let me know so I can help you through the process.
It is also becoming increasingly apparent that there has been difficulty in determining whether some properties are used for residential or business purposes.
This is particularly the case when a property is used for both. I have previously called on the Government to extend the assistance package so that it covers both business and domestic properties.
The estimated additional cost to the Government is around £3m a year and I accept this is not an insignificant amount.
However, we have a number of micro businesses in our area that are struggling to pay the water bill just as much as homeowners are and incorporating enterprises into the initiative would remove the difficulty in ascertaining what purpose a property is used for.
The Minister has previously rejected this proposition, but I will revisit it when the House returns.