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Rutland MP Alicia Kearns focuses on supporting flooding victims after Storm Henk

The level of flooding in our communities in the wake of Storm Henk has been unprecedented, causing significant damage and difficulties for so many, writes Rutland MP Alicia Kearns (Con).

My focus has been supporting households, businesses and farmers and I have visited and met with some of those worst affected in Oakham, Whitwell and Whissendine. I would like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to Coun Kiloran Heckels and Coun Karen Payne for all the amazing work they’ve done helping residents in Whitwell and Ketton over the past week.

It’s vital that lessons are learned as quickly as possibly, especially following the previous flooding in October. With Coun Lucy Stephenson and five other Conservative councillors we have called for a special meeting of Rutland County Council to give our communities the chance to be heard by the council and ensure they are responding adequately and learning swiftly ahead of any further inclement weather. Without this urgent meeting, any discussion on flooding could not take place until March. Any resident will be able to speak, as well as councillors speaking up for their communities.

On a more positive note, it’s great to be able to share some good funding news locally, as Root-and-Branch Out CIC has been awarded £18,450 in Government funding! It is a wonderful local organisation based here in Belton-in-Rutland, engaging local communities through projects based on the outdoors, nature and the environment. This Government funding boost will provide many more opportunities for our communities to enjoy a huge range of activities, from their outdoor Forest School sessions, to free, therapeutic gardening courses!

In other good news locally, I’m delighted that the location for Oakham’s new banking hub has been confirmed at 43 High Street – the former Lloyds Bank building. Customers of all major banks and building societies will be able to carry out regular cash transactions at the new hub from Monday to Friday. In addition to this service, Community bankers will work on rotation, with a different bank available on each day of the week for more complex cases. I genuinely believe this new hub will offer better access to banking than we had before, and I am so pleased that Rutlanders will benefit from this new infrastructure which will open this Spring.

Out and about in our communities, I recently attended Rutland Solar Action Group’s public meeting to join calls to ban large scale solar developments on our productive farmland. Of all the land in the UK currently earmarked for solar development, more than half is concentrated in just two counties: Rutland and Lincolnshire. The green transition is vital and urgent, but it must not be built at the expense of sacrificing the best and most versatile land we are reliant upon and we must ensure that solar is well-planned within our county. On that note, before Christmas with 33 of Rutland’s Parish Councils I wrote to our County Council and asked them to extend the public consultation period for Rutland’s Local Plan. Sadly, the council declined our request, and the consultation on the next 20 years of our county has now closed. I will continue to pay close attention to the Plan as it proceeds, and have requested that the County Council identifies more opportunities for public engagement.

Finally, voting is now open for Rutland and Melton’s Favourite Independent Shop Awards 2023! Over 300 nominations have been received for our wonderful independent businesses, so please make sure to support them and get your votes in by Friday, January 26, before I announce the well-deserved winners in February.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2024

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