The Julian Smith column – reporting back from Westminster

On Remembrance Sunday I honoured the area's fallen by laying a wreath in Ripon.
On Remembrance Sunday I honoured the area's fallen by laying a wreath in Ripon.

It’s been another busy month in Westminster and it was good to get back to business in the House after the conference recess. I was pleased to hear my colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, give his Autumn Budget and I welcomed the announcement of a range of measures which will benefit Yorkshire.

In particular, I was delighted to hear that since 2010 there are now 204,766 more people in employment in Yorkshire and the Humber and tax has been cut for over 2.4 million people in Yorkshire and the Humber, helping people keep more of their hard-earned money.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Lloyds Pharmacy in Skipton to see first-hand how the NHS’s national pharmacy flu vaccination scheme works.

As winter approaches, free vaccinations are available to those who qualify – the over 65s, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

This year, community pharmacies across England are offering NHS flu jabs, a service which aims to make it easier than ever to get a flu jab and increase the number of at-risk people being protected from ill health over the winter months.

Flu jabs can make a real difference.

On Remembrance Sunday I laid a wreath in Ripon, honouring our fallen and remembering the sacrifices they made for our freedom. Further wreaths were laid on my behalf in Skipton, Bentham and Pateley Bridge. The Ripon Community Poppy Project has been an incredible community initiative and it has been enjoyed by many in the run up to the Armistice centenary.

I saw how much meticulous effort was put into each exhibit when I visited Borrage House earlier in the year, where residents were handcrafting poppies for the Town Hall. I would like to congratulate Cllr Stuart Martin MBE for co-leading the community effort with Hazel Barker, and Dan Metcalfe, a local artist, for designing the silhouette installations. It was a stunning tribute.

A few weeks ago I was glad to visit the new site of the Skipton job centre to see their updated facilities. I also visited the Craven Pupil Referral Service to see the work that they do and spoke to them about their concerns about how upcoming changes to funding will affect them.

Once again, this month I launched my annual Christmas card competition. All the primary schools in the constituency were invited to submit designs, one of which will be used as the design for the front of my Christmas cards. Over the weeks ahead I will be selecting the winning entry, and I am excited to see all the children’s work.

It was good to hear the news that in the last academic year 200 students from 10 schools across the constituency took part in a Parliamentary Education Centre visit to Westminster. Parliament’s Education Service helps students and teachers to get involved with Parliament and democracy by arranging tours of Parliament and school visits. It is always great to meet school groups, when Parliamentary business allows, and I would encourage any teachers or students to see if they can arrange a tour for their school or class. Many schools in our area qualify for a travel subsidy because we are so far from Parliament. To find out more please go to their website.

Finally, I held busy surgeries in Skipton and Grassington, and will, of course, be holding surgeries across the Skipton and Ripon area between now and Christmas. For more details on these and how to book, please visit my website at www.juliansmith.org.uk or contact my office on 01756 795898.