Bob Walter Blog - 10th February 2014

In my first ‘Heart of the Issue’ blog of 2014, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Sadly, I know that, for many people in Dorset adversely affected by the extreme weather, it hasn’t been.

So my first constituency visit of the year was to communities at Stourpaine and Milborne St Andrew, where homes and businesses have been hit by persistent flooding.

Flooding obviously happens in different places for different reasons, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. However, the key message I took back from local residents, councillors and farmers was that more focus needs to be put on long-term river management and drainage, and that livelihoods and people must have priority over wildlife. The latter may be controversial, but must be considered seriously if such extreme weather is here to stay.

At Westminster, I was delighted to sponsor the introduction of a new Community Hospitals Bill, which I hope will strengthen the future of vital local care centres like those at Blandford, Shaftesbury and Wimborne. Many MPs from all parties recognise the immense value of our community hospitals and their potential to bring high quality care closer to home. Community hospitals were founded by public subscription in local community trusts and I believe that our communities - through this Bill - should be given the option to run them properly and competently again.

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