News from the week commencing 16 January


Diary

This weekend David presented the keys for the new Wendover community car. The community car is operated by a group of volunteers and enables residents of Wendover and near by villages to remain active and outgoing.

On presenting the keys David said " I am delighted to support the efforts of such a worthwhile service that was of direct benefit to local residents."


Campaigns

David thought you might be interested to see his responses to a number of campaigns he received this week.

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In response to 'Our NHS needs more funding':
 
I believe fully in the NHS and its value.  The Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. As Ministers plan a new relationship with the EU, the Government will continue to ensure that the NHS is given the priority and stability it deserves.
 
Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS’ own plan for the future. That is why it is providing the additional £10 billion of investment per annum in real terms by 2020/21 - compared with 2014/15 – requested to fund a transformation in care. This will allow the NHS to offer 800,000 more operations and treatments and spend up to £2 billion more on new drugs. It will also ensure that by 2020, everyone will be able to access GP services at evenings and weekends.
 
On top of this, to secure the best value for taxpayers, the Government has introduced tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS, including introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants, and introducing central procurement rules. The Government has also introduced a £1.8 billion Sustainability and Transformation Fund in 2016/17 to support providers to move to a financially sustainable footing.

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In response to 'make the air fair':
 
Ofcom is responsible for the health of the UK mobile market, in line with its statutory duties. These duties include the promotion of competition and efficient use of spectrum.
 
The regulator also recently launched a consultation on the upcoming spectrum auction. The auction consists of 2.3 GHz spectrum, which is already useable for better 4G services and 3.4 GHz spectrum which is unlikely to be useable for at least two to three years, but could help unlock a new wave of future services such as 5G.
 
Ofcom agrees that there is a competition concern around the 2.3 GHz spectrum available and it has therefore imposed a cap on bidding. The cap prevents any one company holding more than 45 per cent of spectrum that can be used immediately after the auction. It also argues that by the time 3.4 GHz spectrum is usable, other bands will become available and there is therefore no immediate necessity for action on competition grounds in respect of this spectrum.
 
Intervention by Ofcom has been minimal as it does not want to distort the auction by giving the smaller operators a price break through the weakening of competition. Furthermore, there are concerns it would provide a perverse incentive for smaller operators to under-bid in this and future auctions if they always expected intervention in their favour on grounds of lacking spectrum.
 
The Government has rightly welcomed Ofcom’s focus on ensuring effective competition in the mobile market and on getting the spectrum into use as quickly as possible.