Andrew's Epworth Bells Column from Thursday 27th February 2013.
I've really enjoyed this week in Parliament and seem to have been really busy on a range of interesting issues, ranging from defibrillators to flooding to the need for more 'normal' people in Parliament.
Starting with defibrillators, I chaired a meeting of various groups working with Department of Education officials looking at the practicalities and challenges of requiring schools to have defibrillators on site. The groups supporting my campaign for this include the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, British Heart Foundation and many more. Locally, I secured £10,000 to roll these life saving machines to secondary schools in our area. Thanks to Cllr Liz Redfern and a grant from North Lincs Council, I was able to provide South Axholme Academy and the Axholme Academy with defibrillators last year. 270 school children per year suffer cardiac arrests.
By coincidence, North Lincolnshire Council this week agreed the budget for the forthcoming year. I worked with Liz and local Councillors to include a £75k community defibrillator budget in this year's Council budget. This will be used to try to roll out more community access defibrillators across our communities. They can be used with no training and save lives because in a cardiac arrest every minute defibrillation is withheld, the chance of survival reduces by between 10 and 15%. Even if ambulances reach patients within the 8 minute target it is often too late which is why only about a quarter of cardiac arrest patients survive. In the US city of Seattle this rate is over 50%, thanks to a programme of public access defibrillators and CPR training.
Parliament also debated the recent flooding this week and I was, once again, happy to share our local experiences. Since the flooding in places such as Keadby in December, I have spoken in Parliament a number of times, including calling for the Environment Agency to rely much more on local knowledge when determining how our rivers should be managed and how we should guard against flood risk. It is interesting to see how many MPs are now engaged in this issue, especially because when I raised the issue of the way dykes and waterways are managed back in 2012 I was mocked by other MPs.
This was following flooding in Crowle and I complained at Prime Ministers Questions about regulations, such as habitat regulations, preventing drainage boards and farmers from clearing dykes and drainage ditches to protect the public. It's funny what a couple of years and flooding of their constituencies can do to change MPs views! The important thing is that there is finally a national conversation about how we are defended and protected from flooding. We also learned more about the Government funded grants of up to £5,000 that will be available to survey flood hit homes and pay for flood protection measures. North Lincs Council will administer this funding, available from April.
Great news also came this week that the Council has putting funding aside for a new sports facility in Crowle. This is something Cllr John Briggs and I have discussed a lot and I am pleased John has secured the funding in the Council budget.