Brakes are applied to wheel-clampers

I THOUGHT I’d mention the dreaded topic of wheel-clamping which has affected communities up and down the country, none more so than our own Billingshurst.

We pledged to tackle rogue clampers when in Opposition and it’s something we’ve wasted no time in focusing on now we’re in power.

Parliamentary time-tabling being a complicated process, we’re expecting the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which will include a ban on clamping on private land, to be introduced later this month, but it could be later in the spring.

The ban will stop wheel-clamping firms from being able to clamp vehicles parked on private land and once the ban is in place, anyone who clamps or tows a vehicle away on private land will face tough penalties.

Hopefully this will make a significant difference to local residents, visitors and business-owners in Billingshurst and elsewhere.

Another positive story is our commitment to increasing the budget for apprenticeships to over £1,400m in 2011-12.

Companies such as British Airways, British Gas, Superdrug, Procter and Gamble and Morrison’s have embraced the scheme and between them are offering thousands of places.

Our goals are to help business deliver 100,000 more apprenticeships by 2014 and ultimately, to see apprenticeships reach the same status as university places.

To facilitate this, we’re looking at encouraging graduation ceremonies for apprenticeships and their families, an apprentice honour roll and an apprenticeship alumni network.

This is great news for our young people, businesses and the national economy.

Finally, I thought I’d let readers know that I’m aware that on a couple of occasions over the last few weeks I’ve been unable to arrange to see local people who’ve planned to travel to Westminster for a mass lobby of Parliament.

Attending a mass lobby is a great way for a campaign group or charity to directly pass their message to their elected representatives, right in the heart of Parliament.

It’s great to see MPs huddled in corners of the House of Commons with groups of people from their constituencies and it’s something I try to do.

It’s an opportunity for the Commons to be dominated by one issue and by people from all over the country.

Unfortunately, rallies are often organised at relatively short notice and my Cabinet Office duties mean that sometimes I’m simply unable to attend.

Like just about everyone reading this, I frequently wish I could split myself in two but alas, it’s impossible!

I’d like to reassure readers that if I can’t make a rally, I’m always available to meet local people in and around Horsham at advice surgeries, home visits or at other more suitable events if there are lots of people involved or concerned about the same issue.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham