FOLLOWING Nigel Huddleston’s recent re-election, and as we enter 2020, we asked our readers to send in questions for the MP on the most pressing local issues.

Here are the answers the MP gave:

Vicki Johnson: What are you proposing to do about the rise of poverty and mental health in the district?

This Government is continuing our efforts to reduce poverty - 400,000 people have been lifted out of poverty since 2010. The Government plan to end low pay and will continue to increase the living wage - to £10.50 by 2024. I will work with local councils and groups to attract even more businesses to Worcestershire.

With mental health, we are on track to establish parity of esteem so mental health will be treated on par with physical health.

The Government has announced a new mental health crisis service with support available in every major A&E in the country, and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline when people need help urgently. I am hopeful that this will help those who need support and ease the pressure off our emergency services.

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Simon Tucker: What is the proposal regarding the ‘huge amount’ of crime in the area?

I know that the team at West Mercia police work extremely hard to make Worcestershire as safe as possible. I have met with them numerous times and even spent time on patrol with them.

I met senior members of the drugs supply team who have made great progress with stifling local trade in illegal drugs. We will also be reviewing the powers of police with a view to enhancing their ability to enforce laws. We all want to see more officers helping keep our communities safe, which is why I am pleased the local force has already recruited more officers and is still recruiting officers so we will see more police on the streets next year.

I will also lobby for West Mercia to receive its fair share of the additional 20,000 police officers committed in the manifesto.

Fern Bridie: Would opening up an unused ward at Evesham Community Hospital free up the pressure at Worcestershire Royal Hospital?

I am fully aware of the pressures on our local health service and our hospitals face continuing challenges. The Government has committed to an additional £33 billion in NHS funding. This will mean more hospitals, more GP surgery appointments, more doctors and more nurses.

I and the other Worcestershire MPs will work to make sure we get our fair share of this additional funding. I will play my part in ensuring the local health ecosystems has sufficient money and resources to ensure good health outcomes but it is not for MPs to instruct doctors and clinicians on operational and managerial decisions about where services are provided.

Dominik Piasecki : Would you support calls to make the A46 to Badsey roundabout a dual carriageway, as a solution to less traffic at peak times?

I completely share frustration about the traffic along the A46 and especially around the roundabout. I have already been talking to Highways England and the Department for Transport about easing congestion on the A46 and will continue to lobby for funding. The bottlenecks along the A46 around Evesham are recognised by the department.

Worcestershire County Council is working with Highways England to support two projects that could see the trunk road improved in the vicinity of Evesham.

The first project is the development of a funding bid that, if successful, would see the junctions around Evesham improved to ease the traffic.

The second, much more longer-term project is an investigation into the ‘whole corridor’ of the A46 and see how it performs as part of the nation’s Strategic Road Network. I’m pleased Worcestershire County Council is supporting this investigation and Evesham has been accepted to be a focus for the next phase of the study.

Valerie Larner: Would you agree better public transport is needed – more buses for example to Evesham Country Park, for locals without cars who want to go there.

I agree better public transport is needed and no one should feel isolated or trapped just because they do not have access to a car.

The manifesto committed to more money for local transport including buses and also more cycling routes and I will work with local councils to bid for additional funding. But we also need to make sure public transport is sustainable by using it.

The Passenger Transport Strategy which is available online talks about the various options and proposals that will be reviewed in the near future - I would strongly suggest filling in if you would like to raise your concerns about transport in the area.