Update on the Bishop of Bath and Wells’ removal from the City

Tessa and the BishopToday, the Board of the Church Commissioners is meeting in private to discuss a range of financial matters.  Tessa has been informed that the future residency of the Bishop of Bath and Wells in on the agenda.

Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, is rumoured to have written a note to the Board as he unable to attend.  This is thought to give his ‘take’ on the ‘activities’ that have taken place both in Wells and Westminster following the Commissioners’ announcement of plans to remove the Bishop from the flat in the Palace in Wells.

Tessa said:

“We’ve shown Sir Tony the private flat and gardens at the Bishop’s Palace, we’ve had a public meeting, we’ve heard the wise advice of the Diocese and the Palace Trust, we’ve delivered a petition which gathered over 2,000 signatures to the Church of England’s General Synod and to Parliament, Questions have been asked of the Church Commissioners and the Leader of the House of Commons in Parliament and at General Synod, I’ve raised this with the Speaker of the House of Commons and even questioned the Prime Minister on this matter.”

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Tessa welcomes growing consensus for business rates shake up

Tessa and Vince CableLocal MP Tessa Munt has welcomed the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) ‘Road to Reform’ report, published today, which considers how our regressive business rates system can be made fit for purpose.

The publication puts forward a range of ideas for the reform of the UK business rates system.

Commenting on proposals Tessa said:

“I have long argued that our system of business rates is unfair. Whilst we’ve modernised other taxes, business rates have been left behind and the system is woefully out of date and particularly harmful for our small and medium sized enterprises – the companies the nation has to thank for pulling our economy out the danger zone.

This was the very first concern I raised when I was appointed Vince Cable’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in 2012, and he agreed that a radical shake up was required.

I know he has pushed for discussions at Cabinet level and the launch of the Chancellor’s ‘Discussion Document’ has begun to stimulate a debate.

Last week, during Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister announced, amongst other measures, that small businesses affected by the floods would be granted a deferral on their rates.  This is really welcome in my patch.

I’m hopeful that the Chancellor will be persuaded to go much further and accept that a fundamental shake up is what is needed in order to remove the disincentive to invest in and improve property, promote growth in jobs and output and support our entrepreneurs, rather than simply tinkering with the existing system which is failing small and medium sized businesses.

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Tessa Munt MP joins Lions Club to collect money for flood victims

Tessa with local LionsLocal MP and Lions Club Member Tessa joined fellow members at Clarks Village on Sunday, to collect money for those who have been affected by the floods.

Tessa said:

“I was pleased to be able to help with the collection on Sunday. Parts of our county have been submerged for nine weeks now, it’s hard to imagine how exhausting that must be for those worst affected. For my part I will continue to push for action in Parliament and elsewhere.

We are blessed in Somerset with a wealth of well organised and committed local groups like the Lions who play an invaluable role locally, fundraising sums of money and channelling this to those that most need the help.”

Glastonbury and Street Lions Club Treasurer David Atkins said:

“I’d like to thank Tessa for pitching in on Sunday. The Lions in the South West have received a grant for £10,000 from our National association and our total fund will be approaching £20k after this weekend.  We will be working with Somerset Community Foundation to ensure that this money goes to individual households on the Levels.

Today we collected £1094 making a total of £2318 over the two days.  This means that through various ways Glastonbury and Street Lions and Friends including City of Wells and Crewkerne Lions Clubs have raised a few pounds short of £5k to date in the last ten days and more is planned.

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Somerset Floods: Why now is the time to ask for money from Europe

Tessa and the Flooding MinisterAt the time of writing,  it’s nine weeks since the first flooding hit Somerset.

For many, homes and businesses have been submerged under floodwater since the first storms before Christmas.  For some, this has been a distressing repeat of last year’s events. The misery is indescribable and the resultant chaos impacting on everyday life takes a huge emotional toll.

Add to that the inevitable financial distress when you can’t work, or can’t get to work and it is hard to see how and when life will ever return to normal.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to persuade Government Ministers to demand the Treasury gets a move on, does the right thing and puts in a claim to the equivalent of our insurance company, the European Union.

The Treasury could, and should, stop faffing around and apply for a grant from the regional disaster fund, part of the European Union Solidarity Fund.

The Solidarity Fund was created after severe flooding in Central Europe in 2002, and is designed to respond with grants to Member States after major natural disasters or drought.

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