Adam Afriyie
MP for Windsor
Windsor MP welcomes an increasing number of good and outstanding schools

Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, has welcomed the news from Ofsted that the number of schools graded as good or outstanding in England has reached a new record high.

In Windsor and Maidenhead the number of good or outstanding schools has increased from 47 to 53, a 13% increase on last year. This increase is greater than across the South East of England, in which the number of schools graded by Ofsted as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ has increased to 2,843, an increase of 234 schools, or 9%, compared to 2015.

Across England as a whole the number of good or outstanding schools increased from 17,256 to 18,607. This amounts to 89% of all English schools – the highest proportion ever recorded.

A confident step towards an economy that works for everyone

Today’s Autumn Statement highlights just how much progress this Government has made. Project Fear has been shown to be a phantom: This year Britain is set to remain the fastest growing economy in the G7! And next year we are likely to grow as quickly as Germany and outpace both France and Italy.

What’s more, the fastest growing region of the UK was the North East, the fastest pay growth was in the West Midlands, and every region recorded a record high employment rate. This Conservative Government has moved away from the London-centric economy built under Labour and opened up the powerhouses of the North.

There is still a great deal of work to do in improving education, reforming welfare and cutting business taxes and I would have liked to see further announcements around mental health but, on balance, our country is undeniably better placed now than it was six years ago.

Windsor MP welcomes the Africa Free Trade Initiative Final Report

This week the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Trade out of Poverty (APPG-TOP) launched its Final Report into its inquiry on the UK’s Africa Free Trade Initiative (AFTi).

The AFTi was started in 2011 by the Government to explore ways to help African countries integrate into the world trade system. For the last five years it has provided support to both individual African governments and regional integration efforts, as well as informing various British Government Departments in their interactions with African governments to improving trade conditions in Africa.

Be vigilant to the danger of winter floods

In the Windsor constituency we are well aware of the devastating impact that floods can have on people homes, lives and livelihoods.

Almost every winter the River Thames swells and our flood defences are tested. Three years ago we watched with alarm as the gauges on the Thames reached the highest levels recorded since their introduction as we were hit by serious winter floods.

Across the Thames Valley hundreds of homes were flooded and thousands of sandbags were laid down as emergency barriers.

Heathrow’s Achilles Heel

The recent decision on airport expansion is deeply disappointing. Yet in some ways it’s understandable given the groupthink surrounding a third runway to which the Airport Expansion sub-committee has been subjected.

We need new airport capacity and we need it fast. But it needs to be introduced in the most cost-effective and least environmentally damaging way possible.

We’re all aware of the unassailable environmental arguments for expanding Gatwick over Heathrow, but there is also strong business case for expanding Gatwick.

Heathrow simply can’t deliver the growth that this country needs. The Davies Commission report itself said that expansion at Heathrow would provide only £1.4bn in net benefit whereas a 2nd Runway at Gatwick would provide £5.5bn. It is no wonder that Sir Terry Farrell, one of the UK’s leading architecture planners, said that Gatwick will deliver more balanced, and more widely spread, economic growth.

The lukewarm support shown by some businesses for Heathrow expansion will quickly dissipate once the reality sets in that Heathrow is going to become the most expensive airport in the world. Airport capacity is a fulcrum for national growth, so this is likely to send out damaging ripples to Britain’s competitiveness.

Since the Davies Commission, the business case for Heathrow has got even weaker. Gatwick has added 20 new long-haul flight destinations in the last year meaning that an extra runway at Gatwick will deliver identical traffic connectivity for the UK as expansion at Heathrow with a much smaller environmental footprint.

Heathrow is permanently stymied by its archaic location; a relic of the days before mass air travel. Due to Heathrow’s proximity to London, a 3rd runway will affect 21 times more people through noise pollution compared to expanding Gatwick.

But the real Achilles heel of a 3rd Runway is air quality targets. It is impossible to reconcile building an extra runway at Heathrow with meeting air quality targets when Heathrow has already broken every air quality target for the last decade with only two runways.

Given that the Airports Commission recommended that the release of capacity at a 3rd Runway should be dependent on Heathrow meeting binding air quality targets it is likely that we may end up with the worst of all worlds: spending decades building an additional runway only to find that Heathrow is unable to utilise much of it.

Thankfully, this decision isn’t final. A 3rd Runway will have to traverse a whole series of obstacles, starting with a vote in Parliament. Given that research suggests that expansion at Heathrow will require a public subsidy of up to £305 per household, I hope that every MP who votes in favour of expansion at Heathrow is prepared to explain to their constituents why they expect taxpayers from the Shetland Islands to Lands’ End to subsidise a foreign-owned, private company.

Expanding Gatwick will be cheaper, quicker and, crucially, deliverable. It will create a more competitive airports system with cheaper flights for businesspeople. Opposition to a 3rd Runway at Heathrow is an attempt to prevent the biggest white elephant project in our history.