Safety of horses and their riders, and the public sector pay cap.

I confess: years ago I was required to take a Speed Awareness Course after driving above the speed limit in Bristol. I’m now much more aware of how lethal a car driven at speed can be for vulnerable road users including children, cyclists and horse riders.

It took no persuading when Debbie Smith, a constituent, delivered a petition to me calling for our roads to be made safer for horses and their riders. This initial encounter (in November 2015) led to a meeting with the Roads Minister, Debbie, myself and her campaign team, a horse-riding awareness day earlier this year and a petition of 108,000 signatures. This week I was pleased to take this campaign further, hosting a debate in Parliament calling on the Government to get behind a Think Horse campaign much like the successful Think Bike initiative. Accidents and fatalities involving horses rose by 29% in the past year and several horse-riders have raised road safety concerns here in West Cornwall. In the past two years I’ve secured more debates in Parliament than most colleagues, each debate follows an issue raised by a constituent. I’m privileged to be able to argue for safer roads for everyone.

Over recent years public sector pay increases have fallen below the rising cost of living. This undermines morale, puts considerable pressure on household finances and makes it more difficult to attract and retain our nurses, police recruits and teachers etc. I agree that it is time to review public sector pay. The truth is that the vote last week (to scrap the 1% cap on all public sector pay) was an attempt to defeat the Queen’s Speech and Government’s legislative programme rather than a rally cry for low earners in the public sector. The responsible way to address public sector pay is to wait on the recommendations of the independent pay review bodies, all of whom are charged with setting out pay proposals that address concerns about recruitment, retention and motivation. It’s right that people are rewarded for the incredible work they do and the Government has made it clear that it will take into account pay review recommendations.