“I want to be genuinely accountable to everybody here and be the MP for everybody here” was Danny Kruger’s core mesage to those attending last Thursday’s (5 March) question and answer session at St Mary’s Church, organised by Marlborough Churches Together.
It was an open evening: free to all members of the public, anyone could ask a question, unlike the ‘Question Time’ format where questions are pre-submitted, selected and announced on cue. At St Mary’s on Thursday evening anyone wanting to ask their newly-elected MP a question – about anything – could raise their hand, probabaly wave it around a bit and hope to catch the eye of Keith Fryer, the convenor from Marlborough Churches together, who also chaired the hustings also in St Mary’s in the run-up to December’s election.
Just about everyone wanting to ask a question had their chance. Topics covered included some obvious issues such as the environment and climate change, immigration, building on flood plains, the proposed A303 tunnel project by Stonehenge, along with difficulties entountered by the visually impared when negotiating parked cars and other unwelcome obstacles on crowded pavements, adoption of hydrogen as a mainstream energy source for cars and buildings, and…. Boris – who actually is Boris? What’s he really like?
Other more specific issues were raised such as flooding in Wilcot, near to Pewsey, where we heard from a Wilcot resident that the sewer system couldn’t cope with the water coming off the land at times of heavy rainfall – an increasingly common phenomenon nowadays, and emergency trenches and barriers had to be dug in the village to divert water away from houses to prevent flooding.
A military question from a Tidworth resident raised a round of applause from the audience when he highlighted the issue of right of residency for former soldiers from Commonwealth countries. Those who had served in the UK forces for four or more years but found on leaving the miltary they had no rights to stay and in numerous cases were being deported.
Danny Kruger welcomed all comments and questions and stated that where possible issues would be raised with the appropriate departments and get followed up, but in each case asked that residents write to him first giving as much detail as possible so that each case could be addressed properly.
This is unlikely to be a one-off event. Danny expressed his belief in promoting a strong community and explained how he, along with Labour MP John Cruddace had been building a cross-party project looking at social infrastructure – “where are the youth centres, the libraries, the institutions that build community and give opportunity for people to go in our towns and villages”.
He raised the question to the audience of ‘how to engage?’, was this evening a useful experience? The feedback from the audience was enthusiastically positive so last Thursday’s session could become a regular event.