Mims' Weekly Column in the Eastleigh Times

Last week started with an important message as I joined with millions of others around the world to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the Samaritans, in 2015 there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland. While this year suicide rates hit a 30 year low, just one person feeling they have no option other than to take their own life is one person too many, and I will continue to use my position as your local MP to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.

A reminder that even those who appear strongest from the outside can be the most fragile on the inside. Therefore, I would urge you to look out for your neighbours, start up a conversation with the stranger that you actually see most days. Make sure that those closest to you know that your door is always open…it could just make a difference…it could just save a life!

Something that Eastleigh residents were busily sharing among themselves last week was positive news that at the end of August Eastleigh had been rated as the 8th best place in the country to raise a family thanks to the excellent local schools and colleges, low crime rate and plenty of nearby green spaces! As Eastleigh’s MP I regularly celebrate why our area is such an amazing place to live, work and raise a family, and it’s truly great to see it recognised in this national report.

I am, however, also very aware of some of the growing challenges that all of us face locally, whether this be protecting and valuing our green spaces or improving on creaking local infrastructure! The second point was rightly highlighted by the National Infrastructure Commission last week in their report setting out how the Solent is the 4th worst area of England for traffic jams outside of London. I contributed to this report on behalf of constituents as these concerns continue to fill my postbag.

I again raised delivery for us locally when I met with bosses from Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and again shared with them why tackling the endless queues on our local roads is crucial to both supporting jobs and improving mental health. I’m looking forward to meeting with the Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission later this year, and will be making the case for significant infrastructure improvements in the Solent area, and particularly here in Eastleigh.

Finally for this week, as you will all know, I am really passionate about protecting and preserving the natural environment around us for future generations. I was therefore really delighted that in celebration of the recent changes to planning guidance-NPPF- which I campaigned for during my time as Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees -  a tree has been planted in my name by the Woodland Trust…here’s hoping it’s an ancient of the future! We are blessed to have so much incredible ancient woodland in our part of the world, and I hope that Eastleigh Borough Council will finally take this into account as they plan the future of our borough.

Wishing you all an enjoyable weekend...it’s the last weekend of the amazing Southampton Boat Show so if you get a chance be sure to get along and enjoy this brilliant event on our doorsteps!