John Whittingdale has recently become Patron of Home Start Maldon, a charity offering support to young families.

Active throughout the Maldon District, Home Start's volunteers provide free support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under five. Families are visited regularly in their own homes by volunteers who have ass had experience of parenting, and knoww how hard it can be. Home Start has recently been successful in obtaining major funding from the Ntional Lottery to enable it to extend its work in the District. Pictured here, John Whittingdale recently met the Chairman and some of the staff at their office in St Cedd's House.

John Whittingdale received a petition of over 400 signatures from Mrs Jacqueline Yaxley, proprietor of Jabberwocky in Maldon High Street. The petition called on the Royal Mail to retain the existing collecting box in the High Street , which was closed when the Post Office was relocated to the rear of Budgens. John Whittingdlae has sent the petition to the Chief Executive of Royal Mail urging him to reopen the Collecting Box and has received a response saying that the Royal Mail are carrying out a feasibility study to see if a Postbox can be placed in the High Street outside Budgens. John Whittingdale said;

"I welcome the fact that Royal Mail are looking again at the possibility of keeping a Collecting Box in the High Street. This is undoubtedly preferable to the existing position of a box at the rear of Budgens where it is only accessible when the store is open. However, I do not see why it is necessary to move it from one side of the street to the other. I will also be seeking assurances that the existing Post Box will be either retained or replaced with one of similar design which is keeping with the historic nature of our High Street."

UPDATE

Since receipt of the petition, the Post Box in the High Street has been reopened and is now functioning again. John Whittingdale said: "I am delighted that the Post Office has listened to the views of local residents and that common sense has prevailed."

John Whittingdale was among the local dignitaries who greeted Princess Anne on her recent visit to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham on Crouch.

HRH Princess Anne was attending the Classic Yacht Regatta which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Royal Corinthian One Design yacht.
Among those also pictured are Mr Martin Makey, Commodore of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, and Mrs Makey, Cllr Mrs Julia Peel, Chairman of the Maldon District Council, Cllr Rodney Bass, Christopher Manning-Press, Chairman of Essex County Council and Mrs Manning-Press, and Mrs Jenny Tolhurst, High Sheriff of Essex and Mr Philip Tolhurst.

John Whittingdale MP awards prizes for a children’s photographic contest at the Burnham Museum.

The children took part in a contest, organized by the Burnham and Dengie Focus Group, to take photos of their favourite places in the Dengie Hundred. The contest formed part of the feedback process for the groups consultation on the area’s future needs. Mr. Whittingdale presented Lewis Norman, eight, with the top prize for his photo of conker trees on Burnham marshes. The winning photo will now be displayed in the museum.

 

John Whittingdale supported a demonstration by local residents outside Budgens in Maldon High Street campaigning to save Maldon's Post Office, Budgens is due to close at the end of March and with it, the Post Office. John Whittingdale is shown with County Councillor Brian Mead, Cllr Steven Savage and protest organiser, Kirsty O'Callaghan, together with local residents. Statement by John Whittingdale OBE MP Member of Parliament for Maldon and East Chelmsford I am horrified to learn of the impending closure of the Budgens store in Maldon High Street at the end of March, and with it, the loss of the Maldon Post Office. At the time of its relocation to Budgens in July 2006, I was given explicit assurances by the Post Office that Budgens were making a significant financial investment into the franchise partnership and that this relocation "will further safeguard main Post Office services in Maldon into the longer-term future". Yet it now appears that Budgens have been seeking to withdraw from Maldon for the past two years. It is wholly unacceptable that Maldon should be left without a main Branch Post Office located in the High Street. If an alternative franchise holder cannot be found in time then the Post Office should reopen their original office. Anything less would be a betrayal of the undertakings given to me and to the people of Maldon less than two years ago. I strongly assured at the time that it would safeguard post office services in Maldon into the longer-term future. I accept that this latest development is not the fault of the Post Office and I note that they are considering legal action against Budgens for breach of contract. However, it does vindicate those of us who originally expressed concern at the loss of the Post Office’s own premises. I therefore convened a meeting at Westminster with Post Office management and representatives of the County Council, District Council, Town Council and Postwatch. This proved constructive and I hope has identified a way forward.

The Post Office make clear that they are committed to a long-term presence in Maldon High Street and they will shortly begin advertising for a new franchise holder. Unfortunately, the option of moving back into the old building is not available as it has been sold and the new owners are not interested. The Post Office also intend to establish a sub-post office in the High Street as a temporary solution until a new location can be found. A sub-postmaster has been found to take this on and it is hoped to find premises shortly. Unfortunately, this will still leave a gap between the closure of the existing Post office on 19 March and the establishment of the temporary solution. I have made clear that I regard any break of service as unacceptable and we are therefore seeking to find a way of providing a basic level to ensure continuity. One possibility is for the District council to take this on and this option is urgently being explored. It may also be possible to provide free transport to the sub-post offices in Heybridge and in Washington Road. I very much regret the disruption and inconvenience which is bound to be caused. However, I and the District Council are working with the Post Office to ensure that this is kept to a minimum and I am hopeful that a satisfactory outcome can be found.'