Robert Buckland MP and Justin Tomlinson MP Oppose Place Of Safety Removal From Sandalwood Court
Robert Buckland MP and Justin Tomliinson MP
Wed, 29/03/2017 - 16:36
Wednesday, 29 March, 2017

Robert Buckland MP and Justin Tomlinson MP have written to the Chief Executive of Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership to oppose Place of Safety Removal from Sandalwood Court in Swindon.


Dear Dr. Richards,

We write in response to the consultation on changes to Places of Safety.

We are incredibly disappointed to hear that Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership intends to close Swindon’s place of safety at Sandalwood Court.

As we are sure you are aware, one in four people suffer from mental ill health each year and, at a time when the Prime Minister has rightly said we need to ensure we treat both mental & physical health equally, it cannot be right that residents in need of urgent, specialist support will be asked to travel 40 minutes to Devizes.

Requiring a Place of Safety is, by definition, an urgent matter and in addition it is crucial that support is provided to the most vulnerable people in a place which is welcoming and close to family & friends. As constituency Members of Parliament, we know from our conversations with individuals who have required a Place of Safety just how vital they felt sites including Sandalwood Court were to their treatment and recovery.

Assessments are designed to be conducted in a way which allows the individual to feel most comfortable including, where possible, incorporating a clinician who is aware of any previous assessments. In removing the Place of Safety from Sandalwood Court, we fear you may inadvertently remove an individual’s access to a clinician they may know and trust, seriously harming that individual’s chance of receiving the most accurate assessment and most appropriate tailored support.

While it is welcome that you intend to increase overall capacity, when (according to AWP’s own data) more than one in four people seen under s.136 are then admitted to hospital, we cannot support a change which will likely see residents from Swindon transferred to Devizes to be seen at the Place of Safety, only to then be admitted and transferred back to Sandalwood Court. This cannot be clinically or financially sensible.

We fear that in proposing these changes you are also beginning the process toward closing Sandalwood Court and centralising all mental health services in Wiltshire.

In addition to this, there is a possibility that individuals detained under s.136 may need to be transported to a Place of Safety by police officers or ambulance staff. In moving an individual to the proposed Green Lane site, it is likely that on these occasions two Wiltshire Police officers or ambulance staff on duty in Swindon will have to transport the individual to Devizes and likely wait until an assessment has been carried out. This may prevent them from being able to continue frontline duties within the Borough.

In your consultation document, you also note the strong objections both of Swindon Borough Council and Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group. Located to the eastern edge and with a population of well in excess of 200,000, Swindon accounts for almost a third of the health economy area covered by AWP. As the largest single conurbation in the Trust area, surely the town is a prime location for at least one Place of Safety bed.

We would also like to highlight that neither key stakeholders nor I were given prior warning of this consultation, a fact which has caused great concern in Swindon. Like many of our constituents, we first read of the proposed changes in the Swindon Advertiser and were therefore unable to provide them with AWP’s rationale for any changes.

We trust that you will accept this letter as a response to the ongoing consultation and hope that you will be able to address the concerns we have raised.

Kind regards,


Justin Tomlinson MP                                                     Robert Buckland QC MP

Today, the Prime Minister made a Statement about the invoking of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The chamber was packed. I sat on a step at the back. None of us wanted to miss what has been a historic day in Parliament. The Prime Minister rose to the ocassion, speaking with dignity and seriousness. Regrettable others didn't. Anyway, here is her statement.

Today the Government acts on the democratic will of the British People. And it acts, too, on the clear and convincing position of this House.

A few minutes ago in Brussels, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the EU handed a letter to the President of the European Council on my behalf, confirming the Government’s decision to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.   

The Article 50 process is now underway. And in accordance with the wishes of the British People, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.

This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union. We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws. We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us. And we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain – a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home. 

That is our ambition and our opportunity.

That is what this Government is determined to do.

Mr Speaker,

At moments like these – great turning points in our national story – the choices we make define the character of our nation.

We can choose to say the task ahead is too great. We can choose to turn our face to the past and believe it can’t be done.

Or we can look forward with optimism and hope – and to believe in the enduring power of the British spirit.

Mr Speaker,

I choose to believe in Britain and that our best days lie ahead.

And I do so because I am confident that we have the vision and the plan to use this moment to build a better Britain.

For, leaving the European Union presents us with a unique opportunity. It is this generation’s chance to shape a brighter future for our country. A chance to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.

My answer is clear.

I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before.

I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country – a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead.

I want us to be a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.

That is why I have set out a clear and ambitious plan for the negotiations ahead.

It is a plan for a new deep and special partnership between Britain and the European Union. A partnership of values. A partnership of interests. A partnership based on cooperation in areas such as security and economic affairs.

And a partnership that works in the best interests of the United Kingdom, the European Union and the wider world.

Because perhaps now more than ever, the world needs the liberal, democratic values of Europe – values that this United Kingdom shares. And that is why, while we are leaving the institutions of the European Union, we are not leaving Europe. We will remain a close friend and ally. We will be a committed partner. We will play our part to ensure that Europe is able to project its values and defend itself from security threats. And we will do all that we can to help the European Union prosper and succeed.

So Mr Speaker, in the letter that has been delivered to President Tusk today – copies of which I have placed in the library of the House – I have been clear that the deep and special partnership we seek is in the best interests of the United Kingdom and of the European Union too.

I have been clear that we will work constructively – in a spirit of sincere cooperation – to bring this partnership into being.

And I have been clear that we should seek to agree the terms of this future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal, within the next two years.

I am ambitious for Britain. And the objectives I have set out for these negotiations remain.

We will deliver certainty wherever possible so that business, the public sector and everybody else has as much clarity as we can provide as we move through the process. It is why, tomorrow, we will publish a White Paper confirming our plans to convert the ‘acquis’ into British law, so that everyone will know where they stand. And it is why I have been clear that the Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force.

We will take control of our own laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. Leaving the European Union will mean that our laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. And those laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg, but in courts across this country.

We will strengthen the Union of the four nations that comprise our United Kingdom. We will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK. When it comes to the powers that we will take back from Europe, we will consult fully on which powers should reside in Westminster and which should be passed on to the Devolved Administrations.

But Mr Speaker, no decisions currently taken by the Devolved Administrations will be removed from them. And it is the expectation of the Government that the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will see a significant increase in their decision-making power as a result of this process.

We want to maintain the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland. There should be no return to the borders of the past.

We will control immigration so that we continue to attract the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain, but manage the process properly so that our immigration system serves the national interest. 

We seek to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states as early as we can. This is set out very clearly in the letter as an early priority for the talks ahead.

We will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained. Indeed, under my leadership, not only will the Government protect the rights of workers, we will build on them.

We will pursue a bold and ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union that allows for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU’s member states; that gives British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets; and that lets European businesses do the same in Britain.

Because European Leaders have said many times that we cannot ‘cherry pick’ and remain members of the Single Market without accepting the four freedoms that are indivisible. We respect that position. And as accepting those freedoms is incompatible with the democratically expressed will of the British People, we will no longer be members of the Single Market.

We are going to make sure that we can strike trade agreements with countries from outside the European Union too. Because important though our trade with the EU is and will remain, it is clear that the UK needs to increase significantly its trade with the fastest growing export markets in the world.

We hope to continue to collaborate with our European partners in the areas of science, education, research and technology, so that the UK is one of the best places for science and innovation.

We seek continued cooperation with our European partners in important areas such as crime, terrorism and foreign affairs.

And it is our aim to deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit – reaching an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded, then moving into a phased process of implementation in which Britain, the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us.

Mr Speaker,

We understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU. We know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We know that UK companies that trade with the EU will have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part, just as we do in other overseas markets. We accept that.  

However, we approach these talks constructively, respectfully, and in a spirit of sincere cooperation.

For it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use this process to deliver our objectives in a fair and orderly manner. It is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that there should be as little disruption as possible. And it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that Europe should remain strong, prosperous and capable of projecting its values in the world.

At a time when the growth of global trade is slowing and there are signs that protectionist instincts are on the rise in many parts of the world, Europe has a responsibility to stand up for free trade in the interests of all our citizens. 

With Europe’s security more fragile today than at any time since the end of the Cold War, weakening our cooperation and failing to stand up for European values would be a costly mistake.

Our vote to leave the EU was no rejection of the values that we share as fellow Europeans.

As a European country, we will continue to play our part in promoting and supporting those values – during the negotiations and once they are done.

We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to continue to buy goods and services from the EU, and sell them ours. We want to trade with them as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship. Indeed, in an increasingly unstable world, we must continue to forge the closest possible security co-operation to keep our people safe. We face the same global threats from terrorism and extremism. That message was only reinforced by the abhorrent attack on Westminster Bridge and this Place last week.

So there should be no reason why we should not agree a new deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU that works for us all.

Mr Speaker,

I know that this is a day of celebration for some and disappointment for others. The referendum last June was divisive at times. Not everyone shared the same point of view, or voted in the same way. The arguments on both side were passionate.

But, Mr Speaker, when I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom – young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between.

And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home.

It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.

For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can - and must - bring us together.

We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed.

We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. We all want to live in a truly Global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world. 

These are the ambitions of this Government’s Plan for Britain. Ambitions that unite us, so that we are no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result.

We are one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.

And now that the decision to leave has been made – and the process is underway – it is time to come together.

For this great national moment needs a great national effort. An effort to shape a brighter future for Britain.

So let us do so together.

Let us come together and work together.

And let us together choose to believe in Britain with optimism and hope.

For if we do, we can together make the most of the opportunities ahead.

We can together make a success of this moment.

And we can together build a stronger, fairer, better Britain – a Britain our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.

And I commend this statement to the House.

Some said the pound would tumble more when we sent the letter.

Instead this week in the run up to its delivery the pound has remained fairly steady at around $1.24 and Euro 1.15, above the lows of October last year when the pound reached $1.20 and 1.10 Euros. The cut in UK interest rates last summer and the rises in US interest rates have of course led   to a stronger dollar. The world’s leading currency has also risen strongly against the yen and the Euro.

The pound hit an all time low against the Euro of 1.04 in December 2008 when we were firmly in the EU  and is now 10% above that.  It is also well above its all time low against the dollar.

What happens next?

Here is a potential timeline of events.
  • 29 March, 2017 - UK triggers Article 50
  • 29 April - EU summit of the 27 leaders (without the UK) to agree to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate with the UK
  • May - European Commission to publish negotiating guidelines based on the mandate the EU leaders give it. The EU might say something about possible parallel negotiation on a future EU-UK trade deal
  • May/June 2017 - Negotiations begin
  • 23 April and 7 May - French presidential elections 
  • 24 September - German parliamentary elections
  • Autumn 2017 - The UK government is expected to introduce legislation to leave the EU and put all existing EU laws into British law - the Great Repeal Bill 
  • October 2018 - Aim to complete negotiations
  • Between October 2018 and March 2019 - The Houses of Parliament, European Council and European Parliament vote on any deal
  • March 2019 - UK formally withdraws from the European Union (The Article 50 negotiations could be extended, but this is subject to the approval of the other 27 EU member states)

The detailed version of this is from the BBC
The PM will have delivered the letter today and will at 12:30 make a statement on the issue to the House of Commons after Prime Ministers Questions.

Throughout my time in politics, I've campaigned for a liberal Brexit. Today, the Prime Minister is making it happen by triggering Article 50 – and I couldn't be happier.

As a founding member of Vote Leave, I'm heartened that the government has opted for our vision of Brexit: taking back control from the supranational regulatory system misleadingly referred to as the single market, and embracing free trade, outside the EU's protectionist customs union.

The government is right to be ambitious about the trade deal it will now negotiate with the EU. For all the tough talk from top Eurocrats, the key figure in the negotiations will be the German Chancellor, who will take a much more pragmatic approach.

Crucially, Theresa May has made clear that she is prepared to leave without a deal. She mustn't waver on that. Not just because trade on WTO terms is workable – after all, facilitating trade is the entire purpose of the WTO. But because being prepared to take a deal at any price will result in a bad deal. David Cameron proved that last year.

But Brexit isn't just about our future relationship with the EU. It's also about the kind of society we want. Restoring parliamentary sovereignty means giving voters a say over policy that they have been denied for decades. Power is returning to the British people.

So cheer up! Democracy is coming home.

From my daily briefing: Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will trigger Article 50: delivering on the verdict of the British people to leave the European Union. We stand on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain as we begin the negotiations that will lead us towards a new partnership with Europe. The referendum vote last June was about something more than simply leaving the European Union. It was a vote for change: to make Britain stronger and fairer – restoring […]

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