The Government’s planning white paper has been unveiled and I do urge everyone to look at it carefully and contribute to the consultation. Lots of people have very strong views about planning. It is a topic almost guaranteed to get the public hot under the collar.

There are ideas in the white paper I agree with but there are also some I am concerned about – particularly the lack of local community scrutiny if these proposals became law.

I very much like the commitment to build more affordable and green homes and to give discounts to local people. In the Meon Valley, house prices and a lack of affordable homes force young people to move away from their families. The ‘first homes scheme’ providing newly built homes at a 30% discount for local people, key workers and first-time buyers is a good idea.

A national developers’ charge to replace Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy to help build infrastructure, like schools and GP surgeries, is also a good idea and would streamline a complicated process.

The zonal aspect of the white paper with land divided into three categories – ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ or ‘protected’ has proved controversial. The protected areas would, it seems, safeguard areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt but I can clearly see problems with labelling of areas, how in practice it might work, who decides and how the community could have a meaningful say.

There are also fears over home quality if offices and shops can be converted without planning permission and I share those concerns.

This is why I ask everyone to get involved because this is a consultation – it is not set in stone. There is no doubt that, as a nation, we have not built enough houses for a long time and it’s clear the planning system needs reform. It is up to everyone, who has an interest to have their say to build a better system. You can respond on the website or email me directly.

Like most of the country I did not go abroad this year for my holiday. I certainly felt it was my duty to support our homegrown tourism and hospitality industries that have suffered dreadfully at the hands of the pandemic and, as it coincided with the early August heatwave, I couldn’t have asked for more. On a more serious note, getting out and supporting our shops, pubs and attractions is vital if they are to survive. As autumn is upon us, this is something I will continue to do in the Meon Valley.

Last week the government unveiled its £2 billion Kickstart programme to help young people into employment. I am very excited about this great initiative. Young people aged 16 to 24 claiming Universal Credit can receive a six-month work placement with their wages, National Insurance and pension for 25 hours a week paid by the government.

Employers can top up the wage and the government will also pay employers £1500 to set up support and training for Kickstarters.

There is no doubt young people have been hit very hard by the pandemic. I really hope local businesses get involved. If they need any advice on how to take part then they should get in touch with me.

Flick Drummond MP

Member of Parliament for Meon Valley