Boris Johnson brings horror story - and spending pledge - to Bury St Edmunds
PUBLISHED: 18:15 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:15 31 October 2019
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited a Suffolk primary school during the first full day of campaigning for the 2019 General Election - promising to spend money on roads and broadband in the county.
And while he had a Halloween horror story to tell the children at Bury St Edmunds' Abbotts Green Primary Academy, it was about what happened in London hundreds of years ago - nothing to do with dying in a ditch as the Brexit deadline passed! When asked why he started his campaign in a safe Conservative seat like Bury St Edmunds,and Mr Johnson said: "Because I'm seldom far away from Suffolk! I heard it was a great school and because Jo Churchill, the local MP, told me it had a great reputation and I should get up here and talk to the teachers and pupils."
He promised to open the Treasury's cheque book with a promise that Suffolk would see improvements in the future.
Upgrading the A14: Improving the road through the county should be a "top priority," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during his visit to Suffolk.
He said: "I will make sure it is a top priority for (Transport Secretary) Grant Shapps and our transport team. We are putting a huge amount into transport infrastructure. We are going to have an infrastructure revolution on the roads.
"We believe in mass transport with buses and with rail but you also have to do things for people in rural areas who depend completely on private vehicles."
Mr Johnson said he and Chancellor the Exchequer Sajid Javid were planning to borrow money which was available a very low interest rates.
Improving broadband and other links in rural areas: If re-elected Mr Johnson planned to improve broadband and mobile coverage for areas like Suffolk - ironically he was speaking from an area that had poor mobile coverage from some networks.
And he linked this to other forms of connectivity: "It is about a good rural bus network and full fibre gigabyte broadband so you can have confidence that if you start up in business in rural Suffolk you have got great broadband.
"We have got a £5bn programme for full gigabyte broadband by 2025."
Missing the Brexit deadline: Mr Johnson admitted he was disappointed not to be leaving the EU on October 31: "My anxiety is that if you have more delay, you have more uncertainty and that's not good for business. You have people wondering what is going to happen and you have this sense that Brexit is just going to go on and on - so that is why we have to have an election."
Allowing EU workers in agriculture: Mr Johnson was asked what he could do to reassure farmers about their access to EU workers after Brexit. He said: "We want to make sure that every business, every sector in this country has access to the talented workers it needs and agriculture is crucial for this part of the world.
"We need to make sure we have a very open and generous system so what we want is an Australian-style system, a points based system so businesses, farms, that need seasonal workers can easily get them."
The Prime Minister arrived in Bury after visiting Cambridge and before heading on to new police facilities in London.
Mrs Churchill was unable to join him because of Parliamentary business but she said: "I am delighted that the Prime Minister visited East Anglia and our wonderful constituency of Bury St Edmunds, with the message of more investment in our NHS and schools.
"I have consistently challenged ministers to treat Suffolk fairly when it comes to funding for our schools, infrastructure and local services. I am therefore thrilled the PM has heard my request and is committing a future Conservative government to a new hospital for Bury St Edmunds and fairer funding for our schools."
Abbots Green Primary Academy is a relatively new school on the eastern side of Bury St Edmunds and it is still growing rapidly - new classrooms are currently being built to allow its capacity to go up from the current 453 pupils to about 500 by next September.
During his visit, he was told that there was a need for a fairer funding formula for schools in shire counties like Suffolk which get much less per pupil than schools in large cities and major built-up areas.