As the sun comes out to melt the last pockets of snow, I’d like to thank all the many people who helped out across High Peak in some of the worst conditions we have seen for several years. From our emergency services, transport staff and medical professionals to good neighbours who have all gone above and beyond to help those in need.
The drivers of our gritters and snow ploughs kept our roads open for as long as they could, and dug them open more quickly than many places that saw less snow.
And huge thanks must go to the farmers and truck owners who used their vehicles to help clear the roads, the 4×4 owners such as those in Peak Response who helped rescue people who were stranded, and everyone who helped to shovel snow.
In such extreme cold, it was only due to kind hearts and willing hands that more people didn’t suffer. It was a tribute to the Derbyshire grit and great community spirit that exists across High Peak.
But to those who thought cars that had to be abandoned in the snow were a good opportunity for looting – you should be ashamed of yourselves.
I was just able to get back home on Thursday afternoon thanks to the snow ploughs on the Buxton line, so I could conduct my meetings by phone on Friday and watch my children playing in the snow.
Being unable to get out for a couple of days makes us realise how much we rely on our cars, and that’s especially true for people who find it difficult to walk.
That’s why I was so saddened to hear at Work & Pensions Committee that 75,000 disabled people have had their Motability car taken away. For people with a disability or serious health condition, their car is a lifeline.
Thousands more disabled people have had to give up their cars as they can’t afford them after benefit cuts. Several local constituents have told me it is leading them to be even more isolated, and to have no chance of being able to find work.
I’m pressing for the many people who appeal against their benefit decision to be able to keep their Motability car until the appeal is decided. Most appeals are successful but they take months, and involve claimants having to travel to hearings and to seek advice so they need their car more than ever.
The Motability scheme makes millions and can afford it.
Most of us don’t mind being stuck inside for a day or two, but appreciate being able to get out in the sunshine afterwards. I want to make sure everyone can do so, especially if they need mobility support.