The lockdown looks set to start to ease a little over the coming weeks but we must remain vigilant – as the risk from the virus remains very real.
Each of us will have the things we are looking forward to doing again. Catching up with neighbours and friends over a cup of tea instead of a chance meeting two metres away on the country walk may be a little while off. But with many taking the opportunity of being at home to catch up on some spring cleaning, painting, gardening or doing up the kitchen, the store openings of the likes of B&Q and garden centres will be welcome. I am looking forward to our churches and local businesses being re-opened as soon as it is safe to do so.
A consequence of being at home more is increased rubbish. For some households it is really building up. I have been calling on Kent County Council to reopen the main recycling centres as soon as possible.
In our area we are good at using recycling facilities to avoid landfill. I want us to carry on being a beacon of recycling – which will be such an important part of meeting the climate challenge. I have also asked the County Council to consider re-use facilities at waste sites, allowing people to look at and take away cabinets and similar goods that are in good condition but simply unloved furniture now.
Schools have started again, using remote learning. Parliament also returned this week in a ‘hybrid’ chamber, with remote working including some MPs taking part on large screens using meeting conference facility ‘Zoom’, meaning a rich array of floral curtains, abstract paintings and bookshelves to complement Parliament’s historic architecture.
While Parliament itself has terms like schools for the passing of legislation and debates, the work of an MP is throughout the year. This last week has been somewhat dominated by the fight for the Port and ferry companies. With passenger and cruise businesses completely closed and freight activities reduced, it is very tough indeed for the port industry on which thousands of local jobs rely. That’s why I have been holding talks with unions and P&O, as well as making the case to transport ministers and the Chancellor for support for these vital industries. The short sea route between France and Dover is a critical one, responsible for around one sixth of the entire trade of the nation.
Me and my team are still working from dawn to dusk, receiving unprecedented levels of requests for help. I am pleased to report many successes helping local businesses and organisations access government grants and other support, and helping get people home from overseas and supporting people to access to furlough and benefit schemes.
This is an incredibly difficult time, but together we will get through it. If you think me and my team can help you, please do get in touch.