Since the Spring, when all of our lives changed so profoundly, I and my team have helped many thousands of constituents. We have supported many businesses in getting back on their feet, as well as many individuals who have lost their jobs, or face an uncertain future on furlough, or find the conditions of work, with masks and visors, difficult to manage. From stopping evictions to securing urgent cancer treatment, it has been a time when it has been possible to make a huge difference to so many lives. While this is the quietest part of an MP’s job, it is undoubtedly the most important. While I may not be able to solve every situation, I and my team do our very best to help.
This direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our community has been very much at the forefront of my mind over the last week as the national lockdown has been debated. In the House of Commons I voted to support it. I did not take this decision lightly.
But the bottom line is that the second national lockdown had to happen, and that is why all major political parties voted in favour of it. With the winter months ahead, urgent and decisive action was needed to bring down the infection rate. As the Prime Minister explained in Parliament, ‘we simply cannot reach the point where our National Health Service is no longer there for everyone’.
There are some important changes from March. I welcome the decision to keep schools and colleges open. It is vital for the future prospects and opportunities of our young people that their education continues to the greatest extent possible.
Essential medical treatment continues. So do take medical advice and continue to book and attend hospital appointments or contact your GP.
While it may be a little bracing on these winter days, there is no time limit on outdoor exercise, as there was earlier in the year. Constituents have written to me with disappointment at the decision to close exercise centres – including gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, leisure centres and sports clubs – and I have made representations on this issue.
By far the largest number of concerns raised with me have been on collective worship. Faith is spiritual and vital, and our religious freedoms are hard-fought. I have asked the Prime Minister for his ministerial team to work with church leaders to explore what action can be taken to ensure that churches can re-open for collective worship as soon as possible.
Whether it be churches, golf, business loans, welfare payments or access to health treatment, I will continue to represent and stand up for the very real concerns held by residents here in Dover & Deal, and in our coastal and rural villages. Please continue to follow the new rules to keep yourselves and each other safe.