This week MPs are on a shortened Easter recess. Even this has divided opinion in these challenging political times but for many of us it is the first proper chance to spend time with family and catch up on work in our constituencies since Christmas. I don’t agree with some MPs who are courting sympathy at this time – you don’t stand for election hoping for an easy ride, but I do think decisions are best made in a calm frame of mind and this week away from Westminster may help with that. On that note, thanks to everyone who has written to me with messages of support over the past few weeks, it’s much appreciated.
I almost couldn’t have hoped for better news to end the term than to hear that Yeovil College’s application to be part of an Institute of Technology has been successful. The package titled South West Institute of Future Technologies (SWIFT) means for Yeovil around £2.2million for investment in digital infrastructure, new nursing courses and delivery of a core curriculum including aero engineering in partnership with local employers. Upgrading our local skills development has been a big priority for me so I am really pleased our joint work lobbying the Government for a local Institute of Technology and demonstrating why the South West is such a good fit for programmes like this is paying off.
A theme my neighbouring colleagues and I often come back to is raising the profile of the South West with the Government after many years of underinvestment. We’ve had several successes in that such as the A303 dualling project, but an unexpected mention came recently when Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, a Devon MP, discussed poetry with the BBC’s Nick Robinson and described T.S. Eliot as ‘The greatest poet of the 20th century without any doubt’. Those who know his poetry and know his ashes are interred in St Michael’s in East Coker may realise how this links our area to the whole world in a truly unique way. Mr Robinson made a rather laboured joke about the opening line of The Waste Land being ‘April is the cruellest month’, but in a sense I hope his reference is correct and that the tone of our national discourse can become more constructive in the coming months.
It was tragic to see the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral this week. At time of writing the full extent of the damage is unclear but it looks bad and the images of the spire collapsing were particularly sad. The survival of one of the magnificent stained glass Rosaces may well have been a miracle. It seems a restoration project had just begun there and it is a stark reminder of how important our culture and heritage is and just how irreplaceable. The cornerstone of Notre-Dame was laid in 1163 and yet it seemed a stunning achievement by today’s standards. I hope the fire encourages a redoubling of efforts to maintain and preserve important parts of our heritage both here and overseas.
Apart from the long Easter weekend my office is open throughout the holiday so please get in touch if you would like to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries, if you have a local issue you would like help with or if you would like to share your thoughts. You can call 01935314321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.