Monday saw the lifting of most legal Coronavirus related restrictions in England and marked an important step forward in our return to normal life. This unlocking does not mean Covid is no longer a threat but we cannot remain in lockdown forever and the success of our vaccine programme makes it very substantially less of one. Summer is the best time to move forward and every adult in the UK has been offered a first dose of a vaccine, with over 88% having received it. There are big health costs to extending restrictions, both from delays to surgery, late diagnoses and lack of access to GPs, and from physical and mental health harms due to the economic and social disruption.
Some people are concerned about the prospect of easing restrictions and their sensitivities need to be respected. I encourage everyone to act sensibly and considerately; for example getting the jab as soon as offered and taking a face covering if visiting a care home or hospital, or on crowded public transport.
Having spoken to the Government a lot about it over the last year, I was pleased to hear the announcement last week of a new strategy to help pubs, bars and restaurants. The strategy sets out measures including highlighting opportunities in the hospitality industry to jobseekers through DWP’s dedicated work coaches and helping the sector address current recruitment challenges. This comes on top of the Government’s £352 billion package of business support and I look forward to working closely with ministers to getting our local hospitality industry back to its very best with guidance that is not too onerous.
On that note you may want to try the Cotley Inn in Wambrook, which has just won Best Pub in the South West in the Countryside Alliance awards. Well done to Maddie and Ben there who do a brilliant job. I am looking forward to returning soon.
Over the weekend the Government announced a new eight-week consultation to inform future policy on extending our world-leading elephant ivory ban to other species. It’s an issue a lot of local people have contacted me about over the last few years. The proposals would see the UK’s landmark Ivory Act, which will bring in a near-total ban on the import, export and dealing of items containing elephant ivory in the UK when it comes into effect, extended to other ivory-bearing species such as hippos, walruses and killer whales. To have your say the consultation can be found online at:
It is also potentially great news for us here that the Government will commit £375 million of funding to fast-growing, innovative and R&D intensive firms looking to raise at least £30 million investment under the UK-wide Future Fund: Breakthrough scheme. Support like this to grow businesses that can add jobs is something I have lobbied for and I hope it will help commercialise breakthrough products like new transport, environmental and medical technologies which might otherwise struggle to bridge the gap between idea and scaled implementation and be tempted to go abroad.
As always, if I can be of help or if you would like to contact me on any of these issues please do call 01935314321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org