It’s election day for the new Unitary Authority that will replace the District Councils and County Council in Somerset. As I always say, however you choose to vote, please do go and have your say. The whole democratic process is still one we should cherish and the war in Ukraine just goes to show how fragile a system of peaceful Government can be.
Local elections have lower turnout than national ones which is a shame. Over the last several years there has been a healthy emphasis on empowering people to make decisions that affect their local area so the more people that get involved the better.
Too much of the campaigning in local elections is based around things that they won’t change. You are not voting on national matters or personalities. It’s about who will do the best job of working with our local MPs and national Government to achieve positive change in Somerset, including in important local services like planning and place making so as to get the right homes in the right places. It's about who we want to safeguard our children, and about who will deliver value for money with accountability as to how your council tax is spent and keep your council tax as low as possible during this time of pressure on the cost of living. It’s about who can deliver on getting the most transformative impact out of big projects like the A303 dualling and commitment to levelling up and the revival of our towns and villages.
More influence and resources for local input to these processes via Parish and Town Councils and other community groups are a key part of the plans I support. Delivering on that vision is something I desperately hope I will be able to continue in the coming months and years.
On Friday of last week I had one of my regular meetings with staff at Leonardo and it was a real pleasure to hear from some of the apprentices and recent graduates about what working for the company means to them. Leonardo’s role in inspiring young people locally is massive and of course also creates lots of great jobs in other related companies. I am still pushing for the Government to choose the AW149 to meet the medium lift requirement I helped get into the Defence Review and for decisions to be made sooner rather than later. To have a helicopter designed and built in the UK that can be exported all over the world is a massive opportunity that no other company can match. Also, should you ever get a chance to go in their flight simulator I would highly recommend it!
My team and I have been trying to help with a number of passport and visa issues in the last couple of weeks. Clearly the Home Office has been under some pressure processing visas for refugees from Ukraine but I hear loads of positive stories about how efficient this has been too, and resources are being increased in both areas. In the meantime we will keep trying to resolve any urgent problems.
As always, if I can be of any help with a local issue or if you would like to make an appointment to see me please do email email@example.com or call 01935314321