In these unusual times we are all missing things that we very recently took for granted about the British summer. I know for a lot of people the tennis at Wimbledon marks the start of summer, often with the usual mixed weather, and that has been a big loss. However, I loved being at Broadway and Horton Cricket Club last week even if it could not be to watch or play on this occasion, and want to thank them very much for such a warm welcome. The benefits of exercise and being outdoors have been a source of strength to many over the last few months and being at a cricket club was a real joy for me. They are looking at getting some new practice nets so I was helping them think through funding options and I can’t wait to go back and see those in action.
I had encouraging visits to the town centres in Chard and Crewkerne too and it was great to see local people and businesses taking steps to getting things back to normal. Holyrood Street in Chard needs to reopen though as the closure has caused a dramatic drop in footfall and may lead some to question whether the town itself is open. I can understand that social distancing measures create their own challenges but because of deliveries, access for people with disabilities and numbers of shoppers in general being manageable I have asked the District Council and partners to review this as soon as possible.
This weekend marks the relaxation of some of the restrictions we have all been living with and I would encourage people to read the FAQ section of the Government website. It will not have escaped everyone’s notice that pubs and restaurants will be starting to reopen from this weekend. I know there are some concerns that spirits may run a little high but in general I would say let’s be sensible and I hope those of you heading out have a great time!
This week I had meetings with Government Ministers about the discussions around merits of moving to a unitary council authority and also next steps for our digital infrastructure. One of the really clear messages of this 2020 so far is that we can be flexible, many people can work at home and take the pressure off our roads and public transport and help the environment, but we need faster and more reliable broadband.
The Government has announced this week the establishment of a Trade and Agriculture Commission to make recommendations about ways to achieve standards and competitiveness goals in trade. We have always been committed to high standards both on safety and welfare, as well as to supporting our farmers in a variety of ways. Many parts of the EU from which we currently import operate to lower standards as well as receiving unfair subsidy, and new potential partners often have standards that are in reality at least as good as ours, so I hope the new Commission will look at these matters properly in the round. A big part of our overall focus will be letting our friends and partners overseas know about all the brilliant things we grow and make in the UK and I will of course champion Somerset's interests in that in particular.
As always, if I can be of any help please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01935314321.