Encouraging news this week as the number of new positive COVID cases appears to be growing less quickly across the UK. Whilst the virus is still a threat we live with, we can at least be cautiously optimistic and it is encouraging to see that the effect of the vaccines is hugely reduced risk of hospitalisation and death for all age groups so please do go and get yourself jabbed if you haven’t already.
I think a lot of people thought that the Olympics this year would not really capture the nation’s imagination but that could not have been more wrong. Stories such as how Adam Peaty trained when the swimming pools were closed are so inspirational, and the women's team Gymnastics medal was a superb achievement. Hopefully our Team GB members from Somerset can all come back with medals, so good luck especially to Brodie Williams, Laura Gallagher and Maddie Hinch; we’ll be cheering you on.
Last week ended with the welcome news that the Government is supporting the One Somerset model of local Government reorganisation. On the back of this I spoke in the House of Commons chamber on how we can make the most of this fantastic opportunity to improve economic development, place-making, planning, service delivery and value for money for local residents. I was very glad to hear the Leader of the House welcome my suggestion for a debate as to how all parties can now come together to implement this change in the most expeditious way to transform outcomes positively for local people and I look forward to getting this work underway.
I was also keen to explore the way in which a range of interlocking opportunities for levelling up require joint working between agencies and how having this new single voice for Somerset can unite all of the work that’s gone on, whether it be through the Local Enterprise Partnership, regeneration, the county plan and priorities, the local industrial strategy, or the skills agenda. The news that the Levelling Up White Paper later this year will lay the groundwork for equal opportunity for regions when it comes to bidding for funding and support is certainly a step in the right direction and I am excited to see how we in Yeovil constituency can make the most of these opportunities moving forward.
This week I have written to the Prime Minister about support for children with Special Educational Needs and their families during the pandemic. I have raised the issue before and will continue to do so. While the Government’s commitment to the delivery of these vital services has been clear, I am still in touch with despairing parents regarding school placements and the day-to-day practicalities and it is clear necessary funding and measures have not matched up for many families. Whilst measures like the Government’s new national strategy on autism are a good start, more needs to be done straightaway. Any conversation around building back better is a nonsense if we do not do more to help our children who most need some extra help.
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 email@example.com