Parliament is in recess now for a few weeks and despite what some may try to claim, it is certainly not a time of ‘swanning off’. Most importantly it’s a time when MPs can actually be at home in their constituencies, catching up on meetings, helping with people’s problems and listening to local views. I don’t underestimate how vital the last of those is, taking the time to talk to people, hearing what matters in our communities and then taking those issues back to Westminster. Because of various political pressures MPs have not been able to be in their constituencies as much as they would have liked and, I don’t mind saying, it’s great to be home.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is proposing a reconfiguration of how they work and I would encourage anyone interested to look at their website. The shift would be to a more flexible response pattern but would mean fewer manned stations. I have spoken to various fire officers and there are some concerns. I am also writing to some local institutions such as Yeovil Hospital and Yeovil College, and Leonardo, to encourage them to get involved in the consultation, as it seems to me there are questions about service to taller buildings from the proposed configuration that need to be highlighted. It runs until the 22nd September and there are drop in sessions including one in Yeovil Library on the afternoon of the 28th August. Whatever your thoughts on the proposed changes, let’s not forget to take this opportunity to thank our firefighters for the incredibly brave job they do.
On Tuesday I was onsite with Highways England to look at the new Ilminster Bypass safety measures. When the road is all dual carriageway it should be a lot safer but in the meantime better visibility on the road will reduce the kind of errors that lead to the awful collisions that we have seen too many of. What I can say for sure is that a great deal of thought and analysis has gone into making this section of road safer and having pressed for the changes and followed the process over a few years I am positive about this coming forward and will be keen to monitor driver behaviour and pass feedback to Highways England.
We have had a lot of changes in key Government positions which means a new set of Ministers and a great opportunity for MPs to put in front of them the issues that matter to their constituents. I am looking forward to working with the new Defence team on the Puma replacement and unmanned rotary wing projects. Getting more funding for rural schools is still a priority and the Prime Minister has already signalled that he wants to address this. There will be a renewed focus on social care and health and I want to make sure that our experts in Somerset are well represented in that. I am also looking at the possibility of having our patch designated as an Enterprise Zone which has lots of advantages for local businesses. Government continues throughout the summer and there is no time to waste.