In addition to the big stories in Parliament this week there are some positive and interesting
initiatives happening to raise awareness of issues that affect more people than we may at first
realise. It is Loneliness Awareness Week which sees a number of charities and other organisations
come together to promote ideas for helping older people in particular or anyone separated from
friends and family. Initiatives like tea afternoons are brilliant and we can also all make a small
difference by checking in on a neighbour, maybe offering to help with shopping or just generally
being there for a chat. If you would like any advice on getting involved please do contact my office.
There is also a push on awareness and support for children with autism following a survey by the
Times Educational Supplement (TES) which said that teachers would welcome more training to
identify early signs of autism which could potentially led to life changing interventions. I have
organised a meeting next week for the Education All Party Parliamentary Group to meet with the
Children’s Minister to discuss Special Educational Needs issues and this will be high on the agenda. In
fact lots is being done to raise awareness and outcomes but I know form the many parents I am in
touch with about SEN provision that we have a long way to go. I will keep making the case for more
understanding and support for both the children and their families.
It is crucial we make progress on security and prosperity in the island of Ireland by upholding the
Belfast Good Friday Agreement and enabling power sharing under it, and it is right that the
Government is taking action.
The EU is obliged under the Northern Ireland Protocol to evolve or supersede its terms and
implementation to promote the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, not just the North
South strand it chose to try to make it about. This means dealing with issues we have raised that
would enable the UK's internal market and East West and community relations to function smoothly,
which as the Protocol foreshadowed always needed to be done with further, appropriate detail.
If the EU and its member states won’t act in good faith in a timely manner on this - and the limited
elements they have proposed and intransigence otherwise are not appropriate to the task - then we
have no choice but to do so ourselves. What we are proposing is a very reasonable evolution of the
Protocol that will maintain integrity of the EU's single market, North-South and all community
relations. We will continue to try to negotiate its implementation via the Joint Committee set up by
the Protocol, but the Good Friday Agreement and power sharing under it are definitely in grave peril
if we don't do what we can ourselves now.
Finally and more locally, huge congratulations to the team at The Cotley Inn in Wambrook which has
been rated as the country’s best pub by Visit England. It is a wonderful spot and I would thoroughly
recommend a trip. It is by no means alone though and spreading the word about our amazing West
Country produce and experience is something I am in constant touch with the Government about.
The Government’s new Food Strategy is good news and support for our farmers but I would like to
see more done to support exports and marketing.
As always, if you would like to get in touch or if I can help with a local issue please do call
01935314321 or email me at email@example.com