I hope everyone enjoyed what seems to have been Summer’s final fling last weekend. It might have been too hot for some but I never complain about the heat as for me it’s better than feeling cold and we have enough of the year to spend indoors. Just think what it was like for Yeovil’s 1st XV rugby team who I was very happy to watch win their first game of the season against Corsham in Barwick on Saturday afternoon. It was challenging enough staying cool on the sidelines!
It has been an incredibly busy return to Parliament with action on all fronts.
I’ve engaged with Ministers on the details of the A303 dualling project, the New Medium Helicopter requirement that Leonardo is bidding on, unblocking housing permissions while putting actual schemes in place to address phosphate load in the Levels, and getting better options for dental care to people. I’ve also had further meetings with Ministers to encourage proper town centre regeneration with the funding central government provided for that purpose.
I also met with the Chancellor both to raise these issues in terms of Treasury support but also to discuss further ideas to help with the cost of living and getting inflation, including spending restraint as well as targeted tax and levy reductions in areas that contribute to higher prices, such as green levies and fuel taxes which readers may remember I have been trying to persuade the Treasury to act on for some time now.
I was also involved in helping the Online Safety Bill through its final stage, getting much more protection for children and the vulnerable from dangers they have faced online, but also making sure that the legislation won’t inadvertently undermine the security of data and systems on which we all rely. To that end I tabled detailed amendments that would clarify while preserving the thrust of the Bill for more safety, and was pleased to engage with Ministers and obtain statements from the dispatch box clarifying those issues for legal purposes and instructing OFCOM as to scope and purpose of the regulation.
It has of course been really disappointing this week to hear of the closure of Pittards. I feel for all the employees and stand ready to support them as needed with opportunities locally of which we happily have more than in many areas, and I am sad that we appear to have lost what seemed a viable niche business and a firm that was the last link to the old gloving business that used to be so important to Yeovil.
Questions do need to be asked of the company’s debt finance providers who seemed keen to push the company into an impossible situation and refused to engage with the national government lines of financing I made sure were available from the Government’s Covid recovery and trade finance schemes, both to the legacy company and in the management buyout group. It is perhaps a salutary lesson as to why one should not take on too much debt, as at the end of the day the firm did not have enough people prepared to risk equity capital to take on the legacy company’s bank and its hard line position.