Monday 23rd Just two more days before Parliament breaks for summer recess and already Westminster feels quieter. Early start joining a round table on Rare Diseases and how to make sure the UK remains at the forefront. I agree to write to the new Health Secretary about getting new treatments available on the NHS. Meet with the BBC team for the East of England to discuss their new politics program.
Too hot for coffee but have an catch up with Highways England about the plans for the Lower Thames Crossing. This still a long way off but is important for Chelmsford folk who are fed up with Dartford crossing delay but it does mean we must get our NE Bypass as this is the critical missing piece of dual carriageway all the way from the crossing to Stansted. In the Commons chamber there is a big row about voting – should we use pairing or proxies when people are unwell, on visits or on maternity leave. Personally I have found the paring system to work well. I go to the first meeting of a new committee which is tasked with sifting through all the decisions minsters make as they transfer EU law onto the UK law book and decide which are technical and which deserve detailed review. This is going to keep be busy (Yikes!) Get back to Chelmsford very late and watch a debate lead by my young colleague from Mansfield. He is making the case that the drug Mamba or Spice should be class A listed. I think he has a strong argument and offer my support.
Tuesday 24th Start the day with Chelmsford Neighbourhood Watch Groups. Its great to hear that the new community policing strategy in Springfield is already making a difference. I update them on the extra 150 police officers that we are getting in Essex and the new community policing hub that is planned. We discuss a number of strong arrests and drugs raids that the police have made recently (well done) its so important to keep reporting crime.
I rush to the station to get to Westminster in time for Health questions. My young constituent is having up to 400 epileptic seizures each week and his family want to know if medical cannabis can be prescribed. The Health minister gives a helpful answer about the profess to get a licence. I join Baroness Jenkin for a big meeting with House of Lords and Commons officials. We are planning a special event in November for 100 years since women were allowed to stand for Parliament and there is a huge amount of logistics to overcome. I spend a long evening trying to clear some of the backlog of my email inbox before recess starts.
Wednesday 25th First day of Recess! And still catching up with emails…. Pop into the Chelmsford office to see the painters have been. I meet Cllr Sullivan and Cllr Raven to visit Beaulieu Park. The developers have been doing some improvements to how they help residents after they have moved into the new property and we have a long discussion about some of the issues constituents have raised.
Thursday 26th Plan for a day off a the cricket as Essex are taking on the mighty giant – but I get delayed on the way. There are new numbers released about incidents at the prison and the Chronicle want to discuss them. They are concerning as the violent assaults against staff are still high, however I am not surprised as these are largely “old” numbers dating back to the time when staff levels were very low. I explain that we now have more staff but it will still take time to turn the situation around as many of the staff are still quite inexperienced.
At the Cricket I meet up with Invest Essex and Stansted Airport. They have invited the Indian High Commissioner to Lunch. They are very keen to bring more Indian investment and trade into Essex, getting some direct flights into Stansted would really help. I am impressed to hear what Invest Essex is doing especially in the pharmaceutical sector with some interesting new investment. We discuss how our new medical school might be involved too. Essex score some good runs, a couple of 50s too and I catch up with the club members after the match for a debriefing on the future development plans.
Friday 27th Letter writing day. I finish long and detailed letters to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Treasury minister about the need for a long term plan to replace the Army and Navy Flyover. This has been left on the side for too many years. I think it is really important to put this request in, and keep asking. It is helpful to have some data from Essex County Council and the City Council, this is going to take a lot of work to resolve. I also finish a letter to the Health Secretary about the rare disease PKU which affects two children in Chelmsford.
Busy, busy, busy constituency surgery before going over to police HQ to have a summer catch up with our Police and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hurst. We discuss how the recruitment of new officers is going (well) and the training program – another 60 set to graduate in September. He tells me about some of the operations they have been doing to crack down on road crime, speeding, lack of insurance etc. We talk the recent drugs busts in Chelmsford, stronger anti-drug laws and the work needed to turn around the prison as well as some of the legal issues regarding travellers. I’m very impressed by the statistics he gives me on a new project to prevent prisoners re-offending which seems to be working well.
Saturday 28th Lovely morning in Chelmsford High Street talking to residents and hearing views. Thank you to everyone who stopped to talk
I will be taking a couple of weeks off over recess and catching up with some organisations that I don’t usually get a chance to visit, including helping the Chelmsford Beekeepers celebrate 100 years of bringing in the honey! I will be back with my Week in the Life Of in September.