Easter weekend was beautiful. I enjoyed the Good Friday service in the High Street, watching Essex playing Cricket with my family and knocking on doors all across Chelmsford.
Tuesday Lengthy meeting with the Science and Tech Select Committee. We are doing an in-depth inquiry into how technology can help reduce carbon emissions and meet the challenge to prevent global warming. The recent protests across London have been a reminder of how important this is. We hear from four experts about carbon capture and storage. We are told that the UK is leading the world in the development of some of these technologies. The Government Minister explains how the UK has already done more to reduce emissions than any other top developed country, but there is more to do.
In the main chamber I quiz the Prisons Minister about prison violence, it’s reducing (good news), before going to join a debate on proportional representation (my experience of this during my time in the European Parliament was not very positive). We have a very sombre minute’s silence to recall the terrible bombings that have occurred in Sri Lanka. I host a dinner with representatives of the technology sector and MPs. We hear from the government minister about some of the projects that are being funded to help unlock broadband across the UK, improve digital skills and make sure Britain continues to support this vibrant part of our economy.
Wednesday Fascinating morning visiting the Dementia Research Institute with the Science and Tech Committee. We learn that the UK is leading much of the world effort on Alzheimer’s research and that up to a third of dementia may be preventable. The disease starts developing many years before symptoms are evident. It’s therefore really important that more people in their 30s,40s and 50s take part in long term trials. Back in the House of Commons I get the chance to raise this during Prime Minister’s questions and take part in a long debate on adult social services and local government. At the 1922 Committee meeting of backbench MPs a large number of colleagues call for unity. I agree!
Thursday Back in Westminster again, this time for questions to the trade ministers. I also quiz the Health Minister about the recent news that many children are not being vaccinated against measles. This is really worrying as measles can be very dangerous. I take part in an ITV debate on local elections and climate change. I really do hope that people vote in the local elections. Our City Council does extremely important work, including managing our waste and recycling, planning development and managing local facilities like our parks and sports facilities. I’m also really pleased that they are working on a new community policing hub which will be a huge help to local policing.
In Chelmsford I join students from eighteen schools in the local finals of a national public speaking competition. What an extremely impressive bunch! I then join members of the Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society for their annual dinner and a fascinating talk about the next generation of satellite launches, which will hopefully come from the UK.
Friday Write a letter to the Education Secretary about school funding before a busy constituency surgery with lots of different issues. I visit John Lewis to meet some of the team. They tell me how the partnership approach gives support to staff. I am particularly impressed by the stories of two of the team who have disabilities and how they themselves are helping to make the store more accessible to all. Lovely lunch at “Back-Inn Time” - is this Chelmsford’s oldest restaurant? Afternoon knocking on doors in Goat Hall ward.
I visit the Sutherland Lodge GP practice to learn how they are doing and meet many of the new staff. It’s good to hear that there are now more GPs and nurses in the surgery. The Practice Manager tells me about some of the projects they have done to support patients with mental health issues and the memory sessions they have started for people with dementia. They have improved their processes for overseeing referrals and prescriptions. They are also planning building work to refurbish key parts of the surgery. It is good to see the many positive changes that have been made.
I spend the evening knocking on doors in Great Baddow. Lots to talk about. I meet one very happy Chelmsford student who has just been taking part in the Essex Schools Cross Country tournament. She explains that Baddow Hall Juniors won the event and shows me her gold medal. Brilliant!
Saturday What a windy day! I join council election candidates knocking on doors in Beaulieu Park and Trinity Ward. Over the past few weeks I have been out and about in every area of Chelmsford. Thank you to everyone who has stopped to talk. I really do appreciate your feedback and thoughts. Please don’t forget to vote in the local elections. Chelmsford is a super place to live and the City Council does an excellent job.