Monday Parliament is not sitting so I start the week in Somerset helping my frail mum and 94 year old Stepfather. He is going to Normandy for the D Day memorials and Mum is worried about the journey. Lunchtime train to London, take to opportunity to catch up on some correspondence whilst the House of Commons is quiet.
Tuesday Parliament is surrounded by people protesting against President Trump’s arrival. Very strange atmosphere. I host an event for the All Party Group on Infrastructure which I chair. This is a group of MPs pressing the Government to continue to invest in infrastructure across the country.
Then to the leadership hustings. It is very intense being one of the 300 odd MPs who will be voting to whittle down the long list of contenders to just two. I have been working with a group of 50 MPs from the “One Nation” Conservatives. We have put together questions for the candidates and arranged for an independent journalist to interview each of the contenders. Many more colleagues want to join so the room is completely packed with standing room only. We hear from Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom. The questions on Brexit strategy are probing and let’s just say that some candidates give more detailed clarity than others! I take lots of notes as I feel the decision on who we pick is a very serious one and I want to make sure I have considered all the candidates fairly, especially as this voting will go through many rounds.
Wednesday Impressive event in the House of Commons with the managers of the Family Hub from Chelmsford. Our Hub was the first of its kind in the country and is now being copied all over the UK. It is great to speak about the work they have done and hear them tell their story. In PMQs the Prime Minister is away at the D Day memorials and its eerily quiet in the House of Commons.
In the early evening we have another Hustings Event this time from Dominic Rabb, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Jeremey Hunt. Hunt impresses colleagues as he explains that he has been with Chancellor Merkel, President Macron and the Dutch Prime Minister this morning discussing alternative ways to resolve the Brexit deadlock. This is so important as we cannot continue to go round and round in circles! It is also extremely interesting to hear the candidates discuss their suggestions for policy after Brexit. It is so very important that we can move on and work on all those other important issues.
Thursday What a great day! I start at the County Hotel for the annual Prayer Breakfast which brings together representatives from all the Churches across Chelmsford. So much positivity. Then off for a meeting with one of Chelmsford’s largest businesses.
Its national Volunteers Week and the High Street is buzzing with activity. The Market has been taken over by over 60 different voluntary organisations. It’s so good to hear about all the work they have been doing. From Youth Clubs to Help the Aged, Mencap and Kids Inspire, the British Legion, Men’s Shed and the Canal Conservation. I see the wonderful new Farleigh Hospice bus is taking hospice outreach all across Essex, meet the Police volunteers and get carried away by the Search and Rescue – literally, as I agree to be a guinea pig whilst they practice their stretcher bearing skills.
In the evening at Hyland’s I join Chelmsford residents young and old who are receiving Community Champions awards. They have been picking up litter, cleaning the river and setting up Neighbourhood watch projects. I am particularly impressed to see how many children have been helping and its lovely to see them being awarded with bird feeders and nesting boxes for their schools.
Friday Off to Colchester for the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner conference. This brings together voluntary organisations and police and other services to share best practice on improving community safety all across Essex. There are awards too! Emma Hughes from Sanctus in Chelmsford is given an award in recognition of the deeply impressive work that she does caring for the homeless and the lonely, giving them advice and help. Shirley Hume of the Springfield Youth Club sweeps up a range of prizes. The Springfield Youth Club has helped over 400 young people and Shirley is constantly thinking of new ways to help protect young people from crime.
In Chelmsford I have a very busy constituency surgery before heading off to Galleywood. An amazing evening listening to the Chelmsford Male Voice Choir raise the roof at St Michaels Church, from spirituals to musicals via the Pearl Fishers duet, who needs the Royal Opera House when we have such talent.
Saturday Early start for a Saturday at Anderson Construction one of Chelmsford’s largest businesses. Over 100 members of staff and friends are doing a fifty mile bike ride to raise funds for the National Autism Society. It’s a bit rainy and very windy – I wish them all luck as they head off.
Spend the morning in and around the Springfield Road with volunteers delivering my Annual Report and talking to residents. If you haven’t got a copy of the Annual Report yet and would like to read it then you can find a copy on my website.
Back to Andersons to welcome the bike ride back. Goodness what smiles are on their faces. It’s clearly been a huge challenge to cycle in this weather, but they are so happy. Lots of celebration with a barbeque and band. What a lovely atmosphere in a business.