Monday, 15 July Army and Navy Task Force meeting. We agree a shortlist of eight potential new schemes. Engineers will now prepare detailed design work and projections of the impact on traffic flows.
In the House of Commons, I meet members of the Royal College of Surgeons to discuss advances and technology in modern surgery and the National Childbirth Trust brief me on the importance of post-natal mental health checks for new mums, they want these to be mandatory. I meet the climate change minister and the Italian Ambassador to discuss our joint bid to host next year’s global conference on climate change. I speak at a workshop encouraging more women to stand for parliament and host a reception for the technology sector, showcasing some of the UK’s leading tech companies. In the evening there is a head-to-head debate between the two Conservative Party leadership candidates. I join Jeremy Hunt’s team in the Foreign Secretary’s office and help report the debate on social media – whilst also diving in and out of the voting lobbies to vote on HS2. Late train back to Chelmsford, reading the draft of the Science and Technology Select Committee report on how to make sure the UK meets climate change targets. There are 75 policy recommendations, many times more than most reports. Steps 9873
Tuesday, 16 July The roads minister comes to Chelmsford. He’s going to Essex Police HQ to discuss road collision inquires. I meet him at the train station and brief him on the Army and Navy and send him to drive around it. We will be asking the Department of Transport for a large cheque towards a replacement, so it’s helpful that the minister has seen the challenge first hand.
In Westminster I meet members of the Royal College of Nursing, including a nurse from Broomfield. We discuss some of the challenges facing nursing today and I agree to support their campaign to make ministers more responsible for the frontline. I join a meeting discussing potential reforms to parliament to help encourage diversity then meet campaigners for flexible working, many of whom are mums with babies and toddlers. They explain how they want to continue working but need flexibility over hours and locations. I am sponsoring a “Ten Minute Rule Bill” on flexible working. We are very pleased when it gets passed unanimously.
Then off to the final rally for Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaign. I’m running a bit late, so I jump in a black cab. The cabbie asks where I am going and when he hears he tells me he is a Party member and shows me a photo of his ballot paper - he has also voted for Hunt! Steps 12,679
Wednesday, 17 July Very early start. The morning news is that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been moved into a psychiatric hospital – I suspect that Foreign Office Ministers will be called to answer Urgent Questions. I am joined by 14 students from across Chelmsford who will be with my team for three days of work experience, I show them the Chamber before business starts for the day. We do a quick tour. The students split into three groups and all go to watch different committees. Spend the morning multi-tasking between Select Committee and preparing for the urgent question. In the House of Commons Chamber for questions to the International Development Minister, I ask them about the global project to eradicate polio. Chelmsford Rotary clubs have been supporting this for years, and the disease is nearly completely wiped out. The Minister gives a helpful answer. PMQs and then Urgent Question.
I spend the afternoon with the Science and Technology Committee going line by line through our report on Climate Change, discussing amendments; eventually we agree. Wrap up the day with our work experience students – they have been busy, watching debates in both the Commons and the Lords.
On the way back to Chelmsford I stop at the Excel Centre for the last leadership hustings. Over 4,500 people come to listen, even with extra chairs it is standing room only. Incredibly positive atmosphere. I can’t believe so many members are still undecided who to vote for! Steps 11,590
Thursday, 18 July Tricky day in Westminster – a vote on whether or not Parliament could be “prorogued” if the UK is leaving the EU with no deal. I have had masses of emails from Chelmsford residents asking me to stop this as it would locking constituency MPs out of Parliament. It sets an extremely bad precedent for the future as it is the role of MPs to hold ministers and the government to account. What if this was used by future governments to push through unpopular decisions on tax hikes, or public services? I won’t vote against the government (I never have) but for the second time ever I chose to abstain.
On way back to Chelmsford, when very sadly a person is hit by our train in Shenfield. They are alive, police ambulances and emergency crews rush to help. Everyone hopes the injured person will be OK.
I go to to Moulsham High School to open their new auditorium and science classrooms. What a stunning facility. We are treated to performances by the school concert band and very talented musicians as well as displays in the new lab style classrooms. I am so impressed by the students who are full of enthusiasm and enormously polite and courteous. They set a very high bar.
I join Roger Hirst launching his campaign for re-election as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex. He has done a super job, especially increasing the police force. He promised 300 more police but has achieved over 360 more. The Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities is at the event. I speak to him about the rough sleeping and begging we are seeing in Chelmsford and tell him (again) how much we need the second railway station. Steps 9630
Friday, 19 July Spend the day with our work experience students. They have been studying different MP’s social media accounts and give me lots of tips! We do some outreach across Chelmsford before the rain starts, followed by sessions on policy making, writing press releases and answering case work. They have also had a tour of Essex County Council with Cllr Dick Madden and a chance to question Cllr John Spence. It’s been an excellent few days for my team having such enthusiastic students around and the participants say they have really appreciated the experience too.
Visit Chelmsford Museum for the re-opening after its massive refurbishment. It is looking superb. A museum manager tells me about his favourite exhibit; a gold headband which dates back to the time of Stonehenge and was found in Little Baddow, proving that this part of Essex has been at the forefront of British civilisation for over 4,000 years. Chelmsford Beekeepers proudly show off the bees in their new hive. Alive, well and very busy.
Off to the Foreign Secretary’s residence in Chevening, Kent to say thank you to those who have helped his campaign. Many young talented people have taken time out of their careers over the past few months to help. Half way through dinner our host has to leave. The Iranians have captured two tankers in the gulf. A COBRA meeting has been called. As we get back to Chelmsford I switch on the late news and listen to his very carefully worded statement. Serious times. Steps 8705
Saturday, 20 July Very good to catch up with two Chelmsford GPs. They tell me the extra investment going into the NHS will mean local GP surgeries can work together to recruit specialist mental health experts, pharmacists and physiotherapists. Steps 7201
Sunday, 21 July WOW! I join a huge, huge crowd at Hylands Park for the Race for Live. Over 4,000 people are taking part and they have raised £280,000 for Cancer Research UK. I ring the bell to set them off and greet them as they return. So impressive. Well done everyone, it is such as good cause. Steps 5843