Saturday 14th September It is the Jobs and Skills fair at Chelmsford Civic Centre. I spend the morning with a huge variety of different organisations. It is buzzing. Stansted Airport are looking for over 300 staff in many different areas and offering discounted transport to any Chelmsford employees, DST are looking for more apprentices as well as permanent staff, Essex Police and the Armed Forces are also recruiting and there are a huge number of jobs in caring and catering. Many of the employers are offering training too. What a lot of opportunities!
Sunday 15th September – Wednesday 18th September It is my birthday this week and my husband has taken some days off work. We pack our walking boots and fishing rods and head northwards for some time together. First day on the mountains I clock up over 20,000 steps and 100 flights of stairs as well as some stunning views. I keep in touch with Essex County Council who face the difficult news from engineers that the Army and Navy Flyover is not going to be reparable. Safety must come first but I know lots of Chelmsford residents are struggling with the delays and congestion. I contact the Roads Minister who has arranged for senior officials to work at pace on delivering plans for a new junction. I am told that we will be able to discuss more details for the replacement scheme at a Task Force meeting next week.
Thursday 19th September Back in the office catching up with correspondence. Some schools have contacted me about the “School Strikes” for the environment which are arranged for tomorrow. Some schools are supporting their students to join the demonstration, others are asking students not to attend as they will miss crucial lessons. I write to all Chelmsford head teachers and offer to visit any schools if their students want to discuss the environment. Climate change is the biggest challenge faced by our planet. The UK is leading the world in cutting greenhouse gas emissions but there is always more we can all do.
I join the staff and volunteers from Citizens Advice for a celebration of their 80th birthday in Chelmsford. They have helped thousands of people. The new law clinic is extremely valuable to those who need specialist advice and many Chelmsford lawyers give their time for free. They are also now offering a new service in the Job Centre to anyone who wants independent advice on benefits. The volunteers are a very, very special team and it is great to say thank you.
Friday 20th September Start the day at St John Payne school with GCSE students discussing climate change. They have a lot of helpful questions and ideas. We discuss the work the UK is doing on leading global campaigns to end coal fired power stations and protect the oceans. One of the students offers to set up a working group to make suggestions on how to improve cycle safety around Chelmsford. I then head off to BBC Essex in New London Road where I am interviewed on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC 2, again on the environment – it is very handy to have the BBC studio in Essex as it means I can help with interviews without going all the way to London.
At the Cathedral School I meet a huge group of year 3, 4, 5 and 6 students who are passionate about the environment. They explain to me what they have been doing to help. Most of the pupils walk or cycle to school and one of them explains how she sets herself a challenge to pick up at least ten pieces of litter on her way every day. The students tell me they love school and don’t want to “strike” but are going to join the demonstration in their break time. Walking back to the office I have a long discussion with one of Chelmsford’s taxi drivers about the Army and Navy. There are still lots of problems with the traffic lights. I email the Highways team and will raise this at the meeting next week.
I visit Tevva Motors, a super Chelmsford company who take the old diesel engines out of delivery vans and fit new state of the art electric motors. I take one of the vehicles for a test – it’s a huge 7-ton truck – but the new engine is extremely sensitive and easy to drive.
Saturday 21st September I join volunteers in Galleywood knocking on doors, taking to residents and delivering my local survey. Thank you to everyone who stopped to chat. We pop into Lathcoat’s Farm in Beehive Lane, do check out their apples. We have a yummy cup of coffee and cake, it is my birthday after all! Back in the city centre I go down to the indoor market which is looking stunning after its re-fit. Lots of great stalls and the food on offer is excellent. I strongly recommend a visit.
At Anglia Ruskin University I meet some of the 700 teenagers who have taken part in the National Citizens Service scheme. They have been volunteering all across Essex this summer had have clearly had a super time, making new friends and facing new challenges. Huge smiles all around. They are a deeply impressive group and I am honoured to hand them their certificates.
In Melbourne, Sister Moira and Sister Margaret have been a force of support for the local community for many years. They have worked with the 8th Chelmsford Scouts to completely rebuild a new scout and community hall. It is a stunning building with loads going on every day. Thank you so much to Jamie, the youngest scout, who gave me a detailed tour of this super facility and explained what a difference the new hall has made. Hundreds of people have worked together to make this happen and they have arranged a wonderful party to celebrate the opening, with more cake! What a treat to be there.