Monday 3rd February –10,728 steps Start the week at the Department for International Development preparing for a debate on Climate Justice which will take place tomorrow. Climate change will affect those in many of the world’s poorest countries most. We hear from experts about how UK aid is helping with projects across the world to help countries prepare and adapt.
I meet the charity Shelter and discuss ways to help reduce rough sleeping and address homelessness. They are very positive about much of the work the government has already done to support social housing.
In the House of Commons, the Justice Secretary is answering questions about the terrorist incident in Streatham and explaining that the government is going to tighten sentences for terrorists. I tell colleagues about the terrible knife murder of a Chelmsford resident, Liam Taylor, and ask for support for the police and all those working to tackle knife crime.
MPs debate the Agriculture Bill. This will help our farmers to not only produce food but also protect the environment. I listen to some excellent maiden speeches. We vote late in the evening. The bill passes.
Tuesday 4th February –15,674 steps Early phone call from the Chief of Essex police updating me on the situation in Chelmsford. They have been working extremely hard. I meet representatives from the insurance sector which involves many thousands of jobs in Chelmsford. I meet representatives from the manufacturing organisation Make UK, and apprentices from across the country as part of National Apprenticeship week.
Host a meeting for Essex MPs and our County Council leaders. Essex is amongst one of the top 10 most effective councils in the country. They are doing some excellent work in the environment. We discuss the increase in the number of children with special educational needs and the pressure this puts on education budgets. I ask for rapid work to replace the Army and Navy junction and a more innovative approach to bus transport across the city.
In the Commons MPs debate the NHS Funding Bill which will our record investment into the Health Service. I’m very proud when this is voted through.
Wednesday 5th February – 13,170 steps Early into House of Commons to meet with families of children with the rare disease PKU. This affects one of my Chelmsford constituents. I am campaigning for her to have access to the life changing drug Kuvan.
I meet with Cancer Research UK as part of their World Cancer Day awareness campaign and with representatives from the Royal National Institute for the Blind. In a debate about transport I raise the issue of the Army and Navy, thanking the Secretary of State for writing the cheque to take down the old flyover and reminding him we will need a bigger cheque soon for the new junction. I support a campaign to legalise electric scooters, many Chelmsford residents have asked me for this.
Thursday 6th February – 7,981 steps Back into Westminster, listening to a statement from Ministers about decriminalising the BBC licence fee. Non-payment of the fee will still be a civil office but currently one in twelve of the cases in front of the magistrate’s court relate to BBC licence fees. This is a huge burden on our courts.
I meet National Grid to discuss an event I am organising and then join a briefing from the Chief Medical Officer about Coronavirus. He is very reassuring about the amount of preparation the UK has already done in case of an epidemic such as this. The more one can slow down the spread of the virus towards the spring and summer months the better. Corona doesn’t transmit that easily so good hygiene is vital, such as using tissues and washing hands. I ask for some hand sanitisers to be put in Parliament - after all shouldn’t we lead by example?
Friday 7th February – 7,192 steps Enormously exciting day in Chelmsford hosting our first ever Apprenticeship Fair as part of National Apprenticeship Week at Anglia Ruskin University. I had no idea what to expect but am delighted as hundreds of people turn up to meet the many businesses and organisations. At the fair there is a huge range of different employers and opportunities from Engineering to Accountancy, Law, Health, Policing and even the Army. It was so uplifting to see many young people leaving looking happy and inspired. Thank you to all the people who came, the exhibitors and to Chelmsford Community Radio for the music!
Planning meeting for the British Science Festival which we will be hosting in Chelmsford in September. This is a huge platform for our city and its going to be very exciting!
Saturday 8th February – 8,754 steps Train to Birmingham to observe the “Climate Assembly” that is taking place. This has brought together 110 UK citizens from all across the country, from different ages and different backgrounds. They are being challenged to think about how best to move towards a Net Zero carbon emission society. This is crucial to tackle climate change. I join the session on “What We Buy” which looks at all the products we consumer, from cars to clothes to toothpaste and food. I am impressed by the quality of the briefings from the expert witnesses and by how hard the participants are listening, questioning and making suggestions. Citizens Assemblies have been used in the past for difficult decisions such as in Ireland during the public debate about abortion. However, I am a bit concerned that this Assembly may be trying to cover too many issues. Let’s wait and see what they conclude, I do hope it’s helpful!