Monday 10th February – 12,012 steps Early start on BBC Essex talking about the work to take down the Army and Navy flyover which is starting this week. Most of the work will happen at night times apart from the noisy job of removing the two concrete ramps which will happen on Sundays. Then into London to meet with the Great Eastern Main Line Task Force. This brings together MPs, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Greater Anglia. We are looking at plans for the next 5-10 years. We ask for better information for travellers on the weekend work that is currently taking place. This will introduce passing tracks near Stratford which will improve capacity and reduce delays.
I meet Clarion Housing Group, a housing association with over 650 homes in Chelmsford. Clarion have a charitable fund that donates to local community organisations, so please do email me if you have a community organisation and want to know more. In the Commons we pass new increases for pensions and social security benefits.
Tuesday 11th February - 12,571 steps Breakfast with the UK and European Space Agency. Fascinating discussion on how space technology is helping to better monitor the earth’s climate and address climate change.
In the House of Commons, I ask questions about financial services and especially insurance. Over 3,000 people are employed in Chelmsford in the insurance sector. We are the world leader in broking, underwriting and reinsurance. It is important that this is a priority sector in future trade deals.
I meet with campaigners for online safety for children and young people as part of Safer Internet Day 2020. Join ministers from the Department for International Development for their weekly meeting and listen into a debate about future immigration policy. I spend the evening hearing from experts on improvements to online safety on social media sites.
Wednesday 12th February - 13,141 steps Meet with experts from the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office about the trip that I have planned to Israel and Palestine next week. This is always such a sensitive part of the world and I have wanted to visit it for many years to understand it better. The program is packed with meetings and site visits.
In the House of Commons, we introduce emergency legislation which prevents the automatic early release of terrorists. This is crucial for public safety and will ensure that terrorist offenders cannot be released before the end of their sentence without a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board.
I meet campaigners on animal welfare, signing a pledge in support of five-year sentences for animal cruelty ahead of the second reading of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill which is due in June. I also support the Global Vaccine Alliance campaign where the UK is leading the global effort to deliver vaccinations for children in the poorest countries against deadly diseases, including polio and measles.
I host a Parliamentary reception in my position as Chair of the APPG for Infrastructure titled Ensuring the Public get the infrastructure they Need. We hear from the Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP about the Government’s plans for the ‘Infrastructure Revolution’, as well as from Sir John Armitt about the role of the National Infrastructure Commission.
Thursday 13th February - 7,704 steps Host an early breakfast meeting with MPs and Peers interested in cyber security meeting with bosses from GCHQ. I am concerned to hear that we are still very short of computer experts, and only 1,200 girls took Computer Science A level last year. Once I know no votes are expected in the House of Commons, I jump on a train to visit my mum who has been unwell and is in a care home this week. It’s reshuffle day and all MPs are focusing on who will be given ministerial jobs.
Friday 14th February - 4,653 steps I chair the Essex Women’s Institute ‘Show the Love’ climate conference. We discuss the mountain of work that is being done to tackle climate change and hear from experts on the fashion industry as well as Greenpeace and other campaigners.
In Chelmsford I meet with other members of the Army and Navy taskforce to inspect the work to take down the flyover. Then to Chelmsford train station where Essex Police were running a knife arch operation, a key part of their work to keep Chelmsford safe.
I meet National Rail to go through plans for Beaulieu Park Station. This is a hugely complex building project that will involve moving parts of the existing train lines in order to make way for the passing loop. I am frustrated by how long the project will take time to deliver but I will do all I can to make sure it happens as soon as possible.
Just as my constituency surgery is about to start, I receive a phone call from Number 10. The Prime Minister has asked me to take on the role as Minister for Children and Families. I am hugely honoured and especially grateful to the many Chelmsford organisations who have told me about their work in this area over the past couple of years. There is a huge amount to learn and much to do in this very challenging area. I cancel my visit to Israel and receive a huge bundle of background reading.