Last week the House of Commons rose for summer recess and so I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on my last eight months as your MP.
Firstly, I am proud to say that in this time, I voted to get Brexit done and we have left the European Union.
Of course, no sooner had we got Brexit done, then COVID-19 consumed our lives and we spoke little of Brexit. But the work to ensure its safe passage is still ongoing and we saw the Trade Bill move on from its Third Reading to the House of Lords last week. The important EU Trade Negotiations are also ongoing.
Before we entered lockdown, I was able to meet with many local community groups and businesses. I was also happy to meet up with local green belt campaign groups. For those who know my background I have spent the last eight years campaigning to protect green belt and for development on brownfield first. I was therefore pleased when the region secured an extra £84million to redevelop derelict industrial sites. More recently I have joined with the Mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, to ask those who own brownfield land to come forward so that we have a pipeline of land to build on instead of green fields.
During lockdown my time was spent working from my new Westminster desk, which was my kitchen table. Time spent dealing with the impact COVID-19 was having on people’s livelihoods and repatriating those stranded abroad. It was also a time of mastering virtual meetings. These were a lifeline to ensure I stayed in touch with all the important agencies such as the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Job Centres, the Police and the CEO of Dudley Borough Council, to name just a few.
As we come out of lockdown, I will continue my work with local job centres and businesses to support and help protect jobs. It was fitting that the Prime Minister chose a speech in the Black Country to set the way ahead, recognising the importance of the West Midlands as part of the COVID-19 recovery.
Supporting local hospitality businesses is vital, they have been hit hard, so please do support our local eateries and join the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which starts on Monday 3rd August. Those taking part will display the sign in their window and/or you will find those who have registered on the gov.uk website.
It has been an extraordinary period and we have all faced unprecedented challenges. We know too that there are challenges that lie ahead. Therefore, it is so important to keep following the guidelines and that we all stay alert.
Finally, for me, the last few months have shown why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties our country together is so important. I hope you will all support me and others in ensuring it remains this way.