This past week has been one of the busiest I have seen during my two and a half years in Parliament.
For the most part, this has been due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I hope that everyone is remaining vigilant and continuing to follow the advice of both the Government and Public Health England. The key advice is to wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds - the same time as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
As many of you will be aware, I now have a weekly column in the Champion. I’m using the column to share my thoughts on topical issues. Last week I wrote a reflection on the recent general election campaign, and the differences in the way Labour and the Liberal Democrats engaged. In the week prior to this, I wrote about the way the media attack and villify public figures, as they did with Caroline Flack.
My next column is an update on where we’re at with the Southport Town’s Fund, which is a project I know many in the town are interested in. A Southport Town Deal Board has been set up to draft these spending proposals, and I’m pleased to be a member. The board is working hard to ensure we spend our £25 million in the way which benefits Southport the most, and as such we have been inviting community groups to share their thoughts.
I hope that the column is something that you are enjoying, and if there is anything in particular you wish for me to update you all on, or hear my views about, I would be more than happy to hear your ideas.
One of the issues local residents raise with me most is that of flooding, and as such I attended a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday where I spoke about the effect that the building works have been having in the Bankfield Lane area. Following the recent increase in storm activity which we’ve seen significant flooding in this area, which local residents have told me is a regular occurrence - especially after heavy rain. I have been in touch with both the Council and with United Utilities over the drainage system in the area, and I hope have this issue resolved soon for the residents affected.
Following a Wednesday filled with meetings, events, and of course Prime Minister’s Questions, I travelled back to Southport on Thursday morning for two packed constituency days. I started by visiting HMS Prince of Wales which was docked in Liverpool, and whilst there I met with representatives from Maritime UK. As we live in a coastal town, I feel that it is important for me to interact with these types of organisations to discuss the issues that may affect Southport both environmentally and economically in the future.
Across these two days I held a number of meetings, one of which was with Fiona Taylor of the Sefton CCG. I meet with Fiona every three months to discuss how Merseycare is performing, what improvements are needed, and what support I can give to them through my role as Southport’s MP. Another of these meetings was with Trish Armstrong-Child, the new Chief Executive of Southport Hospital. This was the first time that we had the chance to meet since she took over the role. We discussed how Southport Hospital’s A&E services are performing, staffing issues, and again whether there was anything I could do to support the work of the hospital.
I know how important our local hospital is to people, and I will continue to push both for further funding (as I have previously secured), and for the hospital to remain open - despite calls from some for a move to West Lancashire.
I usually spend my Saturdays canvassing, and this one was no different. The local Southport Conservatives team and I spent the day out knocking on doors and speaking to local residents in Marshside. The issues discussed ranged from worries over the Coronavirus, improvements to Southport town centre, and council-related matters such as road surfacing which I know is a big issue in the area.
On a separate note, I am happy to announce that in the coming weeks my office and I will be hosting more regular surgeries in which you will be able to come and speak to us about any issues you may be facing. These can range from local issues with Sefton Council, to issues which relate to a Government department or third-party. If attending one of these surgeries is something you believe would help you, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will book you in.
As I said it’s been a busy week, and I hope that you all had a good one. As ever, if you have any issues that you would like to raise with me and my office, please do get in touch.