1:30pm Thursday 11th April 2013
The Easter parliamentary recess affords me the chance to spend time visiting and meeting with my constituents – even going door to door as I did this week in Limpley Stoke, Holt, Corsham and Melksham.
At the final parish council meeting before Wiltshire’s local elections in Limpley Stoke I was able to thank a handful of the scores of truly local and unpaid parish councillors who serve their communities. They are surely the front line of local government in Wiltshire.
By Wednesday I returned to national political debate on a panel of MPs for Radio 5 from the BBC’s studio in Swindon. Invited to respond to the shocking Philpott case, where six children died in a house fire set by their own father, I argued that it sets more profound challenges to our policies on child protection than the debate other politicians have sought to start on welfare.
Back in Chippenham, I visited the Lodge Surgery in Pewsham and later the mental health trust headquarters in the town. I suggested that changes in the commissioning of health services locally create an opportunity for the NHS to support the work of charities such as Wiltshire Mind in assisting local people with their mental health care.
Many constituents have contacted me to express their concern at declining bee numbers in Britain. I have raised these worries in correspondence with the Minister for Agriculture, and I have given my personal backing to Friends of the Earth’s call for a ‘Bee Action Plan’, which aims to reverse the population decline.
I therefore seized the chance to learn more about the situation from Pete Colegate of Melksham Beekeepers at a talk he gave to Melksham Climate Friendly Group this week.
As I write, MPs have returned to Westminster for an exceptional recall of Parliament following the death of Baroness Thatcher. The atmosphere is unusually sombre and I have the sense that rival politicians will suspend hostilities for the day. Although my own generation is too young to have known Britain before Margaret Thatcher, reflecting now on her time in office should be instructive for all those who follow politics, of all shades of opinion.
After a constituency surgery at Bradford on Avon library, my next surgeries will be held tomorrow, from 10-11.30am, at Melksham Town Hall; and on Friday, April 19, from 10am-11.30am, at my constituency office in Avonbridge House, Bath Road, Chippenham.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group