Tim Loughton MP April Newsletter
Welcome to my April newsletter which inevitably is dominated by the Coronavirus crisis. I apologise that we missed a newsletter at the end of March as my office was being swamped with enquiries from constituents linked to Coronavirus and my staff and I have been working round the clock to answer all of these as best we could. We have dealt with everything from helping people stuck at home unable to get essential supplies, accessing masks and other PPE equipment, taking up queries with the Treasury about who qualifies for job retention schemes (including a constituent who is a zookeeper!) to constituents stranded everywhere from New Zealand to Peru. I have one member of staff spending most of her time just dealing with constituents stuck abroad and visa issues. I am sorry if in the torrid circumstances of the last few weeks that a few emails have gone astray but by and large I think we have been able to respond to 99% although not always with the desired solution.
I guess that most of us have had to find new ways of workings and mastered the technological intricacies of Zoom, Skype, House Party, Microsoft Teams and all other manner of downloads. Most days I am on conference calls to Parliamentary colleagues, ministers, local health managers, chief constables, local councillors and council officers, care home operators, clergy and a whole lot more. It may be an efficient way of working but it certainly seems to take up an awful lot of the day, and at weekends. My Westminster staff are all working from home and have been working over weekends too, in order to help clear urgent queries. The constituency office is closed but responding to voicemails and emails. Please do not direct post there as I am only occasionally dropping in and anything urgent will not be seen. I have suspended fortnightly surgeries and street surgeries but anyone needing a surgery appointment with me to discuss a case can leave their details in the normal way with the constituency office and I will call them back. You can email the office on email@example.com or call 01273 757182.
Parliament has been operating virtually from last week although this week I did visit Westminster in person for the first time in 5 weeks to take part in the debate on the important Domestic Abuse Bill and pick up supplies and papers from my office. Otherwise the technology is working quite well as colleagues are zoomed in on large screens from far flung corners of the UK and journalists comment on the merits of their respective wallpaper, bookcases or in my case, curtains! The Homes Affairs Select Committee I sit on met virtually throughout the Easter recess and we have so far produced topical reports on how the police are coping with the lockdown, the rise in incidents of domestic violence and on Wednesday we interviewed the Home Secretary.
In this newsletter I have included reports on previous events that I was not able to cover before and there are a few pieces of good news as well. However I have sought to concentrate on a roundup of up to date helpful information about how to cope in the Coronavirus crisis in an easily accessible form that you can keep for future reference.
You can download this leaflet by clicking HERE.
The Coronavirus section on my website at www.timloughton.com/coronavirus contains a great deal of information and useful links and this provides a guide and precis of what is there and how you can get the most out of it.
Can I finish by saying a big thank you for all those who are doing their bit by following the Government guidance to stay at home as much as possible and to those many thousands of volunteers who have come forward to offer help to more vulnerable members of our local communities? With only a few exceptions everyone is rallying round and it makes me very proud to see so many local examples of the true community spirit, empathy and generosity that perhaps we last saw after the Shoreham Air Show tragedy. But the biggest thanks of all must go to all our NHS and care workers and others on the frontline who have really stepped up to the mark and as usual put the service of others ahead of their own personal safety. It has been a challenging time for our hospital staff and care home workers in particular, but the system has been working tremendously well and the NHS has not been overwhelmed by a tsunami of cases which is what happened in other European countries.
Keep safe everyone.
Tim Loughton MP