My monthly column was published in today's Sentinel - the text is below.
I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister set out our plan for living with Covid earlier this week. The truth is that Covid-19 will not suddenly disappear and we need to learn to live with this virus. If we were to wait until Covid had been completely stopped, we would be restricting the liberties of the British people for too long.
From today the Government is: removing the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test; no longer asking fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 to test daily for 7 days, and removing the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate; ending routine contact tracing; ending the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
From 1st April, the Government will also remove the current guidance on voluntary Covid-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS Covid Pass.
Additionally, a spring booster vaccine will be offered across the UK to those aged 75 and over, older care home residents, and those over 12 who are immunosuppressed.
All of the above has been achieved thanks to our world-leading vaccine rollout and the willingness of the British public. I am glad that we can move away from government restrictions to a position of personal responsibility. Our response to Covid can now be treated in line with other viruses and this will allow people to get back to normal, while ensuring that the vulnerable remain protected.
Because of the decisions this Government took - both last summer and over Christmas - to avoid lockdowns and focus on vaccinations and boosters, we are now one of the most open societies in Europe, and our businesses are recovering, leading to strong economic growth.
As we further open up our country and widen our freedoms, I recently had the pleasure of visiting a broad range of organisations and businesses in Newcastle-under-Lyme. As Parliament was in recess last week I was delighted to spend my time in the constituency. This included visiting Newcastle College, Newcastle Fire Station, Staffordshire Police’s contact centre, and several local businesses. It was brilliant to learn more about the diverse businesses in our town, and a privilege to meet the people who help protect us on a daily basis.
Over the past two months I have been carrying out street surgeries and delivering my newspaper. Getting out and around the constituency and engaging with residents is the best part of my job. If you do see me around then please feel free to stop me and have a chat. If you receive a letter from me about a street surgery please be sure to place it in your window and I will come and speak to you.
I have also been getting my steps up by delivering more of my newspapers. In it I have set out what I am doing to address local and national issues. I have been out recently in Galingale, Thistleberry, Porthill, Poolfields and Knutton. If you have not received one yet please be patient, as there are 35,000 in total so it will take some time to get them to everyone.
One of those local issues continues to be the focus of my radar: Walley’s Quarry landfill. I know residents were shocked at some of the revelations I made in my Westminster Hall debate at the beginning of the month. In the debate I also noted that the scale and nature of waste crime in this country is beyond the capacity of the Environment Agency as a regulator. Therefore I welcomed the recent letter from Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council to the head of the Environment Agency, officially complaining about their regulatory failure at Walley’s Quarry.
I will continue to raise these matters at Westminster and do all I can to help Stop The Stink.