THE WEEK IN WESTMINSTER #7

My apologies that this update is late this week, but I have spent most of the weekend celebrating my younger brother's wedding! Getting married on Leap Year Day is a very sneaky way to avoid forgetting your anniversary...

Last week in Westminster, my personal highlight was undoubtedly speaking up for my constituents in Silverdale and the surrounding areas, during a debate which I secured on odours emanating from landfill sites. This was picked up by the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-51635941) and also the Sentinel (www.stokesentinel.co.uk/…/s…/the-rules-odour-not-fit-3888509). You can read my Facebook post from the day here: https://www.facebook.com/AaronBell4NUL/videos/1529819237180363/

In the House of Commons the most important business of the week was probably the introduction of the Environment Bill on Wednesday. This legislation implements our manifesto commitments and sets out a framework for the UK's environmental future outside the European Union. We are committed to tackling climate change and supporting nature recovery both around the world and here at home - whether through recycling more and wasting less, planting trees, safeguarding our forests, protecting our oceans or pioneering new approaches to agriculture.

There was also an important update from Health Secretary Matt Hancock on the Government's approach to coronavirus. Clearly this is an evolving situation as the spread of the virus around the world continues, and I recognise that many people here in Newcastle are concerned for themselves or their relatives. The Government has a clear four-point plan to respond to the outbreak of this disease: contain, delay, research and mitigate. We are taking all necessary measures to minimise the risk to the public - and our advice to the public is to take sensible precautions such as using tissues and washing hands more.

On Thursday and Friday I was able to undertake a number of visits and meetings around the constituency - including the two pictured. On Thursday I dropped in on the National Deaf Children's Society's Roadshow which was visiting Ravensmead Primary School in Bignall End: their work with both deaf pupils and their classmates is inspirational. I watched one of their workshops which was clearly having a huge impact on the children: improving their understanding of deafness and its impact, and exploring how they could help their deaf classmate. Thank you to Ravensmead for hosting the Roadshow.

And on Friday I went to meet Sarah & Catherine at the PeterPan Centre for Children with Special Needs on Hoon Avenue. This charity offers sessions for 0-5 year olds with special needs in a safe, secure and stimulating environment, and helps them and their parents to understand and decide the best way to meet each child’s health and emotional needs in a learning environment - which in turn will improve their experience at home, nursery and subsequently primary school. They do amazing work and I was so impressed by the dedication of all the staff there.

I now have another busy week lined up in Westminster including the first meeting of the Science and Technology Committee, which I am greatly looking forward to.

All the best,

Aaron