I didn’t think I’d be writing about Covid ever again: at least hoped not to be. I had my own 1st April surprise with a positive Covid test. I’d started to wonder if I was invulnerable to it after all this time given the higher risk lifestyle of daily public transport and the huge number of interactions MPs have, not least crammed in together on the green benches.
But no, just a day into the Easter recess it got me probably from a fellow MP. An unpleasant experience of one day feeling OK, another dreadful. Thankfully the rollercoaster has stopped, the test is negative but left a little jaded. Glad to get it out of the way though with an immune system further boosted by the real thing.
It hasn’t kept me away from the media particularly on the back of the government’s new Energy Security Strategy to ensure greater self-reliance. The strategy has many good points to encourage domestic exploration of what the North Sea can still offer which has to be better than imports; had many warm words about nuclear that I’m all in favour of but remained fixed on more renewables as the solution whilst glossing over the problem of intermittency of wind and the obvious problem of solar once the sun goes down.
This is the part of the puzzle that no-one is addressing and what I believe could usefully be addressed by considering shale gas extraction given that gas use will be with us for many years. The government has asked the British Geological Survey to undertake some serious work on the ‘science’ of fracking so not a green light but at least the door is left open.
The Ukraine war continues and the extent of the war crimes being committed by Russian forces becomes more apparent by the day. The Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv to support President Zalensky was a powerful message that this country stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in the provision of military and financial support. The fact that the PM could travel by train from Poland without the fact leaking was a surprise in itself – if only Whitehall could behave in the same way.
There are many assets owned by local councils. Thanet has a multitude of them, often acquired through historical happenstance of a bygone age. We enter a political and philosophical argument as to what local councils are for and this is a thread that has been picked up by the Public Accounts Committee which I serve upon. Should councils attempt to be landlords or attempt to run a commercial enterprise? In the case of an asset which returns a good rental yield – probably yes, worth holding onto but in the case of assets which struggle to earn their keep or cross over the line into a commercial enterprise best suited for the private sector – probably not. The reason I raise this is because of the various enquiries I get by groups seeking to acquire community assets which may be better run privately or by charitable/community groups. An expansive topic.
As we move into Spring, our most vibrant economy of tourism shakes off the winter. Our tourist offer suffered last year due to various failures of Southern Water. To that end I have been trying to organise a public meeting for the community to put their questions to the executive team of the company. Getting a date to suit all has proven difficult and Covid restrictions had taken many possible sites out of use but I am pleased to announce that this meeting will take place on Thursday 21st April 6.30pm to 8.00pm at the Royal Harbour Academy (Upper site), Stirling Way, Ramsgate. On the panel will be Ian McAuley, CEO of Southern Water, Dr Toby Wilson Chief Environment & Sustainability Officer, an attendee from the Environment Agency and Ash Ashbee Leader of TDC. I shall be chairing the meeting. It will be advertised on all of my social media channels but do take the opportunity to advertise widely. In the meantime to register please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a maximum attendance of 166 and by confirmed ticket attendance only.