We certainly cannot say that life has returned to normal, or even if it ever will, but thanks to your commitment and sacrifices during the lockdown period we have managed to keep our rate of infection low in comparison with other areas of the UK. We must not drop our guard, and social distancing will continue to be of vital importance for the foreseeable future. As the rules are gradually relaxed they necessarily become less black-and-white and more nuanced. We all need to use our common sense to achieve the goal of social distancing in all the situations in which we find ourselves. When shops and businesses start to re-open please show them the confidence that you feel in their future. Roads will be re-figured and pavements widened to make it safe to visit our local shops with confidence. You can make your stand for our local businesses by giving them your custom.
The easing of the general lockdown is made possible by a Test, Track and Trace scheme that allows local infections to be isolated without the whole community having to do the same. It’s great that the government has sited a new Regional Testing Centre at the Postwick Park and Ride. This is on top of the three testing sites at our A&E hospitals, the mobile military testing units and the national postal tests. It provides us with more than enough local testing capacity to deal with Test, Track and Trace.
I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to those in need by communities across the constituency. We have seen the best of each other in the springing up of community support groups, new friendships between neighbours, and particularly in the support being given to the elderly and vulnerable. I also want to pay tribute to the work of our councils. It is often tempting to complain about “the bureaucracy”, but as a new MP I have seen that parish councils, and the District and County Council have worked their socks off, supporting those most in need and getting government grant money out the door and in to local businesses as quickly as possible.
Away from the coronavirus, I have been working with my colleagues George Freeman MP and Duncan Baker MP to persuade the government to look properly at alternative solutions to the connection of offshore wind farms to the National Grid. It’s a complex picture, but the current system of individual connection corridors being dug 30 plus miles across Norfolk for each individual wind farm is clearly wrong and needs to be fixed. We have already met with the Minister responsible and are now tracking down Ofgem and National Grid. I am pleased to say that Ofgem has now been tasked with undertaking a review of alternative means of connection and I am meeting them shortly to push this further. There are plans to increase offshore wind generation from the current 8.5GW to no less than 40GW by 2030, so this problem is only going to get worse unless we address it. We all want to increase our renewable energy, but let’s do it sensibly.
Finally, if you have a problem with which you think I could help, please do get in touch. The best way is initially by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone on 0207 219 4733. Face to face surgeries will re-start as soon as we are allowed but Zoom works pretty well.
Jerome Mayhew MP