John Stevenson MP Bulletin – Summer 2020
“As we enter the Parliamentary summer recess it is an opportunity to reflect on the last few months.
It has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone. We have lived through an unprecedented crisis which has had a huge impact on our daily lives, our health, and our economy.
As MP for Carlisle, it has also been a very different experience for me representing the city. In many ways it still is, although we are starting to return to some degree of normality.
When lockdown began, I thought the office would be much quieter than normal – how wrong I was! There was a huge surge in correspondence and enquiries, particularly around the economy and the support which the Government has been giving to business. There were also a significant number of travel issues for constituents. I never knew there were so many people from Carlisle across the world in April! I’m pleased my office and I were able to help a number of them find their way safely back home.
The local health authority, police force and councils have kept me and my colleagues appraised of what they have been doing in response to the coronavirus – and raising any problems at a national level with us. The hospital in particular was at the forefront as they dealt with a significant number of patients who had contracted the virus. They also had to ensure that the staff were well looked after.
Parliament functioned very differently with remote working to start with, then the development of a hybrid format before returning to a more traditional, but restricted environment.
I have continued to work with my Select Committee and the several All-Party Parliamentary Groups which I chair. Many of these have been conducted remotely rather than in person. I am sure many of you will have experienced a huge number of zoom and virtual meetings also. Whilst I still think meeting in person is preferable, we do have to be thankful that we live in an age where this technology has allowed us to continue to work in some capacity – and of course, keep in touch with friends and family.
Surgeries have been more limited than normal, though I still have carried out telephone surgeries and a large number of zoom/team appointments and meetings. Hopefully we will return soon to the more traditional face to face meetings, all be it with respect to the requirements of social distancing and practical common sense.
Travel to and from Carlisle and Westminster has recommenced, and though I was initially amazed to have carriages to myself, the number of travellers returning to the rail network has increased more recently – although still far fewer than would normally be the case. I never thought I would be nostalgic for a crowded train carriage.
For everyone, holiday, work life and social life has been very different from the usual. I can’t help but think that this is likely to continue for some time as we, rightly, do what we can to ensure there is no “second wave” – though it is important we do what we can to safely return to the way of life we used to enjoy.
I will continue to represent our great city and ensure that many of the projects that were in the pipeline, before this terrible virus descended, continue to progress. We need to ensure that as we do come out of this crisis – economic as well as health – that the opportunities for growth, employment and building a successful city are still there.
I am hopeful that we have some examples of this coming to fruition in the near future. The city ring road has secured additional funding to ensure it goes ahead. The garden village is being developed. The railway station will see a £15 million investment. The Sands Centre redevelopment will commence. The Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund will continue, and many individual businesses will revive their investment commitments. We must continue to seek inward investment into our region, as we've seen recently with the arrival of Amazon which can only benefit our city.
It's just been an incredibly difficult few months and it is clear that we will have some difficult times ahead. But I do remain upbeat and confident that our great city of Carlisle will rise to the challenges and continue to develop and prosper over the coming months and years.
I wish I could tell you when – or even if – things will return to normal. But the truth is I can’t – and I don’t think anyone can at the moment.
What I can do, however, is wish you the very best for the rest of the summer.”
John Stevenson MP
Contact John Stevenson MP:
Phone: 01228 550684
Post: 2 Currie Street, Carlisle, CA1 1HH