Each month I write my newsletter around the middle of the month as this is the time that seems to capture most of the many and varied copy deadlines for the parish magazines that go out in communities across the constituency. This month it happens to coincide with a Parliamentary recess and also half term. I hope that those who had a break enjoyed it – despite the varied British weather.
When Parliament is in recess it does not mean that MPs are on holiday. Recess offers a time when we can undertake visits which do not fit with the Parliamentary cycle of business when the House is sitting. For example, in my role as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria I sometimes visit the country in recess. Recess can also offer the opportunity to be out and about in the Constituency much more than in a usual week. In this recess that is precisely what I have been doing. I have spent most days out walking in a number of different communities stopping and chatting to those I meet. These ‘conversations on the street’ have proved to be very valuable to me in learn what issues are uppermost on people’s minds. I have had discussion on many things from Brexit to potholes including health, traffic, parking, Neighbourhood Planning and housing along the way.
With our system of central and local government it can be both confusing and frustrating to find out who to contact on particular issues. I do not sit at the top of our system of government where I have authority over our local councils. (I’m sure those who serve on our councils will be pleased to have this stated!) Each council has specific responsibilities devolved to it. Whilst I am always interested to know what is going on and where things are not working as well as they could, there are some issues raised with me that I cannot directly assist with. I have to refer to the relevant council for their view on the problem and to ask them to respond. I am happy to do this but it seems that there is an often underused resource in our local councillors. In addition to an MP every resident has an elected representative at the County Council, the District Council and several representatives on the Parish Council or Parish Meeting. All of these people have put themselves forward to work for the good of their communities. For all of us elected representatives it is important to know what issues are important to those whom we represent and to assist, as best we are able, with particular problems experienced in relation to the services of the organisation on which we sit.
Communications are vital and that is why I have taken the opportunity for these ‘conversations on the street’ which is an extension of what I do at the weekends throughout the year. I also produce a periodic electronic newsletter and briefings on specific issues as well as writing in these parish magazines. If you would like to subscribe to these please email me at email@example.com You can also follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/JohnHowellOxfordshire or on twitter @JHowellUK
If you would like to share your thoughts on an issue with me you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office on 01491 613072.
If you would like to know more about my work in Westminster, on behalf of the Government and the Constituency please do look at my website which is regularly updated. The address is www.johnhowellmp.com. Further details of the work of Parliament is available on the parliament website at www.parliament.uk. As always, I am interested to hear constituent’s views on the proposals before the House.