Welcome to my Winter Newsletter!
It gives me great pleasure to share with you my two Christmas cards this year, comprising winning designs submitted to my Christmas Card Competition by primary school children in Guildford. The first card features a design by Madison Jessop from Queen Eleanor's C of E Junior School on the front and three submissions from her colleagues at the same school on the reverse: Lauren West, Josie O'Grady, and Jack Lee.
The second card features on the front a design by Chrissa Kan from The Lighthouse Specialist Centre for Deaf Children at Guildford Grove Primary School and one on the reverse by Sofia Henriques, who also attends the Lighthouse Specialist Centre.
On 2nd December lockdown restrictions were lifted in England and we have returned to a tiered system. Surrey is in Tier 2, which means that you can only meet family and friends indoors if you belong to the same household or if you formed a bubble.
You can see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) outdoors, in a group of no more than 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age. You can continue to meet in a group larger than 6 if you are all from the same household or support bubble or another legal exemption applies.
You can find more information on Tier 2 here.
Christmas Coronavirus Guidelines
From 23rd December to 27th December, you may choose to form a 'Christmas bubble', composed of people from no more than three households.
A Christmas bubble will be able to spend time together in private homes, including second homes and caravans, to attend places of worship, or meet in a public outdoor place.
If you do form a Christmas bubble , you should not meet socially with friends and family you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble. In all other settings, local restrictions belonging to the adequate tier are in place.
If you do not form a Christmas bubble, you should continue to follow the guidance for the tier you are in.
From 28th December you must go back to following tier guidelines.
The full guidance for the Christmas period is available here.
Debate on the Tourism Industry Post-Coronavirus
Britain is renowned for its rich culture and, in usual times, tourism is an integral part of our economy. Guildford is a popular destination with tourists, with something for everyone, from keen photographers interested in picturesque landscapes, to architecture buffs and history enthusiasts. I spoke in the House of Commons debate on tourism post-Covid, welcoming the financial measures introduced to support businesses impacted by the fall in tourism. I also called for the hospitality VAT cut to be extended to March 2020, which I am pleased has since been implemented by the Government.
My contribution to the debate.
Question to the Prime Minister on the NHS
I am proud of all the achievements of our NHS and particularly of the world-renowned care offered at the Royal Surrey Hospital. This is why I am passionate about making sure that the Government is taking a balanced approach to protecting the NHS and ensuring that everyone in Guildford and nationwide can access excellent care locally, when they need it. I was delighted to receive confirmation from the Prime Minister that he shares in this ambition.
My question to the Prime Minister.
Fighting for Guildford's Renowned High Street
High streets up and down the country have been heavily hit by Coronavirus, with some struggling even before the pandemic. In Guildford, I want to see a reinvigorated high street, with a variety of choice for all tastes. That is why I raised the issue with the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets in the House of Commons Chamber and I will continue to work with the Government and local organisations to see that our high street is protected and achieves its potential.
Question to the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets
Welcoming Funding for Guildford's Treasured Arts Sector
Our treasured arts sector is a key reason why millions of tourists visit the UK each year. Guildford is home to a variety of cultural institutions, and I was over the moon to see funding awarded to Guildford Shakespeare Company, Watts Gallery, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and The Boileroom through the DCMS 'Here For Culture' funding announced in October. I was also pleased to visit Watts Gallery shortly after the announcement to discuss the future of the arts sector in Guildford, the role of art in our lives and the life and work of George Frederic Watts.
Meeting Alistair Burtenshaw, Director of the Watts Gallery.
Virtual Meeting with YMCA Guildford
I am also proud to represent Guildford in Parliament, because of our constituency's proud charitable past. YMCA has had a presence in Guildford since at least 1870 and has been operating out of their Centre in Bridge Street for over 25 years. They provide a range of services including student accommodation, supported accommodation, and counselling, aimed at local vulnerable young people, but also young refugees. I was delighted to hear from Paul Napthine, Head of YMCA Guildford, about the wonderful work done by the charity locally, and look forward to being able to visit their centre in person.
Meeting with Paul Napthine, Head of YMCA Guildford.
Briefing on the Surrey Local Resilience Forum and
I received a comprehensive briefing from Steve Owen-Hughes, Surrey’s Chief Fire Officer and Chair of the Surrey Local Resilience Forum, who covered a number of topics, including the challenges that the services face, the response to those challenges, and future plans to make sure that Surrey is kept safe. I was particularly happy to hear that the Community Resilience Team grew by 104% in recent months and that the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting more firefighters to help keep residents safe. I also extended my thanks to all emergency service personnel in Guildford and across Surrey, for their continued dedication and hard work, as we are still battling the Coronavirus pandemic.
Local Resilience Forum and Fire Service briefing.
Your Fund Surrey
Surrey County Council has launched ‘Your Fund Surrey’. This exciting scheme will see £100m made available to fund projects that enhance our local community. Projects must fit with the aims of Surrey’s Community Vision and have the support of the local community. To find out more and submit your big idea, please click here.
New Local Covid-19 Testing Site at the University of Surrey
A new walk-through Covid-19 testing centre opened at the University of Surrey, in October. This new centre greatly increases our local testing capacity and will help us in the fight against the virus.
I continue to pay tribute to everyone for following the rules, protecting the NHS and saving lives. I urge anyone who experiences symptoms of Covid (a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change in smell or taste) should immediately book a test and self-isolate until they receive results.
As ever, should you require any kind of support, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me, by e-mailing my office at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please note that, over the festive period, my office will only be able to deal with urgent enquiries, with other requests set to be progressed after the holidays. Thank you very much for your understanding.