Rebecca's Weekly Column - 10th June 2020

Hot on the heels of the recent announcement that Wellington Rail station is edging a step closer to reality,(one of the key commitments I pledged to work on as the MP), comes welcome news this week that Musgrove Park Hospital (MPH) has been allocated funding to focus on developing the business case for the £450m rebuild of the hospital. I was pleased to have worked with stakeholders to secure this initial commitment for the entire upgrade (building on success with the new theatre complex); Government is fast tracking hospital upgrades across the UK, and certainly the MPH project will benefit people right across the region. As ever those working in our health services must be thanked for their dedication in respect of the Covid-19 demands.

The Government has announced that whilst primary schools won’t be required to open for all years for a month before summer, schools with the capacity will be able to welcome back some more children before the holidays. Our local schools have done an unwavering job in difficult circumstances and deserve heartfelt thanks and I continue to keep in touch to feedback messages to Government in terms of the pressures.

Farmers and food businesses continue to play a key role although some dairy farmers are facing difficulties and a new fund opens to provide some support for them on June 18th. The Government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended and the Job Retention Scheme updated to provide more flexibility for employers during this challenging time.

Whilst six people can now meet outside, from different households, social distancing must still be strictly observed. Crucially anyone with coronavirus symptoms (high temperature, new, continuous cough, loss or change of smell or taste) should book a test through GOV.UK. A new regional testing centre is open at Taunton Racecourse making it easier for those locally to access a test.

During Parliamentary sitting days I am now based in my office back in Westminster, where strict social distancing is observed, and I only attend the Chamber if engaged in a debate or voting. MP’s either shielding or self-isolating can vote by proxy and are able to participate in the Parliamentary proceedings virtually.