As I write this, I am in the midst of negotiations with Government regarding post lockdown COVID-19 tier restrictions. I have lobbied immensely hard to ensure that Rutland is not thrown in with Leicestershire and is tiered independently as the independent County that it is. I have made this case directly to the Prime Minister, Health Secretary and Health Ministers over the last two weeks, and I very much hope by the time you read this that I have been successful.
By Spring, our advances in testing and vaccines should reduce the need for economic and social restrictions, but the Spring is still months away and we are approaching the time when the NHS is traditionally under the most intense pressure. In the next few weeks, if the vaccines receive the go-ahead, I hope that we will have a local vaccination centre in Rutland and vaccinations under way before Christmas.
I’m acutely aware of the immense challenges Rutland businesses have endured over the pandemic and particularly throughout the national lockdowns. I’ve raised the need to bolster local businesses at this critical time and am pleased that Rutland County Council received £786,276 last week to provide grants to businesses forced to close in this national lockdown.
I’ve been working with my colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to secure and oversee the delivery of a comprehensive support package for charities across the country. I’m delighted to report that as part of this package, Uppingham First has received £3,623 so they can continue their work supporting our community.
From securing a Westminster Hall debate on this issue to submitting written questions to Government, I’ve been lobbying the Government to recognise the organised nature of rural crime and implement meaningful solutions to tackle it since December.
We have rightly had enough of organised crime networks seeking to exploit our rural way of life and I’m very pleased that Leicestershire and Rutland Police have heard these concerns and established a new team of specially trained Special Constables to tackle rural crime.
I am sure that our thriving Armed Forces community will join me in being utterly delighted by the Prime Minister’s announcements of the biggest investment in our defence in thirty years. This will better allow us to protect our nation and tackle the hybrid nature of the threats we now face. Equally I’m fully behind the Prime Minister’s 10 Point plan to build back greener and stronger.
Finally, I’m pleased that the Prime Minister has confirmed that there will be a time-limited adjustment to social restrictions during the Christmas period and that residents will be able to celebrate with their loved ones. I’m confident that will make informed and sensible personal judgements about their festive plans to keep us all safe. Thank you to everyone for your persistence.