Rutland Times Op-Ed 7th June

We have made considerable progress in our efforts to defeat COVID-19 and have now met the five tests laid out by the Government, allowing us to slowly and cautiously reunite with one another.

We can now move on to the next stage in our recovery confident in the knowledge that: our NHS can cope with COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths are significantly falling, the R value is at a manageable level, operational challenges such as PPE are being met and crucially, that any modest adjustment to restrictions to do not risk a second peak if properly adhered to.

Across the country we saw some key year groups return to school on Monday – the first significant step in our return to normality. On 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Years 10 and Year 12. My gratitude goes out to all the teachers and school staff who have kept schools open for the children of keyworkers and those children in need of additional support over the pandemic, and to all those now returning to school to make sure our children benefit from the education they need and deserve.

Locally, our area is also slowly returning to a new form of normality. Earlier this week Rutland Water re-opened and while I know some residents have concerns, I have been in close contact with Anglian Water who are working hard to protect residents and staff. I have also facilitated discussions between them and the Police to make sure residents can enjoy the beautiful site safely.

I must stress that our fight against COVID-19 is far from over, so we must utilise the lessons we have learned to inform our recovery. The new NHS Test and Trace programme will help us keep the virus under control as we gradually ease lockdown measures.

This programmes requires anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to share information about their recent interactions with the NHS, and if you are alerted by NHS Test and Trace that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with that person. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days and we need to protect our neighbours and communities.

I also wanted to update you that last week I wrote to the Managing Director of Bauer Media who purchased Rutland Radio last year about their plans to re-brand it as Greatest Hits Radio Rutland. I have urged them to keep the station’s content as local as possible, to protect jobs in Rutland, and to do all they can to protect the character of our local radio station. I have also spoken to the Minister for Radio alongside the Chair of the DCMS Select Committee and the Chair of the APPG for Media and Radio, but ultimately the decision sits solely with Bauer Media.

As ever, I am committed to supporting each of you as our community and country heals, so please do be in touch if you have an issue I can be of assistance with.