The ongoing easing of coronavirus restrictions has made constituency visits much easier in the last few weeks. I’ve been able to meet the team of people behind the development of Dunton Garden Village, near West Horndon, and to catch up with the Managing Director of train company C2C, Ben Ackroyd, about transport in the area too.
The C2C visit was apposite, as this week people can start using the new flexible season tickets, which is one of the steps in the reform of the railways, as part of the recently launched Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.
With more people still working from home and not having to travel to the office every day, the tickets allow passengers to travel on any eight days in a 28-day period and introduce a ‘season ticket calculator’ to help people get the deal that best suits their needs, helping them save hundreds of pounds.
On Friday I was pleased to visit the fine staff and pupils of Ingatestone Junior School. Many of the older children wrote to me about plastic pollution while they were having to stay at home during the early part of this year and were keen to question me about the issue during my visit. They certainly put me through my paces, with intelligent queries about pollution, the environment, tackling racism and climate change.
I’ve also been talking to local travel agents about the difficulties they have faced as a result of the pandemic, and the travel traffic light system. I am very pleased the Prime Minister has speculated that people who are double-vaccinated may soon be able to travel back into the UK without having to quarantine and this is a policy I am actively pursuing with Ministers.
As we approach the summer and, hopefully, the end of restrictions, I look forward to working with the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, on the continuing roll out of the vaccine programme, and to returning us to normal life as soon as possible. Sajid brings a wealth of experience of government to his role and will, I am sure, be an asset to the country as we move into the next phase.