Over August, Parliament went into recess, and that means I can devote more time in Tamworth and our villages. And this August has been a busy month for many people, despite all the Coronavirus challenges!
Only 8 miles from Tamworth on the 15th August, the Royal British Legion celebrated VJ day, the official end to the Second World War in the East, at the National Arboretum Memorial. To host such a momentous 75th anniversary is an honour, in memory to those that sacrificed so much over 6,000 miles from home. Our own Royal British Legion held a solemn service outside St Editha’s and I want to pay tribute to them for all the work they do to help and support the veterans of yesterday – and those of today.
With socially distanced visits more common, I visited the Shannons Mill Retirement flats in the centre of Tamworth. The team there have done a fantastic job in keeping residents safe but also maintaining that independent living. It is due a refurbishment soon and I met the Midland Heart team to ensure that it reflects the needs and preferences of those that live there. The residents themselves do a fantastic job in maintaining their “secret garden” in the centre of the complex. It really is very peaceful and attractive and a testament to all the green fingers living there!
For the whole of August, I have run my Summer of Small Business, highlighting a different business everyday across Tamworth and our villages. We have seen care homes, PPE factories, eateries, shops and even a chocolate factory featured! The positivity and admiration from the community towards our small and independent businesses is well deserved, and by buying from them or using their services it helps to keep more local jobs in Tamworth. One business I was really pleased to visit was Summit Systems in Wilnecote who are making really innovative PPE equipment for any organisation or business working to stay safe from Coronavirus. They have got some great ideas and it was a pleasure to visit them again.
A big boost for us here has been the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, where from Monday to Wednesday during August food and non-alcoholic drinks have been half price (up to £10pp), on top of a VAT cut too. We are serious about getting our economy moving safely again and supporting people as they return to work and leisure. I hope everyone who can do so will try to help out our economy and local businesses by eating out in Tamworth or in one of our local villages.
The effect of A-Level and GCSE results has, I know, been felt across Tamworth. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me and I am glad that my colleagues listened to words of parents, pupils and teachers and awarded predicted grades where applicable. It was clear that the algorithm devised by Ofqual (the body the regulates grades and exams) did not win the trust of pupils, schools or universities so rightly we decided to overrule it and allow teachers’ assessments to be used to grade pupils.
I think Tamworth is emerging from the ongoing pandemic with gusto and vibrancy. Liberating the Sir Robert Peel statue from his box feels symbolic of this month. August has seen new changes in the way we live, from Government to local initiatives bringing our community back together. We still have a long way to go and there may be some bumps ahead. We must stay on the alert, think of others at all times and stay safe. But we must also get on with our lives and be positive about our future. As always, I am here as your MP to help with any problems you may face, especially in these challenging times, so do not hesitate to contact me.