Since I last wrote in September, it does not feel like we have stopped. Parliament has been especially busy as we have tried to make up for time lost during the pandemic. I have recently been overseeing the passage of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill through the Commons. I’m proud that the Bill will extend and strengthen protections for pets, farm animals and primates. The UK has a long history of leading the way on animal welfare. In 1635, Parliament prohibited pulling the wool off sheep and forbade attaching ploughs to the tails of horses. We have come a long way. I am very proud to be continuing this tradition.
Despite everything going on in Westminster, it has been great to get out and about lots in the constituency. I had an interesting visit last month was to DPA Lighting Consultants in Deddington. They design lighting installations for housing, hotels, public buildings and even cruise ships. I met Partner Nick Hoggett, who told me more about their exciting projects including work on the Imperial War Museum. I also enjoyed a visit to the Red Cow at Chesterton last month as part of my Pub Tour. It was wonderful to have so many constituents come along. We discussed everything from the Great Wolf development and the proposed Siemens development, to local care homes and women’s safety.
It has been great to continue visiting local schools during the Autumn term. At Bicester School, I enjoyed speaking to students about their experiences over the past eighteen months. The pandemic has been particularly tough for our young people and their development. This is why I was so pleased that students were able to return to schools for the new academic year. On another recent visit, Years 5 and 6 pupils at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School all told me they were glad to be back in the classroom.
I recently held my seventh annual debating competition to mark the end of UK Parliament Week. With last year’s challenge taking place virtually, it was wonderful to have students back in-person. A well fought final debating a motion on nuclear weaponry saw Sibford School walk away as this year’s champions, with an excellent team performance. I’m always impressed by local pupils’ awareness of issues and standard of arguments; this year was no exception.
I was really pleased to see that the Heyford Park Pharmacy was approved in October and should open sometime next year. This is a well-deserved victory for the local community. The pharmacy will serve the growing community.
As Christmas approaches, it is important that those eligible come forward and get their booster jabs. I’ve got mine booked as soon as I’m eligible in mid-December. Vaccines offer high levels of protection against Covid, but immunity reduces over time. As the weather gets colder, we need to make sure that our vaccine shield is as strong as possible.