Each Saturday, Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell gives an insight into the working week of a local MP.
Colchester market is about to be re-located to the High Street, but those with stalls in Culver Street East (St Nicholas Square) wish to remain. Sir Bob is supporting them.
Photo: Owen Howell
The House of Commons has been in recess this week, but it has been a busy week for me with five Advice Bureaux for residents every morning and appointments in the afternoons including a Ministerial visit.
Today’s Diary starts at lunch-time on Tuesday February 3 when I attended a briefing by the Pernicious Anaemia Society which I confess I had not heard of before. The treasurer of this national charity lives near Ipswich. The illness is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B12.
In the afternoon I went to the first of the week’s meetings of the Defence Select Committee. After this was a reception to promote Council housing, followed by the weekly meeting for Lib-Dem MPs. In the evening I attended an event by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
Before breakfast on the Wednesday I had a haircut at the saloon we have at the Palace of Westminster. The Secretary of State for Defence answered questions at the Defence Select Committee. Following my visit to the Falklands, I told him that morale was high but we needed to upgrade the defence infrastructure.
I attended three events in the afternoon. First was by Cancer Research UK to coincide with World Cancer Day. Next was one by the National Eye Research Centre; and then one by the Trading Standards Institute.
In the evening I was a guest at the annual dinner for the Federation of Small Businesses, before catching a late train home to Colchester.
Thursday was a packed day for which I had been excused attendance at the Commons – including a visit to Colchester General Hospital by the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, who I had the previous week asked to have a meeting. His afternoon visit lasted 90 minutes.
In the morning I opened the refurbished library at Roach Vale Primary School.
At noon I was at the unveiling of a statue of footballer Peter Wright at the former Layer Road home of Colchester United football club which is now a housing estate. Colchester-born, he was voted by fans as the Club’s greatest player of the last century.
I joined Peter’s widow in unveiling the statue.
As an infant, I lived in Nayland Road just a few doors away from the rising star Peter Wright. He was a generation older, and was my childhood hero.
Next came the Health Minister’s visit to Colchester Hospital. Afterwards I went to the Foundry Arms, Artillery Street, for a meeting with the East of England Ambulance Service to talk about “community defibrillators”. This public house is believed to be the first in our region to have one installed.
In the evening I took part in a Question Time at 1st Great Horkesley Scouts.
I was interviewed by BBC Essex on Friday morning about the pupil premium additional funds. Then I held an Advice Bureau. At lunch-time I walked into town to meet market traders, and called in at the Town Hall for the Annual Meeting of Colchester Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
Next I went to Crown Buildings in Chapel Street South for the official opening of the JobCentre which was previously next to the Town Hall. After this I walked to the other side of Abbey Field for a tour of Foxburrow Grange nursing home.
Later I went to Colchester Hospital for a meeting with a constituent and senior medical directors.
Saturday was spent on campaigning in Colchester before I drove to Norwich with my wife where I was guest speaker at the annual dinner for Norwich South Liberal Democrats. The MP is my colleague Simon Wright.
On Sunday morning I had a meeting with residents to discuss how best we can campaign to protect an area of open land from unwanted development.
I spent Monday morning in my constituency office before catching the train to London where I was number three for Home Office Questions. I stressed the importance of recruiting more Special Constables.
In the evening I attended an event by the charity Children’s Heart Federation, and then a dinner by the Industry and Parliament Trust where speakers talked about how we can help developing countries trade out of poverty.
First event on Tuesday was a breakfast briefing on “genetically modified insects and disease control”.
Next I had a meeting with the Cut Tourism VAT campaign for which I am a Parliamentary advocate. Reducing Value Added Tax from 20 per cent to five per cent would be a big boost for tourism, and jobs, in our region.
At lunch-time I attended the Back Bench Committee where I argued, along with Labour MP John McDonnell, for a debate on the future of local newspapers. Our request is now on a list for selection.
Then I went to a briefing by Ofcom about the status of electronic communications networks and services, which in the case of my Colchester constituency is mostly good.
Later I attended a photocall to mark the tenth anniversary of the Hunting Act.
Sir Bob Russell is the only Liberal Democrat MP in Essex and Suffolk.