I WAS pleased to welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, with the latest relaxation of measures to aid our recovery from the coronavirus crisis. I have been lobbying Government and championing the cause of West Dorset’s hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses for many weeks now. With tourism critical to the viability of our local economy, and thousands of jobs at potential risk, the Prime Minister’s statement coincides perfectly with my new campaign ‘Destination West Dorset’, to promote all that we have to offer in this beautiful part of the world.

From Saturday 4th July hotels, B&Bs, holiday apartments, caravan parks, campsites, pubs, restaurants and cafés across West Dorset can once again open for business, if they can do so safely. It was good to see the historic waterwheel at Palmers Brewery turning again, following an unprecedented break in its 225-year brewing history, and I know many brewers and distillers will now be eagerly anticipating re-stocking local pubs and restaurants.

It is reassuring that in the most recent update on the ‘R’ number, the South West is shown to have the lowest rate in the country at 0.6-0.9 and I am grateful that last week we had just two coronavirus cases in our local hospitals. However, as restrictions ease on social distancing, we must not become complacent, rather taking individual responsibility; using common sense, staying alert and adhering to all the sensible precautions that Government advises.

I end with extending my deepest sympathies to those bereaved following the shocking terrorist attack in Reading last Saturday. I gave a tribute to one of my own Parliamentary team during a speech in the House of Commons on Monday. He was in Forbury Gardens when the incident took place and selflessly ran to the aid of victims, giving first aid without concern for his own safety, and I am very proud of him.