ON TUESDAY, the Prime Minister announced an ambitious ‘New Deal’ for the country, bringing forward £5bn of capital investment projects. My responsibility, on behalf of us all here in West Dorset, will be to ensure that we receive our fair share of funding locally; to help tackle our own gaps in skills and productivity. Whether improving our NHS, building new homes, upgrading our schools and colleges, or being part of a national ‘infrastructure revolution’ for rail and roads, it is critical that we gear up West Dorset and well and truly get back on the map.

The follow-up National Infrastructure Strategy is a big vision which I’m pleased includes plans to protect the UK’s natural infrastructure and biodiversity, with a major boost for tree planting and conservation.

Also on Tuesday, I joined a very productive ‘virtual’ meeting with members of Dorset and Dorchester Chambers of Trade, when we discussed business, investment and other topics; working together towards recovery at a local level.

With a relaxation in measures for the shielded, the prospect of now leaving their homes may be daunting. To reassure, there is no pressure for those shielding to venture out until they feel confident. In the meantime, help with food deliveries, medicines and other services is still available through Dorset Council’s community response helpline on 01305 221000, available 9am-6pm, Monday to Saturday.

I know constituents are concerned about overcrowding on beaches in Dorset, with issues around social distancing, anti-social behaviour and littering. We have not experienced any major incidents on our own West Dorset beaches, although we do have our fair share of irresponsible littering. Although it is easy (and often justified) to judge the behaviour of others, I believe we must also set our own good examples and continue to stay alert and take personal responsibility.