It has been well over 2 weeks since I last updated this blog and sadly there is no good excuse as to why not - no technological problems, no illnesses, no family engagements; quite simply I just seem to run out of time every day! Which is a shame really because I've done a number of things over the past few weeks that ordinarily deserve an immediate blog post. To make up for it I will post a series of articles after this on some key local issues and instead use this to give a general update.
The first thing to say is I now have a fully staffed, fully operational office in Westminster and I thank anyone who may have waited longer than usual for a response for their patience. We have also moved in the constituency and instead of being based in Gillingham I now have an office in Lordswood, Chatham. I will update my website with the contact details asap. Two out of 3 members of my staff are from the constituency which is an added bonus for me and those who need to contact me.
I have joined various All Party Groups including those on alcohol misuse, drug and alcohol harm reduction, mental health, carers and dementia. Groups like these produce invaluable cross-party reports on policy and can help contribute to the debate on issues that often fall within wider department portfolios, thus are forgotten or rank lower than the big picture/headline policy areas. I am also carrying on my interest in insurance and am secretary to the Insurance & Financial Services Group. Plus I have joined the football group and the football club group - the former talks about football policy such as bringing in technology, supporting grassroots etc and the latter is about actually playing (unless you are girl and the game is refereed by an FA qualified ref and then one is not allowed to play - ahem and grrrr).
I am meeting some really interesting groups, businesses and people in the constituency on Thursday evenings, Fridays and Saturdays and am continuously learning about new issues, best practice and future challenges. I have enjoyed opening fetes and summer festivals and there are still two more to come before the end of July. My surgeries are fully booked almost two weeks before and having decided to do a rota for venues (two in Chatham, one in Aylesford and one in Snodland) we're about to finish our first full 8-week cycle, just demonstrating how quickly time has gone by.
I shall try to set aside more time to update this blog during the week and now things are settling down I really have no further excuse not to!
ps - I forgot to say, I didn't stand for election to a Select Committee, wanting instead to concentrate my time on other things, but I would like to congratulate Rochester MP Mark Reckless for his election and commiserate with Reh Chishti who unfortunately didn't get elected.