What a year. Surely 2021 has to be better than this?
For more than a decade I have represented us in Parliament and I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder or been more challenged by the terrain before us.
It is true, in any walk of life, that experience guides the hand of success but I certainly feel blessed to have had so much I can fall back on this year.
The early part of 2021 will (hopefully) be recovery from the pandemic; both in how we roll out the vaccine across Hampshire and seek to get economic growth going again.
Local MPs are being regularly briefed by Dr Nigel Watson, who is leading the county wide vaccine programme for the NHS, and it’s an impressive effort – with many people involved.
My message is simple, no-one is safe until everyone is safe so I shall be rolling up my sleeve, the moment I am called, to have the jab and I would ask you to do likewise.
We don’t have time for dangerous conspiracy theories (or politics), we just need to get vaccinated and I was pleased to take a look inside the Badger Farm vaccination centre before it opened on Tuesday. Please don’t just turn up, the NHS will call you and, remember, this will take time.
Not a universally popular sentiment I grant you but I have questioned in the House of Commons, on the 1st December and again this week, the Christmas relaxation policy across all four nations.
We are told that that household mixing is where the danger lies – much more some might say than the tightly regulated environment of our hospitality sector – and to quote the Prime Minister in his recent letter to MPs “It would not take much loosening for the transmission rate to rise again”.
So I do ask why - no matter how much I understand the desire not to be the modern day puritans and no matter how much I want a normal Christmas this year – Ministers announced relaxing the rules so widely for five days at Christmas?
To echo a phrase, that could be to trip on the last barbed wire and blow it just as the cavalry (in the form of the vaccine) comes into view. My hunch is that many people will have already decided for themselves to be jolly careful with elderly or more vulnerable family members and, frankly, I salute their good sense.
Secondly, plans known as Royal Down have sparked a response from my constituents which I haven’t seen since the start of the Barton Farm campaign in Winchester many years ago.
As I have said in the local and national press, another part of our precious landscape setting is on the line here and that seems to have struck a chord with many of you. I understand nearly 4000 people have now signed the Save South Winchester petition.
We should be under no illusion, this is a clear threat to our community so I urge you to let your City councillors know how you feel before any decisions are taken from which there’s no turning back.
And finally, not least because I have received inquiries close to home, I have made inquiries with the PM who has confirmed Santa Claus will be delivering presents this Christmas despite the pandemic.
He has spoken with experts (not for the first time this year) and has assured me that Father Christmas will be packing his sleigh and delivering presents this Christmas. And because he’s magic, the WHO have confirmed he is immune to Covid. Phew!
I wish all readers of the Hampshire Chronicle a merry and healthy Christmas.
Steve Brine MP