Rushcliffe MP Ruth Edwards writes her monthly update for February 2021.
Ruth Edwards MP writes:
As we emerge from what seems like a very long winter, I am reminded of the words of Emily Dickinson:
‘A light exists in spring,
not present in the year.
At any other period,
when March is scarcely here’.
In the last week or two, this sense of nature’s re-emergence is all around us. The trees are coming into bud, the daffodils are starting to flower and the birds are finding their voice again.
But unlike previous years, this spring holds special significance for us all as well. We have all been in a kind of hibernation, waiting for the spring; staying at home, unable to see friends or loved ones and isolated from each other. As I said in my speech in Parliament last week, I could never have imagined the loss of freedom we have all had to bear this year.
But as with the inevitable turn of winter into spring, so the progress of the vaccine rollout moves us ever closer to the end of lock downs and restrictions. More than 20 million people have now received their first dose across the country and in Nottinghamshire, more than 54,000 doses of the vaccine were administered in a single week.
This means that 1 in 3 British adults has now received a vaccine, with the first doses having been given to the most vulnerable. In Nottinghamshire, 95% of care home residents, 92% of over 80s, 99% of 75-79 year olds, and 90% of 70-74 year olds have received a vaccine.
Over the February recess I volunteered at our local vaccine centre in Gamston and saw all the hard work going into the vaccine rollout. The centre had such a positive atmosphere and people were genuinely emotional to be getting a vaccine. I would like to take a moment to offer a huge thank you to everyone who is working or volunteering at the centre, you truly are making a difference.
I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister announce that the successful rollout means we are now ready to chart a road map out of lockdown. Subject to the tests being met, we will soon be able to move towards a normal life and the innovative, creative and truly fantastic shops, pubs and restaurants across Rushcliffe will be able to reopen their doors.
Although the news is increasingly positive, it is vitally important that we don’t get sloppy at this 11th hour. The latest figures from the NHS are certainly promising; with bed occupancy rates for COVID-19 falling in most places. But this doesn’t mean we couldn’t still see a reversal, particularly as we start to venture out.
We must continue to follow the rules, adhere to social distancing and keep transmission rates low.
Away from COVID-19, I have been championing the bid for an East Midlands Freeport which was submitted to the Treasury for consideration earlier this month.
Working with local businesses, groups and universities from Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire we have highlighted the need in our region for a freeport based at East Midlands Airport, Uniper’s site at Ratcliffe on Soar and the East Midlands Intermodal Park.
I recently coordinated a cross-party video with 15 other MPs from across the East Midlands, to highlight our support for the bid. If successful, this freeport offers huge economic, environmental and employment benefits and would generate around 60,000 new skilled jobs for the East Midlands and put us at the heart of the green technology revolution.
I say to the Chancellor: Say yes to the East Midlands Freeport!