On Monday, we heard from the Prime Minister that the spread of the new ‘Delta’ variant of COVID has resulted in Government deciding to decelerate the roadmap out of lockdown in order to ensure that as many people as possible will have received a vaccine, and possess some immunity to the virus by the time restrictions are able to be fully lifted.
Vaccinations have now been opened up to everyone aged 23-24 and the gap between doses for those over 40 has been reduced from 12 to 8 weeks. While the 4 week delay is of course disappointing, I accept that it will allow the NHS to administer an additional 10 million second doses during this time helping to ensure that the easing of restrictions are irreversible.
Football fans have welcomed the kick-off of the UEFA Euro 2020 competition and I am sure we all wish the England team well in the upcoming matches. Sadly, the importance of first aid training captured our attention at the weekend as people watching on TV at home witnessed the Danish footballer Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest while playing against Finland. Lincolnshire is fortunate to have LIVES, a charity which provides first aid and CPR training to up to 20,000 people every year across our county. Last week, I met with LIVES’ CEO Nikki Cooke to hear about the important work they do and I have pledged to support a future campaign to bring new first aid training courses to schools and village halls across our local area.
The definition of ‘our local area’ has recently come under review following the publication of initial proposals by the independent Boundary Commission which decides how the country’s population will be divided into parliamentary constituencies of a roughly equal size. The report proposed splitting the Grantham and Stamford constituency, with Grantham growing northwards and Stamford and nearby villages becoming part of a new ‘Rutland and Stamford’ constituency.
Currently, constituencies range from 21,000 to 108,000 electors. Without the proposed changes, there will not just be an unfairness in the system with some MPs representing tens of thousands more people than other MPs, they could also end up representing people based on demographic, household and migration data that is over twenty years old. So while we are at an early stage in the review process, I welcome the overall need for reform.
On Friday, I met with the Care Quality Commission (CQC0 to discuss their work generally in our area and specifically regarding their engagement with our Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and with Lakeside Healthcare. Residents should be aware that the CQC carried out an inspection of the St. Mary’s and Sheepmarket GP Surgeries last week, viewing the facilities and interviewing staff. The finalised report following their inspection is set to be published at the end of this month, more information is available online at www.cqc.org.uk.
Finally, one of my favourite parts of this job is promoting Grantham’s businesses. Last week I visited the country’s leading tyre retread specialist, Vaculug, based on Gonerby Road, to meet their Executive Chairman, Haarjeev Kandhari, and his team. It was fantastic to hear how Vaculug has grown and adapted over the past 70 years, providing skilled local jobs while serving customers across the UK. Yet another example of a local business putting Grantham on the map!