I seem to have two sides to my job, one based in Westminster, one based in Bath...
...MPs generally spend Mondays to Thursdays in London, where the bulk of the parliamentary business is conducted. Fridays to Sundays are spent in the constituency. In London I take part in the national decision making process, but in Bath my role does not include any decision making. My role is to listen, advise, bring people together and influence decisions.
Over the summer I have met many groups and individuals relevant to my new role. I’ve met the council chief executive and the leader of the council; the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner and the chief constable; the new Metro Mayor; the chief executive and chair of the board of the RUH; the vice chancellor and chair of governors of Bath College, the chief executive of CURO; the management team at Julian House; as well as business organisations such as Visit Bath and the Bath Chamber of Commerce, (to name but a few).
Then there are the resident's groups, for example FOBRA (Federation of Bath Residents Associations). Also local groups - Save our Library; the new Oval Community Group; SOS, a Widcombe based group; and the Cleveland Pool Trust.
These are my favourite meetings. I enjoy the active engagement of people with a sincere wish to make Bath better and we are fortunate to have so many active community groups. As an experienced campaigner, I share their passion and frustration, knowing that only persistence will deliver results. As MP, I can ask questions on their behalf, I can offer to facilitate meetings, share information and seek to influence outcomes. However, I play no part in the decisions myself, many of them are either planning decisions or decisions to allocate funding.
Last but not least I meet people in my surgery who come to me, often as their last resort. Many of them bring heart breaking stories and are at the end of their tether against bureaucratic processes that make them feel like they are treated as cases, not people. Very often we are dealing with rules and regulations that punish those for whom life is already a struggle. Many face a battle with a government that gives diminishing support to the less advantaged. And that’s not how it should be.