By the time you read this, Parliament will be in Recess and I will be joining those of you making last minute preparations for Christmas. I consider my self very fortunate to be sharing Christmas with not only my own family but also my sisters. Like all other families we will also be remembering and giving thanks for the family members that have passed on.
During the last few days before the Recess shopping was on the Parliamentary agenda too. Christmas is an important time for our high street retailers and last week saw the publication of the Portas Review of the future of the high street. With more people using the internet for shopping, there is real concern for the future of our local shops.
I was delighted that the experience and ideas of our BIDs teams in Truro and Falmouth was recognized by the review. Both are important shopping centres, along with villages such as St Agnes and Porthscatho where retailers have worked really hard to ensure vibrant and enjoyable shopping.
I have been a firm supporter of Business Improvement Districts(BIDS) since their introduction. BIDs enable local businesses to raise money and spend it as they choose, as they work in partnership with others to support shopping centres.
Falmouth and Truro are distinct shopping experiences, yet are equally successful in creating festivals and events that also help develop a sense of community. The respective BID teams at the same time, along with the town and city council, work hard to keep the built environment clean, tidy and attractive.
The Government has committed to carefully considering the recommendations of the Portas Review and I hope Cornwall Council will too. Much of the support for our town centres need is in the hands of our locally elected Cornwall Councillors.
On the last day of Parliament I led a debate on the new rail franchise for Cornwall. Early in the New Year the process for deciding which companies run our local rail services starts. I am determined to ensure that the service meets the needs of my constituents and am pushing for improvements. I am very pleased by the support I received from colleagues of all political parties from across the south-west.
Of course Christmas is so much more than shopping and festivities and the initiative of Truro Cathedral to remind us at this special time to remember all those less fortunate than ourselves and donate what we can to help them is much appreciated.
I want to personally thank all those constituents who will be working over Christmas and the New Year to help those in need, and to protect our community. From our armed services and emergency services, to those at St Petrocs providing shelter to the homeless and the many people who will be volunteering to cook a meal for homeless people or inviting a neighbour to share a meal or just spend some time together.
While this is a difficult time for everyone, with so much uncertainty about the future, in the company of friends and family there is still much to be thankful for.