WESTMINSTER Report by Southend West MP Anna Firth.
PARLIAMENTARY Recess is always welcome, as it gives me a much-needed opportunity to focus my energies entirely on the constituency, which is one of my favourite parts of my work.
It offers the chance to take in everything we’ve achieved so far, and look ahead to decide how best to continue my mission to make Southend West safer, healthier and wealthier.
To that end, my dog Lottie and I have been making visits across the constituency over the last four weeks to engage with constituents and stay in touch with what really matters to them, in order to make the best possible representations in Parliament.
It has been great to see and discuss in person the issues my constituents write to me about every single day, to meet residents I wouldn’t always get to encounter, such as the people of St Martin’s Care Home, who made me very welcome, and to speak at Eastwood Baptist Church.
I made visits to every single ward across our constituency, including St Luke’s, which after the next election will become part of the new constituency of Southend West and Leigh.
It has been wonderful to see the depth of community, industry and care throughout the area.
Of course, continuing Sir David’s legacy is a key part of my commitment to Southend West, but what has been truly outstanding is to see how many of his values are reflected in our people.
It has been particularly lovely to see that Herd in the City, an initiative from Haven’s Hospices to create a family art trail across all of Southend’s landmarks, has created a beautiful elephant sculpture to commemorate Sir David and reflect his commitment to the constituency.
This tour has given me the chance to see these sculptures across Southend, letting me see our city with even more appreciative eyes. I look forward to the elephant statues finding their permanent homes at the auction later this month.
Such innovation is widely spread across Southend.
Visiting Olympus KeyMed’s facilities really reinforced this, and it was wonderful to learn that the work they do developing world-leading technology has been ongoing since 1987. I have also seen fantastic commitment to local businesses – it has been great to sample the widespread range of eateries and restaurants, such as The Beach Hut in Chalkwell, Nana’s Pita in Blenheim, Flavours Gelato in Eastwood, and Flour and Spoon in Belfairs.
I must also praise the work done by enterprises such as Shelby’s Salon in Blenheim, which seeks to make hairdressing as stress-free as possible for those with disabilities, and the great range of businesses now operating at Old Gas Works Business Suite. Lottie also particularly enjoyed the treats picked up at Bubbles Pet Care, and I feel hugely privileged to serve a constituency with such talent for entrepreneurship.
It makes me very proud to see the huge levels of commitment to fitness and health. Alongside the developments of tennis courts after an investment from the Lawn Tennis Association throughout the area, seeing the opening of the Sports Rehab Lab in St Luke’s assured me that the people of Southend will be able to fully commit to any Wimbledon-inspired tennis match, with access to brilliant advice and support if a serve were to become slightly over-enthusiastic.
I was also pleased to attend Operation Community, a monthly day of intensification that moves away from traditional reactive policing towards a proactive approach, designed to address local issues before they escalate. This is a robust move that will help to make Southend West a safer place to be, and I welcomed the chance to discuss with officers the approaches they are undertaking, and to be part of the movement towards safer and more resilient neighbourhoods.
It was also wonderful to learn more about the work of Domestic Abuse Awareness in the Workplace Now (DAAWN), who are making great progress promoting the perception of domestic abuse in the workplace, and are a crucial part of the steps that must be made to tackle it.
In a similar vein, unveiling the final defibrillator of the South Essex Area Defibrillator Instalment Project (SEADIP) drive with Mayor Stephen Habermel was very pleasing. The SEADIP drive, undertaken by Leigh-on-Sea and Thorpe Bay Rotaries, with the Carli Lansley Foundation, ensures that more of these life-saving devices are installed across the area, so that were an emergency ever to arise, people can receive the vital help they need, and more deaths can be prevented.
Lottie and I have really loved our daily walks throughout Southend this Recess, and we are cheered by the energy, warmth and strength of community that we have encountered.
I will continue to devote my energies to putting people before politics once the House sits again. It has been a joy to see the steps that we are taking towards fulfilling my mission to make Southend West safer, healthier and wealthier, and I look forward to making further strides in the coming months.
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