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Julie Marson says she is listening to Hertford and Stortford constituents' concerns as Government eases coronavirus restrictions as planned in Stage 4 of Roadmap to Recovery

Julie Marson, MP for Hertford and Stortford, writes for the Indie...

I know this week and the relaxing of restrictions is a day many of us have longed for for some time now, and I wish to, first and foremostly, congratulate everyone in our area who has helped to make this next stage in our return to normalcy possible.

I particularly want to thank, once again, all those front-line workers in Hertford and Stortford who have risen to the unprecedented challenges they have been faced with and kept us all going throughout this difficult time.

The Government's confirmation last week that we would see Monday's easing of restrictions go ahead as planned during Stage 4 of our Roadmap to Recovery comes as a sigh of relief for us all. I welcome this move and know just how important these changes will be for so many of the fantastic businesses up and down our towns, villages and high streets which have faced such hardship as a result of past necessary restrictions. I remain eager to continue to visit and enjoy the brilliant products and services they have to offer with other residents wherever possible, and hope to hear of their continued successes in the coming weeks.

Of course, whilst this is a positive time for most of us, I do also recognise that it remains a challenging time for some.

I thank those constituents who have written to inform me of their concerns surrounding the further easing of restrictions and I wish to assure them that I have read their stories and comments with great appreciation.

The Government went ahead with the easing of coronavirus restrictions this week, but some people remain concerned over the speed of a return to 'normal'
The Government went ahead with the easing of coronavirus restrictions this week, but some people remain concerned over the speed of a return to 'normal'

I understand that, albeit an entirely different situation now to that of last March's considering our vaccination programme, this virus is, unfortunately, still with us. For anyone, or the families of those, with illnesses and other vulnerabilities, the removal of some of these restrictions can be scary and I have been sure to raise this with my parliamentary and ministerial colleagues wherever possible.

I wish to assure those who may, understandably, be nervous that the Government recognises their stance. I am reminded of their past and consistent commitment to ensure any major decisions in relation to the unlocking of our society have been, and will only continue to be, made when fully supported by the safety of scientific data, expertise and modelling.

I will, nonetheless, be sure to bear those more vulnerable constituents' positions in mind, and I encourage everyone else to do the same as we continue to go about our lives with the consideration and caution that makes our area such a great and safe place to live and work.

I am aware that there has been a lot of concern raised about the Test and Trace notifications – pings – and the need to continue to isolate and of the frustration this is causing. I am pleased that there are some exemptions for key workers now and that the overall policy change will come into effect on August 16 before children go back to school in the autumn, crucially allowing enough time to ensure as many adults as possible can receive their second vaccine doses in the meantime.

Once again, vaccination remains our best route out of this pandemic, and I continue to urge anyone who remains eligible and has not yet booked or received their jabs to do so now, particularly those in younger age groups.

Last week was a busy one in Parliament for other issues that I know matter to residents. Last Monday, I had the pleasure of speaking in the Adjournment Debate in Westminster Hall on the potential relocation of Public Health England to our neighbouring constituency, Harlow.

The economic opportunities this move will bring to our area are numerous, and I know residents are as eager as I am to continue to make sure we seize them for ourselves wherever possible. More skilled jobs for people will be provided, which is increasingly important as we look towards development of the Gilston Garden Town project that was detailed in my last column.

As co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Innovation Corridor in Parliament, I am keen to ensure this type of opportunity is available for our region. We have the necessary infrastructure, skills and accommodation to attract such moves and I will work to ensure it is delivered for our area.

Part of my role as co-chair of the Innovation Corridor APPG involves promoting businesses in the region. We are lucky to be in a sci-tech hub with the potential to lead the world in many innovation-led industries. To this end, I was fortunate to secure a question on supporting scale-up businesses with the Prime Minister to ensure he is aware of the importance that venture capital funding can have on helping local businesses in our area to reach their full potential.

The wider benefits of this for our constituency, our county and the Innovation Corridor will go further to put Hertford and Stortford on the map as a cutting-edge hub for these important industries of the future.

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