This is the last week before Westminster starts to sit again next Tuesday, after the bank holiday weekend. The last couple of weeks has seen obvious communications regarding the school examination results and we worked to assist those where we could. Whilst the approach of trying to reconcile the teachers predictions with a normal year appeared to me to be laudable and appropriate the algorithm produced was not up to the job and I think it was right to revert to the teachers assessments. This causes different problems, both in terms of year on year comparisons and University capacity, but these can be worked on. I have had various meetings during the week, including with constituents, members of the Police, the Town Council and businesses.

I have also been to London for a couple of days where I caught up with Jonathan from my London office and Sam from Local Trust who is supporting our “Left Behind Communities” APPG. We need to get our plans in place for when Parliament resumes and have started submitting questions for the new session.

I will be back in Wheatley Hill on Wednesday for a walkabout with the Police and neighbourhood services teams to pick up on issues we have had raised. We have also spent time this week planning for some visitors due this Thursday and Friday which I will share with you next week.

Brian Riley from the GAMP team is not well and I wish him a swift return to health, I am sure Paula and Victoria will continue to do a sterling job in his absence. The GAMP team have been very involved in the Covid support actions and I commend them.

I am delighted to support the team at Aycliffe Radio and ROF59 in their efforts this weekend thanking the Key Workers with a free drive in Music Festival, see for details. I am also going to be working with the Newton News team to support local businesses, particularly those most affected by the shut down and e-commerce changes (see my letter on page 3).

It is important for our children to head back to school in as safe a manner as possible and to do that we need to keep Covid-19 under control. We need them and us to wash our hands more regularly and robustly; wear face masks whenever necessary and give each other as much space as possible and we will give everyone the best opportunity to stay healthy.

Have a safe week.

Paul Howell

Member of Parliament for Sedgefield