As we leave behind what has been a difficult Winter for so many, we can look towards the Spring and Summer months where I am confident, and I hope you would agree with me, that things are looking up!
This week, the Prime Minister set out our Roadmap to Recovery and exit strategy out of nationwide lockdown restrictions. It is thanks to the resolve and perseverance of the public, and the extraordinary success of our fantastic NHS in vaccinating over 17.9 million people across the UK, that we now have this one-way road to freedom.
Throughout February, I have been having regular meetings with our local vaccine team and monitoring the progress here in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as weekly meetings with the Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment. Locally, our vaccine rollout has been a huge success and we have delivered over 350, 612 first doses across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, meaning that 1 in 3 of our adult population has had their first vaccine.
As the Prime Minister set out, the easing of restrictions comes in four stages, with at least five weeks between each phase. Each phase will have to meet four key tests:
- That the vaccine rollout continues successfully.
- That the evidence shows vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalisation and death.
- That infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations that would put the NHS under unsustainable pressure.
- That assessment is not fundamentally changed by new variants of Covid that cause concern.
Earlier this month, I was grateful for the opportunity to speak during the Second Reading of the Armed Forces Bill. This Bill enshrines the Armed Forces Covenant into law and is a very welcome step to ensure our armed forces personnel, veterans and their families are treated fairly while accessing key public services such as healthcare, education or housing. You can read more about this and my other contributions in Parliament below.
I am delighted to say that this month we have also made great progress on our bid to re-open Etruria Railway Station. The bid — which needs to be submitted by the 5th of March — has the backing of local businesses such as bet365, Wade Ceramics and Vodafone but also of charities and organisations such as the Canal and River Trust, Etruria Industrial Museum and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
In addition to this, our petition to show the Government that the plans have the support of residents has had hundreds of signatures already. I am grateful to each and every one of you who has signed the petition so far and to the many who have written to me to express your support for the plans. There is just one week left to sign the petition if you have not already!