After months of sacrifice and endeavour, I believe that we are starting to commence the final stage of the battle against Covid-19. This week’s licensing of a vaccine which will start to be distributed nationally next week is a key turning point as was the end of the last national lockdown on Tuesday and the tiered re-opening of many normal areas of life. We can once again leave home, shop, worship, marry, enjoy team sports outdoors and enjoy hospitality within rules of six and appropriate bubbles. Hairdressers, restaurants, gyms and leisure centres can re-open and we can look forward to care home visits resuming as well as celebrating Christmas with others. I know how difficult the lockdown has been for many in Arundel and South Downs. Many write to me on fears for their businesses especially in sectors such as hospitality, events, beauty and wedding venues which have been hit terribly hard by the pandemic. I used the opportunity of questioning the Chancellor in Parliament again this week to press for continued financial support - it is no exaggeration to say that the support the Treasury has provided so far has been an absolute lifeline to many and we need these small businesses to power the recovery.
As our wonderful local High Streets seek to compete with the effective but often parasitic online retailers I welcome the announcement from the Government that will allow shops to choose longer opening hours to help with the recovery ‘catch up’ in the period leading up to Christmas and into January. Please continue to #shoplocal and #givelocal this Christmas as they really need your custom.
I am currently ploughing through over 300 fabulous entries from local primary school students to my Christmas Card competition all of which can be seen on my website andrewgriffithmp.com. This was an overwhelming response and a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who took part. This week I am sifting through them all, with the help of West Sussex children’s author and illustrator Andréa Prior - the author of A Parcel of Pigs and A Piddle of Puppies. Next week we will announce the winning entry and runners-up.
Finally, I am delighted to announce that Digby Fine English sparkling wine, made here in the South Downs - the heart of English wine making – was this week appointed official fizz of the House of Commons gift shop. This is a massive win for British wine growers and drinkers and means visitors to Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster from around the world no longer have to buy a bottle of inferior French stuff!