Parliament is in recess and summer is upon us. Well, the British summer anyway, which for most of us is a mixed bag of sunshine tempered with some very heavy rain.
I am still receiving plenty of notes, letters and emails from people across North Northumberland.
I am delighted that young people have been writing to me. Sometimes it is easy for some to become disillusioned with politics, but to see young people engaged and eager to debate reminds us what democracy is about and how we must engage young people for our future.
It is with this in mind that I will be featuring issues that are important to us all, particularly younger people.
Brexit still dominates headlines, and rightly so, given its importance to our future and the chances it presents. Discussion about what course we take is in the very best tradition of our nation, and the fact we can enjoy this discourse is something to be celebrated.
However, we must make sure that debate doesn’t cross the line. We all want what is best for our nation and we must come together in unity of purpose whilst embracing debate for a brighter future.
While there have been some issues since the vote to leave the EU, economic news remains positive. Unemployment is at its lowest since 1975, retail sales have increased by nearly three per cent since last year, and manufacturing orders are at their highest level since 1988.
Equally key to our future is investment in education and I am encouraged that a £1.3billion boost for core school funding has been announced, meaning school funding will be £2.6billion higher.
This comes as we transition to a national funding formula and allows for an increase in the basic funding for all pupils and schools. The Government is investing in our children and grandchildren, which is vital for the future of this country. It gives everyone a start that can equip them to make the best of their talents. That is the future we should all be fighting and working hard for.
We are also investing in adult education for those who change career, and by 2020 there will be more funding for adult education than at any time in England’s history.
The cornerstone on which education sits is our local authorities and I am pleased that the new administration in County Hall is already starting to make a positive impact.
It is investing in our future and getting down to the task with common sense decisions that will benefit our area, such as to pause the failed coach scheme in Berwick. It is vital for the prosperity of Berwick that we can welcome coaches in a way which does not detract from the heritage of the town and does not adversely affect residents. These are the sort of community-friendly policies we should be expecting from elected local officials.
Last month, it was the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. There were commemorations to the 550,000 wounded, missing or killed, who sacrificed their lives in one of the most gruesome battles in the First World War.
It gives us pause to think of our armed forces, our brave veterans and those who have put our nation first in the most selfless manner. It makes me think of the support we give them, particularly the new Veterans’ Gateway.
This is a first point of contact for veterans, which allows them to find the support they need. I am interested to hear of experiences of people using it.
I wish you all a restful summer, and hopefully a sunny one.