As I write, we have had several weeks of glorious weather before entering June, with warm sunny days providing the main relief from the dark shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to disrupt many of our usual freedoms.
I have considerable sympathy with those who have been coping with the lockdown in cities, where outside space and access to nature is limited. One of the many reasons people choose to make their lives in South Shropshire, or to move here, is for the beautiful countryside we enjoy. At a time where we have had to limit our exposure to others, I know for many people our countryside has been invaluable.
But equally, I feel for those who would usually be putting much dedicated time and effort, often for free, into the many community events we enjoy in South Shropshire over the summer months. As we do not know how long this wretched virus will be with us, planning events even months in advance has been impossible. Great stalwarts of the South Salopian summer calendar have had to be cancelled – like Burwarton Show this August – or postponed.
So it will fall to many of us to have our own DIY summers, if we want to retain some of the fun and sense of community such events bring. Having seen how our communities came together to mark VE Day with social distancing, or the weekly clap for carers that sees neighbours united in celebration of NHS, care and essential workers, I feel confident that we will see similar community spirit during this summer.
I write ahead of publication, but easing some of the lockdown measures, including allowing for more time outside and the resumption of some sports that lend themselves to social distancing, with hopefully a gradual opening of more non-food shops and leisure activities, will help avoid a stir-crazy summer – especially when I anticipate overseas travel continuing to be severely restricted.
I hope this cautious resumption of some freedoms means we are slowly getting back to normal. But this will continue to be conditional on the rate of new infections not reigniting. We are all aware of what we are trying to do as a country to beat this virus. So it falls to us all to use common sense, and try and reduce our chances of spreading the disease as much as possible.
One of the impacts of the disruption to Parliamentary business from coronavirus has meant my Private Members Bill, to clean up Britain’s rivers, had been meant to start its passage in the House of Commons before the summer recess, but has now been pushed back to October. I remain hopeful it will have enough time to get through the House of Commons and make it into law, but timing is getting tighter.
I am also highly doubtful I will be able to undertake my summer routine of driving my campervan to smaller villages in South Shropshire to hold my mobile advice surgeries – due to the need to social distance. But as ever, you can contact me by email on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to raise an issue.
Keep safe and well.
Rt Hon Philip Dunne
MP for Ludlow