LAST Friday I was invited to visit the large vaccination centre at Taunton Racecourse and I only have praise for what I saw (all socially distanced of course).

Volunteers were helping to direct people in, the centre was running like clockwork and there was a general air of positivity. It is thanks to totally joined-up partnership working locally involving the health and care sector, public services and volunteers that the rollout is progressing effectively in Somerset.

In my weekly briefing with local stakeholders I received assurances that Somerset remains on track to meet the national target of all four vulnerable groups receiving their first dose by mid-February. The Somerset rollout has been boosted by the opening of a second large vaccination centre at the Royal Bath and West Showground. It joins a total of 17 vaccination venues now open across the county.

I recently met (virtually) with a group of local head teachers, who are doing a phenomenal job keeping our schools open for the children of key workers and vulnerable students and providing remote learning for others.

They deserve huge praise and thanks for the role they are playing. I am pushing the case to get the teaching profession prioritised (with the hard-working early years staff and those who work in our special schools as part of this too) once the vaccination rollout progresses to the next phase.

I am absolutely delighted that the Tone Works in Wellington has been awarded almost £350,000 through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. In a visit in 2017 with the Culture and Heritage Minister, I remember setting out the unique opportunity, based on the nation’s textile heritage, that this site provided and I have continued engaging on the issue with Historic England since then and many groups have also been involved.

The site is thought to be the only surviving example of its kind in England and has remarkable local and national significance. Preserving this unique heritage will give it a new role in the community and importantly this funding will help support the livelihoods of many people with specialist heritage skills.

MP for Taunton Deane