A FEELING of positivity and optimism is in the air and rightly so given the tremendous progress being made on the vaccine roll-out nationally but particularly here in Somerset, which according to the Health Service Journal at the end of last week, is currently the top performing health area.

Across the region 1 in 3 adults have received their first dose - an incredible joint achievement from health professionals, vaccinators, and volunteers. The R rate is now below 1 (at time of writing) and the PM will be making a statement on the roadmap for easing restrictions on February 22.

My office staff and I continue to meet with constituents via email, phone and Zoom to understand the issues facing them and feedback to Ministers as appropriate.

I had an informative catch up with a group of Somerset Young Farmers recently, where we discussed a range of issues facing them, from the health and wellbeing of those in rural areas to broadband challenges and opportunities with the new Environmental Land Management scheme.

Having been an active Young Farmer in my youth I realise what a huge amount this movement has to offer and I look forward to working with them to help foster links between the farming and wider community to increase understanding of where our food comes from and the importance of delivering a sustainable environment for us all. I believe we have all come to appreciate the importance of these things more during lockdown.

Finally, and extremely welcome, is the £1million that has just been allocated to Somerset County Council to support victims of domestic abuse and their children by providing safe accommodation for them.

Domestic Abuse is a heinous crime that leaves a devastating impact. Under a new duty (a key manifesto commitment at the last election that will come into force later this year through the Domestic Abuse Bill), councils will be required to provide support to victims and their children within safe accommodation.

MP for Taunton Deane