TOGETHER with countless others, my thoughts are with Sarah Everard’s family and loved ones at this devastating time.

As the Prime Minister has said, all the answers must be found to this horrifying crime. Linked to the many questions and understandable concerns this incident has sparked the Government have re-opened a call for evidence (until March 26) to collect more views on crimes considered as violence against women and girls.

On the Covid-19 front, all businesses in England are now able to sign up to the Government’s free workplace testing programme, including those with fewer than 50 employees. Businesses can register to order tests if: they are registered in England; and employees cannot work from home. Registration must be on or before March 31; for more details.

Still on business, farmers have just received details of the new Sustainable Farming Initiative, which is the first tranche of the new system that will move farmers onto a payment for delivering public goods scheme (largely with environmental benefits attached) now that we have left the EU system and anyone interested in being part of the initial pilot must register from Monday.

Leaving the EU provides potential opportunities for wider business and next Friday (March 26) I am chairing an online meeting for businesses across Taunton Deane in conjunction with officials from the Department for International Trade to raise awareness of services the Department provides to grow businesses internationally.

There will also be information on how to receive updates on the latest Free Trade Agreements.

There are a small number of spaces still available; please contact if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity.

At the end of last week, I really enjoyed speaking virtually to Year 6 pupils at Thurlbear Primary School about their experiences during this past year. Needless to say, one and all seemed pleased to be back in the classroom and a carefully thought out Covid-19 aware system is running smoothly within the school helping everyone feel safe.

Huge thanks to the dedicated staff everywhere who have managed to get our children safely back to school, it’s an important step on our way back to ‘normality.’


MP for Taunton Deane