IN recent weeks, I’ve been keeping in touch with businesses in retail, hospitality and tourism, in particular in West Dorset’s coastal areas, to see how they are doing since reopening and to offer my ongoing support.
Last weekend I was in Lyme Regis, where it was good to see the town so busy on a sunny Saturday. Through its Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, with £50m distributed to councils throughout England, government has supported town centres such as Lyme Regis get back to business; and it is reassuring to see the various measures in place, to encourage us all to shop safely and locally.
I visited the Alexandra Hotel, which was looking resplendent, to meet owner Kathryn Haskins. I was pleased to hear that business has come back strongly for her since reopening, although the future is not without its concerns and hospitality recruitment continues to be challenging across the sector.
I then called into the relaunched Rock Point Inn to meet manager David Putt and his enthusiastic team. New owners, St Austell Brewery, have very sympathetically restored this wonderful building, its first site in Dorset, which now incorporates nine rooms with views of our wonderful Jurassic Coast, right by The Cobb.
My only regret was that I couldn’t stay longer to enjoy fish and chips – but I will definitely return!
I’m also looking forward to visiting Broad Street’s Volunteer Inn again soon, which Matt Puddy tells me he’s hoping to reopen on August 3.
In Westminster, I voted in the House of Commons on the Chancellor’s short-term measures on stamp duty, on the all-important lavatory duty for town councils (a key issue for Lyme Regis!) and on the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill.
Last week we have had the third reading of the Trade Bill and, to be clear on where I stand; I believe it is not the job of parliament, nor me, to ratify trade deals, it is the job of government. It is then my responsibility, on behalf of us all here in West Dorset, to hold the government to account through questions and debates.
Finally, there has been much debate on the subject of TV licences for the over 75s. I have co-signed a letter, along with more than 60 fellow Conservative MPs, to warn the BBC’s Director General that the corporation’s plans to end free television licences for most over-75s demonstrates how detached it has become from its viewers, to find out more visit www.chrisloder.co.uk/bbc