Newsletter June 2020 from the Chairman
Braintree Constituency Conservative Association
Members, Colleagues and Friends , I thought I would write to you all on behalf of the Association, as we appear to be nearing the end of the current “lock down” and start to return to some kind of normality. Firstly, and most importantly I trust that you are all safe and well and making the most of a difficult time. I know that many of you have been taking care of neighbours, friends and relatives and the situation has brought out the best of human behaviour, this is what communities do in times of trouble.
Since early March when the Prime Minster and his government asked us all to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, the officers took steps to protect Karen in the office, by closing the office and setting up the Association Office from Karen’s home, which entailed arranging new IT support with a modern lap top and configuring the phones to her home. New processes were introduced to ensure that all contact with the Association was responded to speedily.
Many of your Officers and ECC members were asked to self-isolate under the guidelines and not leave home except to exercise, due to age or underlying health conditions, however the work of the Association has continued almost without disruption and through the use of ZOOM, meetings of the Officers and the Executive have continued as before including a special ZOOM meeting for all members hosted by the Association enabling James Cleverly to present from Westminster. I believe this way of working will remain part of our new normal, after Covid-19 is no longer with us.
Your elected councillors at all levels of local government have been very active in their local communities and the formal meetings of Parish, District and County councils have been reinstated using similar technology as the Association and if anything, their work load has increased. This is due to Westminster relying more heavily on local authorities to deliver the programs that the Treasury and other Secretaries of State have introduced since early March One significant activity of the Local Authority has been distribution grant monies to local business owners to enable them to survive the loss of economic activity, without which many small businesses would now be is worse position, and indeed I expect some of you reading this may well have received this support from a Conservative Government
The Association continues to plan for the election in 2021 for Essex County Council where we plan to field a full slate of candidates and to that end we will be holding another Approvals Panel meeting (via ZOOM) to approve the last nominations received since the selection meetings in February and will move to selection meeting using the on line tools in order that we have the last Candidate in place for the Bocking Division. The other election in 2021 is to elect the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, and we plan to provide support to Roger Hirst in his re-election campaign. However, at this time most campaigning activity is curtailed due to Covid-19 and we will follow CCHQ guidance in campaign plans, currently it is limited to digital campaigning only.
On the political front the membership has continued to play, an active part in forming the Conservative Party policy making and Iona Parker continues to Chair Conservative Policy Forum (PCF) meetings but now using Zoom. These are still lively affairs with a range of opinions put forward, however the drinks are now provided from home not from the bar of some local pub!
Social Events and Fund Raising has clearly stopped and all events have been cancelled or postponed due to the Government and Conservative Party guidelines, however your officers keep this under constant review and when CCHQ give clearance and detail as to what we are able to do, and the protective measures we must adopt, then we will start these activities again. CCHQ have arranged central keep events that are hosted by a senior party member. The current event is below, and Karen will be sending out regular invitations to further events like this.
Thursday 25th June with Dr Liam Fox MP who will be discussing the 2020 US Election and taking questions from members live on Zoom.
Parliamentary News from James Cleverly M.P.
I hope that you and your families are well during these difficult times.
It has been heartening to see so many stories of local communities establishing support groups and hubs, volunteers coming forward and a sense of coming together in our communities.
Initially Parliament ran hybrid proceedings with remote voting, but MPs have now returned to Parliament and we are working with social distancing measures and discovering the new normal.
Unfortunately, I had to cancel all face to face advice surgeries and constituency meetings because of Coronavirus, however, I have continued to provide support and advice to constituents via email and letter. It is clear that the pandemic has created a lot of concern and uncertainty as the volume of correspondence has increased over fourfold.
My ministerial work has also been done by telephone and videoconferencing. In addition to the usual foreign affairs work that the FCO &DFID do we had the challenge of repatriating tens of thousands of British nationals from all around the world when the pandemic struck.
I have been in speaking with my counterparts and contacts in the Middle East & North Africa as we work on sourcing PPE and share knowledge to find a vaccine.
This work helped make the Global Vaccine Summit (GAVI) such a success. GAVI involved 42 Heads of State or Government and the UK led the effort raised over £8bn for a global vaccine.
It was good to catch up with a number of you via zoom on a group call last month, where I was able to answer questions put to me and take back to Parliament issues raised which you have encountered and discuss these with my colleagues. I plan to arrange another zoom call soon, so please keep an eye on your inboxes for details from Karen and the office.
As we move through this Pandemic and restrictions are eased, I know that this will bring concern to some and delight to others. Experiences will change, new procedures will be implemented, and we will again be in new territory
You will be aware that the Departments for which I work will be merging. DIFD and FCO have already been working together and the merger will reinforce that success. We will protect our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI in development and DIFD’s world class development specialists will join the FCO’s other world class specialists. This is about maximising Global Britain as a force for good in the world. I am excited about the future.
There are good times ahead and reasons to be positive as we beat this virus and the restrictions ease, and we are able to carve out our future as Global Britain as we finalise our relationship with the EU.