I have to say that I had thought we had seen the last of national lockdowns last year and I am sorry that we find ourselves in this situation once again. No one chooses to impose this on the nation easily but it does seem to be the route deemed most effective at dealing with coronavirus until the vaccine gets to everyone who needs it. The Office of National Statistics say that 1 in every 50 people has covid-19 at this moment, significantly higher than at the peak of the outbreak in April last year. The NHS leadership has committed to delivering the vaccine to 31 million people - the objective to ‘save the most lives’ targeting people that are deemed at most risk and staff in hospitals and care homes in a matter of weeks. Sadly, the reality is that, given the rate of infection today, many more lives will be lost before the vaccine is widely available.
Closing schools is one of the more difficult decisions - schools have done a fantastic job to become covid-safe. Schools are not closed because they are unsafe. However, the new covid variant spreads much more quickly and closing schools helps to reduce the transition of the virus in the general community. The Government is distributing a total of 1 million tablets to children who need them which will help with remote learning. In addition to this the BBC is launching 3 hours each day of educational programmes from Monday on BBC Two, CBBC, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and online. This is a fantastic development and you can learn more on bbc.co.uk/bitesize. This is particularly good for families who don’t enjoy great computing capabilities or good broadband. I’m sure most of us parents will make good use of this service!
In our first full week as an independent sovereign state the issue of the flags along the Promenade in Penzance has caused some unhelpful division. For those not aware several Union Jack flags were erected on the flagpoles without the permission of the Town Council, the responsible body. Many of those taking part in the debate that has ensued have been able to do so with respect and reason. However, for a few it seemed to present an opportunity to voice personal attacks on our Mayor which is regrettable, completely unnecessary and does nothing to heal the divisions exposed in recent years. She and I disagree on how the issue was handled but I know her to be a committed advocate of Penzance and does a job that few volunteer for and few appreciate what is involved.
My office is not open to visitors during this lockdown but you can contact the office on the usual 01736 363038 or email Derek.Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll continue to be available to meet as needed (via Zoom).