Friday, 21 August 2009

What have you done this August?

Its nearing the end of the holiday period and I have to admit its been good to spend the past fortnight based at home.

The local radio station called today. They wanted to know my views on the "112" emergency phone number that one should be able to can dial from anywhere in Europe as an alternative to 999. Seems like a sensible idea but it will be interesting to find out if the radio listeners have every heard of it or tried to use it!

I've learnt that its impossible predict what might come through the MEP postbag. From do I support the NHS (yes) to how should one challenge a parking ticket in Florence or a Cypriot insurance claim? The advantage of having 3 Conservative MEPs in the region is that we can share out these case work issues and also learn from each other's areas of expertise.

Very many people have been extremely helpful in helping teach me about a cross section of different issues. A leading Cambridge entrepreneur explained the pros and cons of Silicon Fen vs Silicon Valley. Rebecca Harris (one of our South Essex PPCs) and I went to vist Ford's R&D facility just off the M25. We saw how each new generation of engine is developed and tested .... Did you know each minor modification is stress tested to make sure it will start at -39C just in case it is ever asked to cope with a Finnish winter. They have some pretty impressive fridges!

I'm also discovering that every meeting like this raises a number of questions that deserve following up. I can't do it all myself! Even people who I thought knew a lot about politics are surprised when they learn job doesn't come with any pre-assigned assistants. Maria who is running the UK office has spent her summer overseeing building of dividing walls and negotiating rents as well helping with the emails. From next week Tom will be running the Parliament research side.

Tomorrow morning (Saturday) I will join one of our local MPs for a canvassing session and have just heard back from the local farmer who's going to take me out on the combine in the evening. Conversations outside our local post office often involve recent movements in wheat prices. Next week I will spend a few days meeting a cross section of different financial institutions prior to the first discusssions on the plethora of legislation on the upcoming agenda. After that I have a week in Brussels, week in Prague and then to Strasbourg. Thank goodness for August!

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