And so, last week the House of Lords finally accepted the Article 50 Bill that will authorise the Prime Minister to begin the formal process of leaving the EU,  and the Queen has now formally given Royal Assent.  This means the Bill passes in to law and the Government can now trigger Article 50 as planned, by the end of March.

I also welcomed a visit to Westminster last week from Aldridge based In-Comm Training and a group of their fantastic apprentices, and local employers, to celebrate apprenticeships and highlight the importance of technical education and training to boost economic productivity and develop vital skills both for today and the future.  As we seek to make a success of Brexit for our country and for the West Midlands, and make the most of new trade opportunities, investing in skills and apprenticeships is key to ensuring we have a workforce fit and ready for the future.  In the last Parliament 2.4 million apprenticeships were created and in this one we are looking to deliver 3 million by 2020. The Government is determined to build further on the success of the apprentice revolution and reforms to core skills by pioneering the T-Level, a technical education system focussing on technical system.

There was also some particularly welcome transport news with the Government announcing that more than one million pounds is to be invested in improving the junction of the A5 and Chase Road/A5195 in Brownhills.  Highways England will now be undertaking further analysis of the proposals in coming months, and knowing just how frustrating it is to sit in the traffic at this junction this will make a positive and welcome difference.

Meanwhile, back in the constituency and knowing of some local concerns I was particularly encouraged to hear of the “Beat the Burglar” event organised by Walsall Police: an excellent initiative last Friday which included pop up stalls in Aldridge, Brownhills, Pelsall and Streetly providing an opportunity to meet neighbourhood officers, seek advice and and learn about crime prevention. I called in to Pelsall Village Centre and it was good to see officers from the Neighbourhood Team along with the Rushall, Shelfield, High Heath and Pelsall Neighbourhood Watch.

With Spring upon us it’s good to see the yellow cheer of daffodils and the prospect of warmer weather and lighter nights means more time to be out and about for many of us.  The Church of Christ the King in Rushall has just celebrated its 130th Anniversary with an enjoyable and entertaining evening concert by the Walsall Harmonic Male Voice Choir, and a special church service with tea to follow – a wonderful spread of homemade cakes and sandwiches.   Thank you to all for inviting me.