When Parliament returned at the start of the year the Prime Minister took the opportunity to reshuffle her ministerial team and she asked me to join the Government as an Assistant Whip. I was absolutely delighted and have now joined the Whips’ office, where I will be helping to deliver the Government’s legislative agenda in the House of Commons. It is a huge honour and privilege and, as I am discovering, there is much to learn, not least the history and the role of the Whip, something I will be sharing with you in future weeks.

The New Year also brought with it the final stages of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Commons and I am pleased it has passed thus far, ensuring we honour the outcome of the Referendum to leave the European Union. The Bill now passes to the House of Lords where we look to their Lordships to respect the will of the elected House of Commons to ensure that we have an orderly exit from the European Union.

From correspondence and emails I receive, I know just how much locally, and as a nation, we care about animal welfare and our environment. I was therefore pleased to see the Government developing environmental policy as part of our preparations for Brexit. The Prime Minister’s 25-year Environment Plan is about making sure that we take steps towards ensuring that we have a Cleaner and Greener Britain and her vision demonstrates how in a post Brexit Britain we will be able to aim higher and achieve more in key areas of national policy such as the environment.

At both Government level, and as individuals, I believe we have a responsibility to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with cleaner air, stronger protections for animal welfare and greener spaces. That’s why I welcome Government plans that include banning microbeads to protect our marine life and looking at measures to reduce single use plastic, as well as passing legislation to ensure that animal abusers are jailed for up to 5-years.

Across the constituency, I see the pride that is taken in our local communities and the time and effort made to protect our environment. The many individuals and teams of volunteers who care for our parks, commons and open spaces are to be congratulated for their dedication and in March many may well be helping with the Great British Spring Clean. This initiative is being organised by Keep Britain Tidy and is seeking to inspire 500,000 people nationwide to get outdoors, get active and help clear the rubbish that blights our local communities. I am looking forward to being part of this initiative too.

But I can’t finish without mentioning the fabulous last night performance of Humpty Dumpty at Aldridge Youth Theatre last weekend. Once again we were superbly entertained with some good pantomime fun, written by the talented Neville Ellis and superbly directed by Alex Fisher. Every pantomime needs a dame and we were certainly not disappointed by the colourful Betsy Bannock the palace nanny. Together with a boy called Humphrey Dumfrey from Walsall, Private Trott, Captain Cantor and Sergeant Gallop the Kings Men, and Horace the Kings Horse, it was a splendid evening. As the curtain fell I was only left wondering what next year’s performance will bring. Well done everyone.

This was first published by the Walsall Advertiser and the Sutton Observer on 5 February 2018.