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'Meeting guide dog Beau is one of the highlights of my time as an MP so far', says Grantham MP

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Across the hundreds of meetings I have had as an MP I am not sure any has been as pleasant as meeting Beau, an impeccably trained guide dog who visited parliament as part of the “All Things Equal” campaign run by the Guide Dogs charity. I have used this column in recent weeks to highlight the excellent work currently underway to champion disability rights and so I was delighted to lend my support to the campaign.

Recent research conducted for Guide Dogs found that 69% of teachers lack confidence that they have the right skills to support disabled children, including those with a vision impairment, to reach their full potential.

This is reflected in outcomes for children with sight loss, who are significantly behind their peers in terms of academic attainment leading to only one quarter of people with sight loss entering employment. The critical role of specialist professionals needs to be prioritised, and more support should be given at an earlier stage to help prevent young people with sight loss from falling behind.

Gareth Davies with Guide Dog Beau. (56463572)
Gareth Davies with Guide Dog Beau. (56463572)

The month of May is Local and Community History month, so I got ahead slightly when I visited the Flag Fen Archaeological Park in Peterborough in April with my parliamentary colleague Paul Bristow MP to learn about our Bronze Age predecessors and view some artefacts which are unbelievably well preserved over thousands of years.

We are blessed with a rich local heritage, and I would encourage readers to visit fantastic places such as Grantham Museum and Woolsthorpe Manor this month.

To be enjoyed, our historic buildings must be preserved, and we had good news for heritage this week with the confirmation that work to restore the Skillington church roof has now been completed after it was targeted during a spate of lead thefts. A significant amount of funding came through last year’s Culture Recovery Fund which has now helped remove this community landmark from the Heritage at Risk Register.

In the last month we have had the roll-out of the £150 council tax rebate, and I was pleased to read that 29,000 people have now received this support in South Kesteven. This follows the announcement in March of an extra £5million for Lincolnshire’s Household Support Fund, with one-third ring-fenced to support families with children, and another third dedicated to pensioners.

While support is certainly welcome in the short-term, it is important not to take our eye off of the changes which can have a positive impact in the long-term. For instance I was pleased that, following a consultation, proposals were published last week to reform regulations and allow the UK insurance industry to invest billions of pounds into future UK infrastructure.

The start of May has also seen the publication of the latest update to the government’s pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers by March 2023.This target is now well on the way to being met with over 13,000 new officers across the country, with 200 joining Lincolnshire Police which is one of the first two forces to reach their target allocation.

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