Tessa Munt MP doesn’t ever have an ‘average’ week. Each week is busy, always varied and fulfilling. This last week was a good example, with a little extra buzz from the impact of the News International story raging around the country and the corridors of Parliament.
So Monday morning started with three hours of letter writing and phone calls in the constituency office in Wedmore. In the late morning, she dashes up to the House of Commons, arriving in the early afternoon. Monday afternoons are dedicated to committee work – this week Tessa had two hours on the Education Select Committee looking at the English Baccalaureate, followed by an hour and a half on the Administration Committee. Then back to the office to finalise a statement ready for a meeting in East Brent Parish hall about a wind farm proposal – which will be attended by one of her team from the local office. Then Tessa met with Lib Dem colleagues to discuss voting on the Energy National Policy Statements, then off to the House of Commons Chamber to listen to the debate and watch the announcement of the result. Then a long evening shuttling between the Library, researching a query from residents in Chilcompton then an opportunity to present a Petition from 1,500 local residents to Parliament on the need for alternatives to pylons and overhead cables. Then the last half hour’s debate which finished at just about midnight! After that, two miles back to Tessa’s London flat, a quick read of papers needed for tomorrow, then bed!
It’s an early start to what should have been Parliament’s last day before the long summer break, although we know by now that the Prime Minister is travelling back from Africa and there will be a special debate in the House of Commons on the subject of ‘Confidence in the Police, Press and Politicians’. Tessa is in her office shortly after 8.00 am on Tuesday to catch up with her London office team and to work through the papers for the day. The morning was spent mainly on telephone calls, meetings with various interest groups, and preparing questions on the ‘TB and Badger control’ announcement due from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs shortly after lunch. Then off to the House of Commons Chamber, a question for Caroline Spelman, the Secretary for State for DEFRA and then back to the research team to consider the Lib Dem response to the Defra announcement. A meeting with Caroline Spelman at 4.45pm to ask several more questions about her proposals for a badger cull, then back to the office to write letters and check the emails. One more meeting, then back to the flat at 11pm, bedtime reading of tomorrow’s papers and then to sleep.
Wednesday morning is always dedicated to the Education Select Committee, which meets at 9.15 in Portcullis House, the modern office block across the road from the House of Commons. Today was also the day of the Prime Minister’s statement on the impact of the phone hackers’ story. Finishing the Committee meeting just before midday meant a short run to the Chamber. The House of Commons was packed, but Tessa eventually managed to squeeze into a seat half way through and caught the Speaker’s eye and was called to speak. She asked the PM to ensure that any police officer found guilty of wrongdoing would not be allowed to keep any pay-offs, bonus or bumper redundancy – which of course would be funded by the taxpayer. After the debate, it was a dash back to the office, collecting her laptop and papers and into the car for the drive back to Wells, this time to attend Gerry Cottle’s Wookey Hole Circus performance and a chance to meet the staff and performers involved. A run to the shops for some milk, then back home to Mark before midnight – another early night!
A 9am constituent meeting at her home in Cheddar was followed by the opening of the brand new garage and shop in Bath Road, Wells and then the new pizza restaurant ‘1760’ at The George Inn in Wedmore. Immediately after that, Tessa whizzed off to the Kings of Wessex Academy to speak with a group of students about careers in politics, followed by a question and answer session. Back to the office by 3.00pm for more letters and emails, and then off again at 5.00pm for the opening of the revamped Gurney Slade’s Mendip Inn. A quick, delicious meal and back to the office for Friday’s papers and diary; home for 11.00pm and bed.
Friday starts with an 8am meeting with Tessa’s office manager before the first of this week’s four surgeries. This morning it is Shepton Mallet at 10.00am, then Chilcompton at midday. A 2.00pm meeting with a lady to whom Tessa has spoken earlier in the week is followed by a lighter task, helping the family to set up her daughter’s 18th birthday party, which will take place over the weekend at home in Mark.
After Saturday’s surgeries – it’s the turn of Glastonbury and Meare, Tessa returns to more party arrangements before the evening itself and then a Sunday morning clear-up! The last meetings of the week are a Lib Dem fundraising strawberry tea in Burnham-On-Sea on Sunday afternoon and a visit to the Flower Festival at Edithmead Church in the Parish of St Andrews which happens to be the smallest place of worship in Tessa’s constituency. It’s then home for an evening of more letters to check and sign, people to call, people who would like some help with their problem.
Tessa said, “I feel so privileged to have been elected to do this job and I relish every minute of every day. I have a small team helping me out, including some dedicated volunteers, who do a fantastic job.
It is busy, but if I can be of help to people, I feel I am repaying some of the trust local people put in me at last year’s election.”
22nd July 2011