After an exhausting campaign and equally tiring count for both the national and local elections, I headed down to London on the Monday morning train with my new neighbour, Chris Matheson the Labour MP for Chester.
The first few days were a real whirlwind; countless inductions, passwords to remember, names and places that were all new to me plus of course the excitement of really being in the Houses of Parliament! It would be fair to say I felt more like a tourist at the start; so many amazing pieces of architecture and so much history around every corner. I haven't had a full tour yet but I really do need to take the time to appreciate the surroundings I now find myself in.
It only really hit home to me that I was really there in my own right when I sat in the Chamber for the election of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Being sat on those green benches in a packed chamber with the Government only a few yards away from me was a very special moment as well as being a reminder about what I am there to do. The next job is to get my maiden speech done so I can start participating properly in the workings of the Chamber. Apparently there are over 150 new mp's so there will be a lot of maiden speeches to get through but I hope to do mine within the next fortnight.
Outside the Chamber, things are a lite less statesmanlike. All the new mp's are "hotdesking" in shared offices over the road from the main Houses. This is a good way to meet and support other new colleagues but is less than ideal for adequately representing your constituents. At the moment I have no phone number and am relying on the goodwill of others to deal with the many enquiries that are already coming in. It may be a little while before we are up to full speed and I hope those that I am dealing with at the moment will bear with us. Back in the constituency I am hoping to have my office there up and running in the next few weeks and full details will be made available at the time. I aim to be an mp who is visible and accessible and that must be reflected in where I base myself in the constituency.
Turning to the politics, the Queens Speech is due to be delivered this week which will set out the Government's legislative programme for the year ahead. This is likely to include a Bill which will set out the terms for a referendum on our membership of the EU . This is a very important issue for the constituency and the country as a whole and I hope that the referendum takes place sooner rather than later so that everyone has certainty about where our future lies. Locally, there has been some very bad news from West Cheshire College with 88 redundancies announced as a direct result of funding cuts from central Government. A reminder, if I needed one, that whilst London may seem very distant to the people of Ellesmere Port and Neston, decisions taken there can have a massive impact on local people.