RESULT - Nusrat's intervention secures resumption of Mayfield Festival Choir rehearsals
I recently convened a virtual meeting with representatives of various amateur choirs from across Wealden and East Sussex to listen to their concerns regarding the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on restarting their activities. According to Government guidelines, ‘amateur’ choirs were excluded from the easing of restrictions on the culture sector as part of Step 3 of the roadmap and only allowed to meet in groups of no more than six indoors.
I am pleased that following my representations, the Government issued a clarification of the guidance, allowing ‘amateur’ choirs to resume activities for commercial purposes. This is excellent news for our fabulous choral groups in Wealden, which are key to our local communities and raise valuable contributions to our local charities through their performances. I stressed in my letter that the catch-all label 'amateur' not only failed to understand how these groups function, but also meant that thousands of local professionals were left without income. We have a tremendously successful vaccination programme, with more than half of UK population now fully protected and I trust that many other precautions have been taken to ensure choir activities resume in a Covid-safe way. I am pleased that I secured this change for Mayfield Festival Choir and other Wealden ensembles.
Nusrat’s letter and further information about the virtual meeting can be found here.
Support for Outdoor Education Sector
Wealden boasts many outdoor activity centres, including the fantastic Bowles Rocks and Hindleap Warren.
Following my visit to Bowles Rocks and concerning conversations with Wealden constituents who work in the sector, I raised the issue in Parliament during the Covid-19 debate, and written to the Secretary of State for Education, urging him to reconsider the Government's position and consider further assistance to support the industry.
I have also written to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to support me in urging the Department for Education to reconsider its position and open up outdoor education experiences.
You can read my letters and view a clip of my speech in Parliament below.
Support for Live Events Industry
I am proud that Wealden is home to many award-winning events such as the Black Deer Festival and the Elderflower Fields Family Festival, and to many of the country’s best technicians who are behind our world-class events.
I appreciate the hardships they have faced throughout the pandemic and I am concerned about the future of the sector. Following many concerning conversations with Wealden constituents who work in the sector, I have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, raising the issue and urging him to consider further assistance to support the industry.
Please see my letter attached below.
After the extension to lockdown beyond 21 June 2021, I raised my concerns over the two-tier system for outdoor events and why Ministers can produce data for sporting events being given the go ahead while other outdoor Covid-safe events such as Black Deer Festival are being cancelled. The event was ready to go with robust safety measures in place to be Covid-safe and yet it had to cancel last-minute. I’m beyond devastated for Gill, the co-founder and director of Black Deer, and the hundreds of organisers, performers and suppliers involved in the planning for this fantastic Covid-safe outdoor event – now postponed until 2022.
Watch my speech here.
Support for children's indoor play sector in light of Covid-19
The indoor children’s play businesses have been forced to stay closed beyond the initial reopening of businesses on 4 July and beyond the further reopening of services on 13th July. Many indoor play establishments have contacted me to express their disappointment at the news that they will remain closed without the ability to apply for the small business grant funding, due to the larger size of the warehouse-based premises from which they operate. As a result, the indoor children’s play businesses in Wealden are facing serious threat of closure.
I have written to the Chancellor and to the Secretary of State for Business, urging the Government to consider support for this industry (see the attachments below). I am pleased that my campaigning has had an impact and that the children indoor play sector is finally reopening its doors to customers from 15 August.
Supporting the beauty sector
Many Wealden businesses in the beauty sector have been in touch to raise the extent to which Covid-19 is having an impact on them. Based on their correspondence, I have written to the Chancellor, raising the issue and urging him to consider further support for the industry. I have also added my name to a letter to the Prime Minister, calling for businesses in the beauty industry to be reopened.
I am pleased that my campaigning was successful and that businesses in the beauty sector will be allowed to reopen from Monday 13 July 2020.
Please see my letter to the Chancellor and the letter to the Prime Minister below.