This week has seen an incredible amount of speculation as to what the road map out of lockdown, promised for next week, will bring. I am feeling a great deal more confident that schools will be back in March than I was even a few weeks ago, and I know from my postbag how keen parents are to see normality resume for their children.
Much of the emphasis has been about the hospitality industry and I have taken some time this week to talk to those working in the sector about what they need from next week’s announcement. There has been a great deal of focus put on the need for time to plan, so a sudden announcement of “go” doesn’t help those who need to bring staff back, get resources in and make wider preparations for whatever the new normal looks like. There has also been a lot of discussion about whether we will be returning to al fresco service only, which would be pretty grim in the weather we have been enjoying this week.
The statement about cladding last week did not go down wholly well in this area, especially as buildings below 18m were excluded, as were those that had other fire defects not related to cladding. I was an early signatory of the McPartland/Smith amendment to the Fire Safety Bill and to date I have not seen anything to encourage me to withdraw my name from that amendment. The stories of local people effectively financially trapped in flats with significant defects are heartbreaking, and they have found themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.
Finally, having successfully given up alcohol for Dry January, Lent has now started and I have given up chocolate. I am far from convinced this particular period of abstinence will last until Easter, but I am giving it my best shot.