LAST week was a Parliamentary Recess so I was able to spend some quality time in the Valleys and Vale, and, with so much going on, everything I did was inspiring and encouraging.

With the wettest winter since records began in mind, my first big visit was to Slimbridge for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

A walk around the territory underscored the value of having areas able to store excess water so preventing flooding of properties. Huge temporary lakes provided a valuable form of attenuation.

Having been to Frampton to support community action in response to flooding, such capacity was all the more appreciated.

Elsewhere in the constituency, flooding was always a risk and some properties were flooded but major problems were averted not least because of timely improvements and maintenance of flood defences by the Environment Agency. I was glad my frequent meetings with the Agency and other key actors had helped to deliver more protection.

A completely different but equally encouraging situation was highlighted when I visited Stroud General Hospital and the Stroud Maternity Unit. Both are extremely popular and are benefitting from increased investment in order to modernise and develop services. The commitment to these two local emblems of the National Health Service has never been greater.

In the hospital, building work was underway to provide much improved outpatient experience; diagnostic provision had already been enhanced by a £1 million investment in equipment and refurbishment; and, perhaps most important of all, investment in integrating healthcare and social services is obviously delivering results.

It was the same story in the Maternity Unit. The recent upgrade has refreshed the whole building providing an even better experience for growing families. The unit has always been appreciated and I can certainly see why expectant mothers should be encouraged to use it. The facilities supported by committed staff are nothing short of excellent.

All in all, we can be proud of our community health services as local decision makers ensure additional funding is wisely spent to provide high standards of care in the Valleys and Vale. Our public services are looking good. Neil can be contacted on 01453 751572 or email