This week Neil discusses engaging with his constituents

SOME weeks in politics are dominated by activities with fellow Parliamentarians but others – like the one just gone – are characterised by plentiful contact with constituents, making them all the more enjoyable.

First off was the visit to Parliament by pupils from Thomas Keble School. This started in Westminster Hall, where, for instance, the trial of King Charles I took place during January 1649, and included a brief visit to Strangers Bar (without drinks), a committee room, the House of Commons gallery and Central Lobby. Everybody enjoyed the tour. Next, it was a visit to the Mock Trials project for primary schools. This happens every year and is very popular with many of our local schools. It involves pupils in performing all of the normal roles in a trial – magistrates, prosecutors, defenders, witnesses and, of course, the accused. Pupils benefit from learning about our court system, getting experience in public speaking and working together in a new format.

Later on the same day, Longney Primary School was celebrating an amazing week of activities with the added pleasure of highlighting the achievement of 100 per cent success in the recent reading tests. The Friday afternoon assembly was buzzing with excitement, made all the more impressive with parents and school governors joining in. I was delighted to present certificates and also to talk about the reading success.

Back in my office, Cainscross Youth Forum was then in action. This time it was to make videos to highlight concerns about pupil wellbeing in such areas as mental health and pressures to conform. This is an extremely worthwhile initiative and chimes well with my campaign to promote personal, social and health education.

Finally, transport was a theme or, more particularly, cycling. I took part in a bike ride around Stroud and Stonehouse in order to learn more about the difficulties and hazards encountered by cyclists as they ride around the Valleys and Vale. Promoting safety for cycling is absolutely necessary. Last but not least, work is already under way to prepare for Festomane next year. More opportunities to engage with activities are being formulated to meet popular demand.