AS CHAIRMAN of two All Parliamentary Party Groups (APPG) and secretary of an All Party Group, I have been working with elected members and interested parties on a number of interesting policy areas, all with a relevance to the Five Valleys and Vale. Certainly, a number of constituents have had cause to contact me because of the activities of these groups and I find this encouraging.

The APPG on school governance and leadership has been particularly active, not least because I and others established it soon after the general election. I was motivated to do so because of my experience as a governor in Stroud and also in response to the move towards replacing schools with academies and the increased interest in standards.

The group has published two well received reports and provided a platform for the new chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wiltshaw, to articulate his views on school governance. Another outcome from the group has been the drawing up of 20 questions for governors to ask themselves as they go about their duties.

The vascular disease APPG has also been hard at work. Vascular Disease represents a range of conditions accounting for 40 per cent of deaths in the UK. Many strokes could be avoided through early diagnosis. Problems include obesity and diabetes increasing the risk of vascular disease and processes and procedures varying too much across the NHS.

This Group has just completed an inquiry into these issues and will be making a number of recommendations for incorporation into the department of health’s cardiovascular disease outcomes strategy. The evidence received comes from clinicians, practitioners, patients and support groups.

The health group has been interfacing with organisations, including the Kings Fund, on the reform agenda of the NHS. This has provided a useful and constructive dialogue and, with the future of community services here in mind, also timely and relevant. If you are interested in the issues raised above, please contact me on 01453 751572 or visit my website Now, you can also follow me on twitter @neil_mp.