Column by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie

I am really pleased I have secured a parliamentary debate about midwifery services so concerns around safety and staffing levels can be aired.

I met with local midwives late last year and pledged to get a debate in the House of Commons. I am sure many remember there was a big march in Stroud by midwives and their supporters to highlight the concerns. Other marches took place all over the country and there has been a 100,000-signature petition, so the depth of feeling is clear.

I will hold an Adjournment Debate on 17th January. It means the Government will have to have a minister there to respond and consider the points made.

In the run up to it, I will be asking local midwives for their views and concerns to incorporate into my speech.

It is important we hear from the front line about what needs to happen to make their work better and safer for babies and new parents.

As a mum, I am deeply indebted to the midwives and health visitors from our town’s maternity hospital and the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital for all their help and support. Like many people across Stroud, the Valleys and Vale, I hold these professionals in high regard.

All schools were fully open across Stroud and indeed Gloucestershire after the Christmas break. Fears Omicron could close some schools thankfully did not happen. Headteachers and teachers have performed logistical gymnastics every day during the pandemic and in many cases they have gone over and above in the interests of their pupils.

Thank you to all schools for making sure our pupils are back in class. One of the most depressing times during the pandemic last year was the closure of schools in January. This looks very unlikely to happen this year and it is a big step forward.

Another step forward is the Education Secretary indicating that GCSEs and A-Level exams would be returning to normal from next year.

Stroud pupils sitting their exams this summer will see their grades pitched between those grades awarded in the teacher assessment of 2021 and those awarded during the full-blown pandemic time of 2020 to take into account disruption to lessons. A staggeredapproach back to normal for exams is fair.

This is another indication we are preparing to live with Covid and treat it as an endemic disease. We are not out of the woods yet, and there are contingency plans if another variant comes along, but we must live with this virus.

I am sure many of you know that this year is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. One of the major events to celebrate this amazing milestone is The Big Jubilee Lunch over the Jubilee weekend of the 2-5 June.

I am really hoping communities across Stroud, the Valleys and Vale will organise street parties to celebrate the jubilee and to reinforce those connections to their neighbours that are so important. The Queen is also holding a baking competition for a jubilee pudding!

Information of how to organise a street party for the jubilee is at