COLUMN by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie 

I WAS at party conference in Manchester this week and I used some of my time to help as many Stroud people, organisations and businesses as possible.

A party conference is basically a one stop shop when it comes to getting in front of people to push campaigns so I took full advantage.

First up was Royal Mail. I organised to see them to discuss concerns about the standard of service across the whole district.

Some people are not receiving their post and are missing important appointments and documents. They were very willing to think through issues with me.

I organised a faster way to report problems to Royal Mail as they come in and I will be visiting the Stroud delivery office again soon. Like many people in Stroud I support our posties, but this situation is worrying local people.

Royal Mail also wants to drop its national obligation to deliver on a Saturday. Ofcom is looking carefully at this but my challenge was that until there is solid evidence of an improvement on Monday to Friday post, dropping Saturday deliveries would not have my support.

Next up was a visit to see the British Beer & Pub Association to meet its chief executive Emma McClarkin, who is a constituent. On the agenda was how we can work together to save our much-loved pubs from closure.

The Vine Tree in Randwick and the Old Neighbourhood Inn at Chalford Hill are two pubs that come up here regularly.

Local people are active in working on options and they have my support. The government has set up a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to help communities buy historic pubs and other buildings and this is a way forward.

Hospitality UK was another port of call. A reform of business rates is something pretty much everyone in the sector in Stroud and nationally wants to see happen and I continue to speak to ministers about this.

Another topic I am pushing is reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to make it more flexible for business.

Again, this is something I am talking to ministers about.