I spent half of last week at Labour Party conference and the other half back in Southampton. This was my first conference as a shadow minister and it was probably my busiest but most enjoyable yet. Read on to find out more.
For those of you who have never been to conference or aren't as interested in the ins and outs of Labour Party politics as me and my colleagues, conference is a chance to meet with other party members and discuss a wide range of issues facing us. There are speeches in the main hall and fringe events outside. I attended quite a few of these fringe events to discuss the current governments energy policy (or lack thereof) and what a Labour Government's plan would be.
On Monday I had various different meetings and fringes on energy, many of them on the issue of energy efficiency in homes. This is something I do a lot of work on in Parliament and around Southampton, as fuel poverty is a huge issue in my constituency. By making homes more energy efficient we can save both the environment and local people a lot of money on their energy bills. Unfortunately the government don't seem to want to continue any work on the energy efficiency programmes that have been happening, and this is worrying me and the rest of the Labour Energy Team.
My appearances on conference on Tuesday centred around utilities and what can be done to ensure consumers are getting a fair deal. at lunchtime I spoke on a panel run by the New Statesman and Smart Meter. We were discussing Labour party policy on energy, and how we can help tackle rising levels of fuel poverty. It is shocking that so many people in the U.K are having to choose between heating their homes or feeding their families, and fuel poverty affects almost 10,000 households in my constituency at the last count.
Smart Meters are a good first step of putting people in control of their energy and their bills but we also need to do more. We need to find better ways to heat our homes and protect our environment. In her speech at conference Lisa Nandy outlined how if in government we would aim to democratise energy taking control out of the big six's hands. For an example of where something like this has worked click here.
On Wednesday I finished up at conference and travelled back home to Southampton
On Thursday I was back in Southampton and spoke at a Release International event regarding persecution across the globe. It was great to see so many young people and school children getting involved in a cause they care deeply about, and taking action on it.
In previous weeks diaries I have mentioned how I have been working with the Uni of Southampton and Southampton City council to work on a solar panel scheme for Southampton. On Friday this week I helped to present the work we've done so far to the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce to give information to local businesses and see if they could help.
I also held my first advice surgery of the month and met many of my constituents who came to me with issues I am hoping to be able to help them with. My Friday evening was even more exciting, as I went along to the Bingo to present a cheque from the Bingo Association to Variety Children's charity. I also go to read out some numbers, but quickly got replaced with the professionals for not moving fast enough!
I had another advice surgery on Saturday, I try to have as many as possible so that I can meet as many constituents as possible. I also managed to have a break in the afternoon and me and my wife went to the pub to watch the fantastic Saints play Chelsea. What a great result to end my week!