There are loads of downsides with the way MEP constituencies work in the UK - the patches are huge, proportional representation depersonalises the relation ship with voters - BUT the great thing about representing an area like the East of England is that I am continually finding out more of the great things that happen in this part of the UK.
Some recent photos...
Tasting the next generation Magnum at Unilever's research facility near Bedford... like Willy Wonka's factory but for Ice Cream... and much more. Issues - why EU is so much slower at approving new products than practically every other major economic area, pros and cons of EU research funding.
Joining a boat trip in Cambridge to hear about work to be done to clean up our rivers and water. Experts included water companies, the environment agency, fishermen, farmers and foresters. Issues - the Water Framework Directive, invasive species, pollutants, CAP funding for environmental programs.
Opening an IT suite at a small rural school in Norfolk. Rural broadband is a big concern in Norfolk. I am hoping to host a workshop bringing together industry, user groups and local government at the end of the month. Issues - the benefits of broadband access for isolated communities. How to share best practive.
Visiting the Vauxhall van factory in Luton. This is one of the most efficient factories that General Motors own and I was impressed by the commitment of workers to continual improvements. Issues - providing a level playing field for UK businesses and state aid rules, upcoming legislation for reducing CO2 in van emissions and why this is different to the car market.
Also in Luton Nigel Huddleston took me to the Dallow Community Centre in one of the most deprived parts of town. Here an incredible group of volunteers took on the task of building and setting up a community facility that is now used by over 50,000 people each year. I arrived on Friday - after the Muslim community's weekly prayers but before the Friday evening gospel choir and Saturday hockey games. Even our most diverse, deprived communities can be very vibrant.