Parliament is in summer recess from July to August. Contrary to what some journalists write, this does not mean MPs have a six week holiday. Apart from a normal two week break with family and friends, this recess gave me the opportunity to spend more time meeting local organisations, people and businesses.
For example, the Milton Keynes Community Foundation arranged for me to see some of the projects it has funded and to also meet the people behind them. I visited the Walnuts School in Bletchley, a specialist school for children with Autistic Spectrum disorders and special needs. I took a particular interest in the sensory room, funded by the Foundation. Staff at the school explained how the facility helps meet the very individual needs of pupils.
I then visited a community garden project in Tinkers Bridge. I heard how staff from Community Action MK train and support local community groups in Tinkers Bridge and in other areas across Milton Keynes. Projects like these really generate a sense of togetherness and team spirit among residents.
As regular readers will know, I have a keen interest in transport policy and believe good links play an important role in a successful economy. With this in mind, I took a short trip down the M1 to visit Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal, a major rail port and logistics centre, which is used by a number of big companies for their distribution centres, including Tesco, Royal Mail and Eddie Stobart. More importantly it helps boost the whole region as an international hub for trade, as it helps connect rail freight from the region with Felixstowe Port and the Channel Tunnel. I am grateful to The Malcolm Group, who manage the terminal, for showing me around.
I attended the ground-breaking event for the new phase of the John Lewis distribution centre at Magna Park. John Lewis has signed a 30-year lease on a 668,000 sq feet site and will be building a new distribution centre alongside its existing one. Finally, I also had the opportunity to meet the MK Gallery, City Orchestra, Local Enterprise Partnership, MK College and the new Chamber of Commerce.