Rachel’s Westminster Diary published in the Redditch Standard (November 27th).

“Last Friday I attended, virtually, the latest Redditch Town Deal Board meeting. This is the group of people, including local businessmen and women, community leaders and other partners, brought together to develop a Town Investment Plan to secure the up to £25 million Town Deal Redditch was awarded last year.

“Just this week an online survey to get residents’ views on their priorities for unlocking Redditch and to help us further develop the Town Investment Plan closed. I do hope as many residents as possible made sure their voices were heard. Unfortunately, drop-in sessions aren’t possible due to covid restrictions, but I know the Board will be gathering views in other ways including on social media and through telephone calls and online focus groups. We are ensuring residents’ voices are heard.

“In the past seven days we also saw the Prime Minister announce the biggest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War. The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens and defend our country, and this £16.5 billion increase in defence spending over the next four years is recognition of this government’s solemn commitment to the defence of our nation.

“I know how proud Redditch is of our armed forces, as seen at the town’s Remembrance Sunday events which are always so well attended. We have our own connections with the armed forces too with the 37 Signal Regiment based in Redditch – and we’re incredibly proud of all that they do.

“Also, this week we saw the Redditch COVID infection rate fall. While this is cause for optimism, we can’t let our guards down. We have sacrificed so much to drive the infection rate down and we can’t stop now. The vast majority of residents are continuing to follow the rules. Let’s continue in this vein so we can return to as close to normal as possible as we wait the rollout of a vaccine.”