Claire Coutinho October Newsletter
I am sure you will all join me in extending our condolences to the Royal Family on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Like many of you, I have been very moved by the late Queen’s passing. To me, it felt like losing a family member and in some ways, that’s exactly what she was for the nation, and many in the Commonwealth too. Her portrait sat on my grandmother’s wall in India and, as I mentioned in my maiden speech, she took her fashion sense from the Queen. The haircut, the colour blocked dresses, the coats, the handbag. I think of the millions of people around the world who were so familiar with her image and who are mourning her loss.
To the extent that any one person can reflect the nature of the British people, and our sense of self as a nation, she did. She was a symbol of our better instincts, an example to live by. I’ve spoken to many people over the last few days for whom her loss has struck a deeper nerve. Are we losing the traditions of her era - stoicism, self-sacrifice, piety and thrift? However when I think of our communities' response to the pandemic, of the powerful sense of togetherness during the Jubilee celebrations, of the character of our new King and the majesty of his accession ceremonies, I am sure we that we will continue these best of British traditions.
This month, the Government’s new Energy Price Guarantee will come into effect for an initial two-year period. The new guarantee works by putting a cap on both the unit price and standing charge that households, businesses and organisations have to pay for their energy. The average household will pay no more than £2,100 this year, because the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme for every household still applies. There will also be a new discretionary fund for families in park homes, using heating oil or liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which I have been lobbying for due to the many people who rely on heating oil or LPG in our rural communities.Crucially, the price guarantee means that you will still pay less if you use less energy. As I mentioned in my speech in the House, I believe it is important that households to manage their usage carefully this winter and that we focus on energy efficiency and supply as longer term fixes. Anyone who is locked into a fixed-price contract will be able to leave and switch to new Government-subsidised tariffs with no extra costs. If you have any questions about how this new scheme will work for you, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
September was my annual Greentember, and while I postponed most of my visits out of respect for The Queen, I was still able to host my green surgery at the start of the month. During the surgery, I heard directly from residents about the environmental issues that matter most to them. We covered issues ranging from sewage and insulation to biodiversity and solar panels in an open and honest discussion.
I was also delighted to spend time with residents at the Limpsfield Chart Fair and with our resident farmers, farmhands and agricultural businesses, whom I have huge respect for, at the Edenbridge & Oxted Agricultural Show.
At both events I was struck by how well they had been organised and what a wide range of people they had brought together to enjoy a day in the sun. Thank you to Diana Davy, Limpsfield Parish Council, the Edenbridge & Oxted Trustees and all the wonderful sponsors and volunteers who made both events such roaring successes.
If you are organising any community events or need my help on an individual case, you can contact me on email@example.com.