WE ARE now a week or so into the second lockdown and I would like to thank everyone in Meon Valley for all they are doing to suppress this awful virus.

We are a low infection area and all doing our bit to keep it that way will allow for hopefully a better Christmas period in a regional tier 1 restriction, although there can be no guarantees.

The lockdown is not as strict as in March but non-essential shops are closed and I am concerned about the effect this will have on businesses’ viability and jobs.

Pubs and restaurants are also either closed or offering a limited takeaway service and this is also a problem despite generous government support through extension to furlough and help for the self-employed.

Schools do remain open though and I thank all the staff for the hard work they are undertaking to keep children in lessons. That is the best place for them to be right now.

I know some people have misgivings there should be a lockdown at all and I do share some of them but, for now, it is more important to save lives. I will always keep what the government is doing under review and I do listen to constituents’ concerns and views on how we should best live with the virus.

As an MP there is a sense of déjà vu as meetings and events I was so looking forward to are again cancelled or postponed.

This change was most acutely felt on Remembrance Sunday as I am sure many will agree. I made my own pilgrimage to St Peter’s Church in Bishop’s Waltham to lay a wreath at its war memorial.

This is always a sad occasion, as I have a family history entwined with our armed services, but it was even sadder to know that the generations really could not mix in a national coming together this year.

Later I saw some coverage of the national ceremony in London and again, there was a sense of sadness it was not like before but I was also really grateful that so many were involved in such difficult circumstances, including our indomitable Queen.

Westminster is also continuing during lockdown and I was pleased to to ask the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, about broadband and mobile provision in the Meon Valley – a major issue for many villages.

Happily, the minister was able to say the Meon Valley should be a beneficiary of government funding for the shared rural network deal to improve mobile coverage.

Good broadband and mobile signals are going to be so important during this lockdown with people staying and working at home. The problems my constituents are having will not be fixed overnight but I continue to lobby the government for money and the operators to move quicker on upgrades.

The pandemic is also causing widespread financial difficulties especially for those on lower incomes so I was pleased to see the government has given the county council nearly £3 million to support low income families for the next 12 months.

The money is part of a £400 million package for England, which will help many disadvantaged children and their families cope while offering food and holiday activities to help raise educational standards.

Flick Drummond, MP Meon Valley