If you want to keep up with new MP Andy Sawford you’d better be fit. He’s literally going places fast.
Just a few hours with him at the Commons to find out how one of its newest boys is settling in involved lunch in Portcullis House, a visit to his office in neighbouring Norman Shaw Buildings, a guided tour of the corridors of power, which included a short history lesson, and a brief meeting with Labour’s Shadow Chief Whip Rosie Winterton.
No time to rest. It was straight back to the office as Andy gave two radio interviews, one on street lights, the other on Europe, and then there was a dash, not quite a run but faster than a power walk, to nearby Millbank Studios for the MP to be filmed for Anglia Late Edition, the monthly politics programme with Alastair Stewart.
At least we had time for a reviving cuppa in the green room. No such luck for Andy. His adjournment debate on street lights, an issue he pledged to take up during his election campaign, was due to start in 15 minutes.
“I’m going to have to run,” and he was off like lightning, sprinting back to the House to deliver an impassioned appeal for Northamptonshire’s street lights to be switched back on.
Andy’s hit the ground running and finding there aren’t enough hours in the day, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s getting down to business.
The MP said: “The hours are long and there really aren’t enough of them in the day. There was a lot of administrative work to do in the beginning, setting up the office here and finding one in the constituency, engaging staff and making contact with people.
“But a lot of people went out on a cold November day to vote for me.
“I’m here to work.”
At the heart of the MP’s hectic life are the pledges he made during his long and exhausting by-election campaign. And there’s no chance any of the issues will be pushed onto the back burner. In his office in Westminster they are there on a huge board on the wall. Save hospital services, more jobs and help for firms, safe communities police/streetlights, MP working for all areas.
It’s too early for the customary 100-day review, but how is he doing so far?
In the adjournment debate he sprinted back for, he called for the street lights, switched off in 2011 by the county council to save money, to be turned back on, pointing out to the Commons that streetlighting costs each household in the county just £1.14 a year.
On his fight to save services at Kettering General Hospital he has been joined by his Conservative counterparts, Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, and Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough.
He’s holding surgeries at Corby, Oundle, Raunds, Thrapston and Irthlingborough, taking up constituents’ problems and planning a summit on employment agencies.
Mr Sawford said: “I have to make sure I get the balance right between working in the constituency, supporting local organisations and tackling the issues, and working in Parliament where I am highlighting issues and influencing policy.
“The major debates are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Thursdays are a little quieter. On Fridays and Saturday I’m in the constituency holding surgeries, holding meetings, on visits.
“And I’m still knocking on doors in Corby and East Northants.
“People told me during the campaign they only see politicans at elections.
“I’m being responsive.”