I love Small Business Saturday (SBS) and every year I like to support independent retailers as best I can by taking part in this great initiative.

But this year just loving SBS is not enough. It is vital we go out in our droves and shop local for as much as we can this Saturday 5th December.

Stourbridge’s independent retailers need all the help they can get during these vital weeks running up to Christmas. I know clicking on Amazon is easy, but Amazon just doesn’t need our money - our local shops and crafters do.

I will be out in Stourbridge and Lye on SBS buying as many pressies as I can for family and friends and doing my bit to help traders so badly hit by this pandemic. I hope local people will join me. If we don’t, we run the risk of losing these retailers and local entrepreneurs forever.

I am also doing my bit at Westminster by lobbying ministers for extra support for our hospitality sector. Tier 3 Covid restrictions mean our pubs and restaurants remain closed unless it’s for takeaway. Without more support they too face a bleak new year. I do support being in tier 3 because of the Covid infection rates surrounding us, but I also think we must help hospitality.

In other Westminster and Covid news, I attended a meeting last week with the health secretary Matt Hancock and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer to see the latest Covid-19 Data. These have been regular meetings for the duration of the pandemic where data is shared on the current prevalence of Covid across the borough and provide important insight into lockdown and tiering decisions.

Locally, I met up online with Scope, a disability charity, to discuss the disability employment gap in Stourbridge. It was heart-breaking to hear of the struggles that disabled people face in securing employment. We need to educate employers about the government support available to hire disabled people, we need to pay them more and recognise the great contribution they can make to our local economy.

Following this meeting, I hosted a roundtable of local Church leaders to understand the impact of Covid on the Church and their work on the run up to Christmas. My inbox confirms the importance of worship to many of my constituents. Places of worship are also vital social and community hubs particularly at a time of crisis.

Protecting the green belt is one of the reasons I got into politics and I am committed to Keep Stourbridge Green. The Black Country Local Plan is expected to be released in the spring and I will be working hard to ensure Stourbridge remains the way it is now and that land from the green belt is not removed for development.