Revealing insights into working life of East Devon's MP
- Credit: Archant
To many people the role of an MP may seem somewhat foggy and foreign, myself included, so I contacted the local MP for East Devon Simon Jupp to have an eye-opening interview about the role and life of an MP and how the pandemic has affected his duties.
Initially I asked Simon, who was elected in the 2019 general election, ‘In the most basic of terms, what does an MP actually do?’ ‘Representing the area of East Devon’ was his first point. Every area has an MP to represent their views and opinions and look at how national legislature and issues will affect their specific area. Something such as transport, in which East Devon could be deemed cut off, it’s his duty to ensure that our area benefits from any government action in this department with something such as the future of Exeter Airport being a priority. Usually this would be done in the infamous House of Commons, but this obviously hasn’t been possible. In no way too dissimilar from many of us, Simon found himself addressing his colleagues virtually from his kitchen table in Sidmouth, which is a feeling I most certainly can relate to.
Another point highlighted when asked about the role of an MP was helping and interacting with local people who reach out to him for help. Usually MPs hold surgeries all over their respective areas, such as Kennaway House in Sidmouth in which locals are invited to voice concerns or seek any help they made need with any issue. Yet again, Covid has prevented these vital events from taking place under the usual circumstances forcing Mr Jupp to adapt. He’s used Zoom as well as directly calling people in urgent situations to keep that key link with local constituents who have contacted him over a wide range of issues. From people on hospital waiting lists to social housing issues or anti-social behaviour in your area. A point he was keen to emphasize was ‘Even if I can’t directly help you, I will almost certainly know someone who will’ viewing his own constituency office on Exmouth Seafront as a ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’.
Furthermore, I asked Simon about what the average weekly life of an MP entails and how that has been affected. Usually the ‘Parliamentary timetable has me in Westminster at the start of the week and then back to the constituency by Wednesday or Thursday’. However, the pandemic has meant that Simon has been able to spend a lot more time down in East Devon. Just last week he visited Venn Ottery and Aylesbeare speaking to locals. He was also in Exmouth and took a trip out with the Harbour Master to find out more about the Exe Estuary. Recently though he has been able to return to Westminster to participate in the various committee meeting and debates as per usual.
When faced with the question of what he has missed most from before the pandemic he responded with the same things we’ve all missed such as seeing family as well as not being as not being able to engage with his constituents face to face. He was surprisingly akin to many regular residents of the area saying he ‘enjoys a pint and a pasty’ as I’m sure many of you do as well as popping into his local pub the Volunteer Inn where he often would be approached by locals. This interaction really gives him a sense of duty.
He states ‘I may represent the area but I certainly don’t rule over it’ inferring he really is just an ordinary person who is easy to approach in any casual setting and is there to help you rather than tell you what to do.
Simon invites anyone with any queries or issues no matter what area they be in, to contact him via his website, through a surgery or email him.