The Stroud MP's weekly column.

In my job as your MP, I am fortunate to meet with parish councils when I can and I really enjoy it.

This lowest tier of government is incredibly important and they pack a punch in terms of what they achieve for local people. Parish councils are wonderful guardians and champions of our communities. It’s a lot of work and lost evenings for local people who care about their community, how it looks and how development might affect it.

Last week, I had a virtual meeting with the Painswick Parish Council and I thanked the team for all they do, especially in such challenging times.

If you can, please join your local parish council for meetings and provide support.

They often need new councillors to join and on May 6, parish councils will be electing councillors as well as district and county councils.

I’m still frustrated that no parliamentary time could be found to create the legislation needed to give councils the ongoing option of virtual meetings. I know that many wanted this to continue.

The Commons schedule is stretched but I understand there was no time in the Lords. Myself and a number of MPs are continuing to argue for lasting change.

I think it could be a game changer for many councils and actually improve attendance and engagement with local democracy.

We may also see more people prepared to serve on parish councils if the meetings could be at home, especially if anyone has caring responsibilities.

It is local election day on the May 6 and I know candidates from all parties have been doing their best to get their message across in leaflets and on the doorstep despite Covid restrictions.

Local elections are really important - parish councils, Stroud District Council and Gloucestershire County Council run many vital services. Please make sure you vote if you can. Polling stations will be Covid-secure.

The terrible situation in India demonstrates that nobody can be complacent about Covid. The cautious approach to ending the UK’s lockdown is proving to be increasingly sensible. When the Road Map was first announced I was not convinced it was fast enough but I have changed my mind.

The vaccination programme has been incredible but we still need to jab millions of people before we can have complete confidence there will not be another wave of infections and deaths. Add in the danger of a new variant making our vaccines less effective, and I think the approach taken by the Government is spot on.