The Stroud MP's weekly column.

There was a parliamentary recess last week ahead of the party conferences. This meant I could get out and about in Stroud, the Valleys and Vale meeting up with local people, businesses and residents.

This is the fun part of the job and I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful people we have here in this part of Gloucestershire.

Among the highlights from my week was going on patrol with PC Iain Tucker and PSCO Nikki Wood in the Top of Town.

The local community comes together with the help of the wardens, the council and the police to tackle anything from fly tipping to anti-social behaviour. It was a very calm and peaceful walkabout but I still left with homework!

I said I was happy to support the police and community and I will be writing to some residents to gather their thoughts about what is happening locally.

Another visit was to Stroud’s Community Farm - Oakbrook Farm. I met up with Christian Gruetzmacher who runs the new observatory, the impressive Zero dig team Dr Mario Peters and Claire Wimperis, plus Kees Fredericks the director of the Micro Dairy and director David Lambert to discuss the issues the enterprises are facing and some of the work they do. I also enjoyed seeing a lively home education session on the grounds.

This organisation has only been in existence since 2015 but so much progress has been made.

The work they do is important to Stroud as it focuses on building a strong community, producing local food, establishing food security, off-setting long supply chain issues and it is educational too.

However, the farm enterprises would very much like more volunteers and customers. I promised to come and do a day of work there soon. Please support them if you can.

I also popped along to The Fostons Ash pub to meet up with owner Nick Hine.

The pub is a family-run business that has branched out into gin making.

During the pandemic they adapted by hiring a marquee for outside seating. Furlough was supportive as it has been for so many of our local businesses. I am really pleased this pub, like many others, has survived and is looking to thrive. But I know there are issues around staff and business rates for all our hospitality venues and this will be fed back to ministers.

This week saw Conservative Party Conference take place in Manchester. As part of the event a report I helped co-author with nine other 2019 MPs was published.

It called for the Government to put power in the hands of local communities to help level up the country.

Our view is that local communities know what is good for them and what their priorities are. Government should simply empower them to make the decisions that best suit them.

It also called for so-called “Community Covenants”, signed between a council and local people, to help ensure power is shared.

Like many such papers it hopes to spark a conversation about how we move forward and help those communities across the UK who have been left behind. The levelling up agenda is vital to this happening.