John Howell MP’s column: Village tour

John Howell MP
John Howell MP
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These last few weeks I have been conducting my village tour within the constituency.

The Henley constituency consists of only two towns - Thame and Henley.

They account for 20% of the population.

The remainder live in small and medium sized villages.

Every year I visit some of these to attend schools, fetes or the like.

But that always leaves a good few unvisited.

Hence the village tour.

This year I decided to visit 30 villages in eight days.

At some of them we had fixed points such as meetings in village halls or with specific interest groups.

At others we just turned up and knocked on doors to gauge the issues of concern.

The results were fascinating.

Given an open goal to shoot at the majority expressed themselves happy with the direction of travel the Government was taking us in.

In particular, there was a lot of support for the economic recovery, the signs for which have been with us all summer.

Many of the issues on people’s minds were genuinely local.

These included the state of the roads and planning.

I did not do an event in Thame partly because I am there so often during the course of the year and partly because I hold regular surgeries in the Barns Centre.

I will also do an event in Thame later.

However, I did do many of the surrounding villages.

It is interesting that no particular subject dominated the conversation.

As a meet-the-people exercise it was well worth doing.

Unlike previous years we had cut the number of villages down to give us more time at each stop.

But if I could have changed one thing it would have been the weather.

Turning up on someone’s doorstep soaked to the skin announcing you are their MP certainly gained the sympathy vote.