This last week has been spent walking the streets of Hindpool, Roose, Ulverston, and Furness Peninsular ahead of ‘Super Thursday’ and the huge range of local elections going on across the country.

Here in Furness there were fights for four by-elections, at Ulverston Town Council, and also for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

As I write, the results have not yet all come in. But rather than linger on those that have, I’d just like to thank all the candidates who put themselves forward. It’s not a easy thing to do by any means, and campaigning is gruelling work - especially for your feet! But the fact that they did it at all is something we should celebrate, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

The last day of the campaign is spent ‘knocking up’, reminding voters of where their polling stations are and what time they are open until. This pandemic has forced so many of us to close our doors to the world that it was so enjoyable speaking to people on their doorsteps again.

I treasure those conversations and look forward to having many more of them as we begin to open up again. Whether hearing about the state of the streets, people’s hopes for the future, those conversations are what this job is about and make it a real joy.

It does, day by day, feel as if the world is returning to normal. On Tuesday I received my first AstraZenica jab (the one advantage of turning 40, as I keep telling everyone) and am looking forward receiving my second at the GSK vaccination centre in due course. Those vaccinations are our route back to normal life so, please, if you get the call, get the jab.

Finally, bookending the week have been two complimentary activities - the first is reviewing the ‘Furness Needs’ report being drafted by the Cumbria Community Foundation. This report takes a sober look at where Furness (essentially the whole of Barrow & Furness and a little more as well) is at present so that those of us in the position to change things for the better have an accurate picture of the situation.

The second was meeting with the team at Barrow Council to discuss Barrow’s bid into the Levelling Up Fund. After securing £25million in the Towns Fund recently from the Government this is our next bite at the cherry and I’m working with the team there to make sure that we put our very best bid together. I genuinely think that this is an incredible time to live in our amazing community. The Government’s win in the Hartlepool by-election underlines the ongoing commitment to levelling up communities like ours - we just have to keep seizing the opportunities as they come.