Stevenage MP accused of ‘vanishing act’ during coronavirus pandemic reveals what he’s been up to

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:31 18 May 2020

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland says he is working hard from home to support his constituents during the coronavirus lockdown. Parliament is maintaining a formal dress code when MPs participate in sessions, even if virtually, which is why he is wearing a suit. Picture: Courtesy of Stephen McPartland's office.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland says he is working hard from home to support his constituents during the coronavirus lockdown. Parliament is maintaining a formal dress code when MPs participate in sessions, even if virtually, which is why he is wearing a suit. Picture: Courtesy of Stephen McPartland's office.

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An MP accused of deserting his constituents during the coronavirus crisis says he is working hard from home to support people in need of help.

In a letter published in the Comet during lockdown, Stevenage’s Jim Callaghan said the town’s MP, Stephen McPartland, had let residents down through his seeming inaction during the current pandemic.

He said: “Stephen McPartland pledged to ‘stand shoulder to shoulder’ with his constituents during the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately his words don’t match his deeds as since then he has done a vanishing act.

“During this time of national crisis it is disgraceful that our MP has deserted his constituents.”

But Mr McPartland says he and his team are working hard to support people. He said: “I am proud to have a small but very committed team of staff who are working from home, continuing to support local people, businesses and charities with their queries.

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“We often receive hundreds of emails a day and can signpost people to a number of services, but a lot of the people and organisations contacting us fall through the gaps or have been turned down by the organisations which are supposed to help them. My team and I spend a lot of time advocating on their behalf and I am in contact on a daily basis with ministers to improve some of the systems.

“I have also been proud to attend a small, socially-distanced memorial event for our key workers, and a VE Day service.

“I have thanked a number of volunteers and organisations helping locally, and helped deliver free food to a GP surgery.

“It is strange not doing all the events I normally do, and helping to raise the profile of charities.

“Nationally, I have been helping ensure the prime minister and his ministerial team understand what is happening on the ground, and have also formally asked the chancellor if he will extend the mortgage holidays and self-employed scheme to October in parity with the furloughed workers’ scheme.

“I would like to thank all our key workers, volunteers, amazing NHS, teachers and care staff who have helped us through this very difficult period of lockdown. I know change can be scary, but it is good news we are moving into the next phase in the battle against this disease and slowly lifting the restrictions to get our economy moving again.”


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