Welwyn Hatfield MP spent last Friday talking to people and businesses from around Welwyn Hatfield to see how they were getting on as they prepared for Monday, the next stage of the unlock.

After holding a constituents surgery in the morning, Mr Shapps went to the Galleria in Hatfield to visit Potential Kids. There, Grant went to see how they had been doing since the launch of their ‘Learn to Ride’ sessions earlier in April.

Potential Kids is a local charity that provides learning, social and sport opportunities to children who are neurodiverse, as well as their families. Their ‘Learn to Ride’ programme provides 1 on 1 bike riding lessons to children.

Speaking about the visit Angela Gaughan, founder of Potential Kids said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to talk with the Grant Shapps about the joint project between Hatfields Mens Sheds and Potential Kids.

“Being able to teach children and young people to ride and maintain a bike provides life-long skills that promote independence, mental health and self-esteem, whilst encouraging physical activity and time spent outdoors in the fresh air.

“Grant also had the opportunity to see our Community and Learning Garden project, ‘Potential to Grow’, which has been successfully running over the last 11 months.

“We are so grateful for the support we have received in developing this project. Our continued thanks go to Tim Sterling, Center Director at the Galleria for our Hub and Garden and to Welwyn Hatfield Council for their support to build our new kitchen area. Which will enable us to run fun cooking sessions for neurodiverse children, young people, their siblings, and families in the local area, using healthy ingredients grown in our very own garden.”

Mr Shapps said: “Potential Kids look to be doing brilliant work here. I’ve spent a bit of time talking to the leaders here and learning about their work, and the cycling programme more specifically.

“Cycling is great way to get from A to B- it’s healthy for you, and great for the planet. Learning to ride a bike as a child is something that all kids should experience, and it’s great to see that Potential Kids are helping make sure every child has that opportunity.”

Next stop for Mr Shapps was a meeting with business representatives in Welwyn Garden City, to hear from them about how businesses in WGC have been responding to the lifting of covid restrictions, as well as their plans for the recovery of the town centre. Mr Shapps toured some recent changes in the town centre, including a new outdoor dining area.

 A representative of WGC BID said: “We thank Grant for taking time out of his very busy schedule to come to WGC town centre and hear about the BID renewal and how the businesses in WGC are coping with the impact of the pandemic.

“It has been a tough time for everyone but we are working together to ensure the recovery of our town centre”

Mr Shapps said: “As we are moving away from covid restrictions- thanks in no small part to our amazing vaccination effort- it’s vital that our local businesses can get back on their feet and adapt to life post-covid.

“Visiting the town centre in Welwyn Garden City today and meeting with the local BID group, I’m confident that we’ll be able to spring back and make the most of what life post-covid has to offer.”

Finally, Mr Shapps travelled to Welwyn Village to meet with Off Broadway Travel – a local travel agency.

Mr Shapps- who is also the UK Transport Secretary- met with Tricia and the team at Off Broadway Travel to listen to their experience of international travel in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The meeting came as Mr Shapps recently announced that double vaccinated Brits would no longer have to isolate after travelling to ‘amber list’ countries from 19 July.

Natalie Bennett, a partner at Off Broadway Travel, told Travel Weekly: “He took everything on board, he listened to us, and it went well. He appreciated that travel had been made illegal and said he would talk to the chancellor [about further sector specific support].

Off Broadway Travel tweeted after the visit, saying: “A very productive meeting with @grantshapps today our local MP. Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen & understand out sector….”

Mr Shapps said: “I had a very useful discussion with the team at Off Broadway Travel today. They told me about the challenges they’ve faced as a business  over the past year and a half.

“As we unlock domestically, and take some first steps towards flying internationally again, I want to make sure I’m best representing all parts of the transport sector.”