It remains to be seen whether the short Easter break has improved the atmosphere and mood at Westminster but as Brexit talks resume the Commons took the opportunity to discuss other issues.  An Opposition Day debate allowed us rather than the Government to choose the subject for debate. We chose to highlight the concerns of local authorities facing year on year cuts not least to social care. It was the first Opposition Day for some time probably because in the midst of divisions over Brexit the Government has tried to avoid unnecessary votes.  It’s welcome that the Government feels willing to restore Opposition Days even if they choose to ignore the outcome of any votes.

Politics is in for a bumpy ride with elections looming. First up will be local elections which allow local residents to give their verdict on their local council and local councillors as well as voting for a new post of North of Tyne Mayor. Despite efforts to exploit current political uncertainty in my view local people are wise enough to see when a local election is local.

After that will come the European elections, a different political animal altogether. The proportional voting system, a proliferation of parties and opportunity for a free hit make the outcome less predictable. But putting voters at the heart of our democracy is crucial if we are to confirm the best way forward for our communities.

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