POLITICS has been at the forefront of the news agenda for some time thanks to delays over Brexit and the unusual event of a December General Election.

Many of us won’t think much about our local MP until it comes to choosing whether to tick the box next to their name when election time rolls around.

But while our focus may shift away from them after that, their jobs run year-round and see them juggling their parliamentary duties with a range of issues people raise with them from their constituencies.

To get an insight into the typical day of an MP, I joined Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman to see how his Friday panned out.

It began at Hexham Auction Mart, where Mr Opperman held a drop-in surgery. Issues raised included those wanting more information on the Agriculture Bill and the Environmental Land Management Scheme, as well as issues around forestry and a local U3A group which was doing research for a project.

“It is a whole diverse mix of people,” he said. “It is an opportunity for me to see as many different people and as always this job is about making yourself available and giving people the opportunity to come and chat to you.”

This also gave Mr Opperman a chance to catch up with police officers who were in the mart cafe for the ‘cuppa with a cop’ initiative, before we headed for a quick stop at the constituency office to meet his staff.

They explained that, each day, they dealt with around 100 emails, 30 letters and 30 phone calls. Mr Opperman compared it to a hospital triage system, with each communication assessed and prioritised to the right person who can deal with it.

We then headed to a meeting at Hexham Community Centre to discuss the progress with a scheme which could see £2.4m of investment to regenerate Hexham. Mr Opperman met with Trevor Mitchell, regional director for North East and Yorkshire at Historic England, which is running the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) scheme, and county councillor Cath Homer.

The HAZ funding is to help towns regenerate historic buildings, and confirmation of whether Hexham has been successful in attracting the funding is expected on March 27. They discussed the benefits of bringing residential amenity into the town centre, and how the funding could be used to help those who owned historic buildings to convert the upper floors into flats, while retaining retail spaces downstairs.

It was a busy day, with the next stop at Hexham’s new post office, where Mr Opperman was cutting the ribbon for its official opening. It followed the closure of the old post office in Beales. Mr Opperman said: “We have been working on this for so long to find the right location to ensure Hexham would still have a post office. It’s a relief to see it open now.”

We then headed to Prudhoe, where he had plans to present some community champions awards. The Hexham Constituency Community Champion Awards – sponsored by Red Hot Property in Hexham – are handed out by Mr Opperman to recognise some of the extraordinary achievements of people in communities across the Hexham constituency.

The first was headteacher of Adderlane Academy, Emma Potts. School staff had arranged for us, along with county councillor Gordon Stewart, to enter the school without Mrs Potts’ knowledge so she could be surprised with the award.

Teachers ushered their whispering classes into the school hall, before a unsuspecting Mrs Potts was brought in for the presentation.

The school was put into special measures by Ofsted in 2015, but Mr Opperman explained that Mrs Potts was able to turn it around to receive a good rating at its last inspection. He said the school had seen its numbers rise from around 50 to nearly 120.

“I have never given one of these to a school teacher before. It’s usually someone who is raising money for charity or volunteering, but Emma has really turned the school around and that is a huge service to the community in West Wylam,” he said. “She is a true definition of a community champion.”

He also surprised Irene Davis, of the Prudhoe branch of the Royal British Legion, at home with an award. She explained that the branch had raised £21,000 last year and £28,000 the year before for the legion.

After presenting her with the award, Mr Opperman said: “I know a huge amount of people who raise money for the British Legion but I don’t know anyone who has raised that much.”

While in Prudhoe, Mr Opperman also took the opportunity to knock on doors at the new Cottier Grange housing development on the old Prudhoe Hospital site.

“I try to do this every week. I make a real effort to do this outside of a elections. It helps to make the case that we are there all the time and it gives people a chance to bring up any issues they might be having.”

He was asking people whether they were having any problems living on the estate, as well as gauging reaction to a concern which had been raised about there being no postbox on the estate.

While grabbing a cup of tea at Elisa Rose Tearoom at Mickley, Mr Opperman explained that one of the best things about his job was being able to help people through changes he had been able to influence.

It took around one year of him working with the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water and the council to get the water levels at Kielder Dam lowered, which has had an impact on reducing flooding in communities down the Tyne.

He said he worked in Parliament from Monday to Thursday, making Fridays and Saturdays vital days for getting out in the constituency and speaking to residents. His Fridays would usually end with individual surgeries with residents.

“This job has many qualities. You are able to bring people together and to try and fix their problems. Every MP has a lot of constituency work and it is great staff that make sure that gets done," he said.

“I look upon this as a service business. If I look after people and provide a good service I am doing a good job. Try and answer emails and letters and champion their causes.

"That is irrespective of whether they vote for me or not. I represent them and everybody gets treated the same.”