POLITICIANS usually spend the summer recess by taking some much-needed time off.

Labour MP Alex Sobel, however has begun the break by throwing himself into activities designed to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Mr Sobel, whose Leeds North West constituency includes Otley, Yeadon, Bramhope and Pool, undertook everything from beekeeping to working in a recycling centre during his Environment Week.

He began by leading a group of local Labour party activists in a litter pick at Yeadon where they covered much of the town centre. He said: “Environmental action starts with looking after our own back yard. I was pleased to have so many willing volunteers turn out and I think we did a pretty good job.”

The MP then visited a retrofitted super-insulated house, complete with solar panels and hot water heating, in Bramhope. He said: “These houses, known as ‘passive houses’, are the standard to which all homes should be built.”

He went on to visit a recently created ‘bug hotel’ in Bramhope, commissioned by Bramhope and Carlton Parish Council and Bramhope in Bloom, which encourages insect life and biodiversity.

Mr Sobel has championed that issue in Parliament where he led a debate in which he warned that the declining insect population was a signal of wider climate disaster. And he pursued the subject last week by planting wild flowers around his constituency and meeting a Wharfedale beekeeper to learn how urban beekeeping, and ‘pollinator gardening’, can help.

He said: “There is a lot of great work going on locally with In Bloom groups leading the charge. It is also great to see parish councils taking a proactive approach to large scale environmental problems. I want to see wildflower-friendly road and verge management across our area and I am actively lobbying Leeds City Council about it.”

The Environment Week also included a trip to the Leeds Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility and a shift at Revive , a recycling recovery shop at Kirkstall Recycling Centre. Mr Sobel visited The Phoenix Works too, which installs electric vehicle charge points, and an ‘action event’ held by Friends of Lawnswood Cemetery.

And he launched a campaign which is calling on local businesses to abandon sauce sachets. He said: “Plastic is causing huge problems in our seas and oceans. There is a lot to do on a macro level...but there are also everyday changes we can make to reduce our plastic consumption.

“Moving from sauce sachets is a manageable contribution that businesses can make.”