As we approach Christmas Day, I’d like to start by sending a heartfelt thanks to the people of Weaver Vale both for doing me the incredible honour of electing me your Member of Parliament in June, and for making both me and my family so welcome in the community over the last 6 months. Moving home with family, and enrolling my son in a new school after the election win were of course major practical challenges and changes, as they would be for any family - but thanks to the kindness and support of residents locally we have been able to do this smoothly and settle quickly. I know this is testament to the people and communities of this wonderful constituency.
It’s been a roller coaster year both in terms of wider politics generally, and of course for me personally. On national scale we’ve had a general election, a government on the ropes, and an approach to Brexit that is anything but clear.
Locally, far too many people are continuing to feel the effect of Tory austerity and broken promises. I hope that 2018 will be the year that our dedicated public sector workers will see the end of the unfair and unjust pay cap, our businesses get the certainty they need in relation to Brexit, and our area starts to get its fair share of powers and funding from a government that still sees us as a poorer relation to London and the South East.
I also hope that the government will turn its focus to renewable energy rather than Shale Gas and Fossil Fuels, and that clear progress is made on jobs and skills to give young people the opportunities they deserve.
Despite this bleak backdrop however, there are reasons to be optimistic. I hope to see movement towards devolution for Cheshire in the New Year, and we continue to push for what we hope will be positive news on the development and reopening of local rail services. We also saw the first chinks of light for people currently affected by the leasehold scandal in a statement from the government on parliament’s final day which suggested they are finally taking this issue seriously. I’ll be monitoring action on this closely.
I’ve spent my last day before the Christmas break visiting the Samaritans locally, a reminder that there are many for whom Christmas is not a time of happiness and family. I’d like to pay tribute to all the staff and volunteers of the Samaritans, our all too numerous but necessary foodbanks, and other charities doing similar work over the festive period. Let’s do our bit to make this Christmas less lonely for those who may not have anyone to turn to by visiting our neighbours and others who may be alone.
Finally, I’d like to thank all those who continue to keep our country and services running over Christmas. From Emergency Services, to NHS staff, to local government workers and care staff; for thousands of people work goes on as usual, whilst our Armed Forces serving overseas keep us safe and secure whilst being away from their own families at this time. Thank you to you all.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I wish all residents of Weaver Vale an enjoyable festive season and look forward to continuing to work on your behalf in 2018. It is an honour and a privilege to do so.