Your local MP: December 2017
Reflecting on the past year
WITH Christmas just around the corner and the colder days and nights drawing in I wanted to start this month’s column by wishing all Hanham and Longwell Green residents a very happy Christmas and New Year. With so much having happened this year I see this as a valuable opportunity to look back and see how things have moved forwards both locally and nationally.
2017 has been a very busy year on both the personal and political fronts, with both my children, Clementine and Henry, now three and one, my wife Lydia and I have been balancing work and hectic home life. Of course, the General Election in May was a particularly busy time as I travelled across the constituency knocking on doors and speaking to people from right across the local area. I was very humbled to have been re-elected to represent our constituency for the third time running. I’d like to thank all those constituents who voted for me, I was absolutely delighted to increase my share of the vote in our area from 48% in 2015 to nearly 55% this year with over 26,750 people choosing to vote for me. I am very grateful that, for the first time since 2010, the majority of local voters chose me as their candidate. Having served you for seven years as your MP, I understand the great responsibility I have in helping to look after our area. As someone who was born locally in Longwell Green, grew up here, and who has lived here all my life, there is no greater honour that the represent you as your Member of Parliament.
On the local front in Hanham and Longwell Green, as many will know, I have long campaigned for the old Kleeneze site in Hanham to be regenerated. Throughout my campaign for the site, I have always been very clear about the need for any new project to include adequate parking provision in order to support the vibrant high street. With Tesco having decided not to go ahead with the new store on the site, I am pleased that the Homes and Communities Agency has acquired the land for development and I have already made the case for additional parking very clear in my initial dialogue with them. I know just how important it is not only for local businesses but also for local shoppers that they can easily find a space to park whilst visiting the High Street. I was also very pleased to have been able to personally welcome a number of new shops to the High Street in Hanham and look forward to working with traders in order to see what can be done to support them in their valuable role.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all those local residents who took the time to sign my petition which called for greater safeguards for the Greenbelt around Hanham Hills and the Hanham Nature Reserve. As someone who was born and grew up locally, I understand just how important our green spaces are for the community and I am committed to ensuring that they are preserved for future generations to enjoy. With over 1,000 local people signing my petition to South Gloucestershire Council, I was delighted by the level of local engagement which clearly demonstrated the strength of feeling on the matter. More recently, I have met with the Minister of State for Housing and Planning in order to further my case and to push for more protections for our valuable green spaces.
I have also had a busy year in my role as a minister in the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for democratic engagement and voting reform, I have been working towards making it easier for people with disabilities to register to vote and to cast their vote itself. Over the past few months, I have been working alongside the Royal National Institute of Blind People in order to ensure that visually impaired people get information in the format they need in order to break down any barriers they may face in engaging with the democratic process. This will mean that, for the first time, councils like South Gloucestershire will be able to provide extra help and support to people who may need it in order to participate in our elections. This will be an important step forwards in removing any existing barriers to democratic participation and I am proud to be leading the way on projects like this.
Finally, I was delighted to hold this year’s Christmas Grotto at my office as part of the Hanham Christmas Fair which took place on Saturday December 2 and I’d like to thank all those who put so much work in to ensuring that the day went ahead this year.
I would like to wish readers a great year ahead for 2018 and if there are ever any issues that you would like to raise with me then please do not hesitate to drop into one of my local surgeries, alternatively you can reach me on 0117 908 1524 or by emailing me at email@example.com
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!