Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Newspaper column 23 December 2015 - Looking back at 2015 part 1

With Christmas only two days away I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I hope that the holiday season gives you the chance for a break and to catch up with family and friends.  I am now back in the Constituency until Parliament returns in the New Year and this is a good time to reflect back on the months since I was elected in May.  The seven months since the election have been full of issues and challenges, but have also provided the opportunity to make a start in delivering on the promises that I made in my election campaign.  So, for this and next week’s column, I will be reviewing the progress made on my six election pledges.

In the campaign I stated my six priorities would be to: be a strong voice for Cornwall in Westminster, work to deliver economic growth, work to protect our coasts and countryside, fight for investment in our infrastructure, support families, charities and communities, work to create jobs and career opportunities.

In Parliament I have sought to speak up for our constituency and Cornwall, speaking in a number of debates, as well as asking numerous questions including at PMQs.

A strong economy is the foundation of a strong society; it is only from a strong economy that governments can raise the funds to spend on public services.  With this in mind I have supported projects that aim to increase employment and boost the economy in our area.  The Aerohub at Cornwall Airport in Newquay is an exciting development that will continue to grow and provide the higher paying jobs that we need.  The recent announcement of the extension of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone was fantastic news, along with new routes and the re-introduction of jet aircraft to the Gatwick route.

The Eden Project near St Blazey remains at the forefront of renewable technologies and I am delighted to be able to support their geothermal energy project.  Geothermal will harness the power of the heat that lies within the rocks far below the surface of the earth.  Cornwall’s ancient granite makes our geology suitable for this technology and it is not dependent on either the wind blowing or the sun shining.  I recently met with the Energy Minister to discuss how the Government can support geothermal energy in Cornwall and was able to champion the potential of these local projects.

Our environment is precious and so I was honoured to be asked to chair the All Party Parliamentary Group, Protect our Waves.  I am actively working with Surfers Against Sewage to support their work in protecting our marine environment. I have also been lobbying South West Water to improve our bathing water quality and supporting the fight against marine pollution and beach rubbish.

Infrastructure remains a challenge in Cornwall so I was delighted when the Chancellor wrote to me recently to confirm that funds have been set aside for the improvements to the A391.  I am also actively working to gain investment in our NHS services and local schools.