I hope you all had a good Christmas. As we enter 2017 and look forward to all that the New Year has in store, it is a good time to also look back at 2016. There is no doubt that the past year has been a very interesting and significant time in British politics as well as a busy time in our constituency.
Dominating the national picture has been the result of the June 23rd Referendum and the ensuing negotiations to bring about Brexit. Holding a Referendum was a Manifesto commitment of the Conservative Government, one that I was proud to stand on and one that we have delivered on after just one year in government. I will be doing everything I can to ensure the best possible outcome for this country, and Cornwall in particular over the coming months.
This includes joining the European Scrutiny Committee in Parliament. While we are negotiating our exit from the EU this committee will continue to play a crucial role. Not only in keeping an eye on the EU legislation that continues to come through but also in ensuring as smooth and positive an exit as possible.
Turning to my specific work as Member of Parliament, along with my team I am pleased to have assisted over 2,000 individual constituents with their concerns in the last year and I have written to over 8,000 people who have contacted me about policy matters. In Parliament I have spoken in the main Chamber 53 times and voted in nearly 90% of all votes, both above average for MPs. Here in Mid-Cornwall I have attended over 250 local events, visited more than 30 schools and welcomed many Government Ministers, including the Prime Minister and several members of her Cabinet, to the area so they can see first-hand the issues we face here.
One area that I have been really pleased to have had success was in securing an additional £3m funding for Cornwall Council at this year’s Budget. The Secretary of State has also announced a comprehensive review of the costs of delivering services in rural areas next year.
Turning to my pledge to fight for investment in our all-important transport infrastructure, I am pleased to have worked to bring forward positive developments across Mid- Cornwall in the last year. These included getting the ball rolling on a link road between the A30 and the A391 – which will benefit St Austell and the surrounding area, getting funding to upgrade 6.8km of the dangerous A3058 road between St Austell and Newquay, and of course working closely with the team at Cornwall Airport Newquay to grow and expand the airport on a number of fronts.
Another part of keeping Cornwall connected is our vital rail link. Working with my Cornish MP colleagues I have been pleased to have successfully lobbied the Secretary of State for Transport to provide an additional £10 million funding to develop the Dawlish line.
In non-transport infrastructure, I have also had successes with South West Water, particularly in upgrading and providing better maintenance for their Menagwins Waste Water Treatment site, which serves St Austell and most of the surrounding area, and also their work to repair and bring up to scratch the Yellowsands Viewing Platform at Newquay, and ongoing work to upgrade the sewage system in Fowey.
Finally, it would be right to mention my actions on the controversial Parliamentary Boundary Changes review, which could see Cornwall sharing a cross-border Parliamentary seat with Devon. I have always said that I am a Cornishman first and a Conservative second. This is one of those occasions when I believe that speaking up for Cornwall is the best thing to do even if it means disagreeing with the Government and so that is what I did.
I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Mid-Cornwall in 2017 and beyond to make this a better place to live, work and grow up in.