As we leave 2018 and enter a new year it provides an opportunity to stop and reflect on the events of the past 12 months. It has certainly been what you could describe as an ‘interesting’ year. But in the midst of all the politics I have continued to stay focused on working for our constituency.
I have continued to work on the key areas that I said would be my priorities when first elected in 2015. I have been pleased to have made massive progress with Cornwall Airport Newquay. Both in terms of our bid to become the UK’s first horizontal launch spaceport, which has picked up much support this year, as well as the recent announcement that the Newquay-Heathrow route will be returning, this is certainly getting closer to being one small step for man and one giant leap for Cornwall!
Meanwhile the plans for the £80m link road from St Austell to the A30 continue to come together, with work now scheduled to start by the end of next year; the planning application for this has now been submitted. I have also secured £10m of additional Government funding for the STARR project to deliver must needed flood relief for Par and St Blazey. I have also worked with the Government to deliver the £40m Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund to support Cornish businesses to grow, develop and create new jobs.
I was also incredibly honoured to be appointed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in April. I believe I am the first Cornish MP to sit on this Council. Although we are leaving the EU, we will still be part of the Council of Europe and I look forward to bringing my Cornish credentials to this organisation in the future. Of particular note, it was the Council of Europe that granted ethnic minority status to Cornish people after years of campaigning from Cornwall. Something that I am keen to ensure we make the most of.
In Parliament I continue to sit on the Transport Select Committee and am a strong voice for investment in transport infrastructure in Cornwall. I continue as a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, which allows me to look at European legislation and how it affects us, as well as sitting on the Parliamentary Petitions Committee.
I also continue as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Visitor Economy group to help champion the tourism and hospitality industries that are such a major part of our economy. I am still Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Protect Our Waves group, now renamed the Ocean Conservation APPG and have worked to champion ways of living more sustainably and protecting our marine environments on a national level in Parliament while also leading numerous beach cleans and litter picks with like-minded volunteers in Cornwall.
Along with my team I am pleased to have assisted over 5,000 individual constituents with their concerns since I was elected and I have written to over 13,000 people who have contacted me about policy matters. In Parliament in the last year I have spoken in the main Chamber over 80 times and voted in nearly 92% of all votes, both above average for MPs. Here in the constituency I have fulfilled almost 450 engagements – attending events or meetings, including around 30 school visits and welcomed many Government Ministers to the area so they can see first-hand the issues we face.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the incredible support I receive from my hard-working team of staff and volunteers. I can only do the things I do with their dedication and work, often behind the scenes. I always keep them very busy and am very grateful for all they do.