People often ask me what I actually do as their MP! Fair question, so here’s a (partial) snapshot of how I’ve represented my constituents in the last couple of weeks.
It’s been a busy time in Westminster and Peterborough. Last Friday, I visited the new housing development at Midland Road in West Town with Westleigh Developments and Longhurst Homes to see the positive impact that the Help to Buy is having on helping people in our area on modest salaries into owning their own homes. On Monday, I welcomed Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to the city with my colleague Shailesh Vara MP to launch the new road dualling project at the A47 between Sutton and Wansford, a small part of the Government’s roads infrastructure package announced this week. I also did a question and answer session with Peterborough Regional College students at the House of Commons and met cancer specialists lobbying me on the inclusion of a key drug for the treatment of pancreatic cancer to be retained in the Cancer Drugs Fund and I’ve written to the Health Secretary to plead their case. I visited Newborough Primary School to meet their head teacher Alex Hope and see the school’s gifted and talented sports programme.
In the House of Commons, I led the questioning in the Public Accounts Committee of senior officials of the NHS on their financial plans for the coming few years and articulated the frustrations of Werrington, Parnwell and other local residents in a special debate on illegal traveller sites in Peterborough and across the East of England. I’ve also lent my support to campaigners for the Green Backyard (and made a donation to their appeal to buy the land), even though it actually isn’t in my constituency - and I do hope that the city council might review the sale of this important and much valued community facility.
I also hosted a conference at the Salvation Army for businesses and other employers to examine the benefits of the Living Wage and that most certainly is work in progress. Put simply, if we are to persuade people parked on benefits in the Labour years into meaningful work, then we must keep our side of the bargain and ensure that they are paid a decent and fair wage. We have seen a big drop in joblessness in the last 12 months, down by almost 1,700 people and the lowest unemployment rate since 2008 and in the last four years 3730 new apprenticeships have been started in the city but there’s a lot more to be done.
The coming General Election will be a battle between the negativism and pessimism and a “core vote” strategy of a Labour Party still in denial about crashing the economy and a positive and optimistic alternative vision of our country’s future.
Getting things back on track takes time but people do generally vote for hope over fear but time will tell…