My key 2017 priority is education

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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2016 has certainly been a phenomenal year in many respects and is ending with some endemic social and political issues – like homelessness and pressures on the NHS in Peterborough and across the UK –as yet, still unresolved.

However, it’s now time to look forward to the New Year and the challenges and opportunities coming our way in 2017. In Westminster, I will be working in Parliament and the Department for Exiting the EU to meet the Prime Minister’s deadline of 31st March in honouring the decision of the British people on 23rd June to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaties in order to begin the process of leaving the EU.

Peterborough has seen both the benefits and too often the downsides of unrestricted immigration and Brexit means that so-called free movement from the EU must and will end.

Locally, my plans and priorities as the city’s MP will focus on a number of key areas: The top priority is driving up school standards. Whilst I believe urgent action must be taken at both school and at the city council level (and by failing academy chains) and will be encouraging Ministers to intervene directly, I am nevertheless keen to support the council’s review of education being undertaken by Cllr Lynne Ayres – but the time for excuses is over and we must see prompt changes and real measurable improvements! Secondly, my debate on January 10th in Parliament on the evictions at St Michael’s Gate will I hope clarify the need for the Government to close the loopholes which allow some unscrupulous landlords to benefit financially – at taxpayers’ expense - from the misfortune of homeless people.

I will be keeping a watching brief on the evolution of the new council’s housing and local plans and ensuring that new growth in residential developments is also accompanied by timely and necessary infrastructure – particularly schools, community facilities, roads and sustainable public transport schemes. I look forward to watching the Fletton Quays project take shape and seeing real progress this year on North Westgate.

Before Christmas, I met a household name business considering moving their London operation to the city and creating over 200 new jobs – and that will be one of my key aspirations over the next twelve months – helping to raise our area’s profile across the country and attracting new businesses with highly skilled and well paid work for local people – especially young employees.

Peterborough will also be leading the way next year in piloting new ID checks for those wishing to cast their votes at public elections – in response to the Government’s follow up of the review into electoral fraud by Sir Eric Pickles MP. This is long overdue and the city has been associated for too long with nefarious and criminal electoral practices and this must end, so that our elections are clean and fair. This also means challenging “clan” or “community” voting in the Pakistani community – something that offends British concepts of fair play, integrity and transparency – and many in that community are weary of.

Finally, way too many of central Peterborough’s streets are filthy with litter and fly tipped detritus and we are all being let down as visitors and residents witness this spectacle daily: Amey and the city council need to up their game – more clean ups, tougher penalties and greater enforcement and naming and shaming. We have to clean up our city.

I think that will be enough to be getting on with but please let me know your own views via stewart.jackson.mp@parliament.uk

In the meantime Happy New Year!