Opinion: ‘Fighting for Peterborough a priority’
Peterborough’s MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...
It’s now two years since the general election.
An election I was repeatedly told I couldn’t win.
An election that took place in a dark, cold and wet December, and was thoroughly exhausting, but ended in happiness.
I couldn’t be prouder to be my city’s MP. Along the way, I have had some laughs, some big wins for Peterborough, and some tears – but that’s what life is all about.
This is the best job I will ever have and there is no way of knowing how long it will last. Whatever happens, I am determined to make the most of it. That’s been my approach from day one.
I hope that effort is appreciated, but that’s not the most important thing. What matters is getting results for the people that voted for me and the people that didn’t.
It’s not been a bad start. Top of the pile is the £58 million secured from the Government for our new university and town centre regeneration. This has already been transformative and the benefits will keep rolling through.
I wrote the other week about hosting the Chancellor of the Exchequer here in Peterborough and showing him the results. His confidence in us was hugely encouraging.
Nor is that the only boost in funding. We now have a cash uplift of £1,500 per pupil for our schools and millions more for our local NHS, along with a plan to finally fix the problems in social care.
There are more police on the beat in our city. In fact, there are now 157 extra police officers patrolling Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. This is starting to make a difference. Obviously, the pandemic has affected everything and everyone. It was bleak at times, but working with scores of charities and businesses to support the vulnerable was an amazing experience. It showed good people at their phenomenal best.
The financial support for the city council, for furlough and the self-employed, for businesses, and for charities and arts organisations was a lifeline. For example, the New Theatre got over £1 million to keep functioning. The same was true for Thorpe Hall, through the Government funding for hospices.
Lockdowns did slow me down in a couple of ways.
I promised to visit every school in my constituency (there are nearly 50) during this Parliament and, so far, have got round over a third.
Likewise, constituency surgeries were off-limits for a while, but I have still managed to hold them in local pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, churches and mosques. These community surgeries are one of my favourite things.
There is no substitute for talking to people.
That’s one reason why lockdown was so hard. However, my office has had literally tens of thousands of constituent enquiries since the election, particularly at those moments of stress, and I’m proud of how many problems my team has solved for constituents. I have led campaigns on housing, fly-tipping, autism, rough sleeping and school counsellors – and that’s not even to touch on life at Westminster. Fighting for Peterborough will always be my number one priority.
My second daughter was born a couple of days after the election.
Her growth is a useful reminder of how time flies and the importance of time with our families.
Whatever your circumstances this year, I wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas.