Proud of the progress made by city
This is my last Westminster Life column of this Parliament and today I will be leaving the House of Commons until at least the 8th June General Election and who knows, maybe forever?
I’d like to thank Telegraph readers for their support, forbearance, feedback and interest since 2005 and the staff at the paper for their patience in chasing my weekly copy!
Undoubtedly, Peterborough is a far better place than it was 18 years ago when I came to the city and was preparing to be adopted as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate and when I was first elected 12 years ago.
Yes, we have problems in some of our schools and standards are not what they should be (despite the efforts of some truly inspirational teachers and head teachers), unplanned and large scale EU migration is troubling and imposes a heavy burden on housing, education, policing and healthcare and the debt legacy of Peterborough City Hospital’s private finance initiative signed ten years ago under Labour Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.
Nevertheless, we can be proud of the progress which has been made over the last few years.
For instance, the biggest fall in youth joblessness in England, adult unemployment at less than two percent, new firms like Addison Lee beating a path to our area with good quality jobs and new opportunities, a city centre to be justly proud of, a regional shopping centre competing with the best in the country and about to be refreshed after 35 years, award winning parks, gardens and open spaces and a reputation as a key transport hub on road and rail with new rolling stock cutting journey times to London to 44 minutes from 2018.
On top of that, we have a superb community hospital, new regeneration projects like Fletton Quays, falling crime rates, a reputation for creating new businesses and for a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, a robust volunteer and faith community, a burgeoning cultural, sports and culinary offering and the most beautiful medieval cathedral in England.
And our new Mayor will with luck bring even more investment and infrastructure spending to the city.
I hope for a spirited, lively and engaging General Election campaign – my sixth – and I am sure the debates will be rumbustious.
It will mainly be about talking to people on the doorstep, as it should be.
When all is said and done, all politics is local and even the Prime Minister is merely a candidate amongst others in her own constituency.
Let battle commence.
Until mid-June it’s au revoir but hopefully not goodbye.