As we come to the end of 2014 and (almost) my last Westminster Life column, I can look back on a very busy and eventful year!
I welcomed Government plans for more apprenticeships - ensuring young people in Peterborough getting the skills they need for the future, free childcare - expanded to 1,700 two-year olds in Peterborough, tax cuts for working people, over 44,000 in my constituency, extra school funding and Help to Buy - helping more families in Peterborough to own their own home in West Town and Gunthorpe, for instance.
I sit on the Public Accounts Committee examining reports produced on value for money studies of economy, effectiveness and efficiency. This year we have produced reports on a variety of issues – you can view them all here.
We won new and extra cash from government for repairing potholes in our area. I have petitioned the House of Commons and lobbied Network Rail to provide proper soundproof fencing for households affected by the rail freight line upgrade in Werrington and Peakirk. I raised concerns and lobbied in the Commons with my Block the Bookies campaign to restrict the spread of bookmakers and FOBT machines aimed at reducing problem gambling. I lobbied the Transport Secretary and Chancellor to freeze train fares from Peterborough station for a second year. We won key campaigns after lobbying Chancellor George Osborne for the abolition of Air Passenger Duty for children and I welcomed excellent decision to scrap VAT for hospices helping charities like Sue Ryder at Thorpe Hall. I tackled the Roads Minister about safety and congestion on the A47 east and west of Peterborough and the A47 won extra funding for improvements in our area.
I visited local employer Peterborough Citizens Advice Bureau during Living Wage Week and I then convened citywide conference to argue for more organisations to adopt the Living Wage for low wage working people in Peterborough. I fought with trades unions campaigning to protect the future of the Peterborough office of the Land Registry – and won!
Last month, I voted in Parliament (against the party whip) to break the tie between big breweries and pub landlords to safeguard our community pubs and bring back fair play and lower beer prices with Fair Deal for your Local.
With local residents, city councillors, parish councillors, farmers and environmentalists, I successfully campaigned against Peterborough City Council’s risky and expensive plans for a solar energy park near Newborough and Thorney. I also led campaign against over intensive housing development plans at the nature reserve in Eye Green.
I spoke out in Parliament on the impact of hospital parking charges for vulnerable patients, their families and NHS staff, as well as on an historic debate on diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
A hectic year but there’s always more to do!
In the meantime, I hope you will be blessed with family and fellowship and count your blessings at this time of year and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.