It is of course with a great sense of pride that I, once again, write an article that graces the pages of The Lincolnshire Echo and many readers have mentioned they have missed the regular weekly column in recent months. Reflecting on my time in Parliament, the last year, and the challenges still to come, I re-iterate that it is a privilege to represent our beautiful and historic City of Lincoln in the Mother of all Parliaments for what has been (almost!) five years, and to have the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year as the Member of Parliament for Lincoln.
We inherited from the previous Labour Government in 2010 the largest budget deficit in the G20, increased unemployment, a welfare system that did not reward work and an economy in which all the main indicators were heading in the wrong direction. Our Country, quite frankly, was on the verge of bankruptcy.
But by working hard to our long-term economic plan over these last five years, we will have seen: the deficit of our Country cut by a half;Income Tax cut for over 25 million people; benefits capped to reward work; 1.7 million more people in employment; the state pension increased by £800; more children in good and outstanding schools; immigration from outside Europe down to the level of the late 1990s; and over 70,000 families with a home thanks to Help to Buy.
I am also pleased that at home in Lincoln we are sharing in these successes and more under our Conservative-led Government.
Take transport, for instance – an issue of pivotal importance to all my constituents and those who work and visit our City and surrounding areas. Earlier this month improvement works began on the Canwick Road/Hill and South Park junction areas – works that will provide additional traffic lanes that will ease congestion in the South of Lincoln.
We have secured agreement for footbridges over our City’s two busiest level crossings; a renovated station and ticket office building at Lincoln Central Station; improvements to train services for passengers travelling between Lincoln, Newark and Nottingham. Further, as a result of Virgin East Coast winning the East Coast Franchise, I helped secure an additional daily six trains from, and five trains to, London with upgraded train interiors introduced between 2015 and 2017. I have also successfully campaigned to secure the futures of both Lincoln Prison and, more recently, the Burton Road Doctors' Surgery.
In February I held a successful jobs fair in which a total of 1587 jobseekers came along to visit the 50+ organisations and businesses that were offering over 350 vacancies in the City of Lincoln and over 2000 across the East Midlands’ region. And in September I organised a charity walk – Beating The Bounds – around the boundary of my Lincoln Constituency that was supported by many businesses, individuals, five main charities and a team made up of local Councillors and activists. Together we raised over £10,000.
That record is a good start, but we know the job is far from finished - there is much more we still have to do, both for our Country and our City. There is, of course, much for us in Lincoln to look forward to next year in 2015. Not least our celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the influence and impact of this magnificent document and Lincoln’s place in its story, as well as the United Kingdom's place in the Democratic World. Lincoln remains the only place in the world where you can find an original copy of Magna Carta together with the Charter of the Forest, issued in 1217 to amplify Magna Carta.
And, of course, we will have at least one General Election in 2015. The people of Lincoln will have a straight choice between a Conservative Member of Parliament with a track record of delivery who Puts Lincoln First; and Ed Miliband’s Labour candidate from London who offers more spending, more borrowing and more debt – the very policies that put our Country in so much trouble in the first place. Unfortunately the Labour Party have learnt no lessons – they really would just do the same again.
Whatever, there is no doubt it will be an exciting year ahead and of course my family, supporters and I wish all readers of The Lincolnshire Echo Christian Good Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Kind regards and Happy Xmas