As we approach the end of 2013, I would like to reflect on our achievements, as a city and as a government, over the last year and, indeed, over the last few years.
Ever since I was elected to the House of Commons in May 2010, I have worked tirelessly to address the many issues that both concern my constituents and impact on my constituency of Lincoln, Bracebridge Heath, Skellingthorpe and Waddington East.
I am continually focussed on ‘building a better Lincoln’ by ensuring that I ‘Put Lincoln First’ in everything I do. With just over two-thirds of this Parliament completed, I am delighted to report that many of the issues that I have devoted my time to in Westminster are now bearing fruit for the hard working people of my Lincoln constituency.
I have lobbied government colleagues, the Department for Transport and others to secure the development of the Eastern Bypass with many millions of £s of vital funding. The transport infrastructure in and around Lincoln will see significant improvement with pedestrian bridges planned over the two level crossings in our city centre, improving pedestrian access to shops on the High Street.
Tied in with this much needed improvement to access and safety on the High Street will be the East West Link Road, one way traffic and semi pedestrianisation from St Mark’s up to Wigford Way.
In addition, I have helped secure £1.7 million from the Department for Transport to ensure the much needed Canwick Road improvement scheme to ease traffic congestion and ensure smoother flowing traffic to the south of the city will soon be underway with the promise of £1.6 million of additional funding from the Conservative-led Lincolnshire County Council. This work is in addition to the improvements made in and around the Rookery Lane and Brant Road interchange on Newark Road recently.
Record numbers of businesses have been created in Lincoln since the General Election in May 2010. The national economic recovery package this Conservative-led Government put in place has resulted in record numbers of business start-ups in almost every quarter since late 2010. These new companies will create employment opportunities and ensure Lincoln grows and prospers as the UK economy recovers further.
As a government, we have helped to deliver much needed tax relief for 39,386 hardworking people in Lincoln. This has lifted an estimated 3,824 people in Lincoln out of income tax altogether. All this at a time when the nation’s economy has been recovering from 13 years of mismanagement under a Labour Government.
And I have helped to secure almost £7 million of regional growth fund monies from central government to support research and development and hence business growth for companies like Dynex Semiconductor and Bifrangi in Lincoln. This money will ensure future prosperity by backing SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises) which are the lifeblood of Lincoln’s economy.
The domestic political year culminated in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which provided further good news for people in Lincoln – the jobs tax on all young people under 21 abolished, real help for the High Street including business rates help for 3,000 Lincoln businesses, energy bills down, fuel duty frozen, and rail fare increases frozen.
This is all welcome support, but as the Chancellor said in his speech in the House of Commons, the job is not yet done. We are only able to help hardworking people because we have taken difficult decisions to control spending. We are building a responsible recovery and our plan is working, but we need to keep going.
In the week before Christmas, I hosted my third annual Trustees of Lincoln Charities’ Christmas Event at the Lincoln Cathedral Centre, which, for the third year running, has very kindly been sponsored by The Lindum Group.
This informal event provided another opportunity for me and various other invited elected and non-elected representatives of our local authorities, as well as other local public service and business leaders, to say ‘thank you’ in a small way to the charity trustees of our city and county, so many of whom selflessly volunteer their services, for the excellent work they do helping the vulnerable, needy and disadvantaged.