When I came to reflect on 2021, I looked at what I said this time last year: “At times, the past year has felt a bit like scrambling over a brutal assault course, littered with unexpected obstacles and with no clearly defined finish line.”
With the recent announcements this month, on COVID passports and more restrictions, which I readily opposed, it could be argued that nothing has changed. It is almost as if December 2021 was Groundhog Day. However, I do feel we have made some real progress locally and nationally in 2021 and I am confident that 2022 will be a hugely successful year.
Pandemic Response: My Tribute to our Community
With the respect to the pandemic, I would like to pay tribute to a range of people that have helped us through this. These include:
- Our key workers in the public, private and charity sectors who have gone above and beyond to keep key services going. This includes those working in our hospital, GP surgeries, mental health services and care homes. It also includes of course those working in the police, social services, delivery services, food production, shop owners and staff, and, those in charitable and community organisations who often go unnoticed despite the obvious help and assistance they provide to many.
- Those teaching in our schools, universities and colleges have, despite the best attempts of their fear-mongering unions, done a sterling job in difficult circumstances.
- Our businesses; many, and both large and small, have been brilliant in being able to keep going as best they can and ensure that employment opportunities have stayed strong and Lincoln remains “open for business”.
- I also view those at RAF Waddington as key workers as they have continued to be very busy and at the forefront of defending our country, and are soon to be home to the Red Arrows.
- Lastly I would also pay tribute to my constituents.
Myself and my team at our constituency office have heard time and again the daily challenges the pandemic has brought to every aspect of people’s lives, everything from the heart-breaking consequences of social isolation for elderly members of our community, and losing loved ones, to the impact it has had on livelihoods.
We have been doing all we can to provide practical help and comfort to my constituents and thousands of residents who have written to me regarding a vast array of topics and issues that we have responded to with practical help, advice and assistance.
This year, like last, shows once again that despite these challenges, the people of our great historic city, Skellingthorpe, Bracebridge Heath and Waddington East – and the areas around the constituency and across the county have shown extraordinary fortitude and resilience, and, I thank each and every one of you.
My message throughout to the government, who it has to be said, have been heroic in pushing the vaccines out (especially compared to our neighbours in Europe), is that there is no turning back. We cannot go back to lockdowns and restrictions nor go forward with COVID passports or compulsory vaccinations (and can every adult who qualifies to be vaccinated, or to access the boosters jabs, and who wishes to be, please do so).
Putting Lincoln First
A key part of my role as your Member of Parliament is ‘banging the drum’ for the City in Westminster and Whitehall, which has been even more important over the last few years. I am pleased the Conservative government has listened and just a few of the success stories in 2021 include:
- Large-scale Conservative government investment for businesses, the community and improvements to the city centre. There has also been substantial funding to support the vibrant arts community
- The successful operation of the Eastern Bypass, which at least those in our family call ‘McCartney Way’, which with funding secured in 2020 for a Southern Relief Road, will finally see the creation of a ring-road around the city by 2027
- Extra police officers to fight crime and keep people safe
- New investment in our city’s wonderful heritage, and, science and technology
- New A&E investment for Lincoln County Hospital
- Further support for the city’s flood defences
- Recent £94 million investment in RAF Waddington following on from the
recent runway upgrade and renewal
There has also been welcome increases in assistance for working families in Lincoln to meet the cost of living, an increase in support for local businesses to help drive the recovery from the pandemic, and, for further investment in education, skills and health service. This also included a rise in the national minimum wage from £8.91 per hour to £9.50 from April next year.
There are unresolved issues of course, hence why I, with elected Conservative colleagues from across the county, are putting pressure on the government to reinstate the 25% (£12.3 million) cut they have made to the county’s Road Maintenance Budget. There is a need to increase the budget, let alone cut it.
Raising national issues to support everyone
A key part of my work is to ensure the voices of the law abiding majority from the city and across the UK are heard.
I have been particularly pleased this year that the Conservative government has been moving swiftly ahead on growing the economy again, signing post-Brexit trade deals and starting to put through laws to start having some semblance of control on immigration. I hope to see more pace on these matters in 2022.
My work on the House of Commons’ Transport Select Committee continues to be important in holding the Government to account both for the city and county, but also importantly for the country as a whole. I have been particularly concerned about the government continuing to support in principle so-called “Smart” Motorways” (as my full page article in the Daily Mail and other media appearances showed). There is also more speed needed to vastly improve the railways network across the East Midlands, the Midlands, and the North if we are to ensue “Levelling Up” occurs.
2022: Looking Ahead
Next year, my focus is like all years – “Putting Lincoln First!”
I want to see things being delivered locally. So the extra police officers and hospital investment we have received, for example, must produce real results such as cuts in crime and shorter post-pandemic waiting times.
Secondly, I really want our wonderful city to be recognised nationally and globally as the “Best Place in Britain to Live, Work, Study and Visit”. We have the perfect combination of a wonderful heritage, cutting edge businesses, brilliant shops, a vibrant arts community, great civic bodies and a fantastic college, medical school and two leading universities. We even have a RAF base that is very busy and at the forefront of defending our country, and soon to be home to the Red Arrows.
I want to continue to work with everyone to achieve this and it will be my focus for 2022 and the foreseeable future.
From myself and my family, to all those who live, work, visit and study in the constituency of Lincoln, Skellingthorpe, Bracebridge Heath and Waddington East, here is wishing you all a ‘Happy Christmas’ and a bright new start and Christian good wishes to you all as we approach the New Year.