Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency.

With the chapter of 2022 drawing to a close, we reflect on our emergence from the pandemic following a period which was tough on all of us in many ways.

This month, I have enjoyed welcoming constituents to Parliament for my second constituency democratic access tour and Q&A of the year – something which has not been possible in the last two years.

In challenging times, we often look to others for hope and reassurance. We will all remember Her Late Majesty’s words during the painful times of loss and separation in 2020. In her televised address to the nation, she said the historic words: “we will meet again”. This year, this couldn’t be more true. With music and sporting events taking place, shops and restaurants operating at full capacity and airports bustling with travellers, life as we knew it has opened up again.

Sadly, following the events marking the Platinum Jubilee earlier this year, communities came together to mourn the tragic passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. We will always remain grateful for her life of dedicated service and unwavering sense of duty to our country. We look towards King Charles III as he addresses the nation this year for the first time at Christmas as King.

The unthinkable has happened and we have war in Europe again. We stand with our friends in Ukraine as they courageously fight for their independence against Putin’s barbaric attack. We think of them this Christmas time – of those fighting in Ukraine and of those who have been displaced by the war. I had the honour of meeting a family of Ukrainian refugees who have been welcomed into our part of Lincolnshire through the Homes for Ukraine scheme and I know many more local people will be setting an extra place at their dinner tables this Christmas time.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also driven global increases in energy prices which in turn has put pressures on living costs. The Government have been working on curbing inflation and putting in place support for people with their energy bills, such as through the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme, the Energy Price Guarantee and additional support for pensioners and vulnerable people. I have lobbied hard to ensure no constituent is left out of support. I received confirmation a few weeks ago from the Prime Minister at PMQs that park home residents are included in the £400 support, and I am pleased that it has been confirmed to me that an Alternative Funding scheme is being developed and an application scheme should open imminently.

Important pieces of legislation have been introduced in Parliament, including the Nationality and Borders Act, which alongside important measures recently announced by the Prime Minister, seek to tackle illegal migration and the dangerous crossings across the channel.

It has been good to see many constituents face to face again and get out and about visiting local businesses, schools and organisations. Much work has continued through my meetings with local people and raising their concerns and comments on the floor of the House of Commons and with Ministers.

I also welcome the recent announcement that Sir William Robertson Academy has been selected as one of the latest 239 schools that will be rebuilt or substantially refurbished as part of the fourth round of the Government’s School Rebuilding Programme. The programme will provide the funding to transform 500 schools across England, delivering on the Government’s commitment to level up opportunity around the country and improve school facilities.

As we head into 2023, there is much work that continues to be my focus on behalf of my constituents. Continuing the campaign for better NHS dentistry and for a dental training facility to be established in our county remains one of the key priorities. Moreover, pressing for improvements to transport links such as through rail services in Sleaford for school children and ensuring the North Hykeham Relief Road is carried out as quickly as possible also remain vital. In Westminster, I look forward to continuing my role on the Health and Social Care Select Committee and as Chair of the Backbench Committee on Health and Social Care where we scrutinise the Government’s plans to improve NHS and care services. Particular focus will be on looking at how the Government can tackle the backlogs caused by the pandemic and how partnership working between social care, primary care and community services can improve patient outcomes.

I would like to take the opportunity to wish my constituents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Recent conversations I’ve had on the doorstep with constituents in North Hykeham have been dominated by concerns about the high levels of congestion in Lincoln. The statistics regarding Lincoln are troubling – it has worse traffic than Birmingham, despite being a tenth of the size; drivers lose an average of 36 hours each year from sitting in traffic at peak times; and congestion cost the city an estimated £127 million last year!

As a local doctor, I have commuted to hospitals around the region, and regularly visit events and businesses around my constituency, so I know first-hand how urgently we must relieve congestion in our towns and villages.

Tackling congestion and providing better roads for local communities has been a priority of mine since becoming a candidate. During my by-election a year and a half ago, I held discussions with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, concerning the need for investment in Lincolnshire roads, and was delighted following this that the Government committed to providing £50 million to build the Lincoln Eastern Bypass.

Map showing the route of the North Hykeham Relief Road. Click/tap to zoom.

This project is due to be completed by May 2020 and whilst I regret it is not a dual carriageway, I remain excited about the benefits this will bring to Lincolnshire. With four new roundabouts, two major bridges, and 7.5km of new road it is the city’s biggest road project in decades. In addition to the positive effect it will have on reducing traffic congestion, it will help support economic growth in the region, making Lincolnshire an even better place to live and work.

This is a positive step forward for Lincolnshire, but I will not rest until we have a complete ring road around Lincoln. The final stage would involve building the North Hykeham Relief road, linking the completed Lincoln Eastern Bypass with the existing Western Bypass. This would provide much needed relief to the residents of North Hykeham, who are rightly fed up with their area being used as one of the through routes into Lincoln.

The Government has recently announced plans for a major new road network that will give councils access to a multi-billion pound fund for improvements, such as bypasses. The major road network will cover the UK’s busiest and most economically important local authority A-roads.

I’ll be working with Lincolnshire County Council and making the case to Ministers that the North Hykeham Relief road represents exactly the type of project this fund should support, relieving traffic in one of the country’s most congested cities, and helping assist the sustainable economic growth of the Greater Lincoln area. I will continue to work to ensure Lincolnshire gets the investment it deserves.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.