Happy New Year to all Gazette readers and constituents of Brentwood and Ongar.
2023 was a busy year in tackling my personal campaigns here in Brentwood and Ongar, calling for more special school places, a lift a Platform 4 at Brentwood Station, a Weight Restriction Order on Ingatestone High Street and battling against National Grid’s pylon proposal,.
I’ve held meetings with those affected by National Grid’s proposal to build a line of pylons across our beautiful countryside from Norwich to Tilbury. It’s an issue which have kept me and my fellow East Anglian MPs busy throughout the year. However, the Hiorns Smart Energy Networks report, commissioned by the County Councils of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, argues the need for additional transmission capacity would be closer to 2035 than National Grid’s suggested date of 2030, and this would give us more time to make use of developing technology to take the electricity transmission route offshore.
I’ve had meetings with Ministers about other local issues too: I’ve called on Rail Minister Huw Merriman for Access for All funding to be restored for a lift at Brentwood Station, and Children’s Minister David Johnston about improving access to special needs education for so many children in this constituency.
Nationally, at the beginning of the year the Prime Minister pledged to halve inflation, to grow the economy, to get our national debt down, to cut NHS waiting lists and to stop the boats.
The Illegal Migration Act represents decisive action to crack down on illegal Channel crossings. Thanks to Government action in this area, small boat arrivals in the UK have been reduced by 20 per cent in the last year and arrivals from Albania have fallen by 90 per cent. Emergency legislation has also been brought forward to support the Rwanda plan.
The commitment to cut NHS waiting lists will ensure people can get the care they need more quickly. Despite disruption from strikes, the target that no one should be waiting longer than two years has been met and 18-month waits have fallen by more than 91 per cent from their September 2021 peak.
The Government has now halved inflation, meeting the priority the Prime Minister set out in January 2023 and giving immediate relief to families up and down the country. I fully support the Government as it stays the course to get inflation all the way back down.
The PM has now outlined five longer term priorities as part of the next phase of the Government's economic plan. These are reducing debt, cutting tax and rewarding hard work, building domestic and sustainable energy, backing British business, and delivering world class education, and sit alongside the Prime Ministers immediate priorities.
The Government is making the necessary long-term decisions for the country. I will continue to hold it to account throughout 2024. Happy new year!