I want 2016 to be great for Suffolk

Column by Matthew Hancock MP
Column by Matthew Hancock MP

So here we are in 2016. The festive period seems a distant memory. Cards have been recycled, decorations put away, leftovers eaten and now it’s time to look at the year ahead.

Upon reflection, 2015 was a particularly good year for us in Suffolk, but I want this year to be even better. Whether it’s investing further in increased broadband speed for all, or improved fairer funding for our county schools, every part of the constituency from Haverhill to Brandon, has some positive news to begin the New Year with.

We have seen education improve in our areas by leaps and bounds. Record GCSE and A - Level results were produced last year by Newmarket Academy and Mildenhall College Academy with more young people than ever are achieving five or more good A – C grades in GCSE and I know that many schools have improved significantly.

This is exactly why the Chancellor’s recent announcement of fairer school funding is so welcome. There is now an additional £178 for every pupil in Suffolk which will benefit our pupils and teachers even more, both here and nationally. For too long, schools in Suffolk have received less than those in other parts of the country and I am delighted that these new reforms will put an end to this unfairness.

Other very positive news for us to start this year includes the continued fall in unemployment. As a result of the improvements we have made to the economy, we live in an area where unemployment at the last count, reduced by 71% over the past five year. I am very proud of this achievement and will continue to host Jobs & Apprenticeship fair’s across the constituency this year.

Jobs are being created all the time and our local economy saw a real boost last year. As you may remember from my last article, Forest Heath District Council received Government funding for its innovative Mildenhall Hub scheme which has the chance to be ground-breaking, providing a single site for education, health, leisure, council, DWP, voluntary sector, emergency services and enterprise space. The cost to the tax payer will be reduced and local services in Mildenhall will be brought together and working as one.

It was also absolutely fantastic to see the Chancellor announce that Haverhill Research Park in his Autumn Statement was to become part of The ‘Cambridge Compass’, – a global innovation centre – to the surrounding market towns, new communities and wider rural areas to boost the local and national economy and encourage economic growth. This is a real coup for us and chimes in well with local council’s aim to provide up to 2,000 new skilled jobs for people living in Haverhill.”

That is why it is so important that we do all we can to provide good quality transport links. The subject of dualling the A1307 continues to be a topic of conversation among many constituents and I would like to assure you that I will to do all I can to state the case for this to happen. I know from being a frequent user of the stretch of road myself, that it is congested and dangerous. A new road from Haverhill to Cambridge will bring millions of pounds in revenue and there is a strong support for this especially with all the investment we have seen of late.

Newmarket Station will also be one of my priorities this year. We have had positive news about the station, which is much in need of upgrading - both the platform and services - so one of my aims is to increase the frequency of trains to both Cambridge and London as well as improving the station. It’s amazing that the number of the people using the station has significantly increased over the past five years, with an increase from 165,000 to 284,000, but there is an issue with overcrowding which needs to be reviewed as soon as possible.

So here’s to 2016. There is much to do. But as I look back at the year gone by, and now in my sixth year as your representative in parliament, I am struck but how lucky I am to represent this fantastic part of the world, and everyone in it who will play a part in

As always, if you feel that I can be of assistance this year then please do get in touch with me via matthew.hancock.mp@parliament.uk or visit www.matthewhancock.co.uk for further details.