With less than a week to go, I wanted to wish all the Bury Free Press readers a very happy Christmas.
As we approach 2015, now is the time to reflect on the past year. New schools are up and running, more jobs are being created, businesses are thriving and our local economy is improving.
And this is all down to the hard work of local people, so I want to thank you for everything you have done this year.
It was a small group of passionate parents and teachers who I fought alongside to help create Ixworth Free School, which is now thriving.
Mildenhall College Academy has come so far this school year and I was very impressed by the sophisticated response I received from their sixth form students last week when I hosted a question and answer session in their assembly hall.
The same week, I was lucky enough to visit Great Heath Primary where I saw fantastic parent-child learning in action.
Schools across West Suffolk are improving and providing better education for children.
And our infrastructure is getting better, too. Last week was a momentous moment for the whole of Suffolk as I officially opened the A11 bypass with Patrick Mcloughlin and Liz Truss – see picture.
Since 1935 people have been talking about a dual-carriageway all the way from London to Norwich. Now it is a reality. This new road will make a huge difference to the lives of the thousands who live on the route, and the millions who drive along it.
It is at the heart of my role as your MP to ensure West Suffolk is in the best possible position to develop and thrive; to ensure the policies of Whitehall transpose to the realities of local life. I want West Suffolk to feel every benefit of national success.
Unemployment in our towns fell again this week to the lowest it’s been since the election and at a faster rate than the national average. Youth unemployment is also down by more than 50 per cent, as is long term unemployment.
But I am not complacent and there is a lot more to do.
Christmas can often be a time when families need more support.
I was extremely privileged to be asked to the Gredley Christmas Lunch this month in Newmarket. This annual event attracts more than 700 local pensioners, providing a traditional three course meal and entertainment.
I was humbled to see the joy it brought and I was delighted to get to speak to as many of them as I could. I can only do my job properly if I listen to my constituents’ views and pensioners, like others, make a huge contribution to our society.
It is only right that we do as much as possible to support them. The Government have already taken key steps by introducing a triple lock on the State Pension, ensuring it is worth £800 more than in 2010. And we are protecting universal benefits, including Winter Fuel Payments, bus passes and TV licences.
The Gredley Lunch was a fantastic example of the energy and impact OAPs continue to have and that is why I wholeheartedly support every initiative we are taking to improve their lives in retirement.
2014 has been a good year for West Suffolk but I want 2015 to be even better. I want to go further with my promises and keep improving our towns and villages for everyone.
I am enormously grateful for the support I receive from so many people in West Suffolk, and I look forward to the year ahead with optimism.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.