I firstly want to take this opportunity to thank you and everyone who voted to re-elect me as your Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South. It is a huge honour to represent the city I am from in Parliament and my promise to you is to continue to work hard for our area, always putting Stoke-on-Trent first.
It’s Christmas, and the circus of songs, films and other seasonal events is in full swing. If you have not got into the festivities yet, where have you been hiding? Like me, I am sure you are relieved to finally get a break from the incessant political wrangling of the last few months.
We get so used to the cultural routine of Christmas that we barely notice much of what is going on around us. I am sure many of you will have enjoyed sitting down to watch one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol, originally Witten by Charles Dickens. As we finally move on from the arguments of the General Election and look at the year ahead, I wonder whether another Dickensian tale might be more appropriate for us here in Stoke-on-Trent: that of Little Dorrit.
Let us consider a typical Stokie, living in one of our towns, over the last few decades. I am reminded of William Dorrit, father of Little Amy Dorrit. He is a proud man fallen on hard times, living in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison, willing but unable to work his way back to his respectable position. How very similar; as our industries declined through the 90s and 2000s, prospects decayed for many of our skilled workers, in the potteries and elsewhere.
Recently we have made some incredible progress in starting to turn things around. Our area is now prospering once more, with local industries succeeding and new ones moving in to support employment opportunities in our communities. But I know we can and must do much more if we are to reach our full potential.
We have the skills and the willingness to work hard, but we need the opportunities to make the most of these. That means continuing to enhance the quality of training in our schools and colleges, better transport to make it easier to get around the city, and improved local healthcare facilities.
The decisive result of the election means we can now get on with delivering Brexit and ensuring the voices of the people of Stoke-on-Trent are heard loud and clear. With Brexit finally over and delivered on 31st January we will be fighting to ensure Stoke-on-Trent finally gets the attention and investment it deserves. Parliament will now be able to deliver the additional investment in our vital public services: more money for every child in every school in Stoke-on-Trent, more police on our streets, and more money for our NHS with 50,000 new nurses.
I am determined that our city can be made into somewhere which works for everyone, at every stage of life, rather than constraining people. Everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We must continue to see life chances improve locally with better skilled better paid job opportunities. We will continue to focus on ensuring people take home more money, increasing pay and reducing taxes on income to improve the cost of living.
I will be working hard to ensure we see the improvements needed for our town centres, reversing the decline of our high streets. I will also be focusing on improving our public transport with better local bus and rail services, so all our communities have the services they need. I will prioritise ensuring the new Longton health and walk-in centre is fully delivered. These are the sorts of improvements which will benefit everyone and allow us to make the most of our potential. I will continue to fight in Parliament for the additional investment we need locally to deliver on these priorities.
I’m hopeful for the year ahead, more so even than last year. We are finally going to get Brexit done delivering on democratic wishes of the British people and tear down the things holding our city back. I hope that you and your family have had a lovely Christmas together, and that you have a happy and prosperous New Year.
This article appeared originally in The Sentinel, 30th December 2019.