The past year has been a busy one for me finding my feet as your new local MP. I’ve found myself working flat out to get around the huge and diverse constituency.
It has been a joy to get to spend time with all the varied communities although with the many issues that come up I’ve learned a lot, too. It’s given me a huge variety of issues to raise in Parliament. Since September I’ve also been doing this alongside being on the front bench for my party as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, which has given my a good platform for the many equalities issues that I’m passionate about.
From local issues I’ve managed to speak out about I’ve covered an eclectic set of policy areas. One day I’ve found myself speaking in debates about the Common Fisheries Policy and rural broadband and the next I’m raising equal pay and the international ivory trade or human rights. Most recently I’ve been speaking about flooding policies and how we meet the challenges of climate change.
I’ve also spent time working on behalf of individual constituents acting as an advocate. This isn’t a part of the job which we talk about very often as the personal cases are obviously private.
However, it’s been rewarding to have spent so much time focusing on individuals’ cases and I’m pleased to say we’ve had some great results.
Looking ahead to 2016, I expect I’ll be kept very busy with local issues and advocating for individuals. In Westminster I’ll be challenging the financial settlement we get locally as our councils are facing a terrible time with huge cuts being forced upon them and I’ll be asking serious questions about funding for the Environment Agency and flood defences.
Fracking is also still very much on my agenda and I’m furious at the undemocratic way this government has put through legislation on fracking under National Parks.
Thank you to everyone who I’ve worked with or on behalf of this year - I’ve really enjoyed 2015 and I look forward to 2016. Happy New Year to all Lancaster Guardian readers and the hardworking staff who put this paper together every week.