So its been one year now since I was first elected as your Member of Parliament and I have enjoyed every single day of it! The privilege of being able to represent our community in the corridors of power is so special I think every day how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity. Being able to raise issues of concern with Ministers in the Chamber is a tremendous honour although it has become apparent that no matter how reasonable the question is, the answers that come back aren’t often proper answers at all!
I was pleased to be able to keep my pledges to open a high-street office in Ellesmere Port town centre and to hold regular surgeries in Neston. It took us a bit longer than expected to get open on the high street but now we are here on Whitby Road I hope that we will see more improvements on the gateway into the town. The future of our town centre continues to trouble me along with access to decent affordable housing which is by far the most frequently raised issue at my advice surgeries. I have been surprised by the sheer volume of constituents have contacted me with 6075 cases opened on behalf of constituents in the last year which equates to 117 new cases per week. Other regular issues raised with me include benefits, planning and transport. I receive between 500 and 1000 emails per week and could easily spend my whole time dealing with those. Fortunately I have a dedicated and professional team to help me and I thank them for their hard work.
It was certainly a surprise to be promoted to the Front Bench after just a few months in Parliament but I have found being a Shadow Minister for Health a very rewarding job. It has been a real pleasure to meet so many people dedicated to delivering the best possible health care and despite the continual underfunding of the NHS I feel that with such dedicated staff we have half a chance of keeping this national treasure.
In Westminster, I have already spoken in 65 debates and put down 245 written questions to Government Ministers, I have not found the Chamber as intimidating as many do and actually enjoy the cut and thrust of the debate. But the best part of the job is not what happens in London, its about what happens here at home. I have met so many remarkable people over the last 12 months and with so many keen to make their community better I know that whatever the challenges we face, this is a very special place to live. I will continue to do my best to represent you all and will continue with the regular Standard columns. Lots of people I meet tell me how much they enjoy reading it so I know I have a job on to keep the standard up!