I do hope everyone had a chance to see family and friends and celebrate this Christmas. A huge thank you to all those who have worked so hard – and those are on duty now - to keep us safe.
There was some festive cheer in the news around Omicron too as real time data is showing it is less serious than other variants. It is highly infectious though and the numbers at home self isolating in January may well prove the next frontline against the virus.
The New Year will see me back in classrooms on a Friday to help out with any teacher shortages due to Covid and help keep students in lessons.
With 2022 just around the corner, I have had the chance this Christmas to look back and remember the many wonderful people I have met, places I have been and the campaign successes of this last year. Helping people is the best part of my job and using my MP position and my influence in government to make a difference.
American Ben Jones, his wife Kirsty and their daughter Ivy Violet have just spent their first Christmas in Eastbourne as a family. Ben had already faced months waiting for clearance to join his wife in the UK when I championed their situation with the Home Office. News of his visa came through on the day of their new baby’s birth! Meeting this lovely family at Café 32 in South Street in the summer was a total joy.
There have also been new businesses starting out in 2021 and getting to meet the next generation of local entrepreneurs has been inspiring too like Harry & Jack of Animate Our Logo, Harrison’s The Toy Stop in Langney Shopping Centre and Sam’s Cargo Gym at the Saffrons.
Securing new funding for local people’s homes has been an important success this year. The nightmare of unsafe cladding on buildings has been a serious threat for many in Eastbourne. I have campaigned relentlessly on this issue and I even fell out with the Government over it because I felt it was unfair that homeowners who had bought in good faith would be victims of regulatory failure. Many faced financial ruin and incredible levels of stress. Ministers responded and earlier this year £13.5 million of government cash went to apartment leaseholders in our town to pay for the removal.
Another big win this year was the successful £20 million from the Government’s Levelling Up fund to transform parts of our town. I had to endorse the plan to give it the best chance of success and I am looking forward to seeing new job and training opportunities come to life.
In all areas – health, education, the environment and the economy there is much to strive for in 2022 and I am looking forward to working with some fantastic people to make things happen. My first 2022 meeting is with the Environment Agency and its plans to invest £100 million to protect the town for 100 years from sea flooding.
Until then, I wish you and yours a peaceful and prosperous New Year and let’s rally again to build that brighter future for everyone.
Take good care and keep in touch.