Every January, for the 18 years of my working career prior to becoming your MP, I would write five objectives for my department to complete for the year ahead. At the end of the year, I would then be appraised as to how we had measured up.
As an MP, you deliver my appraisal every 5 years courtesy of the ballot box. With this in mind, I am setting some mid-term Bexhill and Battle constituency objectives for my year.
My first objective is to see an end to the horrendous Southern rail dispute. Presently, the Government does not have the powers to allow Southern to bring about an end to this strike because, as a country, we have generally preserved the right of employees to withdraw their labour.
However, this strike is crippling our local economy and is not even about jobs and pay (both of which have been guaranteed). If a settlement cannot be agreed then I would like to see new laws enacted to end unions calling strikes on ‘safety grounds’ when an industry regulator has decreed the practice of driver-only operated trains to be safe (as demonstrated by its use on 30% of the UK rail network). I have a slot in the House of Commons in February to introduce such a bill.
My second objective is to support the Government in getting on with Brexit. It wasn’t in my 2016 objectives to see us leave but, now we are, let’s make a success of it and deliver it without delay. Let’s also not obsess that it is the only objective for the year.
My third objective will be to continue to support our NHS teams as they attempt to move our local service out of special measures and integrate our hospitals with adult social care services. Our performance is not the sum of its exceptional parts but it can be with the dedicated staff we have locally.
My fourth objective will champion the local heads and teachers in our 50 plus constituency schools. Since I was elected, I made it an objective to visit every school by 2020. I should have this completed by mid 2017.
It is obvious to me that we have brilliant local schools but funding challenges exist. We need to recognise it and plug it. A society which does not adequately invest in its children is not investing in its future.
The fifth objective always tends to be an overarching one. Mine is to continue to work in partnership with all of the leaders and voices in our local community.
Your positivity, and hard work, ensures that our villages and towns are underpinned by superb local services, organisations and businesses. It also brings friendship and support. One of the great aspects of this constituency is that we are inspired by community spirit and disinterested in negative attitudes and political bickering.
I will revisit this column at the end of 2017 to see how I measured up. Here’s hoping that your own objectives are met and you have a happy and healthy year to come.