My column in Today's Telford Journal:
As a momentous year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect and to look towards the New Year with hope and optimism.
While war and terror have dominated international headlines, here in the UK we achieved significant and historic change with minimal upheaval. The referendum and the orderly handover of political power, demonstrates democratic decision-making and need for those in authority to listen to the people.
In Telford the overwhelming majority of people voted “leave”: we voted to “bring back control”. Whilst nationally the referendum was divisive, locally we put division behind us and looked to the opportunities ahead.
Confirmation of the Magna-Cosma decision to build a world-class aluminium casting facility in Telford, reaffirms confidence in Telford and in the UK; it will bring 295 new jobs. It shows we are open for international business.
Protecting existing employment is important to Telford. This summer I joined with MPs across the political divide to ensure that Land Registry jobs stayed in Telford. This is a good example of how MPs collaborate effectively and can stand up for their area together in Parliament.
In recent months NHS Future Fit has revealed plans for Shropshire’s future healthcare. These plans were developed over three years working closely with local partners. Everyone accepts that the way health services are delivered will change overtime. NHS managers are right to seek the best possible patient care and to narrow health inequalities.
Incredibly, despite the Council’s involvement as a key partner in the Future Fit process right from the start, Future Fit’s plans fail to understand Telford’s needs or perspective.
Thankfully Telford Clinicians have rejected these plans. The people of Telford highly value the Princess Royal Hospital, its superb new women and children’s unit and its key role in our future. Those in power must hear Telford’s voice.
Now Future Fit’s plans are out in the open, we can work together to ensure Telford’s voice is heard. You, your local clinicians and your MPs can make sure those in authority listen.
Whilst looking forward to 2017, we should remember highlights of 2016: our Olympians and Paralymians did us proud with record medal hauls, locally our primary school children across Telford achieved great results; throughout the year our communities celebrated the 90th birthday of our longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
Whatever 2017 brings, I know Telford will approach the year ahead with hope and optimism. I wish everyone in Telford a peaceful and prosperous year.