Next week will see all the pomp and ceremony of a State Opening of Parliament, the first for the new King. It is likely to be the last before a General Election. Although I am not a party to the contents of the speech or the legislative priorities the government will pursue over the year ahead, I am hopeful that the speech will address many issues that matter to Great Yarmouth residents.
I would like to see the promised reform of our mental health laws and system. There are a range of criminal justice changes needed including introducing mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders and making sure rapists serve their whole sentence rather than being released early. We need reforms to build more homes so that a new generation can enjoy the prospect of owning their own home, as well as providing an economic boost.
There’s an old political adage that when your opponents start attacking you personally, they’ve already lost the argument on policies. Whilst my local opponents spend their time designing amusing online attacks worthy of a sixth-form common room, I’m getting on with the job of representing Great Yarmouth.
I am proud of my record as your Member of Parliament. The time commitment of my non-parliamentary roles is modest and considerably less than when I was a government minister for 10 years. During that decade I always carried out my duty of representing our area with care and diligence. Along with my team, I continue to deal with hundreds of constituent enquiries every week.
It's a commitment that has helped secure huge investments in Great Yarmouth. This includes government funding for the Third River Crossing, over £60 million to regenerate our town centre and much-needed A47 improvements. I’m looking forward to our new hospital being built, something I discussed with the new chairman during a visit to the James Paget this week. I will continue to campaign on important local issues, such as fighting for better access to NHS dental treatment in the constituency. Along with Conservative councillors, I opposed the use of hotels in tourist areas to house asylum seekers whilst waiting for cases to be determined. This use of hotels has now been scrapped by the Home Office, with one of the first hotels to close in Great Yarmouth.
My commitment to our community continues undimmed.