In many ways 2016 has been a difficult year. In Halifax we have seen the continued impact of the Government’s cuts to public services. Our Crown Post Office closed this autumn depriving local people of its dedicated services and leaving the landmark building on Commercial Street empty. Soon after, our Magistrates’ Court and County Court were closed marking the end of 140 years of justice provision in Halifax. Our social care services are stretched to breaking point and the Council continues to have its budget cut year after year. This is in addition to the continuing problems with insurance after the floods last Boxing day, the overcrowding on our trains, worsening A&E waiting times and the cuts to the number of Police Officers.
In all of these cases the Government has made clear choices, and I have campaigned to do what I have thought best for our town (if you want to read more about my campaigns on any of these issues see my website for details). In politics there have been some terrible moments; the murder of Batley MP Jo Cox who was a friend and colleague was an event none of us will forget. She inspired us all and I will always remember her warmth and her good spirit.
So as we prepare to say goodbye to 2016, we look to 2017 which promises a lot to look forward to for Halifax.
The Piece Hall is set to reopen next year and should be a source of immense pride for us all. It is without doubt Yorkshire’s most important secular building and the plans for huge 5,000 capacity open air concerts, regular markets and a host of independent shops, cafes and restaurants will put Halifax at the centre of Yorkshire’s cultural life.
The new Square Chapel will join the Piece Hall, the new Central Library and Eureka to form what will hopefully be a brilliant new Cultural Quarter.
I have started a campaign calling on the Government to provide funding so that Eureka can offer free access. It cannot be right that almost all the top museums in London are free yet our own ‘National’ children’s museum has to charge entry as it receives no funding from Government at all. I recently met with the Museums Minister alongside the CEO of Eureka to urge him to do more to support the museum.
This week a group of ‘peer mentors’ from the Mixenden Activity Centre came to visit me in Westminster. They spent 2 nights in London and got to take the official tour of Westminster. It was nice to then give them the ‘unofficial’ tour with everything from MPs vending machines (just like most other work places) to the broom cupboard where suffragette Emily Davison hid on the night of the 1911 census, in order to record her address as the House of Commons.
I have always promised to work hard, stand my ground and deliver for my hometown and I will strive to continue this work to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2017.
As one of our younger MPs, I feel a part of my job is to make sure the next generation have an interest in politics so please do let me know if you would like to organise a visit to Westminster next year.