• Communities

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    27 February 2015

    There are just 10 weeks to go to the General Election. Parliament will dissolve towards the end of March and there will then be the short sprint for the finish line. Looking back over my 5 years in the Commons I feel humbled to have represented Central Devon in Government. Parliament; its buildings, workings, traditions and history is an extraordinary institution. It sits right at the heart of our nation – endlessly fascinating. But special though it is, it is my constituency that matters most. Your constituency is where you are rooted, where you return from the cut and thrust of Westminster to reconnect with people - their hopes and fears. And right across Central Devon I have discovered some of the finest people on Earth. Communities that are strong and vibrant – underpinned by what Edmund Burke called the ‘little platoons’ – the voluntary groups and organisations that do so much to protect and bind us together. The charities, local shops, pubs, clubs and post offices. The town and parish councils, councillors and clerks. The leagues of friends, the churches, rotary, the Royal British Legion, to name a few. There are, of course many stunning individuals too – people who have thrown themselves into community causes, preserving and enhancing local services or even re-inventing them anew. People who, in the face of adversity provided practical solutions where others around them perhaps simply complained. I was especially pleased to see some of them recognised in the honours lists over the years. That Central Devon is blessed in this way does not, of course, mean that it is without its challenges – sorting out the country’s finances has placed a great strain on us all. In Parliament I have fought for as much local investment as possible – better funding for our schools, infrastructure, flood defences and local authorities being key. Locally, I have focused on supporting communities and over the last 5 years have visited hundreds of local businesses, traders and voluntary organisations. Supporting grant applications and fundraisers, helping cut through bureaucracy and thanking those who give us their time. And this matters, as community is more important today than ever. Whoever wins the next election – the need to do more with less is still going to be required if the deficit is to be abolished. Key will be our continued successful stewardship of the economy. The UK is now growing faster than any advanced economy in the world including the USA and Germany. We are seeing record levels of employment. Unemployment is tumbling – it has more than halved in Central Devon during this Parliament. And Inflation, now at its lowest level on record, means real wages are now rising and the pressure on family incomes beginning to ease. We have come a long way since the great crash but we need to keep going – there must be no turning back at the next election – to do so will take us back to where we started and further pressure on the communities we all cherish.