Happy New Year! I hope that you have all had an opportunity to spend some good quality time with you friends and families over the festive period. I would also like to thank all those people who worked over that time to keep our key services running.
I was very pleased when the Chancellor made his Autumn Statement as it contained significant commitments that will benefit Milton Keynes. Readers will know that I am a long-term proponent of the East-West rail link so the news that it is to receive £110m sooner than previously expected, together with the Transport Secretary’s follow-up announcement of a new company to build and operate the line, should enable progress to be accelerated. Alongside this goods news was that announcing £27m to develop plans for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge expressway. This is all good news for Milton Keynes.
On Takeover Day – which allows students to shadow public figures for a day – I was joined by Folu Ogunyeye, a year 12 student who lives in Monkston. One of the series of meetings we had was with Pete Winkelman at stadium:mk where we talked about many things, including who would be the next MK Dons manager. (See picture of Folu, Pete and me at the stadium.) At the time we met little did I know that Pete was going to bring in another Scotsman to fill the vacancy!
I have great faith in the emergency services who protect the citizens of Milton Keynes, so following a conversation with Milton Keynes’ senior police officer I decided to witness their work first-hand. I embarked on an 11-hour shift at 17:00 one Saturday afternoon so I could see the typical things that the police have to contend with. The main concern I came away with was that too much time is spent by officers dealing with welfare matters and sorting out the after effects of too much alcohol!
Each year Mark Lancaster and I run a competition for school children in years 5 and 6 to design our Christmas cards. We were very impressed with the standard of the hundreds of entries we received. After an initial judging session in the office we took the short-listed contenders to MK Special Needs Advancement Programme (SNAP) where we engaged some of the learners to help us make the final selection. In the picture you will see me with two of the judging panel with the winning designs. Once again an uplifting experience being with the learners, so thank you to SNAP and all the school children who entered the competition.
Hopefully early this year we will find out the result of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the need for Parliament to debate and vote on the invocation of Article 50. At the time of writing the outcome is unknown but, should Parliament be required to authorise Article 50, I shall be voting to respect the clear wishes of my electorate and the country as a whole. In my role within the Department for International Trade, I am also working hard with colleagues to help our businesses make the most of the trading opportunities that are available to us.
Next month I will be able to report on the start of a year of celebrations to celebrate Milton Keynes reaching 50! There is lots planned for the year; you can check what is on at www.mk50.com – you can add also your own events.
Whist the last edition was published well before Christmas, this edition is published early in 2017, so I wish all of you a peaceful, safe and happy year.