I wanted to take the opportunity to write a message to Voice readers following my announcement that I will stand down at the next election.
The Kingswood constituency that I have represented since 2010 is being abolished in the latest boundary changes. So whenever the next general election is, the existing Kingswood constituency will be divided into several new seats. Hanham and Longwell Green will now be situated in a new Hanham and North East Somerset constituency, but both local areas will still remain in South Gloucestershire; they will just be in this different parliamentary constituency at the next General Election in 2024.
For myself, who was born and grew up in Longwell Green and Bitton, I have decided that with my seat being abolished, this is a moment to think about a new direction for my future.
There has been no greater honour in my life than to have represented my home area in Parliament and to have served the communities of Hanham and Longwell Green. I have come across so many different and inspiring community groups, businesses, charities and residents who all help to make our area one of the best possible places in which to live and work.
Working together we have achieved so much over the years – and some local campaigns really standout for me. I am proud to have led campaigns for new schools, including Digitech, which opened its doors in 2015. I have and will continue to campaign for more school funding. We have made significant progress in recent years towards this, including meeting with and lobbying government ministers.
Following the death of Ross & Clare Simons at the hands of a disqualified driver in Hanham in January 2013, I worked alongside Ross & Clare’s family in order to strengthen the law on dangerous driving. I was honoured that our work was recognised by the national road safety charity Brake in 2014, with the law finally changed to ensure that dangerous drivers who kill can face life imprisonment.
I have led campaigns to protect our local Green Belt countryside from inappropriate development, successfully protecting the Hanham Green belt from repeated attempts to build over our countryside and was delighted last year to have helped secure over £1million funding to launch the Commons Connections project, a network of protected and nature-rich green spaces stretching northwards from Willsbridge Mill.
The volunteer group behind Willsbridge Mill is just one of many community organisations I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.
Last autumn I called into the old sports hall at the former Grange School site, which is being transformed into a permanent new home for Majestic Gymnastics. Since they were given notice to leave their current premises, I’ve been working to secure their future locally.
I look forward to serving you for the remainder of this Parliamentary term.