I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers and Ipswich residents a Happy New Year!

For the first time in a long time, this New Years Eve, for me, will mark a period of quiet contemplation and reflection.

I will quite deliberately be avoiding all parties and limiting alcohol intake to a solitary drink at midnight.

I must admit that I have become slightly fatigued by New Years Eve festivities so will be approaching it differently this year.

The year ahead is clearly going to be a very big year in politics. Not only in British politics of course, but there is also the small matter of another US Presidential election potentially happening at around the same time. This comes alongside a series of other consequential polls across the world, including in India.

I am not a betting man but the sense I get, is that much of it is going to be far more difficult year to predict than some imagine.

There are some real signs that we are starting to turn a corner when it comes to the cost of living struggle that many of my constituents have been dealing with over the past few years. The fall in the headline inflation rate over the past few months has been significant.

I very much hope that over the course of 2024 this will continue and will feed through into multiple interest rate and tax cuts.

My real hope is that by the end of next year, the majority of my constituents will be starting to feel better off and feel more optimistic about the future. I believe that the chances of all this happening are actually quite likely.

However, as I have previously said, predicting any of this is challenging as there are so many variables. Many of which are of a global nature that are out of our control.

The last few years have been bleak and unrelenting for many. The pressures brought about by the after-effects of the pandemic have come together with the pressures brought about by the war in Ukraine. These have created a spiralling cost of living struggle for millions of families up and down the country, so a real sense that the cloud is lifting would come as a huge relief.

The pressures on our NHS continue to be significant. I am aware of a number of my constituents who struggle to get GP appointments when they need one and have also been stuck on waiting lists for important treatments at our hospital. I am also aware of many who have had negative experiences when it comes to our A&E service, despite the best efforts of our excellent NHS workers.

I hope that 2024 is the year when some of these pressures ease and my constituents' experience of the NHS returns to be reliable and dependable.

I do believe that there are grounds for optimism on this front. By the end of next year, Ipswich Hospital should have a brand-new A&E Department which should make a real difference. I am also hopeful that the hugely damaging and disruptive junior doctor strikes will finally come to an end.

Their wage demands of over 30 per cent have been completely unreasonable, particularly at a time of falling inflation. Personally, I am pleased the Government have held their ground on this one but I appreciate that many others will feel differently.

Finally, immigration. Everyone knows my views on this. This coming year really must be the year where we make significant progress on stopping the boats. The numbers have been cut by a third but this is not enough. We need dramatic cuts and this will only be possible with a workable deterrent and flights leaving to Rwanda.

I really hope 2024 marks significant progress on all three of these vital issues. I once again would like to reiterate my wishes for a Happy New Year to all my readers and residents!