Ipswich MP Tom Hunt on his priorities one year after election
- Credit: Archant
In some respects, I can’t believe it’s been a full year since my first weekly column following my election as Ipswich MP. It’s been a real whirlwind first year!
I’ve set myself the goal of being one of the hardest working MPs for my constituents in the House of Commons.
My Labour predecessor made a big deal of being the hardest working MP in Suffolk during last year’s elections, based on the 86 oral contributions he had made that year in Parliament.
I’ve been pleased that my number of contributions in my first year currently sits at 89, making me the 11th most contributing MP out 140 of all the new intake.
This has been despite all the restrictions placed on our ability to speak in the Chamber during the pandemic this year - there has been a 50 MP limit and Westminster Hall has not been sitting for most of the year.
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While I am now inviting the Ipswich Labour Party to congratulate me on becoming the hardest working MP in Suffolk, I certainly don’t consider that this is the best way to measure the effectiveness of a local MP.
I am more concerned with delivering for my constituents on the ground and adequately representing them in Parliament on the issues they most care about.
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I am determined to continue responding to my constituents to provide real changes in Ipswich.
Happily, with the Town Board, I have put an application in for Ipswich to receive a grant of up to £25million from the Towns Fund to support 11 projects across Ipswich in which we have made sure to include provisions for a ‘local shopping parade regeneration fund’ to rejuvenate our local shopping parades.
We’ve also made sure to make a portion of the money available for ‘key community assets’, which would enable money to be channelled into the projects, like the Gainsborough BMX track, across Ipswich which enliven our community.
I am also proud to have been appointed a new associate governor of Sir Bobby Robson Special School.
Special educational needs provisions are something I am the most passionate about and so I will always promote and celebrate fantastic schools like this one.
As many of you may know, I have been hammering the Orwell Bridge issue at every available opportunity because I think that constant closures really have effected Ipswich and a resolution will benefit everyone. Every time the bridge is closed, it costs the town £1million!
The proposal to use a 40mph speed limit to avoid bridge closure and keep the traffic flowing is the way forward for this issue.
However, Highways England’s delays in implementing the measure have been unacceptable, which is why I led the adjournment debate specifically on this issue at the start of December to put pressure on Highways England to do their job for the people of Ipswich.
Unfortunately, the adjournment debate I led to try to halt the plans to move our orthopaedics centre to Colchester did not yield the result I really wanted, but I will continue to be on the case to ensure that the merger with Colchester does not affect the quality of the services offered at our hospital.
No-one could have predicted this time last year that the whole world would be plagued by a virus which would hit the economies of developing countries in the way it has.
At the time of writing this, I have just found out that Ipswich will remain in Tier 2 following the government’s latest review.
We know that sadly case numbers continue to go in the wrong direction, especially for the over-65s. This is the demographic most vulnerable to the virus and also explains why the pressure on our local hospital has increased over the past month.
However, on balance, it was decided that conditions in Ipswich were good enough to keep us in Tier 2 and I agree with that designation.
Suffolk was very close to being in Tier 1 when the new system was first introduced and, like many others, I’d hoped that numbers would have fallen over the past couple of weeks to give us a chance of dropping to Tier 1.
Increases in cases numbers since we entered Tier 2 meant that that would not be the case.
As I’ve said before, a key concern for me has been the hospitality sector. The past couple of weeks have been very tough going for pubs, bars and restaurants in town and the uncertainty around tiers.
This week won’t have helped the situation. I’ve spent much of the past couple of weeks visiting pubs across town to discuss their concern and yesterday held a roundtable meeting with the sector to discuss all the issues and concerns and what I may be able to do to help the industry I consider to be the beating heart of our town.
This year I’m glad to have gotten a lot of projects off the ground and I am convinced that as the vaccine continues to get rolled out, 2021 will only see me working harder and doing more for the people of Ipswich.