Thousands of you will have received an election pledges leaflet from me during the General Election campaign in 2019. In the two years since I was elected, I have worked tirelessly to deliver on them and expand my vision for Rother Valley, ensuring that our area thrives and is prioritised by a hard-working MP for the first time in over 35 years.
1. Got Brexit done
After years of parliamentary deadlock and gameplaying from Labour and the Lib Dems, we got Brexit done, delivering on the most decisive democratic exercise in British history.
67% of Rother Valley residents backed leaving the European Union in 2016 and spent 4 years being held back by a Labour party determined to frustrate Brexit. Little over a month after my election on 31 January 2020, the UK left the EU and entered into a transition period with the bloc.
On 31 December 2020, the UK left the EU single market and the customs union, to forge a bright future as an independent nation once again.
The residents of Rother Valley have been consistently clear that they want to leave the EU and take back control of our laws, borders, and trade. I am proud to have supported the Brexit deal at every opportunity in Parliament, delivering on the wishes of my constituents and ensuring that their voices are heard at the top table.
From listening to some politicians and media you would believe this was a country in decline.
It is not.
Our economy is growing faster than any other country in the G7 last year, and is forecast to do so again this year. Our economy had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels by November last year.
Unemployment continues to fall. Investment in tech businesses was £30billion last year – double that of Germany and three times the amount in France.
Importantly for this area – free movement ended and workers are no longer seeing their wages suppressed by the endless supply of cheap labour from Eastern Europe.
We have ambitious trade deals across the globe opening up new opportunities, and an immigration system which is designed to attract the skills we need rather than based on where you come from. Now the pandemic restrictions are being lifted, we can continue to build on this success.
2. More Police Officers in Rother Valley
The Conservative Government has set aside £750 million to recruit 20,000 new police officers by 2023 and this target has been delivered well ahead of schedule. This year, 194 extra officers have been recruited and next year, a further 228 officers will join the force in South Yorkshire. There will be 707 new officers by 2023/24, comprised of 487 from national uplift and 220 from local resources.
However, decisions about where those police officers are stationed is the responsibility of the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner, who is currently failing Rother Valley.
Last year, the Labour PCC underspent a staggering £2 million on last year's budget, rather than spending it tackling crime in our areas. With antisocial behaviour on the rise in Dinnington, a terrifying increase in the number of burglaries in Maltby and Hellaby and dangerous driving costing lives in Aston and Todwick, this is totally unforgivable. This money could have been spent on putting more officers on our streets in Rother Valley, thus helping to protect those communities.
I will continue to hold South Yorkshire's PCC to account and will do everything I can to make our communities safer.
3. £7 million to fix potholes
For the financial year 2021-2022, the Conservative Government has allocated almost £7 million to South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) just to deal with potholes.
Since the local elections in 2021, almost every ward in our constituency now has at least one Conservative representative ensuring that their area receives their fair share of this investment.
I will continue to lobby the SYMCA to ensure that Rother Valley receives its fair share of this funding and working with your Conservative Councillors to secure the best outcome for our roads.
4. £74.6 million for our towns with more to come
Via the Levelling Up Fund, Rother Valley is set to benefit from £4.5 million in Maltby, £5.5 million at Rother Valley Country Park and £1 million for Gulliver's Valley. I am determined to secure £7 million for Dinnington high street to completely transform Laughton road and breathe life back into the biggest town in Rother Valley. A second bid for this community-led project is currently in the works and I will continue to work with Rotherham Council on the resubmission of the bid.
Whilst I will always hold Rotherham Council to account for funnelling money into Rotherham centre to the detriment of outlying towns like Maltby, Dinnington, Aston, Swallownest and others, it is important to recognise the proximity of areas like Whiston and Moorgate to Rotherham town centre. Residents in these areas will benefit more than others in Rother Valley from the investment of significant Government funding into the town centre.
This includes £31.6 million last year from the Towns Fund, £12.6 million from the Future High Streets Fund and £19.5 million from the Levelling Up Fund.
The Government is putting this money on the table for our communities, and it is now up to Rotherham Council to ensure that it is distributed fairly, rather than bidding over £60 million for Rotherham versus just £17 million for Rother Valley.
5. Inappropriate developments fought and defeated
We need new homes built in Rother Valley, but they need to be the right homes in the right places. The council needs to focus on building communities, rather than just houses, as they have done in Waverley, by devising infrastructure like schools, roads and GPs, as well as simply meeting housebuilding targets.
Waverley is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when Rotherham commits to building communities rather than just houses. It is the development of a community with schools and amenities, providing the homes we need on brownfield land.
Building the homes we need does not mean allowing the council to continue to ride roughshod over the needs and wants of local residents, declassifying green belt land to develop brown field land, all whilst skirting responsibility to provide adequate levels of affordable housing.
Over the last few years, I have spoken out against a number of inappropriate housing developments, including plans to build 200 new homes at Lambrell Avenue in Kiveton Park, 99 houses on Park Hill in Swallownest and 116 new homes at the Pitches at Stag in Rotherham.
In a victory for common sense and democracy, the application at the Pitches was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate at a planning inquiry, saving a community asset from being destroyed.
Ultimately, Rotherham Council is responsible for planning matters, but I will continue to hold them to account, alongside my constituents, to fight these inappropriate developments.
6. Founding the Rother Valley Public Transport Taskforce
The first piece of casework I ever received was about public transport, and I know how much the lack of an effective network affects residents, from their employment opportunities to their leisure activities.
I founded the Rother Valley Public Transport Taskforce in February 2020 and, since then, I have hosted a number of public forums with residents, members of the taskforce and important local stakeholders like Rotherham Council and the Managing Director of Firstbus.
I am calling for South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis MP to implement a franchised public transport system, so that busy commuter routes can subsidise less commercially-viable routes in more rural areas of Rother Valley, to ensure that these areas are connected.
The Government has invested £570 million in public transport for South Yorkshire and, as part of the Bus Back Better Strategy, there will be millions of pounds worth of further Government investment into our public transport. This Government is committed to making public transport a viable option for residents. I am calling on Dan Jarvis to invest these funds wisely to provide the public transport our areas deserve.
You can read more about my plans for Transport for South Yorkshire by clicking below.
Looking to the future
I am proud of what I have achieved in the 2 years since my election, but I recognise that there is still much more to do. In the years ahead, I will continue to work hard to improve our area and the lives of my constituents.
I will continue to fight for better public transport, policing and investment into all corners of Rother Valley. We have been left behind for far too long and I am determined to turn the tide.