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Andrew Jones Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough

Andrew Jones MP

Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough

View from Westminster

Traditionally, I use my last column of the year to review the past twelve months – nationally and locally. At the end of 2016, I said that I could fill a whole newspaper after such a turbulent political year.  This year I could fill a great many newspapers.

It does not seem to be a year where people have often really listened to one another.  In difficult and turbulent times we need to listen to one another more not less.  Sometimes it has seemed that the smaller voices have been trampled by those making most noise.  Often social media hasn’t helped with its frequent unpleasantness and inaccuracy.  This has meant that before anyone has been able to get to the facts of an issue there has been a lot of noise to get past.  This is something I hope will change in 2018.

As a local person, one time Harrogate Borough councillor and someone who has started and grown small businesses in our region, I think it is important to listen.  I do not always agree with every viewpoint but I do try and give every viewpoint a fair hearing.

I listened to the views of local people on fox-hunting at the general election.  I listened to local brewers about beer duty during the budget.  I listened to campaign groups on fuel duty.  There will have been other times where I listened but have not been able to agree.  I hope on these occasions despite disagreeing we still respect one another’s viewpoint.

So for next year I hope there will be less polarisation and more working together locally and nationally.  When we do so, we are at our best and get the best for local people.

This year we have seen the Council working with the Homeless Project to get more money for the homeless in our area, more Government cash for emergency care at Harrogate Hospital, the local Alzheimer’s Society working with the Tour de Yorkshire to raise vital funds for dementia research and work to ease traffic pollution at Bond End saw North Yorkshire County Council, Harrogate Borough Council and Knaresborough Town Council working together.  There are many more examples where we have got good results for local people by being a team.

As we look forward to 2018, I want to make it a year of listening and working together.  This doesn’t mean always agreeing or giving up our principles.  I particularly want to see more open discussion on developing opportunities for young people and the lower paid to live here with their families and to become part of our communities.  I hope for a coming together of views on sustainable transport which will see environmental groups and our councils taking this important issue forward.  I want to see the new Local Fund designed to boost charity giving be a huge success and for businesses and philanthropists to get behind it.

For me 2016 and 2017 represent years which point to a better approach to solving our problems.  In 2018 I want that approach to be one where communities come together to form partnerships and bring solutions to our problems.  It is a process in which I am keen and proud to play a part.

May I close by wishing you and your family the very best for the festive season and a prosperous and happy New Year.

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