As we approach Christmas and the New Year gets ever closer, I want to take a quick look back on 2014.
Early in the year, working with the Government, Conservative Crawley Borough and West Sussex County voted to freeze council tax for a fourth successive year. I hope that 2015 will see a similar deal for Crawley taxpayers.
Later on in July, I was delighted when the Health Secretary took on board my ideas for combating ‘health tourism’. It cannot be right for the NHS to lose an estimated £200 million each year routinely treating people from across the world who do not pay into the system. While I know that there is more to be done, I am pleased that progress is being made.
Health services are returning to Crawley Hospital, and nationally there are over 16,000 more doctors and nurses due to increased NHS funding.
In September, the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, and it is encouraging to see the Government now introducing the principle of English votes on English laws to see equality in our constitution.
The day after the referendum, I was pleased to host another successful Crawley Jobs Fair. Having been unemployed myself in the past, I know how difficult it is when looking for work, and although Crawley unemployment in November stood at 1.6%, I was pleased to play my part.
Towards the end of the 2014, I approached Crawley Town FC about the possibility of them signing up to the Tickets for Troops scheme. I was delighted when they swiftly confirmed that they would. It was an honour to join Dave Pottinger, the Club Chairman, on Armistice Day, in officially launching Crawley Town’s involvement on the pitch, as they became the first organisation in our town to join the initiative.
Before writing this piece, I was pleased to hear the latest jobs figures. The unemployment rate is down by more than a third over the last year. The youth unemployment rate among young people is down by more than half since February 2014.
Of course, there is still more to do, and I will continue to fight for everyone in our town.
I would like to thank the Crawley Observer for allowing me to contribute to this page every week, fulfilling a fundamental part of the democratic process.
I should also take this opportunity to remind people across our town that if I am ever able to assist in 2015 then do not hesitate to let me know. Please either write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, call my office on 01293 934554, or email me directly at email@example.com. I also answer as many questions as I can on social media; on www.facebook.com/henrysmithmp and www.twitter.com/henrysmithmp