Cataclysmic events have shaped this year, deepened by Government chaos and ineptitude. The war in Ukraine has shaped all our experiences, not least the shock at a sudden invasion of a European country by a brutal regime. As millions fled Ukraine for safety, David took on Goliath and this has brought the vast majority of the world together behind a common cause. The bravery of those fighting for peace and in providing humanitarian aid has been taken into our hearts and prayers as 100,000s of hosts have taken strangers into their homes. In York, it has been an honour to get to know our new friends while also speaking for their nation in Parliament.
While the oil and gas sectors exploited this situation to profit out of the crisis, the oil and gas dependency has exposed the failure of Government to transition to clean energy. Now, we are all paying crushing amounts for our heating and fuel as wind, wave and solar beckon Government to drop its fixation with opening a new coal mine and fracking, and to pivot to natural power, which COP27 demanded as the hope of 1.5’C faded at this year’s summit.
The reckless mini-budget, throwing £30bn down the drain, risking mortgages and pension funds, sparked a new spike in poverty as the cost of living crisis accelerated to a new depth. However, I have been blown away by the generosity of people in York as they gave to my York Together events, gifting warm clothes and toys for Christmas. Come the New Year, I am planning to hold a city wide food collection to help all those in need.
Meanwhile in Westminster I have been fighting for our NHS and its army of incredible, professional and caring staff. As a member of the Health Select Committee, I’m standing in solidarity with them as Government fail to negotiate a decent pay deal.
However, in York I also recognise that we have a huge housing crisis and my focus in recent months has been housing. I spent 6 months on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Committee scrutinising planning and housing issues week after week, and championed licensing ‘airbnbs’ through my own Bill which has now got the Government’s attention.
Above all, I and my staff have focused on you, our city and our future. This year we have supported 8434 cases, helping people with every kind of challenge and received over 18,000 emails from constituents. In Westminster, I have asked 2668 questions and made 531 spoken contributions in debates and questions on your behalf in Parliament. The tenacity with which I approach issues is recognised in Parliament, and it achieves so much to work constructively in the interests of our city. We have been building plans for York, which will address the economy, solve the housing crisis and put residents at the heart of everything, from a strengthened rail, biosciences and cultural hub to a family friendly city with housing for all.
As ever, I am always hopeful for the year ahead. In 2023 I want to see Labour elected to run our city council and for residents to be the key priority for the first time in nearly a decade We should also be well on our way to securing a Labour Government and a better fairer future for everyone. Sadly, while we wait, the cost of living and housing crisis will deepen. I will be building on my work to shape the future of York’s economy in the creation of good quality jobs and investment in local infrastructure and services.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.