2018 was a turbulent year. We had our own citizens poisoned by Russian agents in one of our cathedral cities, and we saw little real progress in the Brexit negotiations. At home rail travellers faced significant disruption to their services and there were concerns over proposals to develop our Green Belt.
These issues will remain with us. We have still to decide the real terms of our future trade with Europe and with the rest of the world. We still don’t know who will operate the Kent rail franchise for the next few years. And Sevenoaks Council’s Local Plan will have to be approved by the government inspector before we can be certain where any new housing will go.
My own priorities are to continue to encourage local businesses. The Mayor and I visited a wide range of shops and firms on Small Business Saturday. I had the honour to officially open three new companies to the area in November and December.
In Parliament, as well as Brexit, I will be keeping an eye on school funding for next year. I will also continue to press the case for an early start to the new Lower Thames Crossing which will take a lot of traffic away from the Dartford Tunnels. I will work with our District Council to help balance the pressure for new homes against our commitment to protect the Green Belt.
And I will go on helping individual constituents: I will be holding two Advice Surgeries every month, in Sevenoaks and Swanley, as I have done for each of the last twenty-one years.
Happy New Year to everyone.