Looking back on a momentous 2016 with Waveney MP Peter Aldous
As we reach the end of the year, it is appropriate to pause and reflect on what a momentous year 2016 has been.
Few would have predicted last January the outcome of the EU Referendum, the political turmoil that followed with David Cameron being replaced by
Theresa May as Prime Minister and across the Atlantic the election of President Trump. Whilst I voted Remain in the Referendum, I respect the wishes of the British people and I shall vote to trigger Article 50, which will formally begin the process of our withdrawal from the EU. I shall scrutinise closely the details of the terms of this withdrawal to ensure that they are in the best interests of Lowestoft and Waveney. I have already started this work with regard to fishing and I will do all that I can to ensure that the UK Fishing Policy which will replace the Common Fisheries Policy provides the framework that will give fishing off the East Anglian Coast a new lease of life.
This time last year we were busy collecting signatures for the 3rd Crossing Petition, so as to demonstrate the overwhelming local support for the bridge, following David Cameron’s promise to build it. The people of Waveney stepped up to the plate and we collected over 10,000 names which I presented to the House of Commons. In the March Budget George Osborne confirmed funding of over £70 million with the remaining £20 million being provided by Suffolk County Council, thereby making the long awaited 3rd Crossing a reality. 2017 will see the detailed plans go out to public consultation and we remain on track to begin work on the ground in 2019.
Last February, Network Rail began work at Oulton Broad North Railway Station to improve the down time at the Level crossing. The platform has now been extended and a new signal installed so that when trains arrive from Lowestoft the barriers are down for a much shorter period, thereby helping to improve the flow of traffic. Exciting plans are also being worked up locally for upgrading Lowestoft Station and the surrounding area and I accompanied the Lowestoft Station Team when they met Rail Minister Paul Maynard last month. Hopefully this work will move forward this coming year.
In 2016 there were significant improvements in local schools and it is important that this continues in 2017. My other objectives include addressing the problems with the roll out of Universal Credit and targeting support towards those in most need and also ensuring that the local area benefits fully from the job opportunities that are emerging in the offshore wind sector.
Improving infrastructure remains a priority including upgrading the roads to the area notably the A47 and A12. It is good news that work is due to start shortly on site on the Beccles Southern Relief Road. Broadband and mobile coverage has improved in recent years, but significant “Not Spots” remain and these must be addressed as soon as possible.
Whatever their plans may I wish all readers a Happy New Year and all the best for 2017.