Richard Foord: I want 2023 to be the year that our part of Devon comes roaring back

Richard Foord MP Tiverton and Honiton www.devonlive.com 

It’s January, a time to look to the future and consider what we want to build in 2023 while the year is still young. I have heard many people speculate that we may see some political boredom this year, following on from the ‘excitement’ of 2022.

Some of that drama was beyond the control of the Conservative Government, such as the conflict in Ukraine, but much of it was of their own making – with the return of sleaze, a lack of integrity at the top and stark mismanagement of the economy through the September mini budget.

This cocktail of issues caused energy bills to soar and mortgage rates to rise. It caused some people to sit in the cold because they couldn’t afford to put the heating on. Bills are set to climb even higher in March, with the only consolation that we hope to use less energy as the weather warms.

This doesn’t just affect residents and families; it also hurts local high street businesses across our towns and villages, and those living off-grid – many of whom are still waiting for financial support. I have raised this delay many times in Parliament, and yet we are still waiting to see when it will actually land in people’s bank accounts.

I don’t want to watch the Government continue to shirk their responsibility to act in the interest of rural areas like ours. We need action to bring down ambulance waiting times, boost NHS dental appointments, invest in local high street businesses, strengthen our public transport links, and deliver real long-term support with the cost of living.

I want 2023 to be the year that, post-pandemic, our part of Devon comes roaring back. This may seem difficult, but with firm decisive action the Government can start to make progress.

The first chance for this is at the end of January, when will see the Government announce successful bids for the next wave of Levelling Up funding. I am proud to back the bid for East Devon, that will see the sea front at Seaton renovated and more business facilities created in Axminster.

I am a serial optimist – I believe that if we work together and challenge the status quo we can achieve so much good. And we are fortunate that this year poses another opportunity for us to help shake things up.

In May, we get to elect a new wave of local Councillors to represent our communities. East Devon District Council manages some of the key services we rely upon, from Council Tax to recycling, bin collections to the state of our roads. So who we elect really can make a difference.

Just as my election sent shockwaves through Westminster, these elections can make waves here in our part of Devon. The Conservatives have repeatedly neglected our communities – with even the current Conservative leader of Devon County Council saying his Council is not getting the funding they need from their own Government in London.

By working together, we can elect a wave of hard-working local champions to make change happen. Only by doing this can we deliver the transformational work that we need and send a clear message that our part of Devon will not be taken for granted anymore.

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