David Drew's Christmas letter to you all
As another year draws to an end, I’d like to take the opportunity to send you festive greetings and share a brief roundup of what I’ve been doing in the past 12 months.
As ever it’s been busy, both here in the Stroud constituency and in Parliament.
For me, as Shadow Minister for Farming, Food and Rural Affairs, that’s meant a focus on agriculture, and I’ve spent much of my time in Parliament scrutinising the details of the Government’s proposed Agriculture Bill.
A quick round-up shows I’ve spoken in 142 debates in 2018 and received written answers to 704 parliamentary questions from government ministers on subjects ranging from education funding to air pollution, incinerators and climate change. I travelled to Sudan, Bosnia and Albania on parliamentary delegations working to help build peace in those areas, and I also enjoyed a productive visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic to look at how Brexit will affect agriculture across the border regions.
In Stroud, my caseworkers have helped more than 1,200 people on issues including housing, benefits, and accessing services. We have introduced a programme of mobile caseworker surgeries, bringing their expertise directly to villages and towns across the constituency.
I’ve enjoyed spending time connecting with people in Stroud, from charities and community groups to the businesses bringing innovation across the region. This year I’ve visited more than 40 businesses to find out about the issues that affect them and how I can best represent them in Parliament; that programme of visits remains ongoing.
Stroud people are a constant source of inspiration and I have enjoyed many productive community engagements with groups including Access Bike, the Marah Trust, the Salvation Army, Stroud Valleys Project, the Credit Union and so many more.
I have also spent time at all our secondary schools and many primary schools. Talking to young people in Stroud is a source of optimism. They are engaged in the world and keen to find ways of making it better, as so many have shown with their powerful campaigns for the environment and for social justice.
There will be many challenges in 2019 and the Brexit debacle will no doubt continue to dominate in the months to come. But we must also focus on other urgent challenges such as education funding, the decline in our NHS services, the impact of the Universal Credit rollout, and the desperate shortage of housing.
Come what may, it remains an honour and a privilege to represent this diverse and vibrant community. I am grateful to so many of you for your support over the past year, and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a restful festive break and a Happy New Year in which we can keep working together to build positive change.
David Drew, MP for Stroud Constituency