As the year of 2023 draws to an end, I want to reflect on some of the local achievements of the past year.

I’m delighted that I was able to help secure a new diagnostic centre for Woking, funded out of a £2.3billion investment pot from the government for over 160 brand new diagnostic hubs across the country. The budget for the new diagnostic centre at the Woking Community Hospital was more than doubled to £6million after I lobbied the Secretary of State for Health on a visit to Woking Community Hospital to inspect the site. This new diagnostic centre will open in 2024 and will basically save Woking residents 30,000 trips to Ashford or St Peter’s Hospitals for tests and scans.

I’ve also delivered on my campaign to secure a new direct bus service from Woking to Ashford Hospital. My campaign was backed by over 3,000 residents and is particularly important given the increasing numbers of medical appointments that take place at Ashford Hospital these days.

On top of those two “wins”, from Byfleet to Brookwood I have been working with various local groups across the Woking constituency to deliver on important issues. We’ve saved Pool in the Park, delivered on a local campaign to reduce noise and make repairs on the busy stretch of Junctions 10 to 11 on the M25, made progress on drainage issues near Wheatsheaf Common, and worked to secure vital funds for other crucial flood alleviation schemes as well.

I’ve had the opportunity to welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, to Woking to discuss the top economic issues; the Secretary of State for the Environment to discuss flood alleviation schemes; and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to see at first hand the importance of apprenticeships in our borough.

Nationally, inflation has halved, the economy has grown despite international challenges, and we are starting to make progress on reducing the national debt. The government has supported people through the cost-of-living crisis, providing a £94billion cost-of-living support package, and helping to support the most vulnerable with further targeted assistance. And we are helping those on the lowest pay by raising the National Living Wage to £11.44 an hour. That means over £1,800 extra a year.  

Indeed, we’ve also delivered on several other promises made to the electorate at the 2019 election.

We’ve recruited 20,000 new police officers, meaning that Surrey Police now have their highest number of personnel ever.

We’ve delivered on our promise of 50,000 additional nurses in the NHS. And, hugely importantly, education standards are rising in England and we’re now developing the new Advanced British Standard qualification, which will bring together the very best of A levels and T levels.

Of course, 2023 has not been without some serious challenges locally, nationally and internationally, but I think there are reasons for real optimism with regard to the year ahead.

I want to wish all the readers of the News & Mail good health and happiness throughout 2024.