Whilst my job is really rewarding, it can sometimes be very frustrating when I read comments from some people who say "I know you're visiting stuff and posting lots online but you've not actually done anything!"
In response to the "what have you actually done" brigade, I've put together a list of some of the achievements we've had (I say 'we' because my team in the office are brilliant and play a huge part) so far:
- we secured Government funding of £5m for A617 improvements and £18m for A614 improvements, as well as pushing County Hall to put together formal options for the A60 at Sainsburys which will be finalised soon.
- we ensured that the new local rail franchisee will have to put together a formal business plan for the Robin Hood Line extension as part of their contract, meaning that for the first time a full business case is now a legal requirement.
- we improved the legislation around homelessness with the new Homelessness Reduction Act earlier this year and MDC now access an additional £250k in Flexible Homelessness Support Grant funding.
- we successfully lobbied the Treasury for High Street funding and secured a £675m pot in the Budget, up to £15m of which is available for Mansfield if the Council can put a bid together. They are also reviewing proposals I made about new powers for the Council to buy town centre properties too.
- we also secured £8m in that Budget specifically for improvements and maintenance to Community facilities like Miners Welfares, and are working with Treasury to put together the process for local groups to bid for it.
- I introduced my own legislation which pressured DEFRA in to agreeing new plans and funding to protect pollinators, and is a game changer in halting the decline of bees and other pollinators around the UK.
- I lobbied the county council to secure average speed cameras on Peafield Lane, along with countless other Highways improvements
- I've successfully campaigned to get Government to review the classification of drugs like Mamba, which has been accepted and the review will begin shortly.
- I've raised over £4000 for local charities looking at homelessness and mental health including the Beacon Project, Framework and MIND.
- we've successfully made legislative changes to social rents and Council borrowing limits so that MDC can invest more in local housing.
- We've brought more than 10 Government Ministers to Mansfield to hear from us on key issues directly and have two more in the coming weeks.
- I'm now able to be a voice for Mansfield's young people on the Education Select Committee and have submitted detailed reports to Government lobbying on Youth Work and on Higher Education funding, as well as currently conducting a major review of SEND funding too.
- We've put on community events like a Pensioners Fair, Jobs Fair and a Google Garage for local business, amongst others.
- We've written over 7,000 pieces of correspondence to help local people with their individual issues and had a number of notable (but private and personal to those individuals) successes.
I could go on but I just wanted to make a point that when certain people say "well, what are you actually DOING?" the answer is quite a bit.
I post a lot of photos on Facebook because I think communication is a key part of my job, but it does not come at the expense of hard work and delivering for Mansfield. I'm trying to be as visible and as available as I can be, whilst raising our issues in Parliament.
In this job it can be difficult to measure those tangible outcomes as everything takes a long time. I hope that when it comes to the next election I will be able to point to lots more things (that are laid out in my local plan, which you can view here) that we have achieved during that time.
A lot of people are a bit wary of politicians, and understandably so, but the reality is this: an MP has very few 'powers' apart from a vote in Parliament, but we do have influence. I try to use that influence to press Government and local authorities to act and I do it to the best of my ability.