What should the MP for North West Hants hope that the New Year might bring his constituents? We have come to take for granted the high level of employment and the relatively good wages earned locally. I see no reason why the New Year should threaten either of these, but it is worth remembering that there is no law that says this will always be the case. We must hope that prudent financial management of the economy as a whole, and continued investment and innovation by local employers, will build a firm foundation for the future.
Some sections of the economy are having a bad time; local farmers face unprecedented problems, and many cannot wait for the cycle to turn. Either they must get some targetted transitional help to see them through, or many will simply go out of business – and we will all lose the landscapes they have nurtured for generations.
Which brings us to planning. I hope the Government will reject the illogical and inconsistent recommendations of the Crowe Panel, with its unsustainable numbers of extra houses proposes for the county. Yes, we must make proper provision for those who live and grow up in the County; but no, we don’t have to supply homes for all those who might want to move to the county, when there are other parts of the country desperate for economic growth.
I also hope we can move away from the campaign against the motorist. Where alternative modes of transport exist, then by all means let us have some incentives to travel by public transport rather than by car. I will support SouthWest trains in its campaign for a half-hourly off-peah service from Waterloo to Salisbury. But in much of rural Hampshire, there is no public transport option and penal taxation just harms those who live in the country.
Our local health service faces some challenges; because we are a healthy and wealthy county, we are apparently “over-provided” with health services, particularly in the acute sector. I will resist any assault on the local Accident and Emergency Services; and will defend Andover Hospital from any reduction in funding from the reorganisation that is now being planned.
The local schools are good, and a credit to the teachers who work in them. But they are under constant pressure, with more paperwork from the centre and less time to deploy their talents. Let us give them the space they need to teach our children.
The local police do a fine job, and we need to remember our role as responsible citizens in helping them to help us.
I hope to play my part by representing you effectively in Parliament. Do drop me a line or email me if I can help you.
Best wishes for the Year 2000, George Young