As 2018 has drawn to a close it has been an opportunity to look back and reflect on the events that defined the year. It was undoubtedly hectic at Westminster with Brexit continuing to dominate the political debate, and it was a busy year locally too. Once again it has been a privilege to be able to support many of the memorable events which celebrated our rich local history, highlighted our outstanding schools, championed our small businesses and showcased our dedicated voluntary and community groups.

We celebrated the centenary of the Representation of the People’s Act 1918, the date on which women over 30 and all men over 21 got the vote. As the 431st woman to be elected to Parliament I was delighted to host my own EqualiTeas Tea Party to mark this historic moment in our country’s history, and recognise the role played by women in achieving this.

Throughout the year I held a series of ‘Meet your MP’ events starting off at Morrisons in Aldridge and Sunnymead Community Rooms in Streetly, giving residents the opportunity to raise their issues and concerns with me. The events were well received and very helpful to me too, in picking up and discussing issues that matter to you. I look forward to arranging more.

In November, as we approached the 100th Anniversary of the ending of the Great War, I was delighted to see the constituency gain national media prominence thanks to all those who led and took part in creating “Poppy Road” in Aldridge, recognising with thoughtful respect the contribution of those who served our country. This was echoed across the constituency and reminds us of the strength of unity and togetherness we can achieve collectively.

As we start the New Year, I remain committed to raising with Ministers at Westminster those issues that matter to residents, and more locally to working with our Councillors, and Andy Street the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, who has been championing our area and firmly putting the West Midlands back on the map.

January sees the deadline of an important consultation on proposals to merge the Police and Crime Commissioner and Mayoral roles. Combining the role of Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, such as in London and Manchester, has been planned for a while and will ensure that there is greater accountability for residents locally. The consultation closes on January 11th and I would encourage you to make your views known by responding via the West Midlands Combined Authority website

As I return to Westminster, may I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2019, and to close with a shout out for the Pantomime season and Robinson Crusoe at Aldridge Youth Theatre, which begins on January 11th. My tickets are booked and as always I am sure it will be a fun-filled evening.

This article was first published in the Sutton Observer on 4 January 2019.