I hope all Hereford Times readers have had the chance to have a good break, and went easy--but not too easy--on the mince pies and Christmas pud!
This is my first column since the General Election was called, and I am hugely honoured to have been re-elected once again as your Member of Parliament for Hereford and South Herefordshire. But with six in every ten voters supporting me, I am also keenly aware of the responsibility my re-election carries.
At the end of the day, what matters is not individual MPs or parties, but the consent created by our democratic system. So whatever your political views, and however you voted, I say: THANK YOU.
With a substantial majority in Parliament, the Government now has both the opportunity and the obligation to move the country forward. But this demands mutual patience and understanding.
The great American President Franklin Roosevelt once said "The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."
That entrepreneurial and experimental spirit is vital. Sometimes it will not succeed, but if we can use it to reinvigorate and inspire the country, it will be worth it.
I had the chance to celebrate the New Year last Thursday when I spent two hours washing up dishes for Open Door, which serves hot breakfasts for those that need them, three times a week at St Peter's Church House. It's a fantastic organisation, which underlines the neighbourliness and willingness to help others that is so much part of our county.
So too is Pedicargo, Herefordshire’s pioneering pedal-powered recycling and waste collection company, which I was delighted to see win a Government grant for a new e-cargo-bike – under a ‘Road to Zero’ green transport scheme I set up as Transport Minister!
Finally, I want to say thank you to two wonderful restaurants: Number 3 on Gloucester Road in Ross, and Cotto, which has just opened its doors on Broad Street in Hereford. Truly, we are in the midst of a food revolution.
This week I am back in Parliament. First on the agenda are the EU Withdrawal Bill, and a ton of work catching up on constituency casework and working on the Government's new national infrastructure strategy. Can't wait!