Message from Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed
Looking back on the year my clear highlight was being elected to represent the people of Berwick-upon-Tweed in Parliament.
My first eight months as an MP have been a steep, but fantastic learning curve, and I have relished getting stuck into issues of governance that affect us all, in particular through my work on the Public Accounts Committee, scrutinising Government spending and how its projects impact communities.
It has been a particular honour, but a real challenge to look at issues surrounding the Armed Forces and our veterans, and I have established a cross-party group with colleagues to look at how we live up to the promises we have made to our service personnel in the Armed Forces Covenant.
I have joined the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme in order to better understand the pressures on our personnel and their families. My experiences as part of the scheme certainly formed a part of my considerations last month on the decision to extend our targeted airstrike campaign against Daesh-ISIL from Iraq to targets across the border in North East Syria to fulfil the requirements of the UN resolution.
The vote in Parliament generated a great deal of interest, with over 200 constituents getting in touch to explain their own views on the matter, roughly split 50/50 between those in favour and those against. The contents of a few of the emails I received raised interesting questions about the nature of democracy, and how and why we elect MPs to vote in Parliament on behalf of the people of an area.
It was an interesting insight for me to hear from a few people that believe an MP should represent a constituent’s own unique view at the expense of their own conscience and the views of every other elector. That interpretation of representative democracy certainly shows how firmly people hold their own views, that they believe it is shared unanimously by those around them, but it is nonetheless useful for me to know what people are thinking on an issue.
Looking to the year ahead, as we edge closer towards a referendum on our continued membership of the European Union it becomes ever clearer to me that our fellow EU partners are not willing to cede to the Prime Minister’s demands that Britain be exempt from the EU’s crusade for ‘ever closer union’. I am reaching the inevitable conclusion that Britain will be better off forming trade deals with our European neighbours from outside the political and financial constraints of the European Union.
I look forward to entering into more spirited policy discussions with local people and trying to help with problems they face. A total of 1,036 cases reached my desk in 2015, and I am looking forward to continuing to serve to the best of my ability.
I will be forging ahead with my challenge to visit all the schools in my constituency during the course of the Parliament, and my continued focus locally will be on empowering North Northumberland with the tools to springboard itself towards greater economic growth.
The Enterprise Zone announcement for Ramparts Business Park is a great stepping stone, as is the Government’s investment in the Berwick Barracks project. Berwick Town Council has announced an Investors’ conference for Northumberland businesses, with support from UK Trade and Investment, which I would encourage all local companies to register to attend.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!