Today marks six months since you elected me as your MP, and what a busy six months it has been!
The first challenge was to get our office set up as quickly as possible so that you had a dedicated team to visit or contact with your problems. I quickly got a great team together and a central office open. However, getting the internet, IT equipment and email accounts set up took a lot longer due to Parliamentary security measures.
To get around this and ensure there were no delays in helping people in Midlothian, my staff and I used our mobile phones to set up WIFI hotspots and to phone relevant departments on your behalf. This temporary measure took time and patience but meant that we got straight on with the job. I want to thank my staff for going that extra mile whilst we waited for our equipment. I am delighted that we are fully up and running now and have been for some months. I especially want to thank everyone who contacted me during that time for their patience.
But enough of the admin, I’m sure you would much rather know what I have been doing to represent you.
In Parliament, I’ve spoken up on issues such asworkers’ pay, Universal Credit, and the economy I’ve voted, asked questions, spoken in debates, written to ministers, held meetings with relevant groups and individuals, and sat on the Scottish Affairs Committee.
In the summer, I embarked upon a lengthy surgery tour and was encouraged by the number of people who came to speak to me about issues they are facing. I have continued to hold regular surgeries again these have been popular. Thank you very much if you have come out to one of my surgeries and talked to me about an issue.
My team and I have dealt with 316 pieces of casework, helping people with issues from housing to pensions. My office is always open to any constituent, with any problem. Drop in anytime and my friendly team will assist you. People have also contacted me for advice by phone, email and by messaging my Facebook page. I want to be as contactable as possible and I will be announcing new and easy ways to contact me shortly.
I’ve been all around the constituency, from Pathhead to Penicuik, meeting you and visiting local community groups, charities, retirement homes and schools. It is important to me that I get to meet as many community groups and schools as possible to hear about the fantastic work they do day in day out to make our communities better. If you would like me to come along to your local group or school, please contact me and I will come along.
I’m passionate about being a hard-working campaigning MP. I played an important role in the campaign toremove call charges for those claiming universal credit, who paid premium rates to phone the dedicated helpline. I also offered my office telephone to be used for free until the charges were removed. I have consistently called for this benefit to be paused so that the Government can correct the mistake made, and sadly I suspect I will be making similar pleas for the next six months.
I have urged both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to stop cutting our vital public services. I have also urged for them to pay fair wages to our public sector workers by scrapping the pay cap which has been imposed on workers for nearly a decade now.
I have spoken up for WASPI women and their pension injustice in Parliament, and have met with WASPI campaigners in Midlothian,and the national organisers to discuss the challenges. I won’t stop campaigning for this cruel decision to be reversed, it places too many women in a precarious financial position.
Today, after weeks of asking I finally meet with Openreach to discuss broadband speeds in Midlothian. I want urgent action to be taken on this issue as it is negatively affecting people’s business, personal finance and access to vital services with many services now only existing online. I am happy to announce that they have agreed to come to Midlothian for a drop in session where the public can come and speak to them about issues directly.
When constituents have come to me after going to other representatives and not getting anywhere, I have stepped up and campaigned on devolved matters such as the current ongoing GP crisis in Midlothian.Access to a GP has been a recurring issue presented to my office. Currently, people are struggling to register or get an appointment with their GP. This is down to a lack of planning, especially for new houses being built in the area and a lack of funding being provided to both Midlothian and GPs in general.
This week I started a campaign to save two RBS branches in Midlothian at Bonnyrigg and Penicuik. The planned closure of both the Bonnyrigg and Penicuik branches will be a hammer blow to our high streets. With Christmas just around the corner it is devastating news for the staff working at these branches, who will now be fearing for their jobs. Closing these branches will also have a negative impact on our high streets, businesses and RBS customers who will now be forced to travel to the Dalkeith Branch. I have written to the CEO of RBS and to the Government seeking an urgent meeting to discuss these closures.
At times, I am deeply frustrated with the political process and decisions taken by our Governments’, but I draw strength from knowing that if we work together across Midlothian we can overcome many of the issues facing us today and promote the many positives reasons we choose to make Midlothian our home.
I have lived in Midlothian my whole life, and I am immensely proud of our land, heritage and the people of Midlothian. We are one of the fastest growing areas in Scotland – a testament to what a fantastic place to live our communities are. It is a real privilege to represent my home and the people and place that has raised me.
Thank you for electing me as your MP. It has been an honour to serve you over the past six months, and I am looking forward to continuing to be a strong local voice for Midlothian.
If you have a problem, don’t hesitate to contact me. That’s what I’m here for.