The decisions I made last week were some of the most emotional moments of my political career. Since the 1st April I have been overwhelmed by the kind and generous words of support from the hundreds of emails and letters that have been coming in. It means a lot to know that so many people approve of my actions in recent days.
Ultimately what happens to one backbench MP is not important. What matters is the future of our country. I believe MPs have a duty to work together to find a compromise that will deliver Brexit in a way that protects jobs and brings people back together. I am glad that Theresa May has finally come round to this way of thinking. If my resignation played a small part in persuading her of the necessity of a cross-party approach, it will have been worth it.
Even though I now sit as an independent, I will continue to represent the 100,000 people who live in my constituency as the progressive, liberal Conservative that I have always been. The big change will be that I will not stand as the Conservative candidate for Grantham and Stamford at the next General Election. This is not due for three years, until 2022, but it could of course come sooner. I plan to make the most of the time I have left. These will be my priorities for our local area.
Grantham Hospital remains as is was 2 years ago a key priority for me. I intend to work with local campaigners and Dr Dave Baker from the local commissioning group to ensure that the community health trust opens a truly 24/7 service and does not force people to rely on the 111 phone line when they have a fall in the middle of the night.
I also want to make sure that by the time I stand down Grantham relief road has been built. I was pleased to be able to help Lincolnshire highways supremo Councillor Richard Davies get the necessary sign off from the Secretary of State. I stand ready to help remove any other bureaucratic blockages as they arise.
Grantham needs to enhance its appeal to families looking for a day out. So I applaud the bold and dynamic leadership of Councillor Matthew Lee and welcome the council’s commitment to bring leisure facilities like a swimming pool back into the town centre. Together with the new cinema and the Margaret Thatcher statue, serious investment is going into making Grantham a more interesting and enjoyable place to visit. There’s a long way to go but real progress is being made.
Stamford is one of the prettiest towns in England. I want to help preserve its beauty - including, in my view, the very fine York stone paving slabs in Red Lion Square. I will work with my good friends Councillor David Taylor and Councillor David Brailsford to resist proposals to replace them with ugly tarmac and ensure that they are properly sanded and maintained in future.
We also need to also enhance its appeal to businesses looking for premises and parents looking to raise families. So I again applaud the leadership of Councillor Matthew Lee in this area and will do everything I can to support the district council’s plans to create new office space on the old Cummins site and to build a new leisure centre with a 25m pool.
Stamford can be very proud of its schools and further education college. I strongly endorse plans for an academic sixth form in the town and welcome the constructive cooperation between Stamford Welland Academy, Stamford College and the endowed schools. I stand ready to help them with applications for government funding and any departmental approvals that they might need.
As your MP I am still accessible to you, through my weekend surgeries if you wish to meet and chat about any concerns you may have. You can also write to me at email@example.com .