You can read my lastest monthly column for the Witney Gazette, here:
As I write my monthly column, I have just passed a rather important anniversary: my one year anniversary as your Member of Parliament.
I can hardly believe that a whole year has passed. Being an MP is everything I hoped it would be and more: rewarding, interesting and hugely enjoyable, and as I continue to throw myself into my role representing you both locally and in Parliament I look forward to each fresh challenge.
Over the past year, I have had the privilege of seeing West Oxfordshire throughout the seasons, seeing every aspect of the wonderful place in which we are lucky to live. From Christmas lights to Easter celebrations, from summer fetes and festivals to the Witney Feast, the sense of community spirit cannot be beaten. I have met with over 100 businesses and charities, got my hands dirty volunteering, already visited over a third of Oxfordshire schools and met many, many constituents at my weekly advice surgeries.
However, this has only been one small part of my job, much of which you cannot read about in the news or see me speak about on television. The bread and butter work of an MP is answering correspondence with my constituents and making a real difference through casework. I have corresponded with 1 in 15 constituents, about a wide range of subjects from puppies to potholes, Brexit to broadband. This is an essential part of my job which works both ways: I can help you with any personal concerns, and you can help inform me of your views so I can represent you in Parliament.
An excellent demonstration of this has been my work with schools funding. When the Government's new funding formula was announced, all agreed the current system was flawed and change was needed. However, West Oxfordshire was set to miss out in these improvements. I wrote to all headteachers, met with many schools in West Oxfordshire, relayed my concerns to the Minister for Schools, and responded to the public consultation. As a result, with the revised final formula, all schools in West Oxfordshire will see an increase in funding – an excellent result. The same is true with broadband: by working together with local residents, Council leaders and lobbying my colleagues in Government, we have been rewarded by West Oxfordshire's District Council's recent announcement of a new contract to roll out superfast broadband across West Oxfordshire. This just shows what a strong local team can achieve. There is of course more to do – and I mean to continue as I have started, working hard on everything from the A40 to small businesses and defence to housing.
In Parliament, I have spoken in 91 debates last year and voted in some 94% of votes – I am proud to say both well above average amongst MPs. Recently, I chaired a debate on the Future of Oxfordshire's Healthcare, building on my local work. Healthcare is an issue of enormous importance and, by working together, we have demonstrated West Oxfordshire's tenacity to fight for what is right for our area. I will continue to speak out on your behalf in Parliament; you can read all my contributions at www.theyworkforyou.com.
I keep many of you updated on all my work in Westminster and West Oxfordshire, as well as sending out local news and information, though my regular e-newsletter. Please subscribe through my website at www.robertcourts.co.uk. You are also very welcome to email at firstname.lastname@example.org should you wish to discuss anything – I look forward to hearing from you!
Published on 08.11.17 in the Witney Gazette.